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Project Feeder Watch! Birdwatching to Benefit Conservation…

Project Feeder Watch! Birdwatching to Benefit Conservation…

Project FeederWatch is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Birds Canada—and if you have birds in your yard, you have what you need to participate!

Project FeederWatch is conducted by people of all skill levels and backgrounds—individuals, children, families, nature centers, and bird clubs. More than 20,000 participants across the United States and Canada survey the birds that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locations, and it’s not too late to join the 2021-22 FeederWatch Season, which began in mid-November and continues into April, 2022.

FeederWatch data provides insight into bird population biology that cannot be detected through other methods. Throughout the winter, participants count the number of individual birds in each observed species, collecting data that helps detect and explain gradual changes in the wintering ranges of many species.

FeederWatcher counting schedules are COMPLETELY flexible. Count your birds for as long as you like on days of your choosing. Enter your counts online. It’s that simple.

Your contribution to a data-set of bird distribution and abundance will enable scientists to piece together more accurate population maps.

Data collected by FeederWatchers helps scientists understand:

  • long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance
  • the timing and extent of winter irruptions
  • expansions or contractions in the winter ranges of feeder birds
  • foods and environmental factors that attract birds
  • how disease is spread among birds that visit feeders

And if you photograph your feathered visitors (and what’s not fun about that?!), there is also a PHOTO CONTEST.

Go to https://feederwatch.org/contests/ and click on the cardinal for more information. The photo entry deadline is January 24, 2022.

To learn more about the Project FeederWatch and sign up to count and submit data, visit Feederwatch.org.

Let’s use our backyard birdwatching to benefit the birds that we enjoy watching!

PHOTO CREDIT: Jenny Burdette Photography
The Year of the Okefenokee

The Year of the Okefenokee

Photo by Tom Wilson

Two great organizations – GNPA and the Georgia Sierra Club – are teaming up to spend a year celebrating the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. “The Year of the Okefenokee” project will feature field trips, seminars, photo contests, special GNPA e-newsletter articles and more.

The two photo contests will be centerpieces for this year-long event. The competitions will be open to the public and include an entry fee of  $5 per submission. The images should be taken in the Okefenokee and can only include species found there. There is no time limit on when the photo was made, but it must be the exclusive work of the submitting photographer.

The first contest will accept submissions from May 1-31, 2022. This will be following the GNPA Expo at Jekyll Island on April 7-10, which will include several presentations as well as field trips to the Okefenokee. A pre-judging panel – consisting of Larry Winslett, Eric Bowles and Tom Wilson – will select the final images to be reviewed by judge Amy Gulick. Winners will be announced around July 1.

The second contest will take submissions from November 1-30, 2022. The same panel will prejudge the submissions, with Peter Essick serving as judge. The contest winners will be revealed in the second week of January 2023.

The contest will have cash prizes for each of three categories: Landscapes, Wildlife and Macro/Closeup.  More information including specific rules, prize amounts, and submission guidelines, will be forthcoming.

The purpose of this year-long celebration is to increase public awareness of the Okefenokee. We hope all GNPA members will participate, and learn more about this amazing, world-class location within our state.

 

Don’t Leave Home Without It:  Your Spares and Repair Kit

Don’t Leave Home Without It: Your Spares and Repair Kit

Photo by Eric Bowles

By Eric Bowles

As nature photographers, we need to be prepared for just about anything out in the field. That’s why, through the years, I’ve learned that one of the most important things I can pack for any photo outing is my Spares & Repairs kit.

What’s that? For me, it’s a zip-lock bag that contains solutions for all the problems I might run into in the field (and for all the workshop participants or friends who may be with me). It goes beyond just a spare battery and memory card. Instead, it’s a small bag with all the replacements and tools for things I might lose, break, or need to repair on a trip. My kit is like an insurance policy covering all of the problems I’ve encountered through the years – including the solutions I wish had been with me at the time.

You should put together a Spares & Repairs kit that suits your particular needs. But to get your started, here’s what’s in mine.

My kit starts with the thing I lose most often – lens and body caps. It’s such a nuisance when you lose a cap, and it adds some risk that you will scratch your lens elements or expose your camera body to dust. I carry a rear lens cap that fits all of my lenses, and the 1-3 most commonly used front lens caps. I also have an extra camera body cap. These items don’t need to be branded OEM parts. You can buy a set of three third-party lens caps for any size at about the same cost as one lens cap from your camera’s manufacturer. I carry 82mm, 77mm, and 62mm spare lens caps. That’s not enough for every lens, but it covers the ones I use most frequently.

