Bird Watching Surprise
We’ve had a bout of unseasonably warm weather this past week with highs into the 80’s and clear blue skies. Top it all off with a light breeze and you’ve got all the makings of perfection. I was chomping at the bit to hit up my local lunchtime spot but complications kept getting in the way. Finally, I was able to get out for very hurried 45 minute walk along the nature trail with my trusty Canon Rebel XT.
The first thing I noticed was that the cardinals were out in full force on that particular day. Within ten minutes I’d seen close to 6 or 10 zipping through the branches and calling to one another. Matter of fact, after I got to my usual observation spot, I was sure they had pretty much taken over the area.
That’s when a slight gray blur traced through the corner of my vision. It took me a moment to find where it had gone and several more minutes to get on it with the camera. At first I thought it was a late slate junco so I attempted to get a few shots as practice for spring warbler migration. If you’ve ever tried to photograph a small fast bird in brush with an automatic focus 300 mm zoom lens I think you’ll understand by the word “practice. ”
I was on the bird and struggling with the auto focus wanting to lock on branches between me and it when the bird turned and I got a shocking look of a bright yellow golden stripe down the center of its head. It would seem I was practicing for shooting warblers by actually photographing the next best thing, a kinglet.
I flipped off the automatic focus and spent the next twenty minutes trying to get some decent captures. I got three. I’ll check it off as a success.
The bird above is a golden crowned kinglet and another one for my life list. At the time I didn’t know what I was looking at but I made sure to make as many notes as possible. After posting a small pic with a shoutout on Twitter later that evening, I got the ID confirmation I needed. Once again, the power of Twitter reveals itself!
Shortly after it’s visit I heard a loud rapid fire melody of different songs. At first I thought it was a northern mockingbird but the song was much louder then I was used to. I was about to change position to get a better view of what it might be when it suddenly flew into the high branches of a nearby tree.
I’d not seen a brown thrasher up so high before, normally encountering them on the ground foraging. It’s singing made me grin because it was so loud and so different, almost playful. He showed no concern to my presence and continued to sing for several minutes. I stayed for a while, watching and listening until I realized I was out of time and needed to head back to the office.
As I turned and headed back to the car, the kinglet made a final appearance by landing on a branch no more than ten feet from me. I had no time to get the camera ready as he was gone the minute I tried to slowly reach down for it. They are such fast little birds!