Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 4, 2009

Not all photos are about being pretty

Filed under: behavior, Birds, Boyce Thompson Arboretum, favorite places, rarities — richditch @ 9:58 pm
Chestnut-sided Warbler at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Chestnut-sided Warbler at Boyce Thompson Arboretum

As I said in the introductory post here I’ve been a birder as long as I’ve been a photographer. So it should be no surprise that sometimes I act more like a birder than a photographer.

That was the case today when I decided to make a longer drive than usual so I could look for a state rarity about 80 miles from home. A White-winged Scoter had been discovered at Kearny Lake, a small remote community whose park lake has attracted other rare birds because it offers the only large body of water in the area. The only other White-winged Scoter I’d seen in AZ was over 10 years ago, and I sort of missed this bird that was a winter regular in the coastal waters on New Jersey where I used to live.

Well, the scoter stayed too far out in the lake for decent photos, and the rain got heavier so I left after 90 minutes of peaceful watching.

My drive home took me past Boyce Thompson Arboretum just outside Superior, AZ. This is a favorite park where I lead a couple of bird walks each season. I decided to make a quick stop and look for another rarity that had been seen in the past few weeks including the day before: a Chestnut-sided Warbler. It was the first bird I saw, and it was in the same spot a friend had seen it the previous day.

It was strange to watch this bird feed on the ground and allow me to get very close. But the light was low from the rainy skies, so I pushed the ISO up to 500 and even tried a few shots with the tiny pop-up flash on the Nikon D200 (quicker than getting my SB-800 flash out and attached in the light rain).

This image has its problems: it is a bit tight; the tail of the warbler is cut off by the edge of the frame; I’d like more space below the bird and less than I have above it; I wish the leaf above the bird didn’t merge with the unique greenish-yellow plumage of the warble; and more depth-of-field would be nice as well. But I’m quite happy with this much quality given the rarity of the bird here and the weather.

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