Red-naped Sapsucker Diving Away From Nesting Cavity

/, Clark County, Idaho, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Targhee National Forest/Red-naped Sapsucker Diving Away From Nesting Cavity

Red-naped Sapsucker flying away from its nesting cavityRed-naped Sapsucker flying away from its nesting cavity – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/8000, ISO 1600, -4.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Last month I wrote about the difficult time I had photographing Red-naped Sapsuckers on July 11th in Idaho, how the extremes in lighting conditions ruined the evening of shooting for me because I had to focus more on setting exposure levels than enjoying photographing the birds and how my frustration level was extremely high. It ranked between number #1 and #2 of my worst shooting days ever. I was ready to go rogue (shoot from outside the mobile blind) or go home.

I am working hard on getting caught up on culling images and came across the folder with the images of the Red-naped Sapsuckers at the cavity that evening that frustrated me so deeply. It was such a disappointing time for me that I didn’t even want to go through the images I took that night. I took well over 1000 images of the birds that evening as the sapsuckers flew into the nesting cavity to feed their young chick and I deleted them one after another as I scrolled through them. I could feel how crushed I was that evening all over again, out of more than a thousand images I kept 15 and most of those were just for documentation.

But I did find one jewel in the images, a photo of one of the adult Red-naped Sapsuckers flying away from the nesting cavity looking like a bullet. One gem amongst the thousand I tossed onto my digital darkroom floor.

I just don’t know if this single photo is worth the frustration level I felt that evening or how sitting in the direct sunlight made me feel like I was dizzily on the edge collapsing because of the heat (my phone stopped functioning it was so hot) but at least I got one decent image from that frustrating evening. One.

Life is good.



  1. Elephants Child August 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Definitely a jewel. And despite the frustrations you wouldn’t have missed it.

  2. Laura Culley August 16, 2017 at 11:35 am

    I can’t tell you if this shot was worth the frustration, or not, but OH WOW! What a magnificent and dramatic image. For me, it’s worth it, but I’ve suffered through those mega-frustrating days. But this one is truly spectacular!

  3. April Olson August 16, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Interesting photo.
    Hah your story made me feel better about a fat file I have of photos from one day. I had the most incredible birding day ever, Short-eared Owls, Burrowing Owls enlarging their burrow, Barn Owls preening each other, Golden Eagles mating, two Redtail Hawks fighting over a vole, alarge flock of Sandhill Cranes dancing, male pheasants sparing, a Bittern….. the list kept going. I saw bird after bird. I took photos after the best time to take photos. I stared at 6am and finally stopped at 2pm. I wanted to go home about 10am but I kept running into situations I had looked for for years. I actually started to feel anxious and car sick. I took about 1500 photos, many not good but memorable due to the situation. To this day every time I try to cull the file I feel anxious and nauseated. It was frustrating to not get “great” shots but it was incredible to just see everything I did that day.

  4. Drew Haluska August 16, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Gorgeous work as always! Thank you for sharing the photograph.

  5. Liz Cormack August 16, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I love this photo & I say “it was worth it”. I feel frustrated when I only keep one out of 150 so I can imagine how you felt to have only 1 jewel in a thousand.

  6. Mary McAvoy August 16, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I know we’ll the frustration you describe. It took me four years to get a good shot of a green darned (dragonfly). Especially frustrating is when you think one shot (of hundreds) “took” but learn later at the monitor it really isn’t of the quality you thought when iN yhe field. Your heart sinks. Hang in there Mia! Your work is great. I love the stylized look of the photo in this post – unique and dramatic.

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