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/
If you are interested in Townsend speaking at your next organization or corporate meeting, Please contact KymryGroup™ for his schedule & fees.
A very nice post and wonderful photographs. I hope you persue your e-book. Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful! Its so nice to be here at Magee Marsh during spring migration! Wish you were able to be here this year. 😦
Thank you so much for sharing these photos. I got back from 10+ hours at Magee Marsh yesterday and I am a birder and do not take photos, but could swear these are the actual looks I got observing these flitting jewels! Great job and Congratulations for capturing the joy of these spectacular creatures.
All of the photos are beautiful and crisp! Thanks for sharing and reinforcing my memories of being at Magee Marsh.
Thank you for these wonderful pictures. They are inspiring me to take a second look when out in the field. Such little amazing beauties!
In all the years I’ve been birding, I’ve never seen some of those warblers as up close as those pictures. Thanks for a wonderful view.
What beautiful birds, you would almost think their feathers were painted, and the photos really do capture their essence. How do these little delicate creatures survive a long migration??? It is truly a wonder.
Magical set of photos you guys! Some really characterful shots in with the classic NatGeo portraits. Lovely work!
Totally stunning! Nature and photography at it’s best!
What a spectacular warbler celebration. Two were life *views* for me – Thank you. Nannette
Absolutely wonderful, uplifting work. For me, your work brings joy, while educating. Thanks!
Beautiful – the best virtual/vicarious East Coast migration I’ve seen so far!