About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Photographing the Elegant Trogon

Lake Patagonia, Arizona - a great place for birds

At Patagonia Lake, Arizona, in mid-March, we had the chance to go on a bird walk led by three volunteers - an intimate affair with only 40 other people. Not really my style, but the group broke into three and that made it a tad more palatable.
The goal of the day was to see a elusive bird; rare, but recently reported, spoken of in hushed tones as "he who shall not be named," for fear of jinxing the quest.

Amy and I had gone looking for the bird the afternoon before with no luck. What we did find was a black backpack in a tree. As we were sitting just a few miles north of the heavily guarded border we reported it to the local Border Patrol. They said it was likely a food pack from a "runner" and was quite common. An average day in Nogales saw 20 arrests and that day a car had been stopped at the entrance to the state park with 12 bales of marijuana. "Overwhelming" was the word the agent used.

That morning our group of 15 did not find said bird, though we found several others, too distant and too small to photograph, yet good lifers. But after two hours our FRS radio squawked, "he has been found." The Elegant Trogon had been spotted. We hustled over and those of us with cameras elbowed our way into position.

I was using my D800, my favorite 70-200mm Nikkor and a Manfrotto monopod. The back lighting was not great and the Trogon liked to sit within branches. Auto-focus was out as it kept racking back and forth from one branch to another, seldom finding the bird. Another chap was having the same problem with his new Canon and I managed to help him find the switch to turn off his AF. The point and shooters did not have much luck. Most folks had a good look, ticked it off on their life list and moved on. A few of us with cameras stayed around and gradually moved closer.
Fortunately the bird is not skittish and seemed more puzzled than frighted. I got several good frames, though the branches were usually in the way, and the sun in the wrong position.
Nevertheless I managed to capture one of the rarest of US species. And he sure enough is attractive.

According to bird books the Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) (formerly the "Coppery-tailed" Trogon), is a near passerine bird. It breeds from southeastern Arizona to northwestern Costa Rica.
At an overall length of 11-12 inches I was looking for a parrot sized bird, but half of that is the tail so in fact the size is more that of a large parakeet.

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