Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hooded Warbler, or the frustrations and joys of bird photography

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hooded Warbler, Central Park
my best shot of this bird, from the second day

Sunday, I went into Central Park and ran into Pat Pollock, who told me that a Hooded Warbler--a beautifully-marked male--had been seen in the Ramble between Laupot Bridge and the Rustic Shelter. That's a small area with a lot of logs down in it, very nice terrain for a Hooded.

When I arrived, a couple of other birders and I quickly spotted the bird, very active around the logs.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hooded Warbler, Central Park

At one point he popped up with an insect in his beak. There was a moment's pause in his activity, and I got in a couple of snaps.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hooded Warbler, Central Park
fuzzy meal

Normally, I don't like to blame my camera for my poor results. But I don't understand what happened with the autofocus here--he was right in the middle of the frame (the version here is a heavy crop), right under the center focus point, and he's quite contrasty, so the camera's (Panasonic GX-7) focus system should have been happy.

I still like the photo--I always like photos of warblers with prey.

The warbler disappeared after that, but since people told me he had been circling the area all day, I waited for another opportunity. Unfortunately, about twenty minutes or so later, another photographer walked into the area trying to get an angle on another bird singing in the treetops. I think that spooked him, and he didn't come back in the next half hour before I moved on.

However, another birder found him later that afternoon, and he was reported in the area again on Monday morning, so off I went again. I met Annabella and Sol, two of the regular birders, looking for him. They moved off to the other side of the stream near the bridge, where the bird had also been reported.

A bit later, I happened to glance that way, and saw a flash of yellow in a bush. That's when I got the photo at the top of this post. I called out, and Anabella and Sol got their eyes on the bird as well.

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Hooded Warbler and birder, Central Park
birders in front of me, birders behind me...

We tracked the warbler around the area. At one point it was in perfect light, maybe eight to ten feet away, camera refused to focus on it. (I should point out that the lens I use for birding is not great for manual focusing.) Bah.

Of course, sometimes the camera (and the cameraman) work flawlessly:

Ed Gaillard: birds &emdash; Canada Warbler, Central Park
Canada Warbler, posing about 8 feet away. Uncropped.

On Monday and Tuesday I also saw a Worm-Eating Warbler and my first-of-season Swainson's Thrush at Tupelo Meadow, several Blue-Winged Warblers, and as I left the Ramble on Monday about 6pm, a Common Nighthawk. The Nighthawk was flying low over the 79th Street Transverse toward Turtle Pond. Beautiful long, sharply-tapered wings with white bars underneath. It appeared to be evading some Robins, so I think it had been chased off it's daytime roost. I went to Turtle Pond, and found a several birders watching pale Male roosting in a tree. They hadn't seen the Nighthawk, and really it could have ended up anywhere.  A thrilling sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment