Saturday was kind of a big deal here in northern Utah as the state puts on “Bald Eagle Day”. What is Bald Eagle day exactly? Well it is the height of the Bald Eagles Migratory period through the area, so the half dozen or so wildlife refuges in the area all open the gates for bird enthusiasts to come out and ogle the birds as they sit around with their metaphorical thumbs in their asses.
I for one, welcome the opportunity to photograph an awesome creature who is much too lazy to move around. It truly makes my life a lot easier. Nonetheless, this day still presented itself with a few challenges. The first of which was an awkward exchange with one of the park rangers for Farmington Bay. Basically, I somehow missed a sign that said I can’t walk out into the snow (mostly because I was looking at the Golden Eagle I was trying to shoot and not the 8″ tall, white sign hiding in the snow. Even Still, given my current setup can only zoom to a maximum of 210mm, I needed to get a little closer to get a shot that wasn’t of just a spec on an indistinguishable tree a half mile away.
In hind sight, I probably should have just accepted that I wasn’t gonna get the shot and moved on. I didn’t though. What annoyed me about the interaction with the Ranger though, was how exceptionally stupid and awful he was about it. Instead of a “Hey, you can’t go out there. Please leave.” to which I would have just left. Instead, I got him honking his horn and shouting at me then trying to tell me that I was scaring the birds with all the noise I was making. I was dumbfounded. Seriously? Me quietly sitting behind a bush in the snow is being loud? Not the guy who was laying into his car horn and screaming like a lunatic? Touche sir. Touche.
Even though that was a hassle, I did get one mediocre shot of that bird, which let me tell you was not worth the nuisance:
After moving on from there, I decided to leave the dyke area and head over towards the information centers to see if they had set up any sort gimmick to attract the birds that way. On the way I noticed a guy who had pulled over and was shooting something out in the tree line that was pretty far off. Turns out it was a mating pair of Eagles. Neat! I pulled over myself to try and get some shots, but they were just too far off to get anything great. I ended up with these two which I had to crop so there would be something noticeable aside from just trees.
The quality on the top photo is basically trash. Which is a bummer as otherwise it would have been an interesting shot. What this tells me is I need to explore a tele-converter or a larger zoom lens (something like a 400-600mm). Being unable to really pull in on something of distance is kind of frustrating when it’s the whole reason you’re there.
Of course, the day wasn’t entirely a bust. Over at the nature center, there were a couple of ladies from the nearby Hogle Zoo who had brought out a Peregrine Falcon and what I believe they said was a Harris Hawk. So I chatted with them for a few minutes about hawks and stuff and snapped a few pictures of the two birds.
I’m not entirely sure why, but Peregrine falcons are the most adorable birds ever. They looks soo stupid and terrified all the time. That poor bird was so done with the day the second he got out of his box.
The last thing I did on my way out and back to the house was stop by and catch a shot of the Blue-Heron Maating colony as I thought it would make a decent image. Once again, I was wrong. The picture itself isn’t total garbage, but because most of the Salt Lake valley has been in an inversion the last two weeks (basically the smog has just sat in the valley due to a lack of wind or weather to push it out) and so our air quality has been worse than Beijing or Hong Kong. What this means for photos is everything is a very ugly grey and super difficult to shoot. You’re basically trying to photograph something through a thick fog which means a ton of post work is required to salvage you images, not to mention the natural lack of sharpness you get saddled with too. That being said here’s that shot:
Overall, I had a lot of fun, even if the photos didn’t come along as I had hoped. I think I’m going to hold off on trying to shoot birds or wildlife for a while until I can pick up some additional gear to improve my options. As always, until next time … Thanks for reading!