Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

December 29, 2010

Black Phoebe on a post

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 3:40 pm
Black Phoebe

Black Phoebe

Usually I make my visits to the Gilbert Water Ranch at sunrise and depart after 90 minutes or 2 hours as I prefer working with the softer light at that time of day. But I wasn’t able to visit there until afternoon on Monday, December 27, 2010. There were more photographers about than I normally encounter, while subjects for my bird photography were less abundant than I’d like.

I did, however, find a cooperative Black Phoebe hunting from a post in the shade of a mesquite tree along the path. Many people don’t pay much attention to this species; perhaps it isn’t showy enough for them as it lacks the ever popular bright colors. But I enjoy them and would take more photos of them if they didn’t spend so much time at the top of tall trees or on the other side of large trees overhanging the water where I can’t get close to them.

The minor challenges with this particular bird were the low position under the tree, and the relative gloom from the shade of the leaves. I found a suitable viewing position for my tripod-mounted rig and set the lens to the widest aperture (f/5.6 for the 300 with 2x converter) to give me the highest shutter speed I could get. Then I just took shots as the phoebe made repeated sorties to the ground to feed on whatever it could find. This unobstructed profile was my favorite.

Nikon D200, Nikkor 300/2.8 F-S plus TC20E (2x), Gitzo tripod, ISO 400, f/5.6 at 1/320th second.70% of full frame.



  1. Nice – I’m also a fan of Black Phoebe. I really enjoy the behavior of these birds, and black and white contrast. Even saw a yellow and black one in Patagonia a couple of years back.

    FWIW, there has been one at GWR over the years that is consistently cooperative, often perching on the Pond 3 sign (when water is present, anyway).

    Comment by Nature's Archive — January 1, 2011 @ 2:30 pm

  2. An excellent job with the exposure Rich, the details look great and I really love the light in the bird’s eye.

    Comment by Mia — January 1, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  3. I miss Black Phoebes. They were part of my early birding experience along the Salt River near Red Mountain, Mesa, AZ. It was a bird I distinctly recall identifying on my own, which always makes that bird more special for some reason.

    Comment by Robert Mortensen — January 1, 2011 @ 10:00 pm

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