Walking back into my house this afternoon after being out all day I realized something. When you find a job that makes you feel like you’re playing all day, then you’ve hit the jackpot. Photography for me is fun, super fun! I never get bored with it and I’m always challenging myself and coming up with great project ideas.
This week has been filled with nature and migrating birds. In particular Warblers, those beautiful yellow and other colorful bug eating birds that dart back and forth high in the tree tops out of reach of us mere mortals. Actually, I really have a love-hate relationship with Warblers. In particular the Hooded Warbler that taunts me with his call “NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH-NAH…you can hear me but you can’t see me.”
The past two years I’ve vowed that I was going to do my best in getting some worthy images of these quick birds but I might as well started beating my head against the wall. Warblers are hard, really hard. Ha ! I think since my last post said the same thing, it surely must be true. And so, I’ve been going out daily the past two weeks, listening hard to the birds and hoping I’d start to hear the warblers. I scoured the local Facebook birding pages to find out what other people seeing, and where.
With a roughly educated guess, I headed out on Sunday as it was forecasted to be an overcast day, which is ideal for photographing warblers as you’re not fighting harsh shadows and bright spots in the forest. Going to a local favorite Wildlife Refuge, I got out of the car and heard a symphony of Warblers. I couldn’t believe my ears. So many birds ! Entering into the wooded trail along the river I began the long wait for them to show themselves.
Standing quietly on the boardwalk I waited..and waited. Flurries of activity on a tree here and there. Waiting for them to appear on my side on the tree, and hope they stay long enough for my camera to focus on them. Hoping they picked a branch that was more open than the others.
I was truly amazed as finally I arrived at the right place at the right time. In fact, I may have been in a Warbler Mecca as they kept me entertained, and elusive for hours. Five hours later, I emerged with some wonderful images of twelve species. But believe it or not, I took only about 400 images. Usually my shutter count is much higher on a birding outing. But I was waiting for the right shot before clicking away.
It was perhaps one of the most amazing bird experiences I have had, short of visiting Costa Rica with the quantity of birds, and variety of species in one place. But with anything in life, things are fleeting, and within a day, the warblers began to wane in my little Warbler mecca and those that followed my footsteps weren’t nearly as successful.
However, I read something today that resonates with this – “There is no elevator going to Heaven, you must take the stairs.”
Photographing birds, and wildlife overall takes time. Lots of time, and tons of patience. I was asked by many “Where did you go?” “How did you see them?” Well, the not so easy answer is PRACTICE. Lots of practice and this is the 5th year that I’ve been trying to photograph warblers and looking at my images on Flickr, you can see a marked difference in the images I started with to the captures I’m able to get now.
While browsing tonight I came across a great video by Cornell Ornithology that helps you get an idea of what it takes to find and see warblers. Showing a variety of warblers, along with them singing, it should be helpful in your search of these elusive beauties. Good luck to you and see you in the Loony bin.