Someone will be cooperative

That’s what you can count on in nature photography: even if your primary subject fails to appear or do something photogenic, another subject will fill in the gaps.

Actually, you can’t count on that at all. Don’t listen to me. [I know, you weren’t anyway. Thanks for that.]

Having spotted some bald eagles at a particular spot that seemed promising a few weeks back, The Girlfriend and I did a small excursion down there again, about a week ago, to see if any were to be found. Short answer: no. Longer answer (by three letters): maybe. In the extreme distance, two birds were flying away in a position and wingbeat pattern that might have indicated eagles. Since it was a weekend and a fishing spot, the place was undeniably busy, so we didn’t hang around long.

But while there, an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) did some distant wheeling overhead, and eventually passed from cloudy sky into a small patch of blue, and I was tracking it as it did so.

osprey Pandion haliaetus soaring against partly-coudy sky
I thought I’d mostly corrected the autofocus issue, but this series of photos showed focus to be just slightly off, so apparently not; I’m beginning to suspect that it locks focus initially, perhaps not perfectly accurately, and then doesn’t readjust often enough. Still experimenting, but in the meantime, this is close enough for this kind of framing and usage.

While at the location, however, we did a small amount of exploring, and I kept the long lens affixed and ready, so when a black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) began flitting around on branches and vines right smack in front of us, I put it to good use.

black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus closeup
Chickadees are generally pretty mellow, if hyperactive, birds; they don’t fret about closer approaches as much as most other species, and while there was no question that it knew we were there, we held still enough that we didn’t appear threatening. So I just kept firing off frames, and this time the autofocus was doing its job properly.

black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus staring at photographer
It looks suspicious here, but that’s just a momentary eye-contact thing as it examined the entire area, as they do. These frames are cropped a little, but not a lot; this guy was less than four meters in front of us, and at 600mm focal length, that’s enough to make it quite dominant in the frame. If you’re not familiar with chickadees, they’re small enough to be enclosed in your hand with just the tailfeathers sticking out.

And one more for detail, because.

black-capped chickadee Poecile atricapillus in tight profile
I’m not complaining about this at all. Even if it’s a fairly easy subject to capture.

I fired off fifteen frames in the [checks EXIF info] ten seconds that the bird was perched in easy sight, and while we didn’t see what we were after, I can count this as successful anyway. You can never be prepared for everything, but keeping your options open can help a lot.

By the way, my current project (among many of the outstanding ones) is to capture the grebe in the nearby pond. Every damn time that I’ve seen it has been in poor light and at significant distances, so much so that distinctive identification is impossible, and I think it’s baiting me. I’m still male enough to consider that provocation, so we’ll see how this pissing match plays out.

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