Snowy Egret close up flyby – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/5000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
It was August of last year at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah and my objective was to photograph Forster’s Terns diving for fish, hovering over the water and feeding their young. It was so hot that you probably could have cooked an egg on the pavement that leads to the auto tour route at the refuge and it was so buggy that insect repellent wasn’t keeping the blood sucking mosquitoes from making me decidedly miserable but still I persisted. I’m a little crazy about photographing birds in case there is anyone who isn’t aware of that fact.
I did photograph the terns diving, feeding their young and hovering and although most of the images were from too far away there were a few keepers. The terns made passes in front of me but sometimes there were periods of times when I waited 5 to 10 minutes or longer for them to fly past me and there were other birds in the area to photograph too. American White Pelicans drifting lazily on the water, slowly dipping their bills into it to capture prey in their pouches, Franklin’s and Ring-billed Gulls swooping down to snatch tiny fish, Marsh Wrens weaving in and out of the rushes and Snowy Egrets that flew in to squabble with each other over fishing territories.
So when the tern action was slow I focused on the other birds because I never know what I will see them do or when I might capture a great action shot in between slapping the mosquitoes away from my exposed skin.
When a couple of Snowy Egrets that had been getting their feathers ruffled over territory flew by heading east I took some photos of them in flight over the water thinking that they were flying off to different fishing grounds but then one of them suddenly banked in flight and turned to head right back towards me and it was very close.
So what did I do? I kept firing as the Snowy Egret flew past me keeping my focus on the eye of the bird and that is when I took this photograph of the egret in flight.
This image is full frame and resized for web presentation, it isn’t a great composition but somehow it was sharp even though the Snowy was so close and it had flown in front of a shaded area of the water which gave me a dark background that showed off the snow white plumage of the bird so well plus a wonderful view of the yellow eye of the egret.
I guess I could crop this photo to come up with a different and perhaps more pleasing composition but I thought I’d share it just like it was taken because it isn’t often I get to photograph a Snowy Egret portrait this close to me in flight.
Life is good.