Hidden in the bush
I came across this brown thrasher by complete accident. I was attempting to look for a Great Blue Heron that I spotted flying across a marsh. When I went to get a closer look at the area I thought it had landed, I could hear something to my left moving about. I glanced over and couldn’t find anything. After a few seconds had passed, I looked in the same area and my eye only noticed the bird when it moved because of how well it is camouflaged. It didn’t seem to be afraid of me; Maybe because of the protective “cage” that it had buried itself in.
The Brown Thrasher eats mostly insects and some fruit, seeds, and nuts. Some of their nests can be found in forest edges and overgrown areas. They spend most of their time on the ground; which is where I photographed the one above. After watching it for a while, I never saw it fly away. It just went further into the bushes until it was no longer visible. It is quite possible that its nest was in that same area. When I started my research on the Brown Thrasher I could not locate any photos of the bird with grayish colored eyes. All of the information I found only showed the bird to have bright yellow eyes with a black pupil. After further research, the grayish colored eyes are found in juvenile brown thrashers.
It was a bit difficult to focus on this animal because of its location and color. I used auto focus to try and lock in on the bird. However, there were a few issues I ran into when using that feature. The bird was camouflaged, far away, on the ground, and among twigs. One of the features of the auto focus feature is that it looks for contrasting colors to find a subject to focus on. Once I was able to lock onto the bird, I ran into the auto focus system switching from focusing on the bird to focusing on the twigs then focusing on the ground. It did a dance, switching between the three before I finally gave up and switched to manual focus.
It is a known fact that using manual focus for wildlife subjects can be risky and difficult because of sporadic movements and the quickness needed to capture a photo. However, in this situation, the bird was very still. The only movement came from its head. It was looking for a bite to eat and foraging for insects in the mud. After switching to manual, I was able to focus on the bird and capture a few photos. I happen to capture a composure with the birds head visible through a square space in the jumble of twigs. Its enough to recognize what type of bird it is and its eye color.
Switching to manual will not always work because this bird could have easily flown away and my shot would have been missed. However, it always helps to know your subject. The Brown Thrasher mainly lives its life on the ground; that worked out to my benefit.
On a final note
When searching for wildlife to photograph, even birds, its always a good idea to look in unusual places. For me, the accidental encounter allowed me to photograph a beautiful bird in its natural habitat getting a bite to eat. Before using manual mode in the field, try practicing at home; focusing on different objects quickly then taking a picture. I found that this practice helps me when I am out in the field and need to quickly capture a photo.