Part of the joy of bird photography is the challenge of getting a better shot than one you’ve gotten previously. When I look back on the shots I got when I started birding, I’m amazed at how much better my shots have gotten. Part of that improvement comes from understanding the birds better, but a significant part comes from owning better equipment. No matter how good of birder you are, you’re rarely going to match the shots of those who have top-of-the-line cameras and telephoto lenses with a point-and-shoot camera.
But even with the best of equipment the element of chance always plays a part in determining how good of shots you get. You have to be in the right place at the right time to get good shots. This year I managed to get three shots I’ve been trying to get for several years now.
I first saw a picture of an American Avocet in breeding colors nearly four years ago while visiting a preserve in Eastern Washington. It wasn’t until March of this year that I ever saw an Avocet, and I never managed to get a shot of one in breeding colors. This one was shot in Malheur in late Spring.
I’m sure I’ll manage to get a better shot in time, but this strikes me as an awfully good photograph. I couldn’t have been happier at the time I got it.
I first saw an Eared Grebe at Malheur on my first visit to Malheur several years ago. But it was in the middle of a thunderstorm and the bird was barely recognizable. I got this shot in Northern California right after I got the shot of the Avocet at Malheur.
I can’t imagine I’ll ever get one that shows breeding colors better, though I still prefer shots of birds flying, not floating.
This is the best shot I ever got of a White-faced Ibis in breeding colors.
Best of all, it was a slightly better shot than Leslie had gotten of one in the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. I like to keep up the illusion that I’m a better birder and photographer than Leslie, especially since I spend far more money and time on them.