This was my 3rd trip to a national wildlife refuge where many thousands of birds stop for weeks at a time to refuel during their cross country migration. The birds will fly out at dawn to the surrounding farm fields to feed and return to protective wetlands to spend the night. The birds work very long hours. In the evening the birds only begin to show up about 20 minutes before sunset; many birds are still coming in well after dusk. Photographing the birds is difficult. The birds fly in from all directions. You will need a fast acting gimbal mount on a sturdy tripod to follow the action with a long lens. Even if you are lucky enough to have few clouds obscuring the setting sun, the available light will be skimming the surface and short lived. I got few pictures I was happy with until I was lucky enough to have gone on a night when the moon was at a perfect height for this image. I focused my newly acquired 600mm F4 AFS Nikkor lens at the moon and waited for birds to fly into the picture. I used dynamic area autofocus with closest subject priority. These birds did not fly into the scene until well after sunset, but the contrast between the moon and the birds allowed the camera/lens to focus on the birds instantly. The exposure was 1/750 second at F4. A significant levels adjustment had to be made in order to bring out the blue sky. The walk back to the car along the barely-moonlit-through-the-trees white gravel path that cut through the wetlands teeming with wildlife of all sorts was etheral. The cacophony of the gutteral sounds is wonderful to experience and something that I recommend to all of you.
I was with a friend on this trip. As soon as possible after the trip, my friend acquired a 600mm F4 AFS Nikkor lens and a gimbal head.
Click here to go back to my 35mm and DIGITAL CAMERA equipment web page. If you already have camera equipment you are happy with, but you need a gimbal head or a sturdy tripod, go to my TRIPOD web page.