Vermillion Flycatcher – Catalina State Park: Tucson, Arizona: The desert southwest is an amazing place. The area around Tucson is the home of Sauraro National Park, Catalina State Park and the Tucson Desert Museum. All three of these sanctuaries preserve the deserts flora and fauna. All are excellent places to see specialties such as the Roadrunner, Phainopepla and the Vermillion Flycatcher.
The Vermillion Flycatcher is easily identified. Its vermillion red and black plumage cannot be mistaken with any other bird in the area. My first encounter with a Vermillion Flycatcher was on the wet plains of Venezuela’s Llanos. I worked hard to photograph that bird, but it didn’t happen. The bird was always a step ahead of me and never let me close enough to get the image. It would be a decade before I encountered this species again.
The second encounter was in the beautiful hill country of Concan, Texas. I was in Texas to speak on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker at the Concan Bird Festival. So, I did not have camera equipment with me, just my bino’s. The bird was in a beautiful setting and I spent a quarter of an hour or more watching the Vermillion hawk insects, preen and stretch. How I wish I could have photographed that bird.
My third encounter with the Vermillion Flycatcher was at Catalina State Park in Tucson, Arizona. I had gone to Catalina to photograph Greater Roadrunner. While following roadrunners around the park and shooting from my van I saw this bird perched on a willow branch. As I watched I noticed the flycatcher was retuning to the same perch after it snatched insects from the air. Slowly I drove my van toward the birds perch. As I crept toward the bird I rolled my window down, pointed the camera out the window resting the lens on the window base. Once I was close enough to the bird I turned the engine off and began shooting, and shooting, and shooting. Finally, I had captured the Vermillion Flycatcher.
Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f/4, Digital Capture, ISO 200