With summer firmly in play in Phoenix (our temps this week are running in the triple digits with 113 expected for a high) I’m not getting out to do much shooting. Even if I could find a way to get to the cooler high country it wouldn’t work out so well as much of the best birding areas are on fire. So, my birding is pretty much limited to my backyard.
We were taken by surprise yesterday (June 23, 2011) when this Warbling Vireo showed up, very interested in my small water feature just off the patio. We see occasional Warbling Vireos in the yard during spring and fall migration, but in June they are supposed to be nesting in the mixed forests at much higher elevation. As soon as I spotted this bird I grabbed a camera and started shooting. My first shots were with the D200 and the ever-ready 70-300 VR lens, but when it dropped down to the water feature I quickly mounted the D300 with 300/2.8 and TC20E 2x on the tripod.
Although the water feature is within camera range when I sit on the floor just inside the sliding glass door the light can be difficult and the glass even more of a problem. But trying to get my gear outside into the triple digits is such a hassle that it is likely to chase away any potential subjects.
For this series of images I set the D300 to ISO 800 to give a higher shutter speed at wide open f/5.6. I rarely used this high ISO with the D200 – just too noisy. But it is very usable on the D300. I managed 1/160th second here.
To improve the composition I’ve cropped this image by 50% to tighten up everything. I also had to burn down the brightest parts of the water feature in addition to my standard set of adjustments to levels, saturation, and curves in Photoshop.
The results may not be as pleasing as the images I get out walking about in the less hot parts of the year, but I’m quite happy with this documentation of such an out of season bird.