“A Passion for Wildlife Photography, the Stories Behind the Images” (Part 3)


SPOTTING WILDLIFE 

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.

BurrowingOwl-0224WORD
Burrowing Owl – Yellow Eyes
Rabbit-16450WEB
Eastern cottontail, Shape out of place
BadgerHead-39388WORD
Badger, White stripes attract attention

 

BigHornGroup-5069WORD
Bighorn Sheep, easy to spot white rumps

MOVEMENT

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.

Coyote hiding in grass
Coyote hiding in grass
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Yellow-crowned Night Heron, feeding on crabs. Most of the time hidden in grass.
American-Bittern-WORD
American Bittern, When facing forward and pointing the bill skyward, bird is nearly invisible appearing to be grass.
Ghost Crab.  Camouflaged with coloration that matches the sand and reflects light keeping it cool. Hard to see until it moves.
Ghost Crab. Camouflaged with coloration that matches the sand and reflects light keeping it cool. Hard to see until it moves.

SOUND

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.

 

Sandhillcall-9360
Sandhill flying to join group, call got my attention
PrairieRatlter-5196web
Prairie Rattle Snake
Prairie dog barking a warning brought my attention to the colony.
Prairie dog barking a warning brought my attention to the colony.
OspreyFLYheadONPPT-4236WEB3
Osprey, Easily recognized high pitch call
Roadrunner courting.  Call woke me from mid-day siesta.
Roadrunner courting. Call woke me from mid-day siesta.

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?

 

Running-Sanderlings-1924WORD
Sanderlings running along edge of surf
Black Skimmer, fishes in shallows often following bank
Black Skimmer, fishes in shallows often following bank
Pronghorn, herds often move in a particular direction. Often found in same area.
Pronghorn, herds often move in a particular direction. Anticipate where they are heading and move to intersect their path. Don’t walk directly towards them.

More to come about photographing wildlife in future blogs.