I’m standing next to a bush and notice a leaf twitching. I’ll bet this is a Wilson’s Warbler, the most timid of all the warblers. It feels like fishing, kinda, following that twitchy leaf around this bush, waiting to see who pops out. Just then Mr. Wilson reveals himself, but only long enough for me to snap a few photos. He immediately realizes he is not alone and quickly ducks back into his bush. He really likes this bush, stays here every time he passes through town, so I know I can come back tomorrow and try to photograph him again.
Becoming a world-class wilderness explorer is not as simple as just walking around random places with a camera and taking pictures. Nope, a single shoot requires months of research and planning. Take my latest hummingbird shoot for instance, all kinds of work went into making this happen. First there’s research: google
orange bugle shaped flower, tiny orange wildflower, orange hummingbird wildflower, that’s it right there! Jewel weed, aka touch-me-not, there’s a bunch of this stuff at Hort Park and I know the hummingbirds love it. There’s planning: is it going to be sunny at lunch time? I dunno, maybe I should check the weather app on my phone. There’s a Subway across the street from Hort Park, perhaps I’ll get a sandwich afterward. Then there’s the actual picture taking, it’s kind of like magic, so I’m not sure I can explain how that part works. These hummingbirds were engaged in the most adorable aerial battle for flower patch supremacy and they would hardly sit still long enough for a photo. Back and forth, up and down I swung my camera with nary a photo to show for my efforts. Then I looked down at my side and there was a single hummingbird right next to me, moving from flower to flower like I wasn’t even there! I watched her for a while and then the rest calmed down enough for a photo shoot.
I was sitting out back working on my next literary masterpiece, when I heard the distinctive, “smushy” chirp of a Red-eyed Vireo. Being one of my favorite sounds in nature, I paused briefly to soak it in. A few minutes later I was staring off into space, it’s part of my process, when I realized my semi-annual visitor, the Hermit Thrush, was sitting in his favorite spot on the fence. I love that little dude, twice a year he shows up and hangs out in the yard for a week. Not long after that an American Redstart showed up and danced around in some low hanging branches directly above me. That was all I could take, so I grabbed my gear and headed to the bog. As is typical in my world, the first three birds I spotted at the bog were a Red-eyed Vireo, Hermit Thrush and American Redstart! Now, I’m not saying they followed me to the bog that day, but it’s been known to happen in my world.
Let’s kick off the fall warbler migration with a spectacular little bird called the Golden-winged Warbler. I am vaguely familiar with this awesome little dude, by that I mean I’ve seen it in a field guide before. A somewhat rare bird I never figured I’d see, let’s just say I freaked out a little bit when I saw him this morning!
The warblers are back but please allow me to contain my excitement, this is a professional website after all. Yesterday I noticed the telltale flitting about of a bunch of warblers in a little tree. They’re back!!! Woo hoo!!! Snoopy dance!!! Ahem, sorry. So I made my way stealthfully? Stealthily? Yeah that’s it, I made my way stealthily under that little tree and spent an hour with all kinds of warblers, titmice, and waxwings. A tree full of WARBLERS!?!?! Woo hoo!!! It was amazing!!! After a while everyone moved on and as I turned to walk away I noticed this soggy little titmouse baby sitting there with a confused look on his face, unsure of what to think about life at the bog. Or unsure of why I spent the last hour giggling at a tree!
I know more about photography than most birds, but occasionally one comes along and teaches me something. Take this Gray Catbird, he insisted that I take this photo on his favorite perch. It’s gonna be horribly backlit, I warned, but he didn’t care and continued to insist. So I took the shot and as I went to show him the proof that I was right yet again, I realized that it actually turned out pretty good. Thanks bird!
Fall warbler migration is almost upon us and I know you’re all just as excited about it as I am! We were lucky enough to have a mating pair of Yellow Warblers at the bog this summer. It was exciting to see this bright yellow, beady eyed little dude showing up all summer long when I least expected it. In a few weeks there will be a whole bunch of these beauties stopping by the bog to get their pictures taken, prior to heading south to Mexico, South America and the tropics.
I can’t always take the credit for these amazing photos I capture day after day. I know what you’re thinking, who else could possibly get the credit for taking these amazing photos then? Well, lemme tell ya’, sometimes an amazing bird lands on an amazing limb in some amazing light and the photo practically takes itself. Such is the case with this Baltimore Oriole photo, everything about this shot is just amazing. It looks like a postcard to me. Just so we’re clear though, it’s usually my amazing camera work.
Every year about this time, my squirrels don these ridiculous looking chocolate milk mustaches. Knowing what I know about nature, which is probably just about everything, I can tell you without a doubt that these mustaches are caused by munching on black walnuts. Special thanks to one viewer (mom) for reminding me that I already knew this.
Continuing on my quest to illustrate to the world just how cool the common sparrow can be, I give you the White-throated Sparrow. Look at that black and white striped head with those yellow patches. I guarantee the first time you get up close and personal with one of these beauties you will be stunned by how cool he looks.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a big ‘ole dude, that’s the first thing you’ll notice about this bird. Next is his black and white coloration and that bright red breast patch; might as well be a bullseye because you’ll spot him from a mile away! Then there’s that beak, that big beautiful white beak, not gross at all if you ask me. To hear one sing, you’d swear you were listening to a robin at first, until those warbles begin to unravel with the kind of flair only a grosbeak could possess. And a Warbling Vireo. And a Baltimore Oriole. And most warblers. Anyway you get the point, they warble real good!
I watched nervously as an enormous and terrifying beast scurried through the treetops toward me. That thing must be a thousand pounds, what is it!?!? Just then it popped out onto an old dead tree that was leaning over precariously. Oh, squirrel. Whew. He seemed very excited, like every squirrel the moment before jumping out of a tree onto some unsuspecting human. Then he made his move, sliding head first down that tree and stopping halfway to make sure I was watching, then all the way to the bottom!
They’re loud, obnoxious, annoying, and they poop everywhere. Get too close to their nest and they’ll sneak up from behind and peck you in your rump region. Having said all that, in the hands of a world-class wildlife photographer such as myself, they really are quite photogenic. On a side note, these geese are in the exact same location as a photo I posted last winter, and if I didn’t know so much about nature, I’d swear they’ve been standing there ever since!