Thursday, December 29, 2011

Orange-crowned Warbler

This is the year that just keeps on giving.  When I learned that there was an Orange-crowned Warbler in the St. John's area, I could only think what are my chances of seeing that! It is such a small bird and such a large area. Nevertheless, it is worth a try.

Yesterday morning Margie McMillan and I set out to see the Sora that was found by Alvan Buckley at Kent's Pond.  I was pretty sure that finding it was a sure thing and I was right.  As soon as we arrived three other birders had their telephoto lens trained right on the bird. That is a story in itself for an upcoming post.
Leaving there we headed to Cape Spear where we located several pockets of small birds, the usual species.  It was in the community of Blackhead that we perked up when we spotted a Northern Shrike. Again, those pictures will also come later.  We headed to Cape Spear and walked to the lookout where we saw several Dovekies, Black Guillemot and the Surf Scoters.  Good to know that the hunters didn't get them.
On the way back we decided to try for the Orange-crowned Warbler.  We parked the car, travelled across a foot bridge and within minutes we had reached the trail. As soon as we hit the trail I spotted movement and knew it was the bird.  These were the first "looks."  It was tucked away in the evergreen in between branches and was very difficult to photograph with all of the twigs sticking up.
Finally, it moved into a leafless tree and began the game of cat and mouse.  I could see the eye but couldn't get a shot. It was a flighty little bird moving from one place to another in the blink of an eye. Although, it was staying higher in trees than is typical of this bird. Game on!
When I finally saw the eye it was in the shadows of the branches. Still not good enough.
I tried and tried and knew that every second could be the last with this little greenish bird.
For a moment I saw a glitter in its eye but the twigs blocked everything.
Then its whole face appeared. Now, I had a record shot with substance. This little warbler is an uncommon bird here and should be down in the southeast US now.  The pressure was on to try to capture the moment.  Who knows when I may get another opportunity.

At last I got the face with some light on it. Yeah! You see, in this kind of situation the bird is the master and it is my job to be ready in case it offers a moment to see a good view of it. The rush of the moment is really invigorating and is particularly satisfying when I come away with an identifiable shot of a bird that is known to be very secretive.  There was a report that two Orange-crowned Warblers were seen in the area. We only saw this one.

Then, without notice it lifted off and this time it flew high and out of sight. How long did all of this take? About three minutes at the most. When a sighting like this began and ended so quickly, it left Margie and I standing staring in the distance for a while. When it was clearly gone, then comes the "happy dance" and some a major sense of satisfaction on the walk back to the car.

This shot was just added for the purpose of the index.

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