With the weather finally changing in Phoenix we’ve been seeing some welcome changes in the birds as migrants move through the area. There has been a surprising number of Vaux’s Swifts reported from all parts of AZ in the past couple of weeks. One person has already found a couple White-crowned Sparrows at the Gilbert Water Ranch. The first Mountain Plover of the season has just been reported. Swainson’s Hawks are on the move.
Warbler activity has been good at the Water Ranch, with more Nashville Warblers around than I’m used to seeing. Unlike in the eastern states (my formative birding was done in New Jersey), the migrants here in AZ occur in smaller numbers and seem to hang around in select spots rather than continuously move around. Fewer birds, but more predictable for follow up.
Unfortunately, my tripod-based 300/2.8 plus 2x converter isn’t the best rig for small active birds – I takes too long for me to get into position. I would be better served by a 300/4 with a 1.4x that I could use hand held – that’s about as close as I can get in the Nikon system to the old manual rig I used in my NJ film days. That was a manual focus 400/5.6: a marvelously light and compact lens that I could carry around on a shoulder strap all day long as I hiked about the woods looking for warblers.
This image isn’t perfect, with a clipped tail, mottled light, and a lot of clutter. but its the best I could do with my slow rig.