Monday, October 03, 2011

Early October Sparrows

How many times have I witnessed the sun rise over Pheasant Branch Conservancy? How many times have I stood at this same spot and aimed my camera at the distant drumlin? I am indescribably attached to this parcel of land. My light source is 93 million miles away and begins its skyward ascent, making it seem as if the Earth has been working all night for this moment. I ready my gear as my subjects begin to seek morning perches. To them, I'm a strange dark silhouette that doesn't quite belong; I might be worth risking a closer inspection, which is fortuitous for my intentions. The sun's reflection is a tiny speck of light in their dark and curious eyes. Eventually, I know, they'll get used to my presence.

I usually take a few practice shots on nearby leaves – everything is good. Too early, and the images are too warm. Too late, and the sparrows will have retreated to the ground to begin feasting on seeds and insects. The streaked songbirds gather into a semicircle around me. I take position with my spotting scope and listen to their voices. Some vocalizations are attempts at singing, but mere fragments of spring song. Still, when all their diminutive calls and notes finally blend together, it begins to resemble something less discordant and more delightful. It's faithful enough to let me know all the members of Nature's morning choir.

White-throated Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell