Hermit Thrush, Backbone State Park, Iowa --------

Joan had to work this weekend, so I took our little dog Cooper for an Easter hike to an area that I have a little neglected during recent years. Backbone State Park is the oldest state park in Iowa, dedicated in 1919 (2001 acres, 820 ha), and it is only an hour drive west of our area. It is named for a narrow and steep ridge of bedrock carved by a loop of the Maquoketa River originally known as the “Devil's Backbone” (source: Wikipedia). I always hope to see some wildlife during a hiking tour but I didn’t want to carry the heavy 150-600 mm lens with me. Instead the 70-200 was on the camera.

Only fifteen minutes into the hike I came across this Hermit Thrush, an inconspicuous little bird, that wasn’t very shy but nevertheless kept a safe distance to Cooper and me while searching for food between leaf litter. The Hermit Thrush breeds further north and that makes me believe that this was a migrating bird.

The thrush decided to pose between thorny branches and unfortunately one of them covers part of the bird. I still decided to use this photo for today’s post because it was the closest and sharpest image I was able to make. It isn’t ideal for identification because you can’t really see the spots on its chest, but other pictures, from a wider distance, helped me to compare the field marks. The last time I had this bird in front of the camera was in April 2014 in our front yard. I guess I’ll keep my eyes open during the next days…

Nikon D750, Nikon Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm, f/4G ED VR, @ 200 mm, 1/1250 s, f/4, ISO 200