Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Sparrows the Eye Can See

Birding on April Fools Day - what an idea! Actually I wanted to test my new 40D with my 500mm lens plus a 1.4 extender to see how sharp it can get and how fast it can focus. Inasmuch as I will be lugging this heavy combo, I decided to just go to Eaton Canyon. There I can find birds without going through an energy-sapping hike.

It is still that odd spring day where some of the winter residents have flown north while those that migrated to the warmer climes of Central and South America have not yet arrived. Nevertheless I had quite a good harvest. The House Wrens were a can't-miss because they were filling the whole area with song. The California Thrashers were quite bold - scampering a few paces from my feet.

But the morning belonged to the sparrows. The White-crowns were a given. They were everywhere.

Uncharacteristically tame were the Golden-crowns. They would feed on the ground oftentimes too close for my big lens to focus at.

A surprise was the White-throated Sparrow. I was trying to get a shot at a Spotted Towhee when from out of nowhere this rare sparrow popped in my line of vision. That got me excited because this is a very shy and secretive bird.

Later on I was looking at some White-crowns chasing each other. One would perch on a branch, then another would suddenly dart from the bushes and start harassing the perched one. Then a new bird would perch on the branch and it would be chased once again by another bird. This went on for some time. But then after a pause in the action, I noticed that the new bird perching on the branch looked different. Instead of having white color on the top of the head (the telltale sign of a White-crowned), this one had a ruddy crown. Chipping Sparrows!! Although not a lifer for me this was the first time I've seen it at Eaton Canyon. And of course its bright head is always a thrill to watch.

The photos of the four sparrows turned out quite good. I am very pleased with my morning session.

No fooling.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Sparrows look so nice, I like your trips!