A Quick Stop at Malheur (I hate autoCorrect)

Leslie wanted to avoid the long drive straight to Bear River in Utah, so I decided I would take a last chance to visit Malheur before the Fall migration. As it turned out, we got there rather late at night and left rather early in the morning. We still managed to get a few nice shots, like this one of a Pronghorn Antelope


and this one of swans and two cygnet.


On our way out in early morning we saw a lot of deer, but this was my favorite shot.


We also spotted favorites like this Night Heron


and this male Ruddy Duck.


We saw more Eastern Kingbirds


than I’ve ever seen outside of California.

It seemed like an auspicious start for a week-long birding trip.

Great Blue Herons

Almost all the photographers I know go to Big Beef Creek to take pictures of the Bald Eagles. I, too, go there to get pictures of eagles. However, I would still go there to get pictures of the Great Blue Herons if there wasn’t a single eagle around because I prefer heron shots to eagle shots. Perhaps it is all the Asian literature and art I’ve been taking in the last few years, but, whatever the reason, Great Blue Herons seem more elegant — and enigmatic — to me than Bald Eagles.

Herons are remarkably graceful soaring over the water.


Their long legs may make them seem ungainly when about to land,


but as soon as they spread their long wings


they seem to have exquisite balance.

As an experienced fisherman, I can’t help but admire their knowledge of the best places to catch fish and their patience in hunting their prey.


Most of all, though, I admire their beauty.


Purple Martins at Seabeck

Purple Martins may not be as impressive as Bald Eagles or Great Blue Herons,


but I never go to Seabeck without trying to get pictures of them. Usually, I try to get a shot of them flying, but I’ve only managed to get one or two shots of them doing that because they’re a “swallow” after all — that was when strong made them float mid-air. So, I content myself with getting shots of them sitting on the railing or perched on the rod that holds nesting boxes, like this shot of a female Purple Martin.


It’s the male, though, that I try the hardest to get a shot of. I’m always amazed by how big


and purple they are.


Eagles in Action

First-time photographers at Big Beef Creek generally rush to get a shot of a bald eagle sitting in a nearby tree. I know because that’s what I did the first two times I was there. They take multiple shots of eagles flying by; you’ve probably seen a lot of those shots on my site, too — and will probably see a few more in the future. After a while, though, we photographers start looking for something different, something harder to capture.

You don’t have to watch eagles and herons too long before you recognize how aggressive they are, so it’s natural to focus on that aggressiveness next. It’s harder to capture that in photographs because one moment two eagles seem to be attacking each other


and 30 seconds later they’re sitting side by side peaceably.


Heck, it’s hard to tell if they’re flirting with each other, trying to lock talons, or they’re attacking each other.


In other words, it’s a real challenge, and a lot of fun, trying to be looking in the right direction when something is about to happen


and capture the moment when it does.


Photographing birds reminds me a lot of fishing as a kid. You get a lot more bites than you get fish, but it always feels great when you do catch a big one.