Monday, February 1, 2010

Three Seconds

I started getting more serious about birding 2 years ago.  Since then I have spent countless hours with Colvin scouting various birds in hopes of getting them on the glass.  Last year we both came away with some nice shots but the Male Harrier eluded us.  There is so much that goes into hunting these raptors on the camera.  Hiking through the phragmite, mud, snow, and cold weather are just some of the challenges (not to mention equipment and being ready for the opportunity when it comes). The odds of getting a male harrier on the camera are difficult with fewer numbers than the females.

This past week we spent three full days specifically targeting harriers.  We got a few shots but the lighting was not in our favor.  It was either snowing or cloudy and the one good hour of light, not a single bird. I have to be honest and say it is disappointing, but none the less both Brett and I have come away with other images to add to the “folio” and shot stuff that was off the radar and not planned.  It is during this time that I learn the most.

Today we went after it again.  The afternoon lighting was perfect. We setup in two different spots and had it dialed in after a couple of hours.  Just before the sun began to set the opportunity that I had eagerly been waiting for arrived.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see a beautiful Male Harrier hunting the outer rim of the phragmite.  As quickly as I saw the movement my reflexes kicked in and I panned.  Tracking, Tracking, SNAP, SNAP, SNAP! 

What a rush!   Days/hours waiting, whispering, pondering, ….it all boiled down to three seconds.  It felt so damn good.  I know I had the shot.  It is an awesome feeling.  Leaning over to Brett and showing him the prize on the view finder, we laughed with excitement!  My nemesis,  the elusive Male Harrier no more. 

What has seemed like an impossible feat for me has become a reality today and I am excited to have the image.  It means a lot and I am grateful that I get to share it with you all!  I hope you enjoy the photograph as much as I do!  So much work, persistence, and patience have gone into this one! 

Here’s to the chase and hopefully more “3 Second” opportunities!




Nikon D700, Nikon 300mm f/2.8G ED-IF II AF-S VR-II with a Nikon TC-17E II

ISO 200, F8, AV Priority


For a look at Brett Colvin’s incredible Female Harrier shots from today, visit his blog post:


Travis said...

Nice job Jay!

Travis said...

Nice job man!

Brett Colvin said...

Background, eye, and wing position all rolled into one. There really isn't anything that could be improved about this shot. Glad you were able to finally put one over on this guy.

Jeremy said...

Wow! That is incredible man. Absolutely stellar.

Big Hoss said...

not that you are saying it was luck but i was always told "luck is when hard work meets opportunity" awesome shot!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay:

I've always enjoyed your raptor photos. Your treks to capture these elusive hunters is always anticipated. Great photos all.


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