Nemesis Birds

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Post your photos (the good, the bad, and the ugly) of the bird or birds that you can never quite find or photograph. Bird photographers, like fishermen, all have a story about "the one that got away." Tell us yours.

While not my official nemesis birds (that is reserved for the ruby-crowned kinglet), here are photos of two birds that would certainly qualify.

American Bittern. My only good photo of a bittern, taken at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

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Virginia rail, the phantom of the Edmonds marsh. I have coined several terms to describe the quality of my shots. These are ID shots, the second lowest qualty.

Juvie

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Adult

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My typical view and photograph of a Virginia rail. This one falls between an ID shot and a Sasquatch shot, the lowest quality.

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
I'm not enough of a birder to have a nemesis bird. Despite the fact that I spend a huge amount of time photographing eagles and some other birds, I'm not an expert in birds by any means and I don't have a "life list" or certain bird I'm after.

I would like to get some good shots of a Snowy Owl, but it's not a big deal. So far that subject has mostly eluded me. Got a few distant photo, but they're mediocre at best.

As for my nemesis? It's a certain shot, not a certain bird. It's the cliche' shot of an eagle snatching a fish out of the water.

These shots, but closer and with better clarity. This is a "close, but no cigar" version.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
On a similar note, I have tried with no luck to get National Geographic close-ups of an osprey diving and catching a fish.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Good shot. I don't know how much better you can get without devoting the rest of your life and check book trying.

As far as I know, there are two ways of getting a closeup, action shot of bird in flight over water like that one. Neither method is easy or cheap.
1) Being lucky, skilled, or experienced enough to know where the eagle (or osprey or Caspian tern) is likely to make a dive or surface swoop and being able to get close to that spot. Boat or kayak anyone?

I got really lucky and twice caught an eagle going after ducks fairly close to the old fishing dock at Lake Ballinger in Mountlake Terrace. Then again, I have been there fairly often and know the behavior of the resident pair.

2) Having a very long lens (with a teleconverter?) mounted on a tripod. Those of us who have tried this method to track a diving bird know how difficult that is as the field of view really narrows down with long lenses and teleconverters.

Has anyone ever shot eagles hanging out in mass on the Middle Fork of the Nooksack River? I think Rocky has. I have ridden my motorcycle over a bridge on Mosquito Lake Rd. that crosses the Middle Fork. It looks like a good photo location for looking down on the river.

If one prefers water level shots, are there are spots on the river bank where you can arrive early to set up and hang out long enough for the eagles to ignore you as they fish? The Pt. Edwards pair here in Edmonds is very tolerant of people, but they are urban eagles that live among us for ten months of the year.
 
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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Good shot. I don't know how much better you can get without devoting the rest of your life and check book trying.

As far as I know, there are two ways of getting a closeup, action shot of bird in flight over water like that one. Neither method is easy or cheap.
1) Being lucky, skilled, or experienced enough to know where the eagle (or osprey or Caspian tern) is likely to make a dive or surface swoop and being able to get close to that spot. Boat or kayak anyone?
That's my approach. Skill, experience right location, persistence and a huge dose of luck. Persistence helps. A lot.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
That's my approach. Skill, experience right location, persistence and a huge dose of luck. Persistence helps. A lot.
That is so true. The quickest (and only) way to acquire those attributes is to spend lots of time behind the shutter. Digital cameras speed up the learning curve in two ways:
1) You can take a lot of photos without spending a fortune on film and developing costs. Study the bad photos, learn from them, then delete them and take more shots.
2) The cameras provide instant feedback with the photos and other readings immediately available on the viewing screen.
 
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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Good shot. I don't know how much better you can get without devoting the rest of your life and check book trying.

As far as I know, there are two ways of getting a closeup, action shot of bird in flight over water like that one. Neither method is easy or cheap.
1) Being lucky, skilled, or experienced enough to know where the eagle (or osprey or Caspian tern) is likely to make a dive or surface swoop and being able to get close to that spot.
Well, it turns out that one month a year, on certain specific days of that month, I know where eagles are likely to catch fish.

