Saturday, October 10, 2009

Birds along a Country Trail

Taken with my Nikon Coolpix 8400, this photograph represents traditional "Rule of Thirds" composition, but I decided to take the horizon even lower to express the enormous expanse of sky over a prairie under the setting sun. The oak trees, which are actually quite large, appear so small in the photograph that it compliments a sense of openness and freedom. The trail offers an invitation: what resides in those tall prairie plants and grasses? I wanted to know. This was where I would conduct my digiscoping.

Here's a White-crowned Sparrow perched in aster that caught me by surprise. They're pretty skittish, so I digiscoped the shot while the bird was quickly checking me out. Generally, I like to move to the right or left to isolate the subjects for composition, or get a different background, but this sparrow had other plans. The sun was a bit lower and accenting the sparrow's typically gray body feathers with a golden glow.

Field Sparrows are generally more accommodating photography subjects, but this one gave me only a brief inspection before dropping back down into the prairie grasses. Taken before the White-crowned Sparrow, the bird's feathers, though still under warm light, reveal more of its usual plumage colors.

Just before sunset, this Palm Warbler was the last bird I photographed during my outing, rendering an even deeper gold color-cast under softer light. Gently bobbing its tail, the warbler seemed comparatively relaxed, unlike the more skittish sparrows of the prairie. Perhaps this warbler was biding its time before setting off on another leg of its migratory journey during the night.

As many of my readers know, I like to adorn my blog posts with macro shots of wildflowers, insects, etc. But what you can't see in this photograph is how a gentle breeze made the entire field appear to be waving and bobbing. Still, I think a capture like this adds to the mood of my early evening excursion to Pope Farm Park.

"There is something that can be found in one place. It is a great treasure which may be called the fulfillment of existence. The place where this treasure can be found is the place where one stands."

-- Martin Buber

All images © 2009 Mike McDowell


  1. that first image is stunning mike!

  2. Sheesh, almost brings be to tears. Beautiful stuff Mike..

  3. Lovely landscapes. I'm also gaining an increased appreciation for just how difficult it is to capture an ever moving bird in a digiscoping rig. You make it look so easy to take terrific photos and it is not.

  4. wonderful captures of what had do be a very special day. Especially love the field sparrow, I see so few of them anymore.

  5. Great work Mike always a pleasure.


  6. Beautiful shots the golds in the last two shots..

  7. Kudos once again on spectacular shots. The White-crowned Sparrow photo looks like a beautiful piece of artwork... Such a talent you have!