Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making the Most of Poor Conditions

Earlier this summer, I made a brief Memorial Day weekend trip to the San Francisco Bay area, with a planned stop at the Point Reyes National Seashore, one of the best birding areas in the continental United States.

I've birded SoCal fairly extensively, with several trips to the San Diego and Orange County coasts and inland to the Anza-Borrego Desert resulting in a lot of great bird and scenic captures, but the Monterey Bay on the central coast was as far north as I'd birded previously, so I was really looking forward to the two-day trip (which I'd booked to take advantage of a frequent-flier promotion).

Unfortunately, we landed at San Francisco International Airport to totally overcast skies (not uncommon for the area), chilly temperatures in the upper-50's, and drizzle. The week prior, the Bay area had regularly been topping 90 on the mercury readings. Despite the poor birding and photographic conditions, I'd come several thousand miles, so off to Point Reyes I set.

Despite the poor weather, traffic was still a beast up the 101 and across the Golden Gate Bridge (where I stopped for a few photos and spotted several Wilson's Warblers and White-crowned Sparrows singing). Eventually, though, I arrived at the National Seashore to rain heavy enough I didn't risk taking my camera out into the elements for long--neither the Canon 30D nor the EF 300mm f4L lens I use are weather sealed.

I really want to pay another visit to Point Reyes during better weather, but at least while I was there, I saw several dozen California Quail, darting across the roads and even hanging out in a picnic spot, like this one I caught posing atop a table:

Other than a natural perch and somewhat better light conditions, I don't think I could ask a lot more of this image. Well, a longer lens, I suppose, so I could get better bokeh, but unless someone out there is willing to front me five grand or so, I'm stuck for now with my 300mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter.

1 comment:

The Birdlady said...

Hi John....looks like we're neighbors. I live out in Gainesville and have a wild bird shop, Backyard Boutique, there.
That's a nice image you have of the CA quail. I'll be watching, and will link you to my blogroll if you like, so some of the other bloggers can find you.