Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

February 8, 2010

Yet Another White-crowned Sparrow

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 8:05 am
White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

I haven’t had much time to get out and shoot lately, nor to process anything I do bring home. This blog has also fallen behind.

But I did get out for a couple hours on the weekend, and I finally squeezed in some time to at least review Saturday’s files. I was hoping to see and photograph a Rufous-crowned Sparrow that a friend discovered at our local spot, so I spent about 40 minutes sitting on the cold damp ground watching the area for any sign of the bird. I didn’t see the rufous-crowned, but had lots of opportunity to watch my friends the White-crowned Sparrows at close range. As a displaced eastern birder I never get tired of seeing these common western birds that were much less common in the mid Atlantic area.

The heavy rains we’ve had lately in central Arizona knocked down a lot of the seeds from the bushes at the Gilbert Water Ranch, and the sparrows were taking advantage of the seeds that had collected in this spot along one of the paths. These birds had no problems with me sitting close by with the camera at a low tripod height, even though they scattered back into cover every time a jogger or dog walker came along the path. After each interruption the birds would return to collect seeds, and sometimes they’d stage on the shrub on the other side of the path.

This turned out to be the best setting, and I was thrilled when one immature white-crown stayed long enough for over 30 frames. I was able to fidget with aperture, and also got various head positions. I always try to get as many frames as possible when an opportunity like this occurs as very tiny changes in head position can make or break an image – especially when working with directional light as I prefer to do. A natural catchlight in the eye is very important to giving life to an image.

I confess I rushed processing of this image to get it ready last night, and I may come back to it later to fine tune tones and brightness. And I might find that I prefer another frame from the sequence when I get time to process some more shots.

2/6/10, Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/350th second @ f/8. Natural light (no flash). Not baited, no setup, no cloning. Cropped to about 75% of frame.

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