Photographing Pelicans, Herons, Egrets and Geese in Flight in Rapidly Changing Light

/, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Birds, Box Elder County, Canada Geese, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Utah/Photographing Pelicans, Herons, Egrets and Geese in Flight in Rapidly Changing Light

Storm clouds moving towards Bear River Migratory Bird RefugeStorm clouds moving towards Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge – Nikon D300, f13, 1/160, ISO 400, +1.3 EV, Nikkor 18-200mm VR at 20 mm, natural light

I went to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge early yesterday morning because starting today the auto tour route will be closed from sunrise until 4 pm until August 19th due to work on the dikes. The auto tour route will be open from 4 pm until dark during this time period.

I primarily photograph in the mornings so I wanted to make a trip up there to help tide me over until the auto tour route opens in the mornings again and I am glad I did because it was one of the birdiest mornings I have had up there this summer.

But the weather forecasters, well as usual they messed up. The satellite and radar didn’t show many clouds when I left home but there sure were plenty of them in the sky and the forecast hadn’t mentioned the strong south winds either that were pushing the clouds up towards Bear River MBR. I knew that light was going to be iffy but I have learned that although changing light can be very challenging it can also produce dramatic results.

I took this image from the north side of the auto tour route looking south at the clouds heading towards the refuge.

American White Pelican in flight in front of mountains in a shadowAmerican White Pelican in flight in front of mountains in a shadow – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The birdiest location for bird photography at the refuge yesterday seemed to be the south side of the auto tour route just after the observation platform that is the furthest south and west. There were thousands of birds there.

I know this American White Pelican in flight is small in the frame but it is absolutely my favorite image from yesterday morning. The clouds overhead created shadows on the Promontory Mountains behind the pelican as the sun light lit it up. I felt the contrast of light and shadows created a touch of natural drama in this frame and the pelican just seems to glow.

American White Pelican in flight in front of cloudsAmerican White Pelican in flight in front of clouds – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Now that is not to say I don’t like the other pelican images I took yesterday because I do, especially those that had clouds in the background like this American White Pelican in flight. The clouds moved quickly and so did my subjects in that strong south wind.

Canada Geese in flight in front of the Promontory MountainsCanada Geese in flight in front of the Promontory Mountains – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was tickled when this small but noisy family group of Canada Geese flew by with the Promontory Mountains lit up in the background.

Great Blue Heron in flight in front of storm cloudsGreat Blue Heron in flight in front of storm clouds – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was also able to photograph several Great Blue Herons in flight yesterday morning against a stormy looking sky. In mere seconds I could have my subjects against a blue sky, a blue sky with fluffy white clouds, darker clouds, shadowed mountains, brightly lit mountains and back to blue sky again.

Adult Snowy Egret in flight over Bear River MBRAdult Snowy Egret in flight over Bear River MBR – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/5000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Or against the vibrant greens of the phragmites, cattails and rushes. I saw at least a hundred Snowy Egrets yesterday on the refuge and I think that estimate is rather low.

Snowy Egret in flight against a stormy skySnowy Egret in flight against a stormy sky – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I had a great deal of fun photographing the pelicans, herons, egrets and geese in flight in the rapidly changing light yesterday morning at Bear River MBR.

Life is good.

Mia

I saw Long-billed Dowitchers by the thousands yesterday morning and the Marbled Godwits have started to migrate through too! I wish they had been close enough to photograph.

8 Comments

  1. Elephant's Child August 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    What a delightful morning. What a privilege.

  2. Utahbooklover August 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    August weather does get more unpredictable and interesting.
    Thanks for Bear River auto tour route info and great images.

  3. Larry Muench August 8, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Great shots Mia! Thanks for the heads-up on the route closure.

  4. Patty Chadwick August 8, 2016 at 10:27 am

    This reminds me of the Grand Finale of a fireworks display..they are all beautiful…

  5. Gurunath August 8, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Great photos Mia. Amazing how you can turn things in your favour.

  6. Carol August 8, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Wonderful photos. I love the pelicans,…..and the heron, then there was the egret. Ok, loved them all!!!

  7. Bob McPherson August 8, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Beautiful photos Mia. I am sure you enjoyed that.

  8. Stephen leonard August 8, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Great pics Mia, thank you fir sharing

Comments are closed.