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 rufus 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.

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.