Tim Boyer Photography

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Tundra Swans

First Birds of 2016

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment

I was up in the Skagit on January 2, 2016 and here are a few of the birds I was able to find.  

Short-eared Owl at the  Leque Island Wildlife Area.
Short-eared Owl at the Leque Island Wildlife Area.

We pulled into the Wildlife Area on Leque Island and the first thing we saw was a Short-eared Owl on the side of the road.  It left the road and flew 40 feet or so into the cut corn field, so we got a few images right out of the car, then very slowly we got out of the car and spent about an hour taking pictures and waiting for the  sunlight to hit the bird.  A very cooperative bird, and a start to a very special day.

Song Sparrow inthe blackberries at the Fir Island Farm Reserve. 1/500 of a second, f/8 and ISO 250, with the  7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.
Song Sparrow inthe blackberries at the Fir Island Farm Reserve. 1/500 of a second, f/8 and ISO 250, with the 7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.

There were Marsh Wrens, Spotted Towhees, and Song Sparrow in the blackberries, but it took some waiting around for them to pop-up and get out in the open.

Rough-legged Hawk near the West 90. 1/2000 of a second, f/5.4 at ISO 250 with the Canon 7D Mark II and  a 100 to 400 zoom at 40 mm.
Rough-legged Hawk near the West 90. 1/2000 of a second, f/5.4 at ISO 250 with the Canon 7D Mark II and a 100 to 400 zoom at 40 mm.

Rough-legged Hawks are one of my favorite birds, they only visit us in the winter months, but they're such cool birds.  It doesn't seem like there are as many of them as there was in the 1980's when I first started going to the Skagit to see them, now each encounter is special.

Blurred landscape. 1/15 of a second at f/25 and ISO 100 7D Mark II and the  100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.
Blurred landscape. 1/15 of a second at f/25 and ISO 100 7D Mark II and the 100 to 400 zoom at 400 mm.

We were at the Wylie Wildlife Area or Skagit Headquarters and there were no birds close enough to photograph.  So, when there are no birds, it's time to play and by setting the aperature to f/25, shooting in Aperature Priority Mode slowed the shutter speed to 1/15 of a second.  Then with a little camera movement up, the dead trees in the slough became something besides trees that had been killed by opening the dike and letting the saltwater in.  We had to explain to another bird photogrpaher what we were doing, since he thought maybe we were seeing some birds he didn't.

Trumpter Swan flying directly overhead.  1/1800 of a second, f/6.3 and ISO 400 with the Canon 7D Mark ii at 150 mm.
Trumpter Swan flying directly overhead. 1/1800 of a second, f/6.3 and ISO 400 with the Canon 7D Mark ii at 150 mm.

There were a couple of large mixed flocks of swans on both sides of Dry Creek Road and when they would decide the grass was greener on the other side they'd fly right over us.  These are such large birds, and often when we were facing the oppiste direction they were approaching from, we'd hear the noise from their wing beats first.

Tundra Swans 1/1000 of a second, f/8 at ISO 250 at 400 mm with the Canon 7D Mark II.
Tundra Swans 1/1000 of a second, f/8 at ISO 250 at 400 mm with the Canon 7D Mark II.

Here's a group of Tundra Swans at our last stop on Fir Island.  It was a wonderful day, cold but sunny and we had some cool birds.  Hope the rest of 2016 is as productive for all of us.

Skagit - Samish Workshop 1-2-15

Bird PhotographyTim BoyerComment
Long-eared Owl Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/200 of a second, f/8, and ISO 320 at 400mm on the Canon 100 to 400 zoom lens.

Long-eared Owl Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/200 of a second, f/8, and ISO 320 at 400mm on the Canon 100 to 400 zoom lens.

Sometimes you just have to wait.  Inbetween groups of photographers and birders there was a time when there were only a few people around and this owl decided to move up in the tree.  It gave me a clear shot but only lasted a minute or two.

In the trees and bushes next to the owl there was a Bewick's Wren.

Bewick's Wren. 1/500 of a second, f/7.1 at ISO 400. Canon 7D Mark II.

Bewick's Wren. 1/500 of a second, f/7.1 at ISO 400. Canon 7D Mark II.

While standing around looking at the view of Mount Baker I said, "Now if some Snow Geese would  fly by!", several minutes later some did.   Wow, I'm gonna ask more often for what I want to see.

Mount Baker and Snow Geese. 1/1600 of a second, f/5.6 at ISO 320. at 400 mm on the 100 to 400 zoom lens.

Mount Baker and Snow Geese. 1/1600 of a second, f/5.6 at ISO 320. at 400 mm on the 100 to 400 zoom lens.

On Fir Island we found a berm we could climb upon and  practice taking flight shots of Tundra Swans as they changed fields they were feeding in.

Tundra Swans. 1/1250 of a second, f/8, at ISO 320. 400 mm witht eh 100 to 400 Canon zoom lens.

Tundra Swans. 1/1250 of a second, f/8, at ISO 320. 400 mm witht eh 100 to 400 Canon zoom lens.

There were a lot of Red-tails out, I like this one because it looks like it has a full crop, that budge below it's head.  A well fed hawk is a good thing.

Red-tailed Hawk. 1/250 of a second, f/8 at ISO250 Canon 7D Mark II and the 100 to 400 mm zoom lens at 400 mm.

Red-tailed Hawk. 1/250 of a second, f/8 at ISO250 Canon 7D Mark II and the 100 to 400 mm zoom lens at 400 mm.

There also seemed to be more Rough-legged Hawks then I've seen the past couple of years, we had flight opportunities several times.

Rough-legged Hawk. 1/800 of a second at f/8 and ISO 250. Canon 7D Mark II.

Rough-legged Hawk. 1/800 of a second at f/8 and ISO 250. Canon 7D Mark II.

Rough-legged Hawk same settings as above.

Rough-legged Hawk same settings as above.

Towards the  end of the  day we were south of Stanwood looking for Barred and Barn Owls, we couldn't locate them, but there was this nice looking tree and the moon was out, so... I never turn down a landscape opportunity.

Tree & Moon. 1/250 of a second f/7.1 ISO 320 witht eh Canon 7D Mark II.

Tree & Moon. 1/250 of a second f/7.1 ISO 320 witht eh Canon 7D Mark II.

Enjoy!     Thanks    Tim