Bruce’s Birdtography: Observing to Photograph Osprey

Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” It seems like a funny statement, but somehow it applies to bird photography.

When I arrived at an osprey nest for the first time this spring, I was disappointed to discover there was not a location nearby where I could photograph the birds without disturbing their nest-building activity.

It was early on a beautiful sunny spring morning. I decided to watch the ospreys for a while to see what I could learn about their behavior. I knew that for the best photos, the rising sun should be at my back for the best light on the birds. Knowing that birds will land into the wind, I picked up a leaf and dropped it to determine the wind direction. This allowed me to predict from which direction the ospreys would be flying into the nest. They were busy bringing in and arranging sticks to build the nest, so both the male and female were making frequent trips, carrying nesting material.

From observation, I was able to figure out their route to the nest. Equipped with this knowledge, I found a spot about 400 yards from the nest where the ospreys would fly right past, and the sunlight at my back would be like a spotlight on them.

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Stay tuned for the next Birdtography post, in which Bruce discusses photographing birds in flight on a cloudy day.

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