Yesterday afternoon I received a phone call from Dan Bertsch, the recently retired Chief Naturalist at Medina County Parks in northeast Ohio. Dan had called to invite me to visit his home in Medina County to view and photograph a male brambling, a Eurasian finch that has taken up residence nearby and makes frequent visits to his bird feeder. I’m not much of a bird lister, but this opportunity to see a bird that was last seen in Ohio 28 years ago was not to be missed, so after a business meeting mid-morning in Wooster I drove over to Dan’s home to admire this very rare avian visitor.
Dan lives in a beautiful farmhouse adjacent to Allardale Park, and the brambling was making regular visits to a well-stocked bird feeder just outside his kitchen window at the front of the house. Across the street, dozens of birders were lined up along the road, with binoculars, spotting scopes, and numerous tripod-mounted Canon and Nikon super telephoto lenses all trained on the busy bird feeder. In addition to the male brambling, there were at least a dozen other bird species visiting the feeder, including tree and house sparrows, goldfinches, juncos, house finches, chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, white-breasted nuthatches, downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, and an occasional blue jay.
The brambling was very skittish, and would only come to the feeder area when lots of house sparrows and other small birds were busy feeding on the ground. A serviceberry tree near the feeder provided lots of perches for the birds, but the brambling, despite its resplendent plumage, was often very hard to spot among the leaves at the base of the tree. A car coming along the road, or any sudden movement, caused the entire flock of feeding birds to take flight, albeit temporarily until they regained their courage to return to the feeder area. I used my Sigma 50-500mm zoom lens on a tripod-mounted Nikon D7200, at ISO 1600, f/8, and a shutter speed of 1/125th second. I was shooting through a plate glass window, and needed to position the camera carefully to avoid reflections in the glass, which reduced the image acuity slightly but allowed us to view the birds from a range of less than 20 feet.
A few minutes before I arrived, Jim McCarty, who writes about birds for The Plain Dealer, had visited to observe the bird, and his article about the brambling may be read at this link: http://news360.com/article/328883497
A special thank you to Dan Bertsch for his hospitality and the chance to view and photograph this special bird on the last day of the year.
Thank you for visiting my website and blog, and my best wishes for a wonderful year in 2016.
Happy New Year!