Last Sunday, in between taking pictures of Butterbutts, I was walking through some rather tall weeds at Jacob Riis Park when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flushed, flew over a fence, and disappeared. Though I was pleased to get an identifiable look at a cuckoo in October I was kind of bummed that I didn’t manage an image. Nonetheless, I found the strength to carry on and birded around the park for awhile, not really finding anything terribly interesting. But on my way back past the same spot I found the cuckoo again, this time sitting out in the open sunning itself, completely uncaring that I was busy digiscoping it. I spent twenty minutes with the bird before walking away, leaving the cuckoo where I found it. I really enjoyed the experience and I would say that these looks narrowly beat out the looks I got several years ago in Philadelphia.
The bird was exceptionally calm, allowing me to move my tripod-mounted digiscoping rig through the waist-high brush nearby without flinching. This allowed me to get looks and shots from slightly different angles, which is always fun, especially when your quarry is perched on a stick that from some angles blocked different parts of the bird.
I especially liked when the cuckoo turned towards me for a near head-on view.
I also liked having enough light to zoom the scope up to high magnification and still get decent shots.
Video was nice too! I love that I captured how slowly cuckoos move when they don’t feel threatened. Also, check out that eye!
I couldn’t get the whole bird in the frame without flipping the camera sideways. This was as close as I could get.
With the camera sideways I could get the whole bird. Check out that tail!
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Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.
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