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Hunting hummers

If you haven’t guessed by the previous few blog entries, this is the top place in the United States to see hummingbirds. Fourteen species live here in the summer, and people come from great distances to get a spot near the feeders and photograph the birds.

Hereford hummers.jpg

I’m not actually a birder, but I like the photographic challenge of capturing a hummingbird in flight. It has been an exercise to hone my skills — an exercise which I haven’t yet mastered. That keeps it interesting.

From Sierra Vista, you can take Miller Canyon Road up into the Huachuca Mountains to visit Beatty’s Guest Ranch and Orchards. The rough dirt road winds up the canyon through the Coronado National Forest lands, and at first we had the impression we were on the wrong track. A mile or so up, there’s a trailhead and a few acres of privately owned land — Beatty’s.

Beattys guest ranch.jpg

Beatty’s is a mecca for hummingbird watchers. In addition to selling honey, apples, rhubarb, eggs, and renting out some very private guest accommodations, they have a bank of hummingbird feeders. This time of year the hummers are consuming 6 quarts of sugar water a day, and by this summer Beatty’s will be serving many times that amount. So it’s a superb place to view the birds. For a fee, they have some exclusive areas for particularly nice viewing.

Allens hummingbird.jpg
A female Allen’s Hummingbird

Google Earth location of Beatty’s Guest Ranch and Orchard

Now what I really need to get better photos is a longer, faster, image-stabilized lens … I got myself a lens for my last birthday, perhaps it’s time for another?

2 Responses to “Hunting hummers”

  1. Michael Young Says:


    Wonderful picture of the Allen’s hummingbird.

    In terms of longer, stabilized lenses for your Nikon, you probably know of the 18-200, which is an F3.5-5.6, and the 70-200, which is F2.8 across the focal lengths. The latter is the one I used for the shots of the editor at work in Tucson.

    With the VR turned on, the difference in f-stops might not matter as much as the difference in price. However, with the faster f2.8 lens, you might be inclined to add a teleconverter later. Then the loss in speed from the teleconverter will not have as much effect on the light gathering ability as it would on the shorter lens.

    One of these days I hope to add a 1.4x or 1.7x teleconverter to my collection. The 1.7x would bring the effective length of the 200mm lens up to 510mm on a digital camera. That would slow the lens by only 1.5 f-stops. Not a bad trade-off, I’d say.

  2. Rob Super Says:

    What you REALLY need is the video camera used for some of “Planet Earth”. ~1200 frames/sec AND uses a standby mode that constantly loops 8 sec of recording: don’t worry if you’re a bit slow on the trigger and miss that perfect moment–you actually started shooting 8 seconds in the past!