The Beast was napping in his case when Rich and I were hiking in the Azalea Bowl at Callaway Gardens last week. I had the wide-angle lens on the camera, somewhat disappointed at the meager number of birds that we’d managed to find on our vacation. So I put on a warming filter and concentrated on making landscape images. (Note: an APS-C sensor with its 1.6 crop factor does not make for a good landscape camera at Callaway…the trees are so tall that you can’t fit them in the frame!)
Of course, as soon as you leave the telephoto lens behind, you come across the birds! We found a flock of mixed warblers and other small birds in the woods. Some of them are year-round in Georgia, but with the mixed flock, I wondered if they were migrants. I ran back to get the Beast. Even though it was mid-day and the light was very harsh, I found that the trees filtered the light, and my shots were better than I expected.
The first bird I photographed was the Black and White Warbler above. I was glad to have my 1.4x teleconverter, as the birds were all really high up in the trees. The Black and White warblers are the only warblers that go down the tree trunk upside down like nuthatches.
Speaking of nuthatches, we don’t see them much in Florida. But at Callaway they are fairly common. I was excited when I saw this one foraging in the bark of a nearby tree, and I snapped his picture when he emerged with a mid-afternoon snack.
Carolina Chickadees are some of the most common birds at Callaway. Their “chick-a-dee-dee-dee-dee” calls can be heard throughout the gardens. Usually they stay pretty high up in the trees, but on this afternoon a few flew a little lower to forage. I wasn’t complaining! Now if he’d only given me a good head angle… :)
I noticed a bird that I hadn’t seen often before. The bird was a little bigger than the chickadees and warblers, but not by much. His flight was swift, and a little erratic as he darted from one branch to another. I think he’s an Eastern Wood Pewee, but please e-mail me or post a comment if I’m incorrect.
But the one picture that I really wanted to get while at Callaway this time was a full-frame Beastly shot of a Hooded Warbler. I have pictures from previous trips with smaller lenses, but nothing that does this beautiful bird justic. I’m pretty sure I heard and saw Hooded Warblers in this flock, but alas, I was unable to photograph one. Next time…
Want to learn more about nature photography at Callaway Gardens?
Check out my Callaway Gardens page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!