When Chestnut-sided Warblers are intent on feeding, they are very intent. I am glad, all things considered, that this Chestnut-sided at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area on the Erie Shore in Ohio, was intent on small insects and not on me. That is a very fierce look. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ ISO 800 @ f4. Processed in Polarr.
A pair of Prothonotary Warblers was cleaning out a potential nest hole right next to the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. (Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor, Ohio.) Predictably a pair of House Wrens showed up to challenge them. This male spent hours singing around the hole, claiming it for its own. In the end I don’t think either pair ended up nesting in the hole…which is probably just as well since it was only a few feet from the passing human traffic, and only maybe 4 feet from the ground with easy access for predators. Still they put a lot of energy into trying to claim the site. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.
The Yellow Warbler is, perhaps, the most common warbler along the Magee Marsh Boardwalk on the Erie Shore of Ohio during migration. It might be outnumbered by Magnolia or Black-throated Green, or Chestnut-sided on individual days, but the Yellow is a nesting bird all across North America and has the staying power and numbers to win the overall title. I think. That is certainly how it appears most years on the boardwalk. Being common we birders tend not to pay them as much attention. You can spot a “non-birder” on the boardwalk easily…they are the ones super excited by Yellow Warblers (and generally the ones trying to photograph them with their cell phones). But we birders, at least those of us who ignore “just another yellow”, are wrong. There is no reason not to get excited about a Yellow Warbler. It is among the most beautiful of warblers with its bright yellow, red streaked, plumage and its bold song…and they sing a lot. This bird was holding forth on the East end of the boardwalk on one of my final early evening visits. I am as guilty as anyone of paying too little attention to Yellows, until one jumps up and sings in my face, so that I have to take its photo. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 320. Processed in Polarr.
A pair of Prothonotary Warblers was exploring a nesting cavity in an old snag right by the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area on the Erie Shore in Ohio during the Biggest Week in American Birding. This panel shows the male at the hole, in various poses and postures. The Prothonotary is an eye-catching bird at any time, but this panel, I think, shows off some of its equally attractive personality…or birdality…or prothonotariality. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 1250. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
The birds may have been close and at or below eye-level on the last few days of the Biggest Week in American Birding, but that does not mean they were easy. Warblers rarely are. They were feeding so avidly and moving so fast through thick brush that it was difficult to catch them in the frame…and even more difficult to get unobstructed shots. Leaves were emerging rapidly and there always seemed to a twig or two (when there were not a dozen) between us and the birds. Still, persistence is the key. I probably took 5000 frames during the 10 days I was in Ohio. I imported 2500 of them to my iPad, and processed almost 600 keepers. And I was “working” the festival, so my time on the boardwalk was limited. This Bay-breasted Warbler is from my final turn around the boardwalk after closing up Optics Alley. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 400. Processed in Polarr. To give you an idea of how close the bird was, this is cropped only slightly from full frame.
The last two days of the Biggest Week in American Birding were dark and rainy and cold, but among the best for seeing warblers close. The warblers were working the boardwalk on both sides at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area as close as I have ever seen them…often within 5 feet of us, and sometimes closer. With the 4 foot close focus of the Sony RX10iv at 600mm it made for some of my best warbler shots yet. This female Cape May Warbler is an attractive bird at any time. It lacks the bright flash of the male but its subtle coloring and acrobatic habits make it worth a second look. I especially like the posture in this portrait, hanging upside down to get at the delicate flowers. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 1250. (I have my ISO set to Minimum Shutter Speed 1/500th to achieve the sharpest images…sometimes at the expense of higher ISOs.)
Blackburnian Warblers get into all kinds of strange postures while actively feeding. They are a lot of fun to watch…flashing that brilliant ember of a throat. The birds were all working close to the boardwalk yesterday at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor Ohio for the final day of the Biggest Week in American Birding, and by early evening the sun had broken through. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ ISO 250 @ f4. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Tonight after we closed up at Optics Alley
at the Biggest Week in American Birding,
the warblers on the boardwalk at Magee
Marsh were working as close as you will
ever see them, closer than you will ever
see them anywhere other than Magee. Cape
May, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated
Blue, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, all within
feet and at, or below, eye-level, and lots of
Ovenbirds scurrying around in the leaf-litter
right under the boardwalk…but it was so
dark, with the lateness of the day and the
heavy overcast, in those dense swampy woods
that the camera struggled to focus and strained
at the limits of exposure. Still who could
resist those bright bodies in the dim light
teasing our trigger fingers and filling memory
cards, hoping against hope for those intimate
portraits of busy warblers at arm’s length.
Like I said in the poem…who can resist. This is an ISO 2500 shot, certainly pushing the limits of my Sony’s 1 inch sensor, but still…such a bird and such a pose! Chestnut-sided Warbler, close and totally unconscious of the admiring humans on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh. This is what the Biggest Week in American Birding is all about. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 2500. Processed in Polarr.
One of the things about the Biggest Week in American Birding and Magee Marsh on the Erie Shore of northern Ohio is that you see all kinds of things you would not normally see. Like the Black-billed Cuckoo right out in the open, foraging in a tree by the parking lot for at least an hour, toward sunset. If you see them at all, they are generally deeply buried in foliage and skulking around. Of course the downside is that at least 150 other photographers have this same or very similar shots of this same bird. What can you do? Take your shot and enjoy it. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
So I was leaving the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ohio on my second Thursday at the Biggest Week in American Birding, when this American Redstart jumped up into a tree 4 feet from the boardwalk and began to sing in my ear. What could I do? I took a whole burst of pics! Then he came closer and I had to back up to keep him in focus. It is a hard life for a photographer here on the Erie Shore in Ohio. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode. 1/500th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr. And I did eventually make it back to the car.