Almost everyone who regularly photographs birds or other subjects in nature have something that just will not cooperate. For me, there are two species of birds that seem to give me fits. One of them, the belted Kingfisher, I have actually gotten some fairly decent pictures of but not great ones. I know it may sound silly but I firmly believe they laugh at me. I’m sure you have heard their little rattling call they make as they fly away. They seem to do it more around me when they know I have not had the opportunity to get a good shot of them. They are particularly loud and vocal when they fly right by me on the times I stepped outside without my camera. As I said, I have gotten some fairly good shots of them, so I probably should take them off my list. But there is something about the way that they laugh at me and how they always seem to get much closer when I don’t have my camera in my hands. The other bird that I have never been able to get a good photograph of is a male Painted Bunting. Actually, this is a bird that I very rarely have seen. The few pictures that I have taken of them have been from far away. They are definitely a target for me each year. For the past couple of days I have had Indigo Bunting’s on my feeders several different times. Sometimes Painted Buntings hang out with Indigos. So, I did keep my eyes peeled just in case. Late this afternoon, three indigo Buntings appeared on the fence and on my feeders. My desk faces the bay window that overlooks the feeders. Since the Indigo Bunting’s have been appearing lately I have been keeping my camera with the telephoto lens on my desk.
When the Indigo Buntings appeared, I slowly ease my camera up. Guess what else appeared, I really didn’t even realize what it was at first glance. But there was a male Painted Bunting. When I put the camera to my eye, from the settings inside the viewfinder I could tell I was far below optimal settings since the feeders were now in the shadow. I quickly bumped the ISO and adjusted the f-stop to wide open, and the shutter speed to approximately 1/400 which seemed to be an acceptable setting. Then I started clicking away. The Indigo Buntings have been fairly shy and I expected the Painted Bunting to be the same but he really paid me no attention. Encouraged I stood up and move slowly closer to the window.
He hardly noticed. I actually moved to where I was approximately 4 feet away from him through the window without him seeming to care at all. I was even able to reach above the window where my 105mm macro lens was sitting. Once more, he barely noticed me. The indigo Bunting’s were long gone but he sat there calmly gulping down white millet. I swapped lenses, and was able to take a couple of dozen shots with the macro lens. Then I decided that since he was so calm, I would try to slip out the door and see if I could get a shot.
I put the 200 – 500 mm zoom back on the camera and slowly went out the door. I stepped away from the door for about 10 feet, still out of sight of the feeders. Then I slowly move around to see around the corner where the theaters were located. To my surprise the male Painted Bunting was still sitting in the middle of the tray feeder still eating the white millet. I started snapping away again. At the sound of the shutter he did glance my way for just a moment but then went right back to feeding. Due to lighting conditions, the photos that I took our only fair but I am proud of them. After all, it is one of my main nemesis birds and I got him! With luck he will return with the Indigo Buntings tomorrow to see that again. Hopefully, it will be in much better lighting condition. But for today I got some shots – maybe not the best ones, but I am thrilled with the photos I was able to take. AND I was thrilled to see this absolutely beautiful bird up close and personal.