Wood Sandpiper 1
Wood Sandpiper 2
This is how far we were away from it when viewed through the camera.
Wood Sandpiper 3 same photo, cropped so you can see the bird.
Wood Sandpiper 4
Here we are standing out in the marsh with scopes, cameras and binos, in muddy water. (Thanks to Chris Powell for taking this photo of us.)
Wood Sandpiper 5
This video (shot at 140x hand held) of the Wood Sandpiper I took shows its interesting bobbing behavior. (Once it plays, click on the lower left return arrow to replay the video and do not click on the other images that show up, they are other youtube videos)
We went to see the rare Wood Sandpiper that showed up at Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve in Jamestown, Rhode Island and first discovered on Oct. 13th by Carlos Pedro. Although it is found somewhat regularly in western Alaska, this was a first state record of that bird for RI and only the seventh record for the lower 48 states. So there was much excitement and many other birders went to see it.
We were thrilled to have made the drive from NH and then actually gotten to see it, which is not always the case when you chase a rarity!! It could have flown off by the time we got there! Thanks to Chris Powell who led us out into the marsh and helped us and the other birders locate the bird.
When we were there the Wood Sandpiper was quite a distance from us and backlit. So for me this was a photographic challenge. For other lucky photographers at other times, evidently the bird came quite close and in excellent light. So, many people have great photos, much better than mine.
I had my Canon 1D Mark IV with the 300 mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter. I also took my Canon SX 40 HS, a little point-and-shoot superzoom camera that has an amazing 35x optical range and can even go beyond that into the 4x digital zoom, which adds up to 140x!!
Some of these photos were shot with the Canon 1D Mark IV and some with the Canon SX 40 HS, at the 140x digital zoom, can you tell which is which? Answers at end of post. Given that the Mark IV costs more than ten times what the SX 40 does, in this situation, the SX 40 did pretty well given I had pushed it to its limit. I like to experiment with my different cameras and see how far I can push them in challenging situations to see what I can get.
In terms of the video, it was shot at the 140x zoom and hand held, so it's ridiculous that I got any viewable video whatsoever. Tip: I was holding the camera as steady as I could, holding my breath, and had my elbows braced against my body.
Photos of the Wood Sandpiper 1, 2, 3 were shot with the Canon ID Mark IV and photos 4 and 5 were shot with the Canon SX 40 HS.
Have fun chasing rarities, and, if you are a photographer, when the photo situation is less than ideal (i.e. it sucks), try pushing your gear. Most of all, have fun!
For more info on the Wood Sandpiper, see our The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America.