Next for me is a set of tripod wrenches. You know, those small wrenches you need to tighten or adjust your tripod legs or the hub. A floppy tripod leg can be a horrible nuisance, so you need to be prepared. Gitzo uses a special star-shaped wrench, while others may use hex keys or Allen wrenches. Just be sure you have the types and sizes you need. Also be sure to carry the wrench you need to tighten or remove camera and lens plates if necessary. After all, a good camera plate doesn’t do you much good when your camera is spinning around loosely. I also pack a spare tripod foot; it’s not something you need often, but it can be a real nuisance if you lose yours.

On the subject of tools, a handy item for me is a set of small screwdrivers. This is an easy-to-find item often used for computer repairs or eyeglass repairs, but it can be very useful for tightening a screw on your camera mount or on a lens foot. On my 70-200mm lens, for example, the foot mount is attached to the lens with four small screws, and if they are loose my lens will not be stable even on the best tripod. If you are dealing with a loose screw, there is a risk it will loosen again, so I also carry a small tube of Blue Loctite as a thread locker. Just a fraction of a drop is enough to hold a screw in place. Don’t use the Red Loctite, which requires heat to loosen.

I like carrying some basic cleaning supplies as well. Start with a bulb blower to clean your sensor. Dust can be a problem, so at the very least, carry a blower in your bag. I use a Giottos Rocket Blower to handle most dust on my sensor. It’s also great in the field just in case you get something on your lens or camera that might scratch the glass if you rub it. Add a small microfiber lens cloth as well. This is an all-purpose item that not only cleans lenses, it can double as a lost lens cap. For lenses, I carry a handful of Zeiss lens wipes, the small alcohol-based wipes intended for optical lenses. These wipes are perfect not only for removing dust and fingerprints, but they work very well with rain, mist, snow or frost on your camera or lens. Alcohol is used in anti-freeze to prevent freezing, but it also dries more quickly than water.

Let’s remember a few basics that are probably already in your bag. These are items you can’t live without and are probably not in a Spares kit, but you better have them. Start with an extra battery and memory card. If you use more than one type of memory card in your cameras, keep at least one old card for each format (this is a great use for old cards). Have you ever left your camera battery sitting in the charger at home, or a memory card in your card reader? Having spares of these items can save a lot of stress. If you are traveling, the other critical item is a battery charger with any cables required. Finally, if you wear glasses, be sure you have an extra pair in your camera bag for emergencies.

So, what’s in your Spares & Repairs kit? Everyone will make their own decisions about what is important. But before your next trip, make sure you have the supplies you need to handle the unexpected.

 

Eric Bowles is a former president of GNPA, a professional nature photographer, and director of Nikonians Academy. He leads bird photography workshops for Nikonians, Chattahoochee Nature Center and Georgia Audubon in addition to his own programs.

 

 

Fall Field Trips! Don’t miss out…

Fall Field Trips! Don’t miss out…

Fall field trips make us happy!

And the Gwinnett Chapter is leading the way this year with a flurry of trips planned for October–check out their meetup page for more information. JUST CLICK HERE.

Most slots are filled, but there’s a waiting list–and you might just snag a chance to attend. So don’t be shy! Any GNPA member can attend.

Also, these are fantastic locations to scout out and explore with your own small group. So, let’s get out there and photograph together…

October Meetups include:

For more places to shoot in and around your “hood,” CLICK HERE!

Image Credit: Jenny Burdette

CHAPTER TALK: We’re Back!

CHAPTER TALK: We’re Back!

GNPA’s Chapter Committee is up and running again, and we’re eager to hear from our chapter leadership and members!

Our members are the heart and soul of GNPA. Our chapters are the day-to-day way we connect and stay relevant. As an organization, GNPA is dedicated to helping nature photographers of all skill levels improve their photography and network with other outdoor photographers through the exciting meetings, meetups, trips and annual events we offer. A mission we could not fulfill without the hard work and active participation of our chapters.

I’m Anna DeStefano, a former board “member at large.” With the help of Ray Silva, who is a current board member in the same role, the Chapter Committee will be reaching out over the next weeks and months to both chapter leadership and members. We’ll be listening and observing, asking questions, and taking tons of notes. Our goal is to better understand GNPA chapter needs–and to assist the board in offering chapters and members the best support possible, as things begin to open up all over our beautiful state.

So…Look for us soon at a GNPA chapter meeting near you!

In the mean time, come back for regular “Chapter Talk” updates here on the blog and on GNPA’s Facebook and Instagram pages.

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