The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus) is a rare visitor for the central coast where one was last seen in 2008 at Ano Nuevo State Park (per ebird database). So needless to say, I was off in search of this rarity when I got an ebird email alerted of the flycatcher's presence at Miramontes Point area in San Mateo California. Ebird is a citizens science project run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that collects checklists from all over the world to create a bird database for research (see http://ebird.org/content/ebird/). The first time I searched for the flycatcher I walked around the area covering 2.6 miles over about 2 hours. I was walking back to my car stopping along the way to talk with another birder looking for the flycatcher. Then a guy came by and asked if we were birders and what were we looking for. I responded that we were looking for a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. He said that he was from Texas and he sees them all the time. After a little conversation, I explained that it was a real rarity for the area and we hadn't seen the bird yet. He wished us good luck and off he went. I then wished the other birder good luck and headed to my car striking out in finding the flycatcher. I was packing up my gear when I noticed the Texas guy walking in my direction with a sense of urgency. He got within ear shot and said he had just spotted the flycatcher.
So I grabbed my camera and we walked down to the bridge over a creek where he saw the bird but no luck. I then walked down to the beach and there was the guy sitting on the beach. I was able to capture about 20 images before he flew north along the beach. That was it for the day but I was very excited in finding a life bird and one so spectacular. It was very special to me that the Texan game back for me and I was able to see the Scissor-tail. So thank you Texan and I wish had I gotten your name.
Since I didn't get any flight shots during the first outing, I returned the following week to try again. This time the bird was on the fairway flycatching and I had many opportunities to capture the bird in flight. The first day I was using the D7100 with my 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 TC for a 420mm focal length resulting in a 630mm 35mm FX equivalent focal length. Since the bird was stationary I used an 1/800s, f/4, and an ISO400 to capture the beach flycatcher.
On the second outing I was using my D800 with the 300mm and I knew I wanted to capture flight shots so I set the shutter speed to 1/2000s. A storm had just passed and there was a mix of sun and clouds but I wanted more depth of field so I set the aperture to f/5.0 and let the ISO vary since the light was contantly changing resulting in a ISO range from 100 to 1000. The Feature Photo was a nice portrait of the flycatcher barely hanging onto a small branch and I was able to get within 3m of the bird to capture the shot. Sometimes a second look will be as rewarding as finding you subject the first time and can be just a exciting.
Your comments are welcomed and if you have any questions about the photo or any other questions leave me a message.