During a recent visit to a nearby natural prairie, I was pleased to see some Yellow-breasted Chats (Icteria virens). These warblers, largest in the warbler family, are very secretive and usually reside in dense thickets and brushy edges in dry or moist areas. In this instance, I had observed one flying between one thicket to another one … otherwise, I’d probably not seen them.
Knowing that chats were in the area, I took my “big gun”, a 500mm/f4 lens + 1.4x TC, with me to my next visit to the area. I usually don’t like hauling this big, heavy equipment to the prairie as entry to the prairie area is an 1/8 mile hike, all uphill and somewhat steep, through some woods. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
Arriving just before sunrise, I made the arduous hike up the hill and wandered to the backside of the meadow, where I had seen the chat on the previous visit. I set up my tripod, attached the big gun, set up a stool, and patiently waited for the chats. Some of the first birds seen were Eastern Towhees, then a few American Goldfinches, and a beautiful male Indigo Bunting. And within a few minutes, a couple of Yellow-breasted Chats appeared. Although they stayed in the dense, brushy growth, they would occasionally fly to the top of one of the sumac shrubs, or one of the small maple saplings that are growing within the thickets. Here area a few of my favorite images from that morning on the prairie:
I was hoping to get some closer shots than I was able, so I’m already planning on another visit for some “chat photography”. When I was there, I noticed a small open area within the thicket that I might be able to set up in for some closer images. I’ll have to see what I can do.