Sunday, January 7, 2018

Star of the Show!

One of the traditional holiday trips to take in AZ is down to Whitewater Draw to see the over-wintering Sandhill Cranes. We've been there likely over a dozen times the last few years to observe and take in the sights and sounds of up to 30,000 of them congregate in the wetlands as evening approaches. My suspicion is that numbers are down this year, as is the water level kept at the wetlands. Note also there is a live "Crane Cam" that provides a live view - make sure you check it out!

However, this year, on a New-Year's Day visit, while there were lots of cranes, they were not stars of the show, but rather another of my favorites, a male Vermillion Flycatcher put on a good display. We've seen them often, perhaps a third of the time, but this time he was in a tree very close to one of the lookout posts. One of the characteristics they follow while feeding is a return to the same perch they've launched from. So by staying set up with a big telephoto on the perch, you can catch them returning by hitting the camera "motor drive" as they return. The first shot, shown at left, shows blurring, even though taken at a 1600 second. As a result I adjusted the camera to use shorter exposures for subsequent frames. And the frame at right even shows his success as hunter as he has a fly in his beak!

The rest shown here are easy to take as you are just waiting for a return. Seeing all the maneuvers they make sure make you want to take flying lessons! Make sure you click the images for the full-size version!

Finally I left him and moved on to other subjects, but he was fun to shoot! Shortly after sunset the "Supermoon" rose over the peaks to the east - another easy catch! It might have made a nice time-lapse, but the sudden onset of twilight observers moved the platform too much!

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