Return of the Orioles

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

May 3, 2012

It has been an odd spring. An early warm spell in late March led to early blooming wildflowers and early emerging insects. However, a series of fronts in April have kept our migrating songbirds cooling their tarsi south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Last night, they broke out.

When I visited the park this morning, there was birdsong everywhere. Blue-winged Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and numerous others that I could not identify in the early morning fog.

And there were orioles. It was not a good morning for photography, dark, gray, and foggy, but I ran the ISO up way high and managed to capture a few images.

Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula)

Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula)

Most obvious were the flamboyant Baltimores.  Milord was decked out in jet black juxtaposed with hot orange. They carolled and sang,  chasing and flashing through the new leaves like roman candles. They did not allow for a close approach.[1]

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole, shot at a distance at a very high ISO.

But we have two flavors of orioles. Where the Baltimore Oriole is all flash and fancy, the Orchard Oriole is elegance and reserve, tastefully decked out in black and chestnut.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

I got to spend some quality time fairly close to one of these, just back from Central or South America.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

We usually have one or two breeding pairs at the park every summer, and this lad was singing his heart out. Looks like he’s going to stay.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Orchard Oriole singing in the rain

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  1. A little inside photography stuff. These shots were taken at ISO 1600, and at considerable distance. They have been sharpened and had noise reduction applied. The results are not bad, despite being heavily cropped. However, you will note that they are published at 80% of full size–otherwise, they are obviously grainy. []

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2 Responses

  1. I am LOVIN’ the orchard oriole, especially with his sumac hat. Good stuff. That’s the nice thing about blogging vs. magazine photography, right? The outtakes are always my faves.

  2. Tom Wampler said:

    What lens and camera are you using John? Do you hand hold or are you draging around a tri/monopod? I love these photos, even if you claim they are not your best.

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