Birds in Flight Gallery 7

Photo Gallery

Anxious to get a little more trigger time in with the Sigma 150-500mm lens, I head on down to Fremont's Lake Elizabeth (again) for some birding action. It's still nesting season for the birds there, even though the young Night Heron hatchlings look to be getting pretty big. A handful of Canada Geese were around, and some of them had little ones with them too. It's not hard to spot the birds, the tough part is getting in position to catch them in flight. For that, it's a waiting and guessing game. Most of the action shots I got that day were from Canada Geese, Great Egrets, Night Herons, and Snowy Egrets.

A few words about the Sigma 150-500mm OS lens. Most people would probably use a tripod or monopod with it. But where's the fun in that? :-) It's hand holdable, but takes a lot of practice to get used to. After extended use, it tends to cramp up my wrists too! The lens really wants to have a lot of light, but it's capable of really nice results. I tried calibrating the lens using the D300's auto focus fine tune feature, but it was a bit of a frustrating exercise. For a particular distance, I can fine tune the lens so the focus is bang on, but then it's off at a different distance. For example, for close in, the lens was back-focusing a fair bit (yes, the target was beyond the lens' minimum focusing distance). However, at a further distance, it was front focusing. This is using the same zoom setting - just different focusing distances. Since my main use for the lens would be for air shows for far away plane shots, I elected to adjust for that distance. This means that it will be sub-optimal for close in shots. Just have to deal with it I guess.
Nikon D300 w/ Sigma 150-500mm OS lens - Bernard Zee

Pair of Canada Geese coming in for a landing.

Honk Honk Honk!

Not in flight, but I couldn't resist!

This one is a single child. Perhaps the successful result of the park's geese population measures.

A backlit Night Heron, with his distinctive 'ponytail' visible.

Nest maintenance continues.

A Snowy Egret takes a short flight around the nest area (which is unfortunately, on an inaccessible island quite far from the lake shore. Tough for pics).

My most favorite birdie for pics, the Great Egret. They just bend in all sorts of interesting ways!

Elegant and graceful.

The Snowy Egret is a much smaller bird - but also very photogenic.

A nice close pass of the Great Egret.

Another angle on the Snowy Egret.

Tough to maintain a focus lock with such strong contrast background elements.

Sometimes it works out well, sometimes the focus gets lost. Oh well!

The gentle rolling hills make a nice backdrop.

These little black birds were buzzing about too. Tough to get a shot of them, since they're so small and fast!

Always a joy to watch them fly!

Night Heron flaring for a rocky landing.

Great Egret passing in review.

Run away!

More Snowy Egret shots.

Lovely in a turn.

Pretty scary to be on the receiving end of that spear beak!

The littlest gosling!

This Coot must have been a marathon flyer! He covered over hundred yards in flight - which I seldom ever see them do. Usually just short hops of 30yards or less.

Back again in the evening, and the setting light is very nice for pictures.

But the wonderful light is very fleeting, and not that many good shot opportunities. This one turned out very nice though!

Thought I'd include this unusual landing attitude.

An artsy Night Heron shot.

The ever graceful Great Egret tip-toeing through the air.

A Cormorant zips by like a torpedo bomber.

The Great Egret is also gathering nesting material late in the day.

Sometimes, the light is just right.

A pair of Snowy Egrets in what I presume to be an intricate mating dance.

A Stealthy Night Heron.

Bathed in the warm evening light.

Almost magical!

Outbound flights of Night Herons were regularly harassed by these little black birds.

Even at a 10 to 1 size disadvantage, these little birds relentlessly defend their nests, driving the bigger birds away.

Crazy eyes on the Western Grebe.

Night Heron towards the setting sun.

Dusk in his eyes.

Time enough for one last 'properly' exposed shot.

And it's time to go!