August 21st, 2008

Warblers, vireos, and more

I take so many photos I'm always behind, but four days ago we drove to the Minor Clark Fish Hatchery to see if we could spot any migrating shore birds foraging in the mud of drained fish breeding ponds.

A juvenile Green Heron fished a pond near the entrance

while a juvenile Belted Kingfisher tried its luck at the next pond down

All the breeding ponds were still full of water so we checked the serviceberry bushes growing along the Licking River for migrating warblers

Above us we occasionally glimpsed a tiny, fast-moving yellow speck as a female Yellow Warbler plunged from leaf to leaf in search of insects


although she sometimes popped out of the leaves for a split second

As we continued along the river bank, a juvenile Eastern Kingbird watched apprehensively

and a juvenile Willow Flycatcher tried to hide by pressing against the trunk

then retreated deeper into the tree

At sunset that evening I walked up Poppy Mnt and surprised a groundhog near the top

I hid in the blackberry thicket but the birds were now wise to me and stayed away, so I crawled out and began walking along the access road.
The sun had already set, but when I looked between the branches and grass into the next meadow, there was the doe George and I had twice seen nursing twin fawns by the access road when we drove up to star gaze at 3 a.m.

She was so close, I could only get the doe and one fawn in the same photo frame

or just the two fawns

As I came back down the mountain, the donkey and her foal were in the hillside field.

When she saw me, the donkey charged up to the fence, like my mule Rabbit does, with an excited bray/nicker of greeting.

She then followed me along the fence, calling so eagerly, I wasn't sure if she was glad to see me or was trying to ask for help; after all, she'd never paid any attention to me before.

I hesitated uncertainly at the foot of the mountain until the foal grew bored and began nipping his mother and playing with a piece of trash

I finally decided they were o.k. and went on home,
but early Tuesday morning I climbed Narnia Ridge and sat in a grove of oak trees next to a Pokeberry patch.
A female Purple Finch came by carrying an insect, possibly to feed young

Unexpectedly, a female Black and white Warbler appeared, hanging from a nearby oak branch-too close for me to focus with the 400mm lens

When it flew to another branch I tried again, however a patch of sunlight overexposed the photo as I'd switched to "auto" because of the darkness under the trees

Once the warbler noticed me, it stayed out of camera range, as did the other birds, so I hid in a blackberry patch, but only could photograph a female Bluebird..all the other birds ducked out of sight whenever I moved the huge camera lens

The next day I tried the pokeberry patch again, and photographed mostly juveniles as usual, since they are less wary;

another juvenile Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

a juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker

and a juvenile Acadian Flycatcher-possibly the same one I photographed before

This morning I tried hiding in a multiflora thicket, but a snitch female Cardinal, then a crow, made a career out of announcing my presence to everyone so I gave up and waded through head-high Horseweed to peer into a small wild cherry tree, surprising a fledgling White-eyed Vireo.

which didn't know what I was

One of the parents kept feeding the fledgling but they were too close for the 40mm lens; at least I had remembered to set the ISO at 400 so this time so the photos weren't overexposed

Later I surprised a pair of Blue-winged Warblers in a thicket, but my attempt at a quick manual focus didn't work

I did photograph a juvenile Cooper Hawk flying high overhead..there were several hawks having an aerial confrontation, looking like specks in the sky

The 400mm lens is nice, but to get clear photos I have to get so close that I usually alarm my subjects, so I'll go on dreaming of a 600mm so I can park myself well away from the action.