Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) – A Trophy

Photographers chase trophies, there’s no denying it. I don’t chase landscape/scenery trophies (as I’ve outlined in my “Farewell Flickr, Farewell Instagram” article, in the section “Icons and Sunsets”), but when it comes to flowers and plants, I’m definitely a trophy hunter*. πŸ™‚

With birds, a little bit less so – I care about the “regulars” in the chaparral of course, because I deeply care about these shrublands. When I see one and have the gear with me to get a picture I’m happy if it works out – but I don’t organize and plan my photography around making photos of birds.

The Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) is one such “photographic trophy bird” in the chaparral for me (another would be the Roadrunner, which I have not had any luck photographing yet). Ever since Richard Halsey introduced the little bird to us as “the voice of the chaparral” in the Chaparral Naturalist class that I took with the California Chaparral Institute in 2015, I’ve always heard its call – and never saw the bird. They loudly announce their territory with that signature call (a pit-pit-pit that increases in tempo and slightly decreases in frequency, nicely captured here: Wrentit Male Calling), but are very skittish as they flutter from shrub to shrub, most often staying hidden or at least somewhat obscured by twigs and leaves.

While out on a walk with Toni this morning, I had “Big Bertha” with me, the heavy 200-500mm telezoom lens – and I heard the Wrentit’s call extremely close! Excited, I slowly stepped closer to the edge of the trail and there, in a little buckwheat and some dry stalks of last year’s vegetation it sat. I managed to get two photos (out of five) where the focus is actually on the bird, instead of the twig that partially covered it. Happiness!

Not a photo that meets the artistic and visual standards for bird photos that I would add to my photography archive, but here it is, to share the joy that this moment with the little bird brought me. You can see that its beak is open – it was calling as I made this photo. πŸ™‚

UPDATE (June 2019) – in the meantime I’ve been able to get a better photo, which I added to my photography website: Wrentit Perched High.

Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) in Buckwheat, Poway, California. March 2019.
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) in Buckwheat, Poway, California. March 2019.

*) this year’s trophies so far, thanks to a wet winter and a fabulous spring bloom: Desert Fivespot, Danny’s Skullcap, Baby Blue Eyes, Slender Pod Jewelflower, Common Woodland Star – all flowers that I had never seen with my own eyes or photographed before.


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4 thoughts on “Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) – A Trophy

  1. On Sunday evening Katherine and I went out to Lake Hodges to see if the grebes were dancing (they weren’t, except for a quick cha-cha-cha by one couple in the distance). I found myself photographing every bird within range. It was fun and I’ll no doubt do it again. I have some of the white pelicans that may be worth posting but not much else.

    1. Ah, the dancing grebes. I guess it would take a lot of luck to photograph from the shore – even Big Bertha’s 500mm is nowhere near enough for that. A friend from the photo club rents a boat at the marina (Del Dios side) and goes out onto the water to make photos of them. The white pelicans are fun to watch and photograph because they’re so much bigger. πŸ™‚

  2. Well done. Little songbirds are so cautious. It is rare to get them fully exposed. They feel safer behind something, so the photographer is constantly challenged with twigs, branches (and leaves).

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