2023—A Momentary Pause

It takes not only skill but an awful lot of luck to photograph warblers and other migratory birds at Magee Marsh Wildlife Preserve on Lake Erie in Ohio. First, finding these small birds as they move frenetically through the brambles and brush along the boardwalk takes a keen eye and a bit of luck. They come through unpredictably in waves, a few at a time. And once you’ve spotted one, you’re lucky if that bird actually lands someplace with a relatively uncluttered foreground and background and then stays there long enough for you to find the bird in the viewfinder and photograph it. Our first day shooting at Magee Marsh for almost 9 hours was exhilarating and frustrating, disappointing and rewarding all at the same time. More than once I realized as I started to shoot that a twig or leaf was a ghostly presence in front of my subject. Often, no sooner had I found the tiny bird in my viewfinder, it moved behind a branch or tree trunk, disappearing momentarily and reappearing either obscured or too far away. A few times, though, a cooperative bird stopped to preen or eat or rest for a few seconds in a place where it could be seen. This Ruby-crowned Kinget was the last bird I photographed yesterday and one of the first to stop a while as it fluffed and preened. The foreground and the background illustrate the clutter that challenged us but this little one stands out, framed by the very chaos that surrounds it.

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