Spring Birding Season

Like many area photographers I’m chomping at the bit for the arrival of spring birding season in Southern Ontario. The last week or so has seen the arrival of a number of migratory species so things are beginning to heat up which has fueled my optimism.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-320, cropped to 2888 pixels on the width

The majority of COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted here as of Monday which is welcomed by many people. I’ll still be wearing my N95 masks when indoors around other people for a while yet as I view this as a prudent safety precaution.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-280, cropped to 3409 pixels on the width

One never knows what spring birding season opportunities Mother Nature will provide. Ospreys are one of my favourite species of birds so I’m hoping to get some new photographs of them fishing.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-280, cropped to 2896 pixels on the width

I’m also hoping that I’ll have a lot more opportunities to photograph hummingbirds in flight, and get a good assortment of Pro Capture H image runs of small birds taking flight.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-1100, cropped to 4048 pixels on the width

Tomorrow morning I have an outing planned at Ruthven Park in Cayuga Ontario. This location tends to attract a wide variety of migrating birds, so it will be interesting to see which species have arrived. The facility has been closed for most of the COVID-19 period so this will be my first trip there in about 2 years.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-720, cropped to 4072 pixels on the width

Hopefully the various bird-in-flight practice sessions that I’ve had during the winter months will pay some dividends during spring birding season.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-560, cropped to 3291 pixels on the width

Some of my other priorities for 2022 include doing more outdoor macro photography, flower photography and some landscape work. Fine tuning my skills photographing dragonflies and other insects in flight is also something I’ll be spending some time on as we get further into the summer season.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-1100, cropped to 3960 pixels on the width

I’ve been going through some old photography files the past while and came upon some images from September 2017 that I hadn’t made time to process. That’s a polite way of saying that I had some lapses in properly planning my workflow and screwed up big time.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-720, cropped to 4224 pixels on the width

As I was going through some of those old images from September 2017 I found these osprey photographs. They brought back some fond memories.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-560, cropped to 3543 pixels on the width

No doubt camera gear has evolved since the Nikon 1 V3 was launched back in March 2014… but it is also true that our older camera gear is still quite capable.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-560, cropped to 4280 pixels on the width

The most important thing about spring birding season is the birds… not the gear that we happen to use. After a lot of new camera models have been introduced it is natural for some folks to look at their old gear with some GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) orientation.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 278 mm, efov 751 mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-720, cropped to 3192 pixels on the width

Looking at some of our older photographs can help remind us that our existing gear is still very capable. When Mother Nature provides us with some opportunities this spring birding season a critical factor will be the skill set of the photographer looking through the viewfinder. Regardless of the camera format, make or model that is being used.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.  Crops are noted. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,148 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

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6 thoughts on “Spring Birding Season”

  1. Enjoyed your images and commentary on the Spring season – just as down in NZ we are in Autumn/Fall and the birds, gannets in particular, are leaving! Just purchased a Zuiko 75-300 MkII and had my first BIF session with it at the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach in West Auckland. Thanks your extensive library of OM-D expereinces I had a fairly success time with my E-M1 MkII – when I actually got the birds in frame at 300mm and tracked them for more than a couple of seconds! Unlike swallows the gannet flight envelope in very 3D – soaring above and next moment zooming below the cliff top. But as always practice,practice,practice!

    1. Hi Mark,

      We’ve not had the pleasure of visiting the Muriwai Gannet colony during our trips to New Zealand. There is so much wonderful countryside and nature to observe in your beautiful country something always seems to get missed!

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom,

    Good luck with your spring plans. The migration of thrushes is already in full swing. Presently I hope mostly for tree-creepers and wrens in flight – species easier in these days withous leaves and tougher to spot later in the year. I believe you have a near relative, the Brown Creeper, in Canada.

    Best, Stefan

    1. Hi Stefan,

      It would appear that my outing yesterday was based more on my optimism than practicality. 🙂 It didn’t seem to matter where I went there was an absence of birds. I don’t remember ever having such an unproductive photographic outing. Sometimes Mother Nature cooperates… and sometimes not. C’est la vie!

      Tom

      1. Hi Tom,
        it can be useful to plan by species. In December I’ve often visited a sunflower field with small birds (mostly finches). You might have a river in your area to shoot swallows on rainy days in April or birds hunting mayflies in May/June. These events are so reliable that I rarely go home empty. – A site https://eontbird.ca/?p=5525 offers more Canadian ideas.
        For my tree-creepers, I have begun early to look where they may breed. In some early walks (best singing time) I found three “go-to-places” not far away from me.
        Mother Nature does not always deliver, that’s true. Also, I enjoy an unfair advantage close to forests and rivers.
        Best, Stefan

        1. Hi Stefan,

          I also take the same approach as outlined in your comment, i.e. planning photo sessions around various species being in the area. At this time in March in Southern Ontario it is very fluid in terms of which birds are in the area. Part of my objective was to survey the terrain at various locations to assess access. For example, I discovered that part of Ruthven Park has a fair degree of flooding so my next visit there won’t be for another 3-4 weeks at a minimum.

          Tom

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