Nests can be a lot of fun to work because they provide a very unique window into the life of birds. Each one is different, each bird has a different way of protecting their own nest and the amount of time you can spend at each site varies. While watching nesting birds can be a lot of fun for the photographer, it can cause great stress on the subject and can lead to the abandonment of the nest. This is the ONE thing that every photographer needs to avoid. Respect must be given during nesting season or next season we might not have as many birds.
When it comes to a nest start big. Use the longest glass you have and a teleconverter if you have it. I use the D5, 600 f/4,
and TC-17EII. Yes I do have a TC-20EIII but with the amount of wind at this Killdeer nest, nothing would’ve been sharp. Long glass helps you keep further away while still able to get a good shot. Next, scout ahead of time. Look around for the nest and determine what species is nesting there. Then go home and research that bird so you know how much time you have with it if the bird gets off the eggs. Each species varies between minutes to an hour. Knowing this info is critical. Next, while at a nest watch very closely to what the bird is doing. Is their head moving up and down, did they flatten out, did they get up? All signs they are uncomfortable and you either have to approach slowly or not at all. You must approach slowly or the subject will flush. Lastly, remember the photograph is just a photograph. It’s not worth endangering the subject. If all the signs say walk away then do so.
This past weekend was my first real break from school work in about a month. How did i celebrate is, well i wanted to go out and do a lot of shooting. It was a good plan. Saturday when i got up, early about 6am, i went to the window and looked out and saw that it was snowing, hard. The only logical thing to say at 6am and its snowing out is, back to bed! I slept in pretty darn late and it was goooood. Needless to say the day for shooting wasn’t gonna happen. Sunday it was then. Well yet i again, getting up early wasn’t going to happen so i went out in the afternoon. Glad i did too because the day was gorgeous. Sunny clear skies for miles in every direction and no wind. Perfect day to be out and i wasn’t the only one who thought so. For a while now i have been trying to find places to go shooting other than Yellowstone. Not that i have anything against the park, it’s just i can’t photograph sheep, elk, and bison every weekend, i’ll go crazy. Since it is Spring, of course in Montana it means two feet of snow still, the birds are starting to make their migration north again, which is great. It still is early here and picking are a little slim. I was down by Ennis Lake, which is still half frozen, and found about a hundred coots and goldeneye all uncooperative. Two killdear proved to be entertaining though. Not really doing much except finding morsels in the mud of this field. There is ten feet between me and it and of course a lovely fence. I hate those, the good stuff is always on the other side. With the six and tele this is the best i could do, not bad not great.
On my around the lake, i was currently going from the south to the north, i ran into a couple Ringed Neck Pheasants and Gray Partridge. I couldn’t shoot them for long because they were on some persons lawn and it didn’t feel right to photograph. Anyways, down the road i went watching the blue birds and juncos go by when suddenly i looked up and there was about two hundred trumpeter swans going by. I came to a quick halt and jumped out of my truck. I had the camera in hand with the 70-300 on it. It was too much i needed the 17-55 but didn’t have the time to get it out. The shot here was taken in about ten seconds before i couldn’t see them anymore. Again not great shot but deffinetely fun to see. I drove happy, jus glad i got out of my room, and bed.
D2Hs, 600 top, 70-300Af-s Vr bottom, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film