Brezhnev Eyebrows

You'd think that dogs are a detriment to photographing wildlife, and that is often the case, indeed. This time around, however, they found me this male grouse (presumably) doing a mating dance. I've managed to capture several worthwhile images: this one is his portrait.

He proceeded to hop into thick brush where he scared and began chasing a rather reluctant female. How the story ended I don't know: a massive thunderstorm forced me to return home.

Another Avian Guest

I've always loved swallows. Not only are they some of the cutest birds, but they also have many links to folklore and fairy tales in various cultures.

That is, until one flew into the house. To clarify, it wasn't my house, but it was under my care. (Luckily, the dogs, including the bird dog, did not attempt to catch it, and we successfully managed to get it outside shortly afterward. Not before I snapped this image!)

Despite this successful mini-rescue, I was quite distressed.

You see, we, Russians, are superstitious. We are particularly superstitious about birds in the house: at times, these are a very bad omen. I even searched online for a protective Slavic folk ritual that I could do to ward off potential evil.

To make matters more complex, however, there are also very good omens associated with swallows, specifically.

So I called my mom, who reassured me. Swallows in the house are a very good sign in our family, she suggested. Many Moons ago, when my grandfather was very ill, a swallow flew into the window, and he was seemingly miraculously cured, she recalls.

Thus, I've convinced myself that this swallow was a positive sign. They are just too adorable to bring bad luck, right? Right?

The Guest

Having spent last weekend in the mountains, I stepped onto the balcony to get some fresh air only to find this grouse perched on an aspen right next to it. In fact, it allowed me to stand right by the railing so that I did not even have to use a telephoto lens to photograph it. But, just as I decided to attach one after all (wouldn't a super closeup of those eyes be wonderful?), a certain nosy canine ran out to join me scaring the bird away.


Unlike all those regal corvids like crows, small birds are quite difficult to photograph. They move rapidly and sporadically. This means that the second I adjust the manual focus on my telephoto lens in hopes of getting an image, they are nowhere to be found. I'm not even thinking about composition! Of course, actually capturing a few shots of one of the reasons for my frustration turns into a small triumph.

This little character, I suspect, is a dark-eyed junco. I'm no expert on identifying birds, so I learn as I go along.