A lot of times when I’m out hiking I’ll hear or even see a lot of birds but don’t get a chance to capture them with my camera. Or if I do get a shot, it’s a type of bird I’ve seen so many times before I don’t get very excited — like the local doves, or Acorn Woodpeckers, or even the little Rufous-crowned Sparrows. Don’t get me wrong: I still enjoy spotting those clown-faced woodpeckers, and I can’t help feeling fond of the brave, busy little sparrows. But there’s nothing like the thrill of shooting a species that’s new to me, or more difficult to capture.
I first learned about the Western Kingbirds last year, and I was so proud of myself when I managed to photograph some at Lake Natoma. It helped that the bike trail was still closed due to rockslides, and I was getting out pretty early in the morning. This summer the trails have been so busy I haven’t spotted any Kingbirds — but then I drove up to the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead, along Highway 49, and before I even got my car door open, there was a Kingbird! It was a good reminder for me to always keep my eyes open and my camera at the ready.