Things a new camera can’t fix
The first day out in the field with the brand new fancy cam was supposed to correspond with the first real weekend of migration as we know and dream it to be. However reality, in the form of a photography killing overcast morning, conspired to keep things on the downlow. I was out birding with a couple folks from work, more or less rookie birders looking to get out and try to maximize their day lists, which basically means having someone along who can identify birds by voice. And with the cloud cover keeping the bug and bird activity to a relative minimum, birding by ear was about all we had.
Things I notice when birding with relative newbies as opposed to birding by myself, I see a lot more than they do. That’s largely a function of many, many years of learning how to look for birds and knowing what to expect and where rather than any inherent skill (do something enough and you’re bound to get better at it), but it’s always sort of alarming. And more, I want my companions to see what I’m seeing so badly that I sometimes stretch myself into knots trying to get everybody on that treetop redstart or the calling Great Crested Flycatcher. This probably causes me alone undue stress, as no one ever seems to be quite as worked up over missing the Palm Warbler as I am about them missing it, but it’s still a bizarre state of mind I find myself conscious of in those situations. I like birding with beginners from time to time and I enjoyed the company, but it’s stressful in a way that birding with an experienced crowd isn’t. That’s not necessarily a mark against it, but it’s something I always notice.
Anyway, redstarts are in down here in North Carolina in good numbers, and I finally had a couple Prothonotary Warbler right where they’re supposed to be. Red-eyed Vireos are filling in everywhere, and the Yellow-rumped Warblers are flocking and singing and thick as you can imagine. I had at least two significant (two dozen or more) flocks in full voice that made me feel as though I was walking through a tunnel of tinkling chandeliers. As nice as they are this time of year in their blue and black, I’m ready for them to move on and let the real warblers come in.
The birds of the day, however, were Yellowthroats. And I tried vehemently to get my brand new (to me) camera on one of the singing males with no luck. I’m still pretty happy with the sharpness here, even if the bird is obscured pretty terribly.
And if they weren’t obscured they were distant. 150 meters away is just a bit too far for anything nice. Though even a very heavily cropped image didn’t come out completely wrecked.
Also heard, a first of the year Great Crested Flycatcher. The early spring hasn’t paid off yet, by next week everything will be right back on time. It’s time to maximize my field time, alone or in groups. The birds are coming.