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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

World Bird Wednesday LXXXIV


In Pursuit of the Yellow Headed Black Bird
    Two years ago I was chatting with a lady who owned a sport fishing business along the marshy shoreline of Saginaw Bay. Day after day she experienced the comings and goings of this great bird flyway in a passive sense, not studying it exactly, but being surrounded by such rich avian life she was privy to tons of anecdotal information. She told me about the strange Yellow-headed black birds she would occasionally see. I was intrigued. As much as I bum around the back roads and marshes of the Saginaw Valley you'd think I'd have heard of such an interesting photographic prospect. I immediately put her marshy address on my list of birding hot spots and returned often in hopes of catching a glimpse of this bird. I never got lucky.
    The years passed, and the cycles of migration came and went without me getting a look at a creature my research showed should be at hand. It remained an itch that would not be scratched until last week when I came by some information purporting to give the location of the largest colony of Yellow-headed black birds in the Saginaw Bay watershed. In my minds eye I began to conjure a magnificent WBW entry replete with gorgeously detailed portraits of it's brightly contrasted plumage.
    I readied a thermos of coffee and a half dozen cinnamon apple cookies and thusly prepared, drove off in pursuit of the Yellow-headed black bird.
    As so often happens, fate had finer plans.



     I was seeing a scattering of high clouds and hoped I would be blessed with those thinly overcast skies that would give me a choice variety of lighting conditions. No luck there, the cloud cover dissipated into nothingness along the bay. There would be the stark shadows of a bright June sun to deal with.
    Very little bird life showed itself until, walking a dirt path along a dyke system about a mile and a half deep into the marsh, I saw a dead bush with a brood of Tree swallows perched on it's dry limbs. My presence did not stir them. Unfortunately the high ground of the dyke was not at a good angle to the sun so I began to swing wide out into the marsh and come up from the South-East to approach the swallows in harmony with the light. A little blood was being shed as pickers scraped my arms and legs. That was easy to ignore when adult swallows began flying in to feed the youngsters.
   My shutter speed was at a smoking 1/1600, ISO 400, @ f7.1 and as I was shaking and fumbling with focus issues I needed all that. I kept shooting and I kept moving in. The action was fast, the view exquisite. I had the elation of witnessing an extraordinary sight and at the same time a sick feeling in my stomach, brought there by the doubt that any of it was convincingly locked in my camera. 
   Sunburned and bleeding I walked back to my car thoroughly broiled by my experience, Yellow-headed black birds having been eclipsed by the common Tree swallow. I rewarded myself with coffee and cookies. Then what do you know...darting through the sky over the cattails at a mad pace I saw it's yellow head and black torso. I had time to swing the camera out for a couple of good clicks.
    I waited and prayed through the hot mid-day for a closer encounter but I would come no further this day and sailed my little car home content.

  


    "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours."
                                                                                                    Henry David Thoreau


This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.

You don't have to be a Bird Watcher or expert photographer to join in, just enjoy sharing what you bring back from your explorations and adventures into nature!



#1Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry, it contains a link for your readers to share in the fun. Or, you can copy this link on to your blog page to share WBW. http://pineriverreview.blogspot.com/

#2Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with InLinkz.

#3Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compatriots!

Come on it's your turn!

39 comments:

  1. How ironic! And I must say your feeding shots are much nicer than what I was able to get. Well done! Perhaps you'll get the Yellow-headed Blackbird one day, too.

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  2. I love tree swallows -- such a pretty bird! Great capture. :)

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  3. must be swallow feeding day in blogland! :) these are beauties! love that smug, cocky look on the adult pic. :)

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  4. these pictures are insane!! So great!

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  5. Fantastic images! It's hard to imagine a more stunning sparrow shot than that second one. As always, your writing carries me along. I'm waiting for the book.

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  6. so many mouth's to feed...i am seeing babies everwhere!! awesome images!!

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  7. Terrific shots! Looks like baby is going to swallow mom's head in the second one!

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  8. Springman these images are stunning, your header image is worldclass my friend.

    And of course the last gasp sight of the yellow headed Blackbird- Oriole

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  9. These are incredible shots! Wow!

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  10. Your worry was for naught ... and the blood, sweat and tears payed off. Outstanding pictures of a most exciting experience. Thank you once again for sharing it with us.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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  11. Great serie of photos, - feeding the young bird is awesome!

