View 18: Spring Song

Red-winged BlackbirdSong Sparrow

I recently spent a morning at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge near Seneca Falls, New York. It was a beautiful sunny and warm Spring day in upstate New York. Male songbirds like the Red-winged Blackbird (left) and Song Sparrow (right) were singing the day’s praises. Well, not exactly. These two were more interested in defending their nesting territory and attracting a mate than the weather or the dozens of cars passing them by on the refuge’s wildlife drive. Many occupants of those cars pointing cameras with big, long lens attached at them and all the ducks, geese and shorebirds found at Montezuma during the annual Spring migration period. Including me, welding a Nikon D70 with Nikon 80-400VR lens firmly pressed to my left eye, focusing, composing and pressing the shutter repeatedly all morning long.

Click on the links below to hear their song

Red-winged Blackbird

Song Sparrow

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18 Responses to View 18: Spring Song

  1. Mitch says:

    These are great shots, catching them in the act like that.


  2. stphoto says:

    They were voiceterous and not shy at all. Just had to wait for them to return to their favorite perch to sing which they kept doing over and over again.


  3. virtualnexus says:

    Great capture – that’s definitely the lens to do it with; and striking colour – US native birds are generally very different to ours.


  4. stphoto says:

    Thanks, virtualnexus! I just got this lens earlier this year and will be taking more trips with it as I learn it’s little quarks.


  5. bobleckridge says:

    Fabulous photos. I really like the whole idea of your blog. I’ll be back again.
    I use a D70 too and recently bought a 18 – 200 VR Nikon lens for it and I am SERIOUSLY impressed with it. It’s an astonishingly good lens


  6. stphoto says:

    Hi, Bob!

    In fact, except where I say I used the 80-400VR, the 18-200VR was on my D70. It’s my travel and walk-about lens since I got it last Spring. I rarely take it off.

    Thanks for stopping by!



  7. JosyC says:

    “Firmly pressed to [your] left eye?” You don’t use the viewscreen?

    (The sparrow photo is particularly impressive. 🙂 )


  8. stphoto says:

    No, the Nikon D70 doesn’t have a live view screen, only a viewfinder. The LCD can be used for reviewing photos, photo metadata, histograms and menu settings.

    The song sparrow was the shot of the day. Very handsome creature and lovely song.


  9. JosyC says:


    It didn’t even occur to me that any digital camera in this day and age wouldn’t have a “live” view screen. Whoops.

    All the more impressive, though. Composing in a viewfinder is a royal pain in the eyeball.


  10. morningjoy says:

    Great photos. You captured the moment. Including the songs in your blog is a nice touch.


  11. stphoto says:

    Thank you, moringjoy. I had to include their songs after enjoying them in person. This medium allowed me to do so.


  12. Thank you for good information~~*


  13. rvewong says:

    Like you I have the 18-200. My only other Nikon lens is the 85mmf1.8 for hockey.
    I’ve been thinking that it might be nice to have a longer lens and your 80-400 pops to mind.
    How do you feel about having those two lenses? Would you do something different if you hadn’t already got the 80-400mm?


  14. stphoto says:

    The 80-400 is the best bargain for the reach it gives. It’s not the most up-to-date lens which is one of the reasons for it’s price. The other alternatives would be the 70-200VR with a 1.7x Telecoverter or the VERY expensive 400mm VR telephoto.

    The 80-400 takes a bit of practice to master but well worth it. It is a heavy lens which might be a bit cumbersome in the muck of a swamp. With the 1.5x crop, you get a 600mm f/5.6 versus the 300mm f/5.6 with the 18-200VR.


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  17. Robin says:

    Wow! These are great, Scott. Thanks for pointing me in this direction.


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