Cliff Swallow JuvenileCliff Swallow Juvenile (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/125, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday there were literally thousands of adult and immature swallows visible at Bear River NWR. A great number of them were Cliff Swallows like the immature bird above.

I had a difficult time obtaining an image of this bird that showed detail, sharpness and had enough depth of field. The light was low, there was a breeze blowing the Hard-stemmed Bulrush around and with it; the bird. I took more images than normal trying for a crisp, detailed photo. I shot this in Aperture Priority which means that I select the aperture and the ISO while the camera selects the shutter speed, I don’t like to go over ISO 400 with my D200 because noise can creep in and become a major issue so I sacrificed some shutter speed for this image. If I had gone to f7.1 or f8 my shutter speed would have dropped even more. A bit of a compromise but I think this turned out well.

Juvenile Cliff Swallow (pale-throated variant)Juvenile Cliff Swallow – pale-throated variant – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Later in the day this juvenile Cliff Swallow cooperated and stayed perched for quite a few frames. I’m not sure if the plant is a Water Parsnip or a Water Hemlock but I enjoy the lacy flowers that remind me of Queen Anne’s Lace. I also like how the out of focus vegetation gives this image a depth it might not have without the out of focus stems and flowers in the background. I had more light for this photo that gave me a more acceptable shutter speed. I dialed back the exposure compensation so the whites of the flowers didn’t blow out.

There is a large variance in the appearance of juvenile Cliff swallows though they all have dark auriculars. This young bird appears to be a pale-throated variant. Cliff Swallow juveniles seem a little stickier than the adults are can be fun to photograph.

Cliff Swallows catch and eat flying insects of many species the wing so I adore them because they eat mosquitoes, an insect that I personally despise! Go Cliff Swallows!