Saturday, January 19, 2013

Red-flanked Bluetail - Jan18th

I heard about this mega-rarity last Sunday and was sore-pressed to beg time off work to twitch it, i needed the hours however and decided that i would gamble and wait until Friday, my day off work, i didn't want to rush over after work during the week and get maybe 40 minutes of light before the sun set, it wasn't worth the hassle (however had the bird flown before i got to see it i'd be a bit gutted i must admit LOL)

The morning started off rough, it took over a 1/2 hour in bumper-to-bumper commuter traffic just to make the Second Narrows bridge from my home, a trip that usually takes little more than 5 minutes on a good day (and they want to build more condos in North Van?).
I was patient however and chanted meditative mantra's under my breath, well, not really, but i did listen to some slamming tunes that got me eventually to New Westminster.
I have a vague recollection of visiting Queen's Park from my childhood, maybe 12 years old, maybe 10, can't remember but i did know that i was back once more.
I didn't even have to drive all the way in as i spotted the dark shapes with scopes and tripods in the shadows and parked on the side of the road, right next to the action.
A quick sip of the dark coffee in my travel mug and i was off, into the dark woods and the gathering of like-minded souls within, all hoping for a glimpse of the elusive yet tantalizing Asian species that goes by the apt name Red-flanked Bluetail.

A first record ever for Canada!

There is no excuse for not seeing this if you live in the lower mainland, i knew birders were already migrating up from the US trying to find New Westminster on their maps.

It was originally classified as a thrush but i see it now listed as an old-world flycatcher in the latest edition of NatGeo Birds of NA.
This makes sense as it behaved very much like the flycatchers i have seen in Thailand.
There was a good-sized gathering of the birding tribe present of which i include photogs, since so many of us also like to document our sightings.
I've noticed some damned good birders pick up a camera lately so the lines are beginning to blur i think between birders and bird photographers, one day we will all be united as one, or not LOL.

In the 5 hours i spent on site the weather fluctuated between mild and downright cold, i was thankful for the lukewarm coffee i retrieved later in the morning as it added a jolt to the body and mind.

When i first arrived the bird was present, it wasn't long before i had squeezed off 4 or 5 shots, when i checked the images afterwards quickly i was shocked to see nothing but black images, what the f..., what was this cruel joke? the camera and lens were working fine the day before, i took the teleconverter off and again, black images, i was stumped and could do nothing more that extricate myself from the bird and action to figure out what was wrong.
When i realized the camera setting was on M and not A like i prefer everything was fine again and i rejoined the fray.

 The bird never stuck around long, perhaps it was the crowd around it pushing it on or more likely a set routine or circuit that it performed around the park, i caught up with it when it came around.
If i was to do it again i would have cranked my ISO up past 800 for sure, i hate to do that with the D300 but i saw some shots by others that were quite stunning, granted they were using pro bodies with mega-high ISO's.
All i really wanted was some record shots better than the White-winged Crossbill shots i got at Burnaby lake recently, i think i succeeded in that regard at least LOL.

Red-flanked Bluetail

Met a lot of birders and photogs, some i see every time i go out and some for the first time as well. 
Meeting Flickr contacts in person is always cool and i met a long-time contact finally, it's an honor when someone shakes your hand and tells you they love your work and read your stuff etc., i don't know what to say actually but it does inspire me.


Vicki said...

you really got some great photos...

Vicki said...

you have some good photos. I am thinking female

The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area