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  12. Just fabulous pictures of the Tree Swallows and a tale well told. Difficult to get such shots with all that action but interesting to hear of your ISO and speed settings - great work.

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  13. Incredible shots of bird and the chicks! wow!

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  14. Springman, extraordinary shots! You were well rewarded by the Swallows! Great job.
    Glad you at lease got to see a Yellow-headed BB!
    Cheers

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  15. Amazing photos of the swallows feeding the young ones. I hope you get your close photos of the Yellow headed Blackbird sometime!

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  16. what a cool experience watching the swallows and their chicks. I love the yellow-headed blackbird. Congrats on your sighting. Wonderful photos.

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  17. Springman, your trek into the marsh paid off: lovely, exquisite shots of Tree Swallows feeding their ravenous young, and the settings were perfect!

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  18. Those shots of the Tree Swallows are astounding! Yet you did get your Yellow-head after all. Just think of all the fun (and scratches and sunburn) you will have trying to get as close to them, too.

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  19. wonderful ending to your day's outing Springman; fantastic shots and a bonus picking up the yellow-headed blackbird in Concorde mode like you did

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  20. Thanks for sharing the story. Those are some incredible picture of the young being fed. I'm often tore between the interesting things I see and my targets. I usually don't have the patience to pass up something interesting and occasionally, like yours, it turns out to be far better than whatever was planned.

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  21. Swallows do move so quickly and are so difficult to get the fasted shutter speed to capture them like you do here...nice and sharp and how do you get everything in focus!! As always wonderful birding here, all around the world too!I got something you will like on my site.

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  22. Always a good thing when you get your heart's desire, and some incredible shots of the tree swallows on top of it!!

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  23. Hoping you didn't suffer too much rambling through the briars, because it REALLY paid off! Fantastic shots as usual. Can't wait for the Yellow headed blackbirds. We don't have them here.
    Have a great rest of the weel.

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  24. Fabulous shots. The sequence of images is too good.

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  25. Wow Dave!These Tree Swallow images are to die for! The header image and the second shot with the adult bird's beak half way down the fledglings gullet is astonishing! So you got a "magnificent WBW entry replete with gorgeously detailed portraits" of Tree Swallows, one of my favorite cavity nesting birds!! Plus you got to see the Yellow-headed Blackbirds which, I agree are magnificent birds but, unlikely you will get shots of them feeding their young like these. Congrats on the lifer if it is one for you!

    By the way, I know how quickly these swallow feeding encounters happen and I just want to pass on my highest kudos for capturing these images. Priceless!

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  26. Isn't it strange how when you get the opportunity for some great shots all the discomfits just disappear, and you did get some great shots!

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  27. I love your photography and the way you tell of your adventures. Your photos are so moving! I like that even though you went with one idea in mind, you seized the moment when another opportunity arose. I'm also glad you caught sight of your initial quarry and captured that as well!

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  28. Hi there - I thought your response to Ecobirders post was very restrained - he's clearly teasing you!

    Great set of pictures - and I suppose we can only photograph what we have in front of us.

    Cheers - Stewart M

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  29. I can understand your disappointment! But if it's any consolation, your Tree Swallows are delightful and your moments captured are brilliant. I would love to capture this behaviour but alas, I have never come across any kind of bird feeding its young.

    Love this weeks header and your final shot of the Yellow-headed Blabkbird in flight.

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  30. Fantastic shots of the Swallow family. I love the story behind the last shot.

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  31. Beautiful images...thanks for hosting this...I've only been here for two weeks, but I've now found a place where I can share my birding enthusiasm. And I again say "thanks"

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  32. Oh my, must stop the giggles before I awaken the husby...your encounters and the way you share them are so entertaining. Sorry you got sunburned and stuck with those stickers, however, rejoice, rejoice. At the top of my favorites list are Tree Swallows and what an amazingly wonderful opportunity you had and took full advantage of. These images are some of the best I have ever seen of them. I only get them perched on a fence, or wire...these are truly magnificent and the Yellow-headed Blackbird, another day and more blood to shed...well hopefully not~

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  33. Nice swallow shots even though it looks like you did not get your yellow-headed blackbird this time. Thanks for participating in this weeks Tuesday Tweets.

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