Yellow Warbler captured by Z 6 / 800f5.6AFS

Where we live near the Canadian border, it’s still a little hard to believe it’s that time already when it’s two degrees in the morning. But as the radar map shows, 10.8 millions birds have started to make their move north for spring. This amazing rhythm of life that is nearly as old as life unfolds each spring bringing with it the joy and challenge of photographing this explosion of color and life. Research shows that birds are migrating over a week earlier now than they did fifty years ago which means now is the time to get ready for their arrival. How?

A good place to start is to find out where they might be coming to your area. Your local Audubon Chapter is a great resource in this pursuit. Tap into the large pool of knowledgeable birders to learn where and when to find the spring migrants. Some locations like Point Pelee publish not only publish dates of arrivals, but dates of arrival by species. There are fortunately many avenues to find out this information these days which leaves us to our favorite pursuit, thinking about gear.

The Yellow Warbler above pushed the 800mm to its limit, its MFD limit that is. How close your lens can focus is really important for most small birds like warblers. These days the winner of the best lens for this IMHO is the Z100-400 that focuses down to nearly 2.5 feet! That produces a great image size in a small package. And when connected to the Z 9, you have a killer package so then the only challenge is getting the lens on the subject fast enough because they are moving. Literally, moving north and don’t hold still much if at all. A great way to practice is placing small egg-sized balls on tree limbs and then you move around, swing the lens, and put your lens on that object fast and get a sharp capture. Getting ready now makes you ready for when they hit your neighborhood because they are making their move.

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