Bruce’s Birdtography: Kayak: A Fun Tool for Bird Photography

Green heron by B. Wunderlich.
Bruce Wunderlich, BWD Production Director and nature photographer

Last weekend—the July 4 holiday—a friend invited me to go kayaking on a local lake. I know from experience on the lakeshore that there are many birds species in this area. I asked my friend if I should bring my camera. “Oh yes,” she replied. “We can get close to the birds without disturbing them.” 

I was hesitant about taking my camera on a kayak. (Did I mention that I have never been kayaking before?) So I got out one of my old cameras and an older lens that I rarely use anymore to take with me.

We launched our kayaks at the lake. I felt a little unstable at first. But I quickly mastered my balance, and off we paddled.

We saw osprey diving for fish, great blue herons skulking at the water’s edge, kingfishers, and green herons as we toured the lake. The kayak seemed to act as a blind as we glided quietly past them.

Near the lake’s shallow end I saw a green heron perched on a log. By this time, I felt more comfortable in the boat, so as I coasted across the water, I thought it was time to try some photography. As I approached the heron, it didn’t even seem to notice or care that I was there. I shot a few pics of the heron on the log, and when it jumped into the shallow water to look for some food, I shot a few more. Satisfied, I slowly backed away, leaving it undisturbed and still hunting. 

So is a kayak a worthy tool for photographing birds? Absolutely! It can be an excellent one.

Before you take your camera out in a kayak, though, first, make sure you have insurance on your photography equipment. Accidents can happen—easily! Second, put your camera in a dry bag because things can and do get wet when you’re kayaking, even without an accident.

Besides being an excellent opportunity for bird photography, kayaking on an undeveloped lake was lots of fun and good exercise!

Do I want a kayak now? Absolutely!

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