Wildlife and Nature Photography


Confessions of a “Birder”

My name is Brian, and I’m am a birder.  I’ve been maintaining an extensive “life list” for 16 years.  My wife refers to me lovingly as “her geek.”  Maybe its true……

As I drove more than halfway across the state of Arizona to see a single rare bird near the Arizona/California border, it occurred to me that what I was doing was a little crazy.  For a couple of months, I had seen regular reports of a rare visitor to Arizona, the Nutting’s flycatcher, in essentially the same location in the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, but hadn’t considered making the long drive to see this single species.  This flycatcher normally breeds in Mexico and Central America.  I haven’t been living in Arizona for very long and have had the urge to do some exploring in the State.  And so I justified the trip by taking the “scenic route”  with stops at other birding hotspots along the way including the Page Springs Fish Hatchery, and Willow Lake in Prescott, Arizona where other rare birds had been spotted (Red-breasted sapsucker and tundra swan, respectively).

Early in the morning on the second day of my road trip, I found myself on the side of the road within the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, near the spot where the elusive Nutting’s flycatcher had been spotted.  Immediately after closing the car door, I was reminded of the mental  health benefits of being in the woods early in the morning.  There were no manmade sounds, but instead the air was dominated by the familiar call of a canyon wren.  I spent the next 2 1/2 hours standing in the desert scrub near the edge of a cottonwood forest watching and listening for the flycatcher.

Sometimes when you stand still in the forest in the same place for more than a few minutes you can  see some amazing things.  This tiny Anna’s hummingbird landed in her nest, 6 feet way from where I stood.  I also found more than 30 other species that morning, including the rare red-breasted sapsucker I neglected to find in Page Springs.  The Nutting’s finally turned up, and before heading home in my relaxed and satisfied state, I stopped along the road at a point overlooking the bay, and was rewarded with an amazing courtship display being performed by a pair of Clark’s grebes (new to my life list!).

The photo was taken with a Canon 40D, 100-400 zoom lens at 400 mm, exposed for 1/100 sec at f5.6.  I adjusted the ISO to 800 due to the low light and lack of support (tripod or monopod).

For more photos of birds, please visit my gallery at http://bhealyphoto.zenfolio.com/birds

Photo copyright Brian Healy Photography 2012