Black-and-white Warbler at Water Ranch, 12/14/2013

The third time is a charm. After three attempts I finally saw the Black-and-white Warbler at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. This post has some photos of the warbler, and some others.

The Black-and-white Warbler (I’ll call it the B&W) is a rare visitor to Arizona. One somehow got off path during migration and wound up at the RPWR. There’s no telling how long it might decide to stay there. I was getting a little bit obsessed with seeing it. When I first heard reports of it at RPWR I went out to see it, but wasn’t successful. I made another trip, and still no luck. Everywhere I went I was a step behind (“we saw it here an hour ago”). When I saw on the web that it was still hanging around, I decided to try again. Before I left, Mary Ann said a prayer that I would see it this time. I told her that seems a little strange to say a prayer for such a trivial pursuit of mine (there are far more important things to pray for), but I’ll go with it :).

Mary Ann’s prayer worked :), and not just for the B&W. When I first got to the RPWR, there was a Kestrel roosting in a nice spot with the sun lighting it, fairly close, and a wide open view (no trees in the way). I set my camera up to take some in-flight shots, hoping I would catch it taking off. I waited around, and it did take off eventually (when, of course, I wasn’t ready), and I got some shots. They didn’t come out very well, but I posted one anyway. I’m still trying to figure out how to get good in-flight photos. It’s difficult to keep focus while the bird is moving. Maybe my gear (e.g. lens) just isn’t good enough – it couldn’t be the photographer’s skill level.

I got to the B&W spot (cottonwoods between pond 1 and 7), and finally saw the B&W! I took some pictures before it took off, and under-exposed them all. I had the camera set up for in-flight photos and forgot to adjust it, and didn’t notice at first that the camera was telling me it couldn’t get the exposure. I thought “what a dummy! Mary Ann’s prayer worked and I blew it” :). No worry though, because I walked down to the Cottonwood further south, and it was there. I ran into quite a few birders working the same spot. There was a nice couple from Flagstaff who are members of the Audubon Society, and are much better birders than I, and we identified a number of other species there (17+ species at this one spot by the cottonwoods: Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Verdin, Osprey, American Kestrel, Great Egret, Black-necked Stilt, Killdeer, Long-billed Dowitcher, Least Sandpiper, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Gila Woodpecker, Anna’s Hummingbird).

As I was heading out I saw an Osprey flying overhead. I followed it, and it started circling above the pond. I’ve always wanted to photograph an Osprey catching a fish. Sure enough, it came down and dove into the water, and came out with a fish. Unfortunately, my photos didn’t come out very well. It’s the same problem with focusing on the fast moving bird that I had with the Kestrel. I don’t like to publish crummy photos here, but I thought the sequence of the Osprey catching the fish was interesting, so I included some of the photos in the sequence.

My original plan was to look for the B&W and leave, and not spend much time. Yeah right. I wound up taking 400+ pictures (almost all of which wound up being deleted). I need to thank Mary Ann, and thank God for an answered prayer. “The prayers of a righteous woman are powerful indeed” (from James verse something or other), even if it’s only for seeing a silly bird :).

Here are the pictures:

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