Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Two Hours of Walking

Even though mink are a relatively common sight at the marsh,
seeing them through a camera, in focus (without Phrag right
in their face) has proven to be another humbling pursuit
Temperatures climbed well beyond the forecasted high yesterday afternoon (probably approaching 70 degrees), but unfortunately, so did the wind velocity (sustained 25+ mph out of the west with gusts probably well over 40). I scrapped plans for an inaugural paddle in new kayaks (more on that to come) and decided to scout for drain tiles to better understand runoff coming from the farm fields to our south. This audible offered the opportunity to carry the camera for a couple hours.

After clicking a few landscape shots for future reference, I got my first chance at wildlife images as one of the parent bald eagles from one of our nests made its presence known. Its shrill call was enough to get my attention -- even over the howling wind -- so I knew it was close. I spent 15 minutes chasing it in the air with the camera, a humbling experience for sure. It then maneuvered itself through bud-laden cottonwood branches before perching back on its two-year-old nest.

The unrelenting wind constantly tested the huge bird's balance. The feathers on its head and back pulsed "against the grain" every time the wind surged, making him look a little like my boys when they get out of the bed in the morning. While I was 50 yards or more away from the base of the tree, he (or she? -- hard to tell without a mate for comparison) seemed unaffected by my presence. But the shot below was the only time the bird presented its head for a photo. (I could have taken dozens of images of its posterior, however.) This again got me thinking about how everything has to work out just right for photography of wildlife to work out.

The eagle certainly had an easier time balancing itself than I did the camera in 25-40 mph winds

Three decent shots among three dozen bad ones -- gotta love digital technology; most of my images were out of focus,
very poorly framed, or both (click to enlarge)

My not-too-unusual finished product when attempting to take close-up photos of eagles (or any bird) in flight;
yesterday's wind actually helped because my subject tended to hold steady in one place longer than is typical
(not that you'd know it from this shot) . . . I just need to get a better monopod to help steady the camera

Bonaparte's Gull on the bayfront, taking on the black cap that is characteristic of spring breeding

Palm Warbler -- again in spring breeding plumage -- in a tangle of dogwood
One of dozens of Red Admiral butterflies that I witnessed either sipping early nectar or probing for minerals
(as this one is) in moist spring soil
I purposefully focused this shot on this Garter Snake's midsection; a recent meal made
for the easiest subject of the day -- dark soil, warming sunshine, and serious digestion
kept this typically slithery subject essentially motionless and clearly content