To fight “cabin fever” here in way too hot Phoenix I’ve been visiting Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, AZ, about 60 miles east of where I live. My two recent trips have been chases (“twitches” as British birders call them) after reported rarities discovered by others: the first on July 10 for a Thick-billed Kingbird well north of its usual range; and July 20 for Big-horned Sheep (last seen at the arboretum in 2002). For the record I saw neither the kingbird (a one day wonder) nor the sheep (refound by friends as I was about to depart and gone by the time I got back to their location).
My consolation prize on the July 10 visit was more time with the juvenile Cooper’s Hawks that I’d seen a few days earlier. They were in the same location and I was prepared for them.
For this pair of images I increased my ISO to 1600 – a value that is less an ideal from an image quality standpoint but still quite useful and remarkable compared to what we could do in the days of film.
Whenever a subject cooperates I like to get variations on framing and overall composition if at all possible. I love this setting, with the normally fierce accipiter surrounded by soft white flowers. I had some difficulty fining a completely clear view but did my best to keep the greenery from blocking the eye. In the first image (the horizontal composition) I was so concerned by the eye that I inadvertently clipped the tail at the bottom of the frame.
A minute later I was able to get a somewhat clearer view of the eye and face, and I also went to vertical to include the tip of the tail. I like both images but prefer the first one by a slight margin as it shows more of the soft setting. I”d be interested in hearing your preferences between these two images.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 300/2.8 AF-S plus TC20E III (2x), tripod, ISO 1600, 1/125-1/160th second, f/8, spot metered