Monday, August 25, 2014

Staying Alert and Being Prepared brings Rewards

Staying alert, being prepared and being at the right place at the right time will certainly bring rewards.  I was recently at the Ottawa Nat'l Wildlife Area for the first time of what will be many, I'm sure.  One very unexpected surprise was the sight of this first year bald eagle flying overhead.  What a gorgeous creature.  I was actually concentrating on a black butterfly in the grass that would not sit still for the 300mm lens when I turned and caught this eagle overhead.

Another real surprise was this green heron.  As I was walking along , movement in the bog area caught my eye and I spotted this heron in the deep shadows of the trees.  As I quickly fired off a couple of shots he moved deeper in the shadows and my hopes dimmed that I'd get a decent view of him.  Just as he moved for the third time I silently said, "please, please, please just let me see you", thinking if I could just get a good look I could get a good shot.  To my utter astonishment he perched on this limb in the wide open and allowed several shots to be taken.

Here's another of a red-tailed hawk I caught flying overhead.  He showed up and disappeared pretty quickly but I was ready and got this image among a couple others.  I had the Nikon D600 loaded with the 300mm f/4 + TC-E14II making for an effective 420mm.  Settings were (S) shutter priority 800, ISO 100 with max set to 1600, auto focus set to AF-C and exposure compensation set to +2.  It helped knowing my equipment and what it would take to capture birds in flight (BIF) from experimentation and practice, hence, being prepared - meaning I didn't have to fiddle with settings once I slung the camera over my shoulder and set off.

This is a shot of a sandhill crane.  I saw a group of four of them in the distance and raised the camera to shoot a series of shots.  At first I thought they were great blue herons which I thought was odd because I'd not seen them in groups before.  As they got closer I thought they were geese (which made more sense for the group) and was somewhat disappointed because they are so common.  Upon viewing them on the computer screen, though, I realized they were sandhill cranes (after looking them up) which are a first for me.

And finally there was this ring-billed gull I spotted flying around and because it was so much smaller than the eagle, hawk, and crane I thought it a good challenge to see if I could get some decent shots of it.  The first photo above is typical of several I shot.  But as I followed it in the viewfinder it quickly lowered and snatched a meal out of the water and all the while I kept shooting.  I lost it during the quick decent but picked it up just in time to see its reward....and mine.