Merlin with prey in golden light – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or set up
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to photograph a Merlin two mornings in a row in the Centennial Valley of Montana, once in low light and once as a fog rolled in. The morning that I photographed this Merlin was cold and the fog rolled in from the lake a few miles away. The Merlin had prey that appeared to have been cached because it was frozen and because it had prey it seemed less skittish. The light at first was beautiful, warm and golden.
Merlin with prey as the fog starts to roll in – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or set up
Three frames later the fog muted the warm light. The fog moved in like a wave and soon the sun appeared to be a ghostly orb hanging in the eastern sky.
Merlin with prey in fog – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/160, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited or set up
Not long after it was difficult to obtain sharp focus on the Merlin because of the density of the fog but I liked the images of the Merlin in both the golden light and the fog.
I am not sure exactly what the prey was that the Merlin was eating, at first I thought it might be a Western Meadowlark and then wondered if it was a Horned Lark or a sparrow. It really doesn’t matter much what it was just that the Merlin had enough prey for energy on that bitter morning to survive.