After wandering the Montrose Bird Sanctuary for 2 hours and only being teased by the lovely song of the American Goldfinch (you can listen here) I was starting to wonder if I would ever see one. It is like a camera is a magical bird-you-want-to-see repelling device.
Then Lo! Behold! A flicker of yellow out the corner of my eye. I see something dart by across the meadow into the copse of trees next to me. Could it be? Indeed I hear a Goldfinch break into song very close to me so I freeze (thankfully I was already holding my camera close to my face since silly me left the tripod at home.) A moment later a bright yellow dart zipped out of the trees to perch about 20 feet away on a brush branch right on the edge of the meadow. I was so struck by his beauty for a moment all I could was stand there with a silly grin on my face and enjoy his bright, cheerful song.
Then I realized, he was facing away from me.
But I will not be denied! I crept a little closer, making sure that I didn’t face him directly but only watching him out of the corner of my eye.
He let loose another barrage of song, and I clicked away with abandon.
Then he noticed me….
“Hey lady, whatcha doin’?”
He kindly gave me another couple of rounds of song…..
And yet another saucy (even if slightly-out-of-focus) look.
And then he was gone with a quick flitter of wings.
I was so very, stupidly happy. Not that they are rare or uncommon birds, but they can be hard to spot given their tiny stature and quick movements. As a child they were among the first birds I learned to identify and I have always adored their song.
I spent another hour just wandering the area to see what other sights it has to offer and was not disappointed, but I felt I was more or less done for the day. More and more birders and photographers were pouring into what is already a small area causing my people-phobia to kick in and I had not only spotted but photographed my target for the day. Happy and somewhat tired I trudged back to the bus stop for my hour long ride home, all the while planning my next trip.
So I think that I may have come to terms with the fact the I might indeed be a photographer of grackles, when it comes to the bird world. Yet I still wanted to catch a picture of a goldfinch and thus spent yet another hour or so wandering around Montrose Bird Sanctuary attempting to follow the Song of the Finch.
Oh yes, that is right, I could hear at least two Goldfinch singing, but couldn’t spot the little buggers to save my life. After getting an awesome shot of a male cardinal with his face totally obscured by a tree branch I started feeling a little desperate. I changed locations and parked my self in the shade of a little copse near an open field and decided that what ever may come, I WILL photograph it.
Then my favorite bird, a red winged black bird, showed up. Glee!
You know he wasn’t going to make it easy on me though.
Oh yeah, that is right! Keep that head turned away from my camera. Work it birdie!
Yes, full all out mating display, while hiding behind a branch! This little guy really knows how to make a photographer cry.
Bird, now you’re just being coy and messing with my head, aren’t you? GAH! But at least he is showing off his pretty red epaulets for me. Actually, I kind of like this shot, it is like he has a secret and is gloating over it (though really he just has an itch).
Finally he turned to face me!
Just as the light shifted of course. AHhhHhHHHhhhhHHHH!!!!!!! BIRDS!
– To Be Continued
You may wonder what the effect on my poor, already broken psyche all this being mocked by animals who have no comprehension that they are mocking me may be having. I want to do it again. This time, I want to go and catch the sun rise with the little beasties.
It was an overcast and chilly morning, but undeterred I grabbed the camera and headed out for Montrose Bird Sanctuary located right on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I’ve been lazy about my photography for a year now, and am endeavoring to do better so I figured, “Crappy light? Oh well! I’ll learn how to use it!” (Yay unrealistically positive me!) As I was heading for a Bird Sanctuary, I’m sure you already figured out this meant I was planning on taking photos of birds.
I’ve never been adverse to bird photos before, but most of the ones I’ve taken have been easy targets, a goose on the lawn (feckin’ geese are EVERYWHERE!) or birds in the zoo. Today was different, I wasn’t just going to capture a shot of a grackle or a gull around the city, I was going to their territory, their natural habitat, and damn if I wasn’t going to find a bird more interesting than a grackle. (I must apologize to the grackles for that, I love them, but they are as common as muck though a damn sight prettier.) My goal was to find an American Goldfinch, tiny, swift and brightly colored, they are hard targets for people like me with a second-hand 75-300mm telephoto lens (read that as I still have to damn close to get a decent shot). Aim for the heavens!
Then I remembered why I don’t often try to photographs birds. They don’t cooperate. At all.
Remember what I said about grackles? They’re everywhere! And this one saw fit to give me his back. When he did finally turn around he made sure that there would be a branch between us as well. Brat.
Did I mention he made sure he was in the shade on a partly overcast day? It is like he was out to thwart me! BIRDS!
So I went on. Surely I’ll find more interesting birds right? Half an hour later I’ve spotted a titmouse, a yellow bellied sap sucker, honest to goodness American house sparrows (but oddly no English ones), innumerable gulls, crows, red wing black birds and robins yet all I have to show for it is some photos of branches and sky. I need to change my plan.
So I pick a likely spot and just wait. 10 minutes go by, as do a pair of thrushes (I think) and some kind of huge woodpecker. No joy. I wait longer. And then HE shows up to pose on a branch just perfectly for me.
They are such handsome birds…. Oh dear lord, I am a grackle photographer!
(The Birding Adventure continues tomorrow.)