Watching Wildlife

The more time I spend with my photography the more I realize the time taken to watch wildlife pays off in also providing me time to think about my camera settings. At some point all may become second nature, but a recent outing did challenge me, photographically speaking.

My goal was to set my tripod in a waterway area where the elusive virginia rail may appear. I know from other bird reports, this shy bird is in the area and actually a resident, yet I have never seen it. While picking my hopeful spot I photographed the flame skimmer, a common dragonfly.

Flame skimmer

While still trying to locate the rail I moved along a trail listening to some birds scurrying around, and in, cattails and other reeds. I do not think I was bothering them, but no luck in seeing a rail, even after silently standing and waiting awhile. I understand the rail will hide in reeds if it feels disturbed.

I moved to a pond and watched a variety of birds preening their feathers. No doubt 4:00pm is time for personal care! I observed a pied-billed grebe for the longest amount of time because I usually see it as it dives for food and need to guess where it will re-emerge. This time it preened its feathers for at least 15 minutes. One thing I came to realize, it does eat some of the aquatic insects and food caught in its feathers while also preening. That makes sense since in its dive the feathers are capturing some of the water’s contents. I love the eyes of a pied-billed grebe so it was easy to stay watching this bird.

Others in the pond were American wigeons, green-winged teal, American coots, many mallards and blue-winged teal. All seemed content to preen.

With not the best quick changes of my camera settings, I did grab a photo of a ladder-backed woodpecker just above me, a black phoebe off to my left and a mallard flying overhead. I have so much to learn about bird photography, but thankfully I just love watching wildlife too.

Looking forward to another day outdoors and watching wildlife! I hope you too can enjoy the outdoors in a way that makes you happy.

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