The spring warbler push has seemingly come to a close, but not before some decent birds passed through. If I were home a week earlier, my luck would’ve been a bit better as far as migrant warblers go, but sometimes we can’t always have as we wish. Either way, I knocked a number of life species off of my list in the past week, and I have definitely run into a fair amount of photo opportunities.
Early last week, the morning after coming home, Linda and I headed to Pochuck Mountain State Forest for warblers. The light was terrible as far as photographs go, but there were more than enough birds to keep us happy. Notables included magnolia warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, worm-eating warblers and blue-winged warblers. It seemed that from then on out, migration was slow all across the board. I was a bit disappointed, as I looked forward to this part of the year. Good news is, there are plenty of breeding birds around and still many more summer species on the way.
Later in the week I made my first spring trip (of many) to the Palisades Cliffs in New Jersey to photograph peregrine falcons. It was an afternoon packed full of amazing birds and countless photo opportunities. This particular site has been a long established territory for a pair of adult peregrines. Just recently, the resident female went missing. Many believed that she was incubating eggs, as the pair had been seen courting many times in weeks prior. Soon folks began to realize that the male was no longer bringing food to the nest, nor sharing his portions. By this time a young female peregrine had stepped in and has since been glued to his side. She is a very large, strong and just awesome bird that the male just can’t seem to get rid of. Hopefully she sticks around for the long haul and can mate with him next spring.
After about an hour or two of both birds disappearing, a fellow photographer and I watched the male return with a blue jay. I was able to snap this shot as he cruised by:
Rather than sharing the second half of the bird with the new female, he ate the entire thing, ignoring her repeated calling from the branch directly above him. It was a rather exciting display of events, and luckily it all happened so close. Only a few minutes later, the male finished his blue jay and took off, while the female decided to fly up the cliff a little ways. She perched directly eye level with us, no more than thirty feet away. We snapped away as she went about her business, checking us out occasionally. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had to date, and something I really have been trying to capture for a while now. The majority of the time I shoot falcons in flight, so it was awesome to finally get some decent portrait shots. I’m sure these won’t be the last.
That just about wraps up week one. Next week I will be heading down to the shore to begin my part in piping plover research. I’ll be sure to write about progress each week, as well as post photos along the way. I cannot wait to get going!
Have a nice week everyone!