It Takes Dedication — and Luck

I think amateur photographers are often the biggest fans of great photographs because they, more than anyone else, know what dedication it takes to produce those great photographs.  Dedication + Luck.  And you have to be dedicated to your art to get lucky.  Some people are put off by the high prices the best photographers demand, but if you consider the number of hours they spent learning their craft and the number of hours spent without getting a great shot, you wouldn’t begrudge them their fees —though, if you’re like me, you’re probably not going to have the money to buy those kinds of works because you spent all your ready cash on photo equipment.

Bird photography, like fishing, is definitely variable.  I’ve gotten a lot of great shots at both Theler Wetlands and Port Orchard marina, but that certainly wasn’t the case on my last visit. 

Birding was extremely slow except for the Canada Geese which were loud and ever-present.  I don’t take many pictures of them anymore except when they first have goslings, but some days I’m desperate enough to take a shot of them flying.

The most interesting bird of the day was this Greater White-Fronted Goose, which is uncommon at Theler.  

The best “got-away” shot of the day was this shot of a Red Shafted Flicker,

but it was quite dark when I took the shot and badly underexposed because it required a high shutter speed to capture it in flight.

The sun started to emerge when I got to Port Orchard, but that’s not particularly helpful when the sun is directly behind your subject.  

Just as I avoid taking shots of Canada Geese, I also avoid taking shots of Great Blue Herons. However, I could’t resist taking a shot of this one sitting on the Marina roof.  Not only is it a beautiful heron, the unusual angle makes the shot for me.

I think I’ve mastered the Dedication part, at least judging from the number of photos I have on my hard drive, but it may take me awhile to master the Luck part.

Bluebird of Happiness?

Our last trip to Theler proved once again that two pairs of eyes are better than one.  As I was busy talking to John, Leslie spotted a small flock of Western Bluebirds in the distance (it probably didn’t hurt that she had the binoculars).  They were so far away that the pictures I took with my 600m lens had to be heavily cropped to get the pictures posted below. Blown up like this, they were so grainy that I finally relented and upgraded to the latest version of Topaz Denoise.  This app does an amazing job of removing grain, which, in turn, makes it possible to sharpen the main subjects without increasing background grain.

None of these shots are quite as good as the ones I’ve taken in previous years, but we so seldom see Western Bluebirds that I was delighted to see them.  I’ll have to admit that I was having a hard time focusing on the birds themselves and focuses, instead, on the birdhouse.  Here’s a shot of two female Western Bluebirds without cropping.

Here’s the same shot cropped, denoised, and slightly sharpened.

I was trying to focus on the bright blue male in this shot.

Not surprisingly, in the sharpest picture of the sequence the male was looking away from the camera. 

Hopefully we will see the bluebirds on the boardwalk railing where we can get better shots on our next visit.  

Spring Approacheth Slowly

There are signs that Spring might actually be on the way and we can soon expect migration sightings, but for now our world (with the exception of Evergreen trees) remains largely browns and grays.  

So, it seemed appropriate that my first sighting on our latest trip to Theler Wetlands was of a Song Sparrow foraging on a pile of snow leftover from a recent snowstorm.

The sound of male Red-Wing Blackbirds trying to attract  mates echoed across the refuge, but all I actually saw was a single, female Red-Wing Blackbird.

Didn’t see any Bald Eagles, like we often do, but we did catch sight of a Red-Tailed Hawk.

The clearest sign that Spring is coming, though, was the sound of Canada Geese pairs claiming their nesting ground when another pair dared to fly over. 

Green-Winged Teal

It’s winter in the Pacific Northwest, and that means you’re lucky to get in a walk between rain showers. So, despite the lack of sunshine, I felt lucky to get in another walk at Theler Wetlands, even if what could have been a good shot of a Belted Kingfisher turned out to be a silhouette shot.

The highlight of the morning is that we finally managed to see the Green-Winged Teal, that have been around for quite awhile, closer than usual.  Most of the flock kept their distance, 

but I did manage to get a closer shot of a pair separated from the flock

and of a lone male that bravely (or foolishly, considering it is still hunting season) came a lot closer than the others did.

I’ll have to admit that I was a little surprised when it  waddled up onto the shore, 

but I was grateful for the pose.