Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thrushed with Orioles and Orioled with Thrushes


While out birding at the Botanical Gardens on Friday I had the pleasure of adding some new birds to my Garden list. Chief among them was a group of four Hermit Warblers foraging underneath a very large mesquite tree. 


Hermit is a good name for this skulking Thrush. Hermit Thrushes have a very pleasant, somewhat melancholy song and prefer to feed in the leaf litter underneath thick shady trees. They're soft, spotted, and polite, yet also fairly inquisitive within their small domains. I don't see them that often in Arizona, and their preference for shade can make them tricky to photograph. 
This first shot summarizes the bird well, at least in my experiences--close to the light but never fully illuminated. 


Like finches and sparrows, Thrushes have something very appealing in their simple yet unique and intricate plumage.


Here is the diagnostic rufous tail, the surest way to tell the Hermit Thrush apart from other, similar looking Thrushes.



They're compact and have good posture. They inhabit a small niche, but it's always a pleasure to enter into their world.



Maria had to do some serious studying for brainy advanced mathematics finals on Saturday, so after dropping her off at the library in Tempe, I returned to the nearby Gardens once more. Isn't it nice when these sort of things work out? Perhaps some of you are thinking I should have stayed with Maria and been a good, attentive, supportive husband. Well you're wrong! ...You may have forgotten to take into consideration how fidgety and noisy I tend to be.

The Botanical Gardens were very crowded on Saturday, and it was hard to find any corner of the site with a little bit of quite and privacy. For the first hour or two I saw little of note. I was convinced there was someplace within the grounds where the birds might have retreated, some place where they were concentrated while trying to avoid all of the traffic. I don't know if there was anything to that theory, but I found a path of mesquite and palo verde trees near the herb garden tucked away from most of the other visitors, and sure enough there I found some new birds for my Garden list. 

It was a near-overload of yellow and orange as a pair of Bullock's Orioles gleaned the palo verde blooms. It's safe to say that all Orioles are mouth-watering birds, and the Bullock's is a pretty classy specimen.


I've only had a few opportunities to photograph Orioles, and this was the first successful attempt, since this Oriole was thoughtful enough to do some quick preening out in the light. He gave me a great look at his diagnostic white wing pattern.



Not wanting me to have too much of a good thing, he quickly departed. Beautiful bird.


There were some small birds doing small bird stuff in a nearby mesquite tree. Upon closer inspection, most of them turned out to be Gnatcatchers and Brewer's Sparrows. My old photographic nemesis, the Wilson's Warbler, also made a quick appearance. This was my first time seeing one at the DBG, and I came very close to finally defeating this ornery yellow bird.


I even got most of the bird in focus, but of course OF COURSE there's a nice patch of shade obscuring the face. Ah well. Summer is just beginning and we'll meet again...mwuahahahaha.

10 comments:

  1. Great shot of the Oriole. We were looking all over for them today at Madera Canyon. Yuck!!! Math is horrible and terrible. Hope she got through the experience:) As for the "shady" shots....drive me nuts. Especially the little birds as they are notorious for hiding under the leaves....and when you get a clear shot, there's a twig in the way!! Today, however, I FINALLY got a clear shot of a Western Bluebird. FINALLY! I've taken several hundred of this bird and they were all too shady to post. Today was an excellent day for birding. I just don't want anymore heat for awhile!:) Enjoying it while it lasts....

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    1. Thanks Chris. I know what you mean with the little shady birds, and I too have fired salvo after salvo at the Western Bluebird and come away with nothing. I still consider that bird a work in progress. I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures.

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  2. Great little post. Got to love those orioles and I know all too well that it si rare for them to allow much time for photos. Same with the shade and the Hermit Thrushes. You got some remarkable photos and will have to try DBG very soon. Have a couple of passes to use before the end of May.

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    1. Thanks Gordon. The DBG doesn't have nearly as high diversity as some of the other Phoenix area, but it does bring everything in very close. I think I've gotten more good pictures there than anywhere else, so it still has its upsides.

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  3. Laurence, we all get our nemesis birds sooner or later, usually later in my experience! Congrats on the Bullock's, they should be arriving here soon.

    Since you are noisy and fidgety I think you made the right choice to head out into the field.

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    1. Looking forward to your photos Mia. Thanks for backing me up there--I think I made the right decision too.

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  4. Great stuff in this post! Love your words on the Hermit Thrush. All these birds are hard to get photos of - nice work!

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    1. Thanks Lauren. Hopefully I didn't use up all my luck as the migrations are just getting underway.

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  5. I find Wilson's Warblers challenging too, nice capture. Helpful tip about the thrush tail, thanks .. would love to see a bullock's oriole!

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    1. Thanks Debbie. I'll try to send some Bullock's Orioles your way, but I can't promise. The only sure way is to make a visit visit out west : )

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