Patience And Observation Wildlife Photographers Primary Tools

The eagle above from a shot last week. Made me think of how I mentally scratch my head deciding what to do next. Where to go. What possibilities are out there? Which way is the wind blowing. The light or lack of it plays a role as well. Once a decision is made then a large dose of patience and observation comes in to play, my primary tools of the trade.

With the eagle pair now setting eggs on the nest. Not a lot happens most of the day. The birds swapping out only two or three times most days. My choice is to attempt to be there when that happens. Sometimes the shift change on the nest happens quickly sometimes it may be hours. With the eagles nest located in a pine grove there are a lot of small birds that use the area as well. I never thought that pine trees would be such a good supplier or food source. There are as a large variety of species that spend the day moving from tree to tree finding seeds and insects.

Yesterday was another of those gray days with light rain falling. I chose to search along the rivers and lakes first. A lot of light is reflected off the water. Upping my chances of usable light to photograph in. It is much darker in the pines where the eagles nest is. Arriving at the river a Great Blue Heron stood on the shoreline. For some reason the reflected light showed off its color splendidly in the drizzle. It was not a good angle but I took the shot anyhow.

The main subject of my visit to the river was to shoot pelicans. They are a pleasure to watch as they try to fill their large need for food. During breeding season a bird may need 40 percent of it body weight a day.

The pelicans obtain a lot of this food stealing from other birds. At the river here that means robbing from gulls. All a gull has to do is hover for a second and here come the pelicans.

Sometimes the pelicans grab the fish before the gull gets it if it is large. But usually the gull makes the grab first.

The gulls pick up any fish they can carry. As they fly they flip the fish to try and get it head first so they can swallow it. Sometimes they drop it during this exchange. Sometimes deciding it is to large to take. Dropping it for the pursuing pelicans to capture before it sinks.

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Happened to catch this pair of loons on Kentucky Lake walking along the top of the dam. I was trying to slip up on a pair of kestrels perched together on the downstream side. I failed to capture the kestrels but was glad to see the loons feeding. Luck plays a large part on many of my finds. A good reason to get out and walk.

When the rains stopped I headed for the eagles nesting area. Figuring that the birds would not swap out during the rain but shortly after it stopped. It was a good call as the eagles did swap out shortly after my arrival. I got to see a few other small birds while I was there.

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Soon the Dark Eyed Juncos above will be heading north.

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When I pulled the photo up of the eagle that had been sitting on the eggs I wondered what are all the specks in the picture. Duhh, it was the water droplets flying off  the wings after the eagle had been sitting in the rain all morning.

By the end of the month the Great Blue Heron should start rebuilding there nests and laying eggs.

Returning to the eagles nest in the afternoon to try and catch another swap out. A juvenile intruder flew in and dropped its landing gear and headed for the nest. This making the eagle setting eggs raise up and flare its wings. If it had been another adult and not its mate there would be a good chance the eagle would have got off the eggs and chased the intruder off.

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On occasion the egg attending eagle will leave the nest to call for the mate. Possibly going to get it and run it back  to the nest. It was a long wait in the afternoon. We saw the eagle due to swap out in the distance. Then spotted it perched nearby. They finally swapped out. I missed the incoming shot to the nest. The bird coming in and landing from an unusual angle that forces it to land under a branch. There was no wind so the birds can easily land however they choose from any direction. I caught the incoming bird on the morning swap out so I can’t complain.

Dawn approaches time to start scratching my noggin’ figuring out a game plan for the day…

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Today’s Flashback Photo “Red Breasted Merganser” male

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4 Responses to Patience And Observation Wildlife Photographers Primary Tools

  1. Mary S. says:

    Grampy, What a good post today; well, they all are for that matter. But I liked the maturing eagle as I never saw one “almost grown”. Makes me wonder why it would approach the nest; could it have been an offspring from some years ago? But I can make a story for almost anything.
    And the Robins are down by you; give it a month or 6 to 8 weeks, and we will probably see some of them up here (altho my sister always swore that Robins wintered here; she saw them but I never did). Well, they should be returning here in a while.
    I like the first pic setting the tone for the post today; good job. MCS

    • Grampy says:

      Mary S,
      Thank You, it was a good day afield. My guess is that it was one of the offspring from the nest as well. We have robins year around unless the winters are very cold. Yes, I would expect you to see the robins in a month or so. Thanks again for the compliments.

  2. I like the shot of the heron too. It looks like the light was soft and just about perfect.
    I didn’t know that pelicans robbed other birds like that. You’d think they could catch their own fish.
    That’s a great shot of the merganser!

    • Grampy says:

      New Hampshire Gardener,
      Even thought the Great Blues are very common here I never tire of watching them. I think it is sort of bird nature to steal a meal if you can. The gulls up high can spot the fish easier than the pelicans. When the pelicans are flying back up river and spot a fish below it is funny to see them try to make a swift turn and dive to be the first to the fish. Thank You, think I will post some old merganser pics of the female and juvenile the next two days. Caught a group of them in wonderful light last year.

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