A trip to the Promontory Peninsula two days ago yielded mixed results.
1/1600, f/7.1, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM, not baited, set up or called in
Yellow-bellied Marmots are similar to but more colorful than Groundhogs and they prefer higher elevations and more rocky habitats than Groundhogs do. This one poked most of its body out of a crevice in some large rocks and watched me for some time but it never did reveal his/her entire body. Despite that fact this is now one of my favorite marmot images because I like the setting so much. It’s perfect habitat for the species and for my tastes it’s aesthetically pleasing to boot.
Eventually it disappeared into the crevice and I drove on down the road.
1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in
47 minutes later I had this beautiful Golden Eagle in my viewfinder. I like the background and the rocky perch but I was disappointed that I couldn’t see the tail, legs and feet so I was hoping for takeoff and flight shots but Lady Luck (the bitch!) had other plans for me. I looked at my screen for about half a second to check my exposure and the eagle chose that exact moment to take off so I missed the flight shots I wanted so much.
Missing them was my own damned fault and I’ll tell you why. The eagle was on a large rock that has often been used as a raptor perch in the past but the rock is just past the top of a hill (when you’re coming from the south, as I was) and can’t be seen until the last second after you round a curve at the crest of the hill. Usually when coming from that direction I drive very slowly until the rock comes into view so I won’t flush any raptor that might be on it.
But on this morning my mind was elsewhere for some reason and I was driving too fast when the rock (and the highly unexpected eagle) came into view quite close to the road. My sudden appearance and abrupt stop had the eagle immediately on edge. The bird only gave me a couple of seconds for a few preliminary shots before it took off and I chose that exact moment to check my exposure. I’m pretty confident that if I’d rounded the curve and approached the rock slowly the eagle would have given me more time with it and I’d have had a much better chance to get the takeoff/flight shots I wanted so badly.
You’ve gotta pay attention when you’re photographing birds!
This mating pair of Swainson’s Hawks is one of the reasons I usually approach that rock much more carefully. One summer several years ago I photographed either or both of these birds on the same rock many times so it’s my habit to round that curve on the hill much more slowly and carefully.
I’m usually a creature of habit but I just spaced it out this time and I paid the price.