When I take a lunch break during my day job, saving the planet, I’ve only got an hour to eat and photograph some bog birds. So, when I spotted this hoppity little Ruby-crowned Kinglet, I said Hello and I walked away. I could spend two hours chasing this little dude and wind up with no photos. A few minutes later he caught up to me and I said, Hello again, perhaps I’ll see you this evening. Again I walked away, and again he caught up to me. So I shot him! Sometimes even a kinglet insists on being photographed.
The Common Yellowthroat is a new world warbler and a summer resident of the bog. I am very familiar with this bird, and yet, every fall I spot a juvenile frolicking with the migratory warblers and I get very excited. At long last I have discovered a new warbler species! Wait a minute… is that? It is, GRRR!!! It’s just a mischievous little juvenile yellowthroat! Oh well, cute bird though.
I like to employ a birding technique I developed specifically for situations when I’m unsure of a particular bird’s identity. What I do is I grab all the similar species of birds I can find and plop them down on a branch together. That way I can make a close up comparison and identify my bird properly. I had blackburnians on the brain the day this little dude hopped on over and I was momentarily confused. I kept thinking, Blackburnian or Black-throated Green Warbler? Just then a Blackburnian Warbler plopped down on that limb and I could plainly see the difference. Blackburnians have a yellow throat and black-throated greens have a black throat. Duh!
I felt like we’d met before, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Hey… You, I whispered to my new butterfly pal in such a manner that he wouldn’t realize I had no idea of his name. Okay, I give up, I have to ask! You remind me of a swallowtail I once knew, but he was yellow. Who are you? Black Swallowtail!?! That’s what I was gonna say! What a fantastic creature this is!
Right about now you’re probably wondering just how many warblers I’ve photographed so far this fall, and the answer is: a LOT!!! It’s been a fantastic fall warbler migration thus far, although it is starting to wind down a bit. There are a couple more birds I’ll be looking for in the next few weeks and then the fall waterfowl migration begins! It never ends around here! Actually, it does end, then I’m grumpy all winter long. But then it starts all over again in the spring! Here’s #11 of my fall warbler migration series, the Tennessee Warbler.
The final frog from my fabulous froggy Friday a few weeks ago is the Spring Peeper. Okay, okay… it wasn’t a Friday, I must have gotten carried away with my “F’s.” It was a fantastic day though. The fact that I saw four frog species in just a few hours was pretty funny. I feel like I’m doing it again. Hmmm… here’s the Spring Peeper, a cute little fr- uhhh… hopper.
Pardon me sir, but have you seen two little squirrels running around? They look just like me, only smaller and fluffier. I watched two baby Red Squirrels play-fighting about a hundred feet up in a tree and it made me nervous. Shortly thereafter, this mama squirrel approached, looking a little confused, like maybe she lost something. Or two little fluffy somethings.
There are some wonderful opportunities to photograph warblers along the bog bike path as the sun settles in the western sky. I stood there this evening, as bikers and walkers and joggers went by, thinking that while I’ll get some amazing shots right here, there won’t ever be any cool stories because I’m just standing on a bike path; there won’t be any fond memories of that time I stood on the bike path. And then it happened, in typical Dan fashion. I heard a giggle behind me so I glanced over my shoulder to see who was there. It was a familiar face, a lady who walks the path in the evenings with her two tiny daughters. Usually I can hear that stampede coming from miles away, but not tonite. No kids this time, just a lady trying desperately to hold the giggles in her face with both hands. Now I’ve got to know what’s so funny so I looked around and discovered her two tiny daughters crouched down beside me, watching the Cape May Warbler I was photographing! The smallest one looked up at me and I whispered, “There’s birds in there.” She removed her thumb from her face and replied, “Bah’s?” Yup, “bah’s.” See what I mean? Never any good stories along the bike path.
I was wandering around the bog this evening, with a perpetual grin on my face, in utter amazement at the number of warblers and variety of species that have stopped by this fall. I think I even LOL’d at one point just thinking about it, which might explain why people passing by were giving me such a wide berth, and accelerating away once they got past me! Stop at any small tree at the bog right now and I can almost guarantee you’ll see warblers. That’s exactly what I did here: saw some delicious looking fruit, stopped to have a look, and this Blackpoll Warbler popped out and started eating! So here’s this bird, not ten feet away from a humongous photographer, and she still hasn’t a care in the world! This is one of the things I love about warblers.
I think warblers are genetically predisposed to posing for photographers because it seems like just about every time I get one in my sights and mash down the shutter button they do this adorable head tilt. It reminds me of a puppy hearing a new noise for the first time: head tilt left, head tilt right, repeat. Warblers do the head tilt so consistently that I’ll snap a few shots in an effort to get their attention and hopefully make them sit still for a second or two! It actually worked on this Magnolia Warbler the other day.
Here is a stunning little frog I discovered the other day when I spotted all those tree frogs, the Northern Leopard Frog. I know you’re probably thinking I’m very brave for getting so close to this clearly dangerous animal, just for the sake of science, but I can assure you leopard frogs are in no way related to leopard cats. At least I don’t think so… I guess I should have checked before I risked my neck to get these shots!
This time of year you can shove your head into any large shrub at the bog and find a half dozen warblers staring back at you. I can almost guarantee that most of them won’t fly away either, and they’ll probably be giggling about something. With me it’s either the size of my head they’re giggling at, or how ridiculous I look with my head shoved into a shrub! This Nashville Warbler was foraging in a little shrub and couldn’t have been less concerned about me, popping up periodically to see what I was up to, probably out of curiosity more than anything. It’s fun to follow the twitching leaves wherever he goes, especially when he pops out just a few inches away!
I’ve taken so many warbler photos this fall that I hardly have time to process them all. This is a HUGE problem for me… NOT!!! I’m probably backlogged a few weeks but I had to bump this guy to the front of the list. The bog is a sea of fluffy gold and brown birds right now, and then this brilliant black and blue guy shows up in stark contrast and completely stands out. Behold the Black-throated Blue Warbler!
What can I say about the American Crow except that they are smart. Smart enough to stay out of my lens for all these years. I was looking at my lifetime bog bird list and couldn’t help but notice the crow was missing, so I set out to find me one. It didn’t take long to find this guy flying overhead and I feel like I captured the essence of crow, just a big bird flying around, squawking at his pals! Oh, and he is #129 on my bog list!
I was photographing some sandpipers when it occurred to me that the whole rest of the world was directly behind me and I should probably turn around to have a look. I’m glad I did because what I saw was a Green Heron catching a frog, and he was just getting started! Besides that poor old frog, he must have eaten a dozen dragonfly nymphs and several small fish in just a few minutes! This is by far the most animated Green Heron I’ve ever had the privilege to watch; he was running back and forth, tip-toeing around, hopping up on logs, crouching down, and the feathers on top of his head were going crazy!