22 Apr 2012

Uncooperative Birds- Part the First

It was an overcast and chilly morning, but undeterred I grabbed the camera and headed out for Montrose Bird Sanctuary  located right on the shores of Lake Michigan.

I’ve been lazy about my photography for a year now, and am endeavoring to do better so I figured, “Crappy light?  Oh well!  I’ll learn how to use it!” (Yay unrealistically positive me!)  As I was heading for a Bird Sanctuary, I’m sure you already figured out this meant I was planning on taking photos of birds.

I’ve never been adverse to bird photos before, but most of the ones I’ve taken have been easy targets, a goose on the lawn (feckin’ geese are EVERYWHERE!) or birds in the zoo.  Today was different, I wasn’t just going to capture a shot of a grackle or a gull around the city, I was going to their territory, their natural habitat, and damn if I wasn’t going to find a bird more interesting than a grackle.  (I must apologize to the grackles for that, I love them, but they are as common as muck though a damn sight prettier.)  My goal was to find an American Goldfinch, tiny, swift and brightly colored, they are hard targets for people like me with a second-hand 75-300mm telephoto lens (read that as I still have to damn close to get a decent shot).   Aim for the heavens!

Then I remembered why I don’t often try to photographs birds.  They don’t cooperate.  At all.

Remember what I said about grackles?  They’re everywhere!  And this one saw fit to give me his back.  When he did finally turn around he made sure that there would be a branch between us as well.  Brat.

Did I mention he made sure he was in the shade on a partly overcast day?  It is like he was out to thwart me!  BIRDS!

So I went on.  Surely I’ll find more interesting birds right?  Half an hour later I’ve spotted a titmouse, a yellow bellied sap sucker, honest to goodness American house sparrows (but oddly no English ones), innumerable gulls, crows, red wing black birds and robins yet all I have to show for it is some photos of branches and sky.  I need to change my plan.

So I pick a likely spot and just wait.  10 minutes go by, as do a pair of thrushes (I think) and some kind of huge woodpecker.  No joy.  I wait longer.  And then HE shows up to pose on a branch just perfectly for me.

A grackle.

They are such handsome birds….  Oh dear lord, I am a grackle photographer!

(The Birding Adventure continues tomorrow.)


  • thepurpledogpaintingblog
    April 22, 2012 Reply

    That’s a great post. Bird stalking is hard work. I have dozens of goldfinches in my backyard, you think I would have dozens of photos of them but nope, cheeky ass birds.
    I am seriously thinking of putting a duck blind up.

  • idiotphotographer
    April 22, 2012 Reply

    Just don’t become a grackle photographer like me! Goldfinches are near impossible, even sitting on a bird feeder they employ every gambit in the bird’s book of not being photographed. While you’re at it, you’ve got the room, build that blind!

    I need a faster and more powerful telephoto lens, and possibly a duck blind as well.

  • Val
    April 22, 2012 Reply

    You could try taking some food for them. Suet pellets go down a treat, here. 🙂

    • idiotphotographer
      April 22, 2012 Reply

      Well, if it were my own land I would, but this is a public space that isn’t easy for to get to a regular basis so setting up a bait spot isn’t much of an option.

      I kinda like the stalking the birds in the wild, as it is. It is immensely frustrating but at the same time incredibly rewarding when you finally sneak up on one and get that perfect shot.

Leave a Comment