This week I was determined to get to The Riparian Preserve at Gilbert. It is a long drive and requires a really early start, but it is the best place I know for my type of photography. It is particularly special at this time of year because the migrant birds start to appear. Every year at this time I struggle to maintain a consistent number of successful shots – during the summer my photography is tailored for the intense heat and so I avoid being outdoors – as the autumn starts I find that my stealth, rather than my photographic technique, needs to be relearned. I watch the warblers in the hedgerow, I see glimpses of yellows, golds and oranges but when I try to approach I only succeed in scaring the birds away! At this time I return to the old faithfuls: The Art of Bird Photography – by Arthur Morris, The Guide to Wildlife Photography – by B. Moose Peterson, Photographing Wild Birds – by Chris Gomersall. These classic books help to cement the methods of approach in my mind. Of course, it does not help that The Riparian Preserve has gravel paths, so skittish birds are never easy to approach if you are carrying the kit that I carry. However the tips that these books provide are invaluable.
Here are some of the shots from today – including a shot of a yellow warbler (often seen but never photographed) from a large crop and a Black Phoebe who was only happy to throw me an over-the-shoulder look!
My alarm clock, aka my 4 month old baby, woke me at 5:30 am today – perfect timing for a few hours driving the quiet roads along the US 80 west of Phoenix. The weather was mild and the birds were somewhat cooperative. First stop – Palo Verde to see the owls and the spoonbill (who remained elusive today), then a drive to the ponds north of Palo Verde School and west to Arlington. Not many birds of prey today except for a very patient Osprey who posed for about 10 minutes for me! The owls were out and about as were the Kingbirds, albeit high on the power lines. The ponds provided me with Killdeer and Black-necked Stilts… and the ever present Snowy and Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.
A fruitful day all in all – and from the comfort of an air-conditioned car!
I never appreciated how much free time I had to pursue my pastime before I became a father. Now it seems that any journey out of the house takes twice as much planning and twice as much baggage!
My wife is just as supportive of my hobby as ever, but I find it hard to travel too far from home or be out for too long. As a result I have spent more time making small expeditions into the area in which I live and usually with a plan in mind – to find the elusive Roseate Spoonbill, to explore Palo Verde for Burrowing Owls, to seek out the raptors along the US 80 for example.
Today I finally seemed to have an hour spare to catalog my images and to edit those that I thought were worthy of keeping. Going through this process made me aware of how long it has been since I added anything to this blog, so here is a brief catch up over the last few months:
The Elusive Roseate Spoonbill.
The Burrowing Owls of Palo Verde.
The Raptors of the US 80:
An Overcast Anna’s Hummingbird.