Sunday, May 20, 2018

Scarlet Tanager - 19 May 2018

While standing on the deck this morning I heard the quiet sound of a Wilson's Warbler coming from the woods out back. This prompted me to grab the camera and bins and take a walk through the muddy field to the woods to see what was about.

I found a bright Chestnut-sided Warbler foraging high in the oaks; too high to photograph. A Red-eyed Vireo began singing nearby, as did a Warbling Vireo.

Skies were overcast, and rain started falling. A Wilson's Warbler popped into view at eye level, but when I raised the camera to fire I found that my batteries were dead. Dead. I grabbed a spare battery, and it was dead. Luckily, a third battery had juice, so I was back in business. The Wilson's Warbler was gone, but a nearby Magnolia Warbler appeared for ever so briefly. No pics.

I walked back toward the Chestnut-sided Warbler after slogging through quiet trails. Overhead, I began to hear the burry song of a Scarlet Tanager. Sure enough, a bright male appeared high atop the canopy well out of photography range.

With the rain now falling steadily, I decided to stick around with the hopes that it might drop lower in the canopy and at least provide a record pic, or 700.  It bounced around the tree tops for a good 20 minutes and worked its way toward the edge of the woods, then finally appeared low enough for a few pics.

It then flew across the trail into a huge oak tree growing in the middle of the path. A few pics later it flew deeper into the woods along the grassy path. I followed it to another oak, and finally had a clear view of bright orange-red male. Between bursts of song, and the occasional "Chick-burr", it posed long enough for photos in the low light. Though the pics would be noisy, they were sharp, and I was impressed how the Nikon D500 handled the reds.

Of interest is that this male is a bright orange-red, and not the deep scarlet red seen in most adult males. Another feature not normally seen in these birds was bright red epaulettes appearing on the wings, which are normally all-black.

It would rain for the rest of the day. Heavily. We recorded almost 2" by evening. A fountain appeared in the front lawn as rainwater from the downspouts funneled under the drive and into the drain in the grass. Luckily, the basement remains dry!

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