Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

January 13, 2011

Vagrant Chestnut-sided Warbler

Filed under: Birds, light — richditch @ 9:50 pm
Chestnut-sided Warbler - AZ Vagrant

Chestnut-sided Warbler - AZ Vagrant

Over the years as bird photography has grown to take more of my time I have less time to chase after rarities reported on the birding hotlines. Chasing rare birds used to be the lifeblood of my passion for birds, and the “pressure of the list” meant I’d travel and try to see any vagrant within a one day round trip radius.

Although I’m still quite interested to seeing birds I’ve never seen before (adding a “lifer” in birding shorthand) I don’t chase after many of the vagrants that get reported.

This Chestnut-sided Warbler was discovered at the Rio Salado area along the Salt River course in central Phoenix in early December, but since I’ve seen plenty of them in their normal range back in my New Jersey days it wouldn’t be a lifer. Nor would it be a State bird – I’d seen a couple already in AZ.

But I had other business in central Phoenix earlier this week so I decided to spend a little time to look for this reported bird. I was in luck: I found the warbler feeding in a row of small mesquite trees not far from the parking lot. Unlike the numerous Yellow-rumped Warblers that always seem to be too active or too high for me to get decent shots this bird fed more slowly and stayed lower. The warbler stayed mostly in the shade but the mesquites are fairly open so I had a lot of light on the background. I tried to balance my exposure to get reasonable brightness on the bird without blowing out the background – I like this result for the light airy feel it gives. Fill flash would have evened out the light a bit, but I am never comfortable with using flash and usually don’t like the artificial look of the results.

Chestnut-sided Warbler - AZ Vagrant

Chestnut-sided Warbler - AZ Vagrant

January 10, 2011, Nikon D70 with Nikkor AF-S 300/2.8 and TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/500th second at f/5.6 on Gitzo 1325 tripod.



  1. Rich,

    I love the exposure you used for these images, there is plenty of visible detail in the plumage and the subtle colors are just great. I find the background to be especially appealing in both images because of the lacey mesquite leaves & branches.

    Comment by Mia — January 14, 2011 @ 4:26 am

  2. Beautiful photos with nice composition (as usual with yours.)

    Comment by @Bosque_Bill — January 14, 2011 @ 8:12 am

  3. Great stuff, Rich! Congratulations!

    Comment by Lee Daniels — January 14, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

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