Sunday, January 24, 2010

Talon Scout

Birds are a photographer's night sweat-inducing nemesis. All species delight in flitting about at extreme distances, later appearing in pictures as black specs nearly concealed by the curvature of the Earth. The mere mention of the word "birds" also tends to cause the onset of an inscrutable smile for those retailing or manufacturing camera lenses the size of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Eagles are somewhat of a rarity in the Salt Lake area. Like most places out West the occasional sighting is not entirely uncommon. Ordinarily, however, the chances of actually photographing them are on par with locating a Blue Footed Booby.

All this changes for a short 2-3 week period in the dead of winter, when large numbers of migratory bald eagles use the wetlands of the Wasatch Front as a layover. Apparently there are much more raptor-friendly locations farther to the North, offering something called "heavy beer" as an attractant.

I haven't seen the heaviest buildup yet, but a few birds have started to arrive. Here are a couple images from this weekend's scouting trip:

Carp Grip

Banking Hard


Gear Down

I also have a fondness for the kestrel, although their tiny size often makes them a photographer's bane. On Saturday this one was cooperative for a short period:

Kestrel Portrait

Keep your lap dogs inside the ride at all times folks, baldies love a nice Maltese chaser after a fish dinner.

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