I want to share a medley of recent spring warblers with you just for the fun of it. In the last four years, I have been lucky and was able to spend the equivalent of 2 months field time during spring migration photographing songbirds. Much of this time has been spent at my new favorite place, the famed boardwalk at Magee Marsh, Ohio. As a photographer, I have been able to observe, for hours at time, the daily activities of migrants on passage. You see, the photographer can not run from bird to bird clicking and ticking them off, one has to wait, often till the bird comes to you. The wait affords me time to simply watching them forage, avoid predators, court, preen and sing there way north. My bird photos are intended to be slices in the life of a bird whose existence depends on doing this migration thing right. I am satisfied when I capture a moment that shows a behavior or a feel for the real bird in its element.
I have been interested in the natural world since my early childhood when I spent countless hours in the woods, and later in high school I got the camera bug. Somewhere along the line I become keenly interested in birds. Perhaps it was one memorable wave of warblers working a hillside in mid May that hooked me. I was working in Connecticut and my employer encouraged us to take a break to watch the birds, and she even joined us with binoculars in hand. The colorful, vibrant, energetic little life forms flitting through the woods at eyelevel, one instant gloriously beautiful, and the next gone, following their migration path bug by bug, left a magical impression that is still with me. Gradually I started to get natural history and environmental images published through an agent. My photos were getting published, they were telling stories and influencing people and I was thrilled beyond belief. I figured I had arrived as a photographer when I was published in Audubon Magazine in the mid 80’s for the second time. The double page spread photo was of a Prothonotary Warbler on branch reflected in a pool of water taken in the spring at Point Pelee.
As new equipment came along I upgraded and my photography continued to improve. In the late 90’s a demanding high profile NY photo job took all my time and my own photography dwindled to almost nothing. When I was finally able to devote sometime again to photography, I found a changed world. A revolution occurred during my multi year hiatus, film was out and digital photography became the norm. Luckily I missed the early stages of digital photography and once I looked into it, found the Canon 1dsMII and was convinced that this was the first digital camera that would let me make images like I did before. It took some doing, but thanks to Canon, Apple Computer and Aperture software, I feel as productive today as a digital photographer as I ever was with film.
I am making field studies of free flying songbirds with confidence. I am re-visiting favorite locations and scouting new ones. I am continuing with my multi year quest to document as many aspects of migrant songbirds as I can get lenses on. I have my sights set on return visits to the tropics to continue to document our birds, the neo-tropic migrants, on their wintering grounds, when they are somebody else’s birds for longer periods than they are ours. I have an idea germinating for an interactive I-pad type e-book, which I hope, will be the culmination of over two decades of songbird photography.
Thanks for looking!
For more on the ins and outs of songbird migration, click here to listen to a BirdCallsRadio archive with myself as the guest. 04-16-11 Bird Calls with spots starts at 23:00 min into the show.
Additional article: Migrants, Here and There, Intimate Encounters with Birds of Passage. https://kymry.wordpress.com/2011/04/01/migrants-here-and-there-intimate-encounters-with-birds-of-passage/
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