Going after a big bird: Sandhill Cranes

It’s a yearly expedition–shooting the Sandhill Cranes. They are found in and around the Sacramento Delta. This trip, Laura and I started out at Consumnes River Preserve.  Right away, I learned another valuable lesson: have your camera ready before you leave home! I was going to put the big F/4, 300 mm lens on the D7100 once we got to Consumnes, but as soon as we got off the freeway we saw a flock of Sandhills near the fence. They usually like to be deep in the fields. By the time I got my camera ready–they were deep in the field.

I’m always learning lessons! For me, experience is the best teacher. I’m not crying over not having my camera ready for the best shot of the day. I did manage to get some good images as we went from preserve to preserve.

I was amazed at how many Sandhills there were this year. They were everywhere. In past years they were scarce. The drought may have contributed to that.

It was a fun day, chasing the big birds, finding other wildlife and shooting landscapes. Here are the results.


A bicycle built for two and the Suisun Wildlife Center

I wish I had my camera with me when Gem and I were walking this morning. We saw a senior couple riding a bicycle built for two! When was the last time you saw one? It’s been a wicked long time for me. And, the fun part was they were talking about this and that, maybe enjoying the ride–maybe not. Yes, I do wish I had the camera. But how to take a quick shot while walking the dog and suddenly cyclists come within view. Do you say, “Please stop, I’d like to take your picture?” I guess that’s what I would have done.

But I did have my cameras at one of this past weekend’s outing to the Suisun Wildlife Center.  Through the help of their all-volunteer staff, and donations this center offers assistance to injured and orphaned wildlife in Solano County, California. While many animals are cared for, we were able to take photos of birds and reptiles during our visit. Handlers were at various stations and we were allowed to take as many images as possible within a two hour period. We didn’t need that much time since there were only five birds and three snakes. That was my only disappointment. But, that meant there were less animals needing help.

Most of the birds we shot were permanent residences at the center. They were unable to be re-introduced into the wild because of broken, malformed wings or missing an eye. What struck me was the caring of the volunteers and the response of the animals. The birds, in particular, seemed to bond with the staff.

Since it was a short morning, my photo buddy and I stopped at the Vacaville Outlets to do some shopping. If I do this outing again next year, I would plan another photo op to round out the day. Not that I didn’t enjoy shopping. I did find a plastic knife that I’ve been looking for.

And, yes, all my pictures were shot on RAW. However, the only program that seems to be able to open them is Lightroom. I tried to open one with Photoshop and PE, but was not able to. If you can tell me why, please do!

My, this has been a rambling post, starting out with a bicycle built for two. Maybe they will be riding tomorrow. Should I bring a camera just in case?


The Bald Eagle

One way to get a bird to pose is to catch them while eating. We were almost finished with the auto tour at the Sacramento Wildlife Refuge when my friend Sandy saw an eagle. I immediately stopped, backed up a little and started shooting. After my excitement waned a little, I noticed what the Bald Eagle was doing. He was dining on his dinner, a Coot (a fellow meetup member told me). Talk about being a sitting duck!

I watched and shot. The eagle even looked at me, but didn’t move from his task. It was simply amazing. I’m posting some images from the more than 100 I took.