Warbler In The Bushes
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Every day when I head out with my camera I ask myself what I’m likely to encounter and what photo opportunities will I have. As it turns out, I seldom guess right, particularly this time of year when species are on the move with new arrivals almost daily. Lately, I’ve been concentrating on walking the pathways at Sweetwater Wetlands — a surprisingly small and compact area of only a couple hundred acres (at most). One would think that I would be pretty good at anticipating what’s likely to be present in such a compressed habitat, but I never really know for sure what I’m going to see.
The other day I spent an hour strolling on the paths and seeing absolutely nothing at all that I could photograph. There were birds and animals present, but always at a distance or shielded by vegetation. Or, I’d spot something fairly interesting and be defeated by the sun shining directly into my eyes. After a while, I concluded that I was going to be skunked for the day, and decided to head for the parking lot.
The parking lot at the wetlands is separated from the ponds and marshes by a small bridge over a narrow man-made creek. I was crossing the bridge, just a few yards from my car, when I saw some rustling in the bushes on the other side of the creek, no more than about 10-15 feet away from me. I steadied my camera on the bridge’s railing, pointed the lens at the shrubbery, and waited. And, after about five seconds, this popped out into plain view.
It was an Orange-crowned Warbler, a species that I’ve photographed previously. However, I’ve never had such a close encounter with one of these birds. Any closer and it would have been within the minimum focusing distance of my lens. The little warbler and I looked at each other for a couple of seconds. Then, it casually resumed its foraging, rustling around in the bushes some more. I assumed that I’d had my one and only photo opportunity with this bird. But, after about 30 seconds it moved into plain view again.
Once again, I photographed it. The warbler then, and finally, disappeared from view for good.
Usually I have to work pretty hard to get shots like these. Songbirds don’t like to be observed closely and they usually hide or fly away when I approach them. I’ve spent more time than I can recall stalking some little bird only to have it fly off before I can take its picture. These two images were a gift, and I’m immensely grateful.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, aperture preferred setting, ISO 500. The first image shot at f6.3 @ 1/2500, the second at f6.3 @ 1/800.