Sunday, May 17, 2009

Spring Migrants - Point Pelee & Pelee Island

When there are songbirds around, I find it difficult to photograph anything else! The past week has been quite good for migrants in the Pelee area... and yesterday was one of my all-time best birding days for warblers..... there were tons hanging out on the north end of Pelee Island. Within only an hour or so, I'd found 22 warbler species.

Warblers are my favorite birds to shoot and getting a good photo is no easy task. If I end up with one publishable warbler photo from a day of shooting I consider it a success. This year I have been lucky to find a few cooperative birds.

Photo 1: Canada Warbler, Point Pelee
EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS & 2x teleconvertor; 580EX flash (fill flash)

Photo 2: Black-throated Blue Warbler, Point Pelee
EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS & 1.4x teleconvertor; 580EX flash (fill flash)

Photo 3: Least Flycatcher, Pelee Island
EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS & 1.4x teleconvertor; 580EX flash (fill flash)

Photo 4: Blackpoll Warbler, Pelee Island
EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS & 1.4x teleconvertor; 580EX flash (fill flash)
Photo 5: Purple Martin, Pelee Island
EOS 1DsIII; 500/4IS teleconvertor; handheld near nest house


  1. Beautiful shots Ethan. They're all nice, but I would have to say the first canada warbler is my favorite.

  2. Hello Ethan,
    I've been following your blog for a few months now and I'm amazed with your bird images in particular.

    I'm curious about how you get some of your images (like the ones posted on Sunday). Are you walking around trying to get close to birds that are low in the bushes? are you shooting from a blind? (If I'm stalking birds like warblers I tend to see them 10ft up in a tree, backlit against the sky...hardly a flattering portrait for a bird.)


  3. Thanks for your comments, guys!

    Peter, I did indeed get these by walking around looking for low, close birds. This style of warbler photography has a very low success rate per time spent (compared to taping in territorial birds, which many people do now). To increase my odds in migrant traps, I have a network of people who contact me when conditions are good or they know of a particularly cooperative bird. I also watch the conditions very closely to predict when opportunities might be best. For example, when I was shooting on Pelee Island on the weekend, there were strong southwest winds. I knew this would cause the warblers to pile up on the northeast (leeward) shoreline of the island..... and to feed low out of the wind. My instincts paid off.... there were tons of warblers, a few of which were relatively easy to shoot.

  4. I have to say what a find! I visited your website as recommended...and it's simply overwhelming!

    Needless to say the photos are great, period. But what's even greater is the generous tips in plain simple english that a person like me can understand.

    I love the outdoor, and wish to be able to do what you are doing. Nothing sweeter than making a living with your hobby...

    Well, I just want you to know that you have at least inspired one person from the other side of the world today.

    Thank you.
    J Sitorus

    p/s I found your blog from a forum