SHAPES, COLORS, TONES
Spotting wildlife is a learnable skill. When visiting an unfamiliar area, my ability to see animals in the new habitat improves with time. I become sensitive to colors, shapes, and tones that are out of place in the new environment.
When animals are highly camouflaged by their surroundings, they are more easily spotted when they move. This is ideal for spotting coyotes or grouse hidden by prairie grasses or herons blending in or hidden by reeds.
Characteristic bird calls such as those from an osprey or kingfisher, courtship songs, screams of alarm or distress, rustling brush, spouting whales, the rattle of a rattle snake, splashing water, etc. Just listen.
HABITS & PATTERNS
Animals repeat behaviors and knowing the patterns can give you an edge photographing them. When I see an animal in the same area at about the same time each day, I know there is an increased chance I will encounter it again in the same region and hopefully this time with a camera in hand. If a heron is fishing in a pond, does it move in a predictable manner where you could photograph it as it moves or pre-focus at a point where it will cross? Does a heard of pronghorn or elk meander in a consistent direction where you could adjust your movements to intersect their path?
More to come about photographing wildlife in future blogs.