Bird Watching

Project Athena - Day 238 (Bird Watching)

Golden Eagle in Flight

Golden Eagle in Flight

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/8 • 1/1000s • ISO 100

 

When I took this photo several years ago now, I truly connected emotionally to the soaring spirit of this Golden Eagle. I felt like I had finally said yes to my true creative passion, had spread my wings and was taking flight into the unknown. Honestly, I still feel like I am flying low to the ground but every flap of my wings gives me new perspective. I am confident that the dream to be a professional photographer is not too big for my skills or talents. I'm ready to catch an air current that will lift me a lot higher, let me soar in my authentic expression and fly with the pure joy of being free to create.

Project Athena - Day 236 (Bird Watching)

Owlets

This photo was taken on one of my first camera outings when I purchased my Nikon D3200 in 2012. It's still one of my favorite pictures because it inspired me to get out and shoot! Once I saw what this camera and I were capable of doing together, I was hooked and knew that I would pursue this passion for photography in a way I never had before.

I revisit this nest every spring to watch the newest flock of owlets hatch and grow. They are so adorable and their parents are extremely devoted.

Owlets

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/10 • 1/200s • ISO 400

Project Athena - Day 235 (Bird Watching)

Bald Eagle

I have a special reverence for bald eagles and all they have been through as a species to survive. Every time I see one in the wild, I feel I have just been blessed with a sacred gift. Over the last three days, I have "chased" a few bald eagles hoping for a chance to photograph them but they can cover a tremendous amount of distance in a short amount of time with their enormous wing spans. I have opted for this beauty over a speeding ticket. This majestic eagle resides at the Fort Collins Environmental Learning Center. Her story is one of trauma and resilience and her role in life now is helping educate people about the plight of all birds of prey.

Bald Eagle, Environmental Learning Center

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/5.6 • 1/60s • ISO 800

Project Athena - Day 234 (Bird Watching)

Red Tail Hawk

This is one of my favorite birds of prey, the Red Tailed Hawk. This particular bird is in captivity at the Fort Collins Environmental Learning Center. I shot this through a chain link fence on purpose which is what gives it the sort of muddled look.

Red-tailed hawks are known for their brick-colored tails but there are many variations that don't have this colorization. They are keen-eyed and excellent hunters. Apparently, one of these birds landed on our backyard fence a few days ago with a pigeon in his beak for his lunch. He left evidence of his feast on the ground with feathers and a carcass picked clean to the bone. I only know it was a Red Tailed Hawk instead of some other bird of prey because our house guest witnessed the meal as she was eating her own at our dining room table.

Red Tailed Hawk in Captivity

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/5.6 • 1/80s • ISO 800

Project Athena - Day 233 (Bird Watching)

Who's Into Camouflage?

Today, I took pictures of a rabbit who was working different poses for me cause he really wanted to be featured tonight. When I explained it was bird week, he hopped off into the brush, leaving me still with no bird shot for tonight. I photographed this Great Horned Owl while in Saratoga, WY last October. Wildlife photography is one that requires patience, flexibility, and openness. It's one of my favorite genres and for this themed blog, it has required stretching the guidelines.

Great Horned Owl

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/8 • 1/200s • ISO 100

Project Athena - Day 232 (Bird Watching)

Grey Heron

Today, I had an interesting internal experience around taking pictures. I took a late afternoon walk at one of my favorite open spaces in Loveland where normally I see few people and an abundance of hawks and eagles. Today, I saw no hawks or eagles and an abundance of people. These weren't just people out for a walk, they were photographers toting $50,000 cameras with lenses that were longer than a kayak. I felt intimidated, small time, insignificant. I even, for a moment, tried to hide my little camera under my jacket to appear like I was just a walker out enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

An internal dialog began about why I was feeling what I was feeling. My mind wanted to explain it, define it, justify it, reframe it so I would feel different. Then I stopped. Literally stopped walking. Stopped talking to myself. Stopped letting my thoughts pull me out of my feelings. I just felt. There were a number of emotions I could name and some that came and went before I could label them. When all was felt, I heard the some truthful awareness arise inside reminding me that I am not my camera, my success, my failures, my title, my blog, my thoughts, my fear, my anything. I am not separate from anything I truly desire.

No bird photos were taken today. Just a snapshot of that moment in time when I knew myself to be whole and felt a sense of well being in the world. Here is one from this summer.

Grey Heron in Pond at Sunset

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/9 • 1/160s • ISO 100

Project Athena - Day 231 (Bird Watching)

Immature Bald Eagle

This week's theme is "birds" and hopefully birds of prey. I gotta be a bit more flexible this week because these two winged creatures have a mind of their own and sometimes they make themselves available for photo ops and sometimes they are elusive. I am going to get out to shoot everyday regardless but I give myself permission to post from previous bird shots. This shot was taken a few days ago at the Wild Animal Sanctuary and no, this is not a caged bird. She was sitting on top of a post, very close to the elevated walk way just watching over the entire 400 acres. She was so huge that at first, I thought she was a vulture of some sort. Considering I don't have a super, duper telephoto lens, you can get a feel for how close she let me get before flying off.

I've been seeing bald eagles almost every day. It was great to see this young one so close. Time to connect with some owl, eagle, and hawk energy for the week.

Immature Bald Eagle    Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/5.6 • 1/1000s • ISO 200   

Immature Bald Eagle

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/5.6 • 1/1000s • ISO 200