This one works pretty good.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Well, it turns out that one month a year, on certain specific days of that month, I know where eagles are likely to catch fish.
I know where that photo was taken. Terry and I went there a few years ago.

Be careful at that location. As word has gotten out and attracted more photographers, I have heard stories of nearby residents getting very uptight about their presence. They are said to have called the cops, even though the photographers were not on their property nor crossed it to get to a photo site.

I think most cops know you are within your rights to photograph birds from public property or from private property with permission of the owner as long as you are parked legally and not obstructing traffic.
 
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Here are a series of photographs taken last year. Its a matter of timing, luck, skill and more luck. Tracking this eagle with a 5DIV, Camera setting on AI servo, seven frames per second. All AF points, with the center AF the start point. Aprox one hundred photos from start to finish. The Coot did not have a chance. There's not many cameras that can track a bird in flight and keep in focus. R.J

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BobH

Administrator
Staff member
I know where that photo was taken. Terry and I went there a few years ago.

Be careful at that location. As word has gotten out and attracted more photographers, I have heard stories of nearby residents getting very uptight about their presence. They are said to have called the cops, even though the photographers were not on their property or crossed it to get to a photo site.

I think most cops know you are within your rights to photograph birds from public property or from private property with permission of the owner as long as you are parked legally and not obstructing traffic.
Us regulars all know the rules. There's areas you can walk, and areas you can't. You used to be able to walk along the beach by the houses. You can't do that any more, and if you do some Old Bi... Umm, Old Bird Lover, yah, that's what I was typing... will call the cops on you.

But yes, it's not as nice as it used to be, and not nearly as many birds as there were 3 or 4 years ago. Then it was 40 to 50. Now it's 10 to 15.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Does anyone know off hand how far the private property lines beside the ocean or Puget Sound extend out into the water? I thought they only extend to the high tide mark, which would allow you to walk on the beach in front of a house during low tide.

It always amazes me that someone would think a white-haired dude like myself burdened down with over $10,000 in camera equipment while highly visible on public property is there to rip them off. I can understand why members of racial minorities are hesitant to engage in hobbies like birding or nature photography.
 
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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
There's not many cameras that can track a bird in flight and keep in focus. R.J
My 7DII, 5DIII, and 1DxII all have excellent auto focus systems, but ............ it never fails that out of 100 shots, they will break focus on that one critical shot where the eagle grabs the bird. :mad:
 

BobH

Administrator
Staff member
Does anyone know off hand how far the private property lines beside the ocean or Puget Sound extend out into the water? I thought they only extend to the high tide mark, which would allow you to walk on the beach in front of a house during low tide.

It always amazes me that someone would think a white-haired dude like myself burdened down with over $10,000 in camera equipment while highly visible on public property is there to rip them off. I can understand why members of racial minorities are hesitant to engage in hobbies like birding or nature photography.
It varies. Normally they only own to the high tide mark. In fact that’s what some of the photographers here argued, they couldn’t own the beach. But in rare cases, they do. This is one of those. It has to do with the oysters. They own land further out than usual.

The oysters were also the issue here, not fear of robbery. The place became stupid popular and the oyster beds were getting trampled and the oysters were being stepped on injuring them. They finally had enough.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
It varies. Normally they only own to the high tide mark. In fact that’s what some of the photographers here argued, they couldn’t own the beach. But in rare cases, they do. This is one of those. It has to do with the oysters. They own land further out than usual.

The oysters were also the issue here, not fear of robbery. The place became stupid popular and the oyster beds were getting trampled and the oysters were being stepped on injuring them. They finally had enough.
I cannot blame them for being angry at the oyster beds getting trampled. The time Terry and I were there we deliberately stayed back to avoid damaging the oyster beds. Yet another reason why we have big white lenses.
 
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Terry O

Active Member
Brings back great memories, Bill. Some of my best eagle and heron action shots were from there. This isn't the only place that has been impacted by its popularity. I don't blame the property owners either.
 
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