Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

July 10, 2009

Northern Parula – Winter Vagrant

Filed under: behavior, Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, rarities — richditch @ 7:34 pm
Northern Parula #1

Northern Parula #1

I know I’ve been neglecting the birds in my blog recently, but its not from lack of interest. I just haven’t been out lately taking photos: its too hot now, and I’ve been too busy with other commitments. So, here are a few shots from January 18, 2008 to help get through the 114 degree weekend in Phoenix.

Northern Parula (Parula americana) is a casual transient and winter visitor in Maricopa County, AZ. In my 15 years here I’ve only seen 2-3 of them, including this bird that hung around the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ from its discovery on 12/14/07 at least into March of 2008.

Northern Parula #2

Northern Parula #2

At first it moved about some, but after 2-3 weeks it found a spot it must have liked a lot and it became easier to locate on any particular visit to the Water Ranch. And that gave some of us more opportunities to get some decent photos of the bird.

But being able to find the bird is not the same as being able to get good photos of it. Keep in mind that I don’t use taped calls to pull a bird into camera range, nor do I create an “outdoor studio” set up with a selected perch and bait it with food. Instead I try to spend enough time watching the bird to learn its ways and hope that I have enough patience and luck to catch the bird in good light and in clear view on a nice perch. Yes, I toss out a lot of shots I take with this approach, but it just feels better to me letting the bird be itself rather than having me control it for my purposes.

Northern Parula #3

Northern Parula #3

These three images were all taken during a single encounter with the Northern Parula, when all the random variables worked out in my favor. All were taken with my Nikon D200 and my Nikkor 300/2.8 lens with TC20E 2x converter (effective focal length 600 mm). The camera was set on ISO 400. Natural light only; no flash. As always when I’m on a walkabout the camera and lens were mounted on a Gitzo 1325 carbon fiber tripod with a gimbal head.

Of course we all hoped the bird would return to the Water Ranch the following winter, but it didn’t. We still looked for it, though, in the spot it liked so much.

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