Samish Flats and Fir Island 12-03-18

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Monday was sunny, so my son and I drove up north. First stop was the DFW area on the Samish flats called the "West 90" by birders. Since it was so sunny, I attached the 7DII to the 500L telephoto lens + 2x III teleconverter for a really long reach. I was very disappointed with those shots. Although I got the long reach I wanted, I was looking directly south into the low sun and most shots were "softened" by heat waves and glare. The shots worth posting up were taken with the 1Dx + 100-400L II telephoto zoom looking north, away from the sun.

Rough-legged hawk

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A male northern harrier, called a "gray ghost" by many of us, both for its color and its scarcity. Female harriers outnumber males about 4:1, so it is always exciting to see a male. This is the third year I have seen one at the West 90.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Two juvie bald eagles were fighting over something one of them had in its talons.

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One of the juvies dropped the "prey" when an adult flew in to join the fray. Once again I was looking directly into the sun.

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The adult is the bird in the lower left corner. Its white tail is barely visible in the glare.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Next stop was Fir Island, where a large flock of snow geese was in a field beside Maupin Rd. Lots of birders and photographers with telephoto lenses were parked beside the road. I simply stopped the pickup on the road and handed my 5DIII + 24-105L wide angle zoom to my son Daren, who took these photos from the front passenger seat with the window rolled down. I think they were the best shots of the day.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
Next stop was the end of Rawlings Road, which is near the north mouth of the Skagit River. Many birders refer to this as simply "the North Fork. I was looking for short-eared owls, but saw only distant harriers and eagles. I took a few scenic shots of my pickup with the Skagit Valley in the backgound.

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Last stop was Hayton Preserve, where I met a gentleman who said he had seen no owls, just the same birds I had photographed on 11-18. With less than an hour of daylight remaining, we headed home. Daren took these photos from the passenger seat of a flock of American wigeons(?) bedded down in a field east of the access road.

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
For comparison, the following shots were taken at the West 90 using the 7DII + 500L telephoto + 2x III teleconverter, which gives a full frame equivalent of 1600mm. The auto ISO settings were within a range the 7DII can handle, so I believe the softness was created by the heat waves magnified by the super telephoto set up.

The male northern harrier or "gray ghost."

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squirl033

Super Moderator
Staff member
Looks like a pretty interesting day, Bill... some nice shots of the harriers in there!
 


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