Timing is All, Especially in Birding and Photography

When the sun finally came out last Thursday I thought of trying to get to Theler Wetlands and Port Orchard, but since we had a dinner date for 5:00 near there I thought I’d go to Pt Defiance first and Port Orchard later. Luckily, I got some great shots at Pt Defiance because things didn’t turn out nearly as well at Port Orchard.

I got there around 1:30 and did manage to get the best shot I have ever gotten of a male White-Winged Scoter, a bird I’ve never seen in the marina before.

male White-Winged Scoter

At first I thought I might get some other great shots because there were more birds than usual and because the light was great. I did manage to get a couple of other shots I liked like this one of a male Barrow’s Goldeneye

male Barrow’s Goldeneye

and this one of a Horned Grebe swallowing a fish that seemed much too large for it to eat

Horned Grebe

before the weather suddenly took a turn for the worse. By the time I got to the end of the dock, a maximum of fifteen minutes, the sun had disappeared and even on the highest ISO settings I could get nothing but shadows.


Did I mention 38° can seem awfully cold on the Puget Sound if there’s no sunshine? I ended up driving home before our dinner date because I couldn’t imagine having to spend two hours sitting in the car waiting.

2 thoughts on “Timing is All, Especially in Birding and Photography

  1. Lovely photos! I’m new to photography, and am earnestly trying to take great shots of birds, but even with a 600 zoom I rarely get a good, clean shot. What kind of camera and lenses do you use? I’m afraid without better equipment, I’ll continue to end up frustrated with my photos.

    • I use Canon cameras and lenses because that’s what I started with before there was even digital cameras. I use a couple different cameras, but I mostly rely on a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV, which I have come to believe is probably overkill. It is paired with Canon’s newest 100-400mm Zoom, though for birding the lens is no better than the original fixed 400mm lens I used for six or so years and was considerably cheaper.

      The kind of zoom you are using can make a tremendous difference. A 600mm optical lens is too heavy for me to handhold. If the zoom depends more on digital magnification, it’s hard to get a good, clean shot. You’re probably better off with a smaller fixed lens even if you have to crop your shot to fill the frame.

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