Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The twelve birds of Christmas - part two

In May I traveled to the Magee Marsh, Ohio, known as 'The Warbler Capital of the World', I spent one week photographing these delightful parulids as they stopped off amongst the woodlots of Magee Marsh on the southern shore of Lake Eerie before resuming their journey north. But warblers weren't the only migrants en route and the Catharus thrushes put on a great show. I had just missed the Hermit Thrushes sadly, but throughout my trip both Swainson's and Grey-cheeked Thrushes were ever present. I spent many hours standing at the edge of the woods trying for shots of warblers, tanagers and orioles. While I waited these pretty little New World Thrushes hopped around on the grass nearby, often passing underneath the splayed feet of my tripod!

The third bird

Grey-cheeked Thrushes were probably the most numerous and easily the most approachable. I tried for some eye-level shots but there was always a blade of grass in the way or sometimes they simply came too close for me to focus on.

In the end I procured my best shots as they perched on some low branches. This was my first time using an external flash and better beamer / fresnel lens, it took getting used to but I liked how it could be used as fill-flash to reduce contrast and catch the bird's eye.

Grey-cheeked Thrush, Magee Marsh, Ohio - May 2014
All shots taken on a tripod with a shutter speed of 1/160, ISO320, focal length 700mm and using an external flash and fresnel lens / better beamer.

The fourth bird

The Grey-cheeked Thrushes were accompanied throughout the week by several Swainson's Thrushes. It was great to see them alongside each other and note the contrast, the colder, greyer Grey-cheeked and the warmer, buttery and mellow plumage tones of the Swainson's Thrushes. If I'm ever lucky enough to stumble across one or other of these species on a headland some autumn, I'd rather fancy my chances of correctly identifying which one I was fortunate enough to have found.

Swainson's Thrush, Magee Marsh, Ohio - May 2014

Shot one taken from a bean bag, while shots two and three were from a tripod. Shutter speed of 1/250, ISO500, focal length 700mm and using an external flash and fresnel lens / better beamer.

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