Summer 2019 (or how I got my Birding Groove back on) / by Jeremy Mudd

In a recent post I admitted to the fact that I am indeed a birder. Now that the Summer of 2019 has officially come to a close as of today, I am looking back on it as the Summer that helped me get back to birding in a big way.

Female Common Yellow Throat Warbler - Huffman Prairie

As I explained in the first post of this year, I was in a wildlife/birding rut in 2018. I barely shot any wildlife, instead focusing on landscapes and event/theatre photography. I was determined that for 2019 I would get back on my wildlife game and that’s just what I did.

Great Blue Heron morning flight - Deeds Point

By this Summer I was in full swing – going out almost every day at lunch thru the week. Deeds Point and the Spillway near there were frequent haunts of mine, as well as Spring Lakes in Bellbrook. I shot at Deeds so often this summer that I had it down to a timed science – 17 minutes to get there from work, 26 minutes to shoot, and 17 minutes to drive back. 26 minutes to shoot doesn’t sound like much, and it really isn’t, but its worth it to get out.

Great Blue Heron fish flip - Deeds Point

I was also carrying my bird set-up with me on big hikes on weekends. The D500 and Tamron 150-600mm lens can be a heavy combination on a 10-mile hike but having it on a Black Rapid strap helps, and I forget about the weight when a moment pops up that I can take advantage and get a shot that I couldn’t have captured with lesser gear.

Grasshopper Sparrow - Twin Creek hiking trail

Juvenile Bald Eagle - Englewood Metropark

The act of just getting out and repeatedly shooting made me that much better, and quicker, at adapting to ever changing light conditions and moving wildlife.  Often when someone sees one of my shots on Instagram or Facebook I’ll get a comment along the lines of “Wow you got lucky!” or something like that. In wildlife photography you have to make your own luck - on many days I get nothing, then on one day something great happens. It’s a difficult pursuit – and one that many people try and don’t stick with it.

Osprey in flight - Spring Lakes Reserve in Bellbrook

This past weekend I went on a canoe trip at Caesar Creek State Park to shoot shorebirds. This was part of the prize for my 1st Place Bald Eagle shot at the Ohio Nature Photo Competition at Caesar Creek this year. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the last weekend of Summer than spending time with other photographers enjoying nature from the canoes. Shooting from a canoe is a whole other perspective and one that I could easily do more often. I may have to look into what a canoe rack costs for the Pathfinder. :)

Great White Egret - Caesar Creek State Park

Osprey - Caesar Creek State Park

Green Heron - Caesar Creek State Park

Greater Yellowlegs - Caesar Creek State Park

Great White Egrets - Caesar Creek State Park

The only drawback to all of the bird photography that I’ve been doing this year is the fact that my Tamron 150-600mm lens is in need of service. There’s a bit of dust build-up on the second element, which doesn’t really show up in images unless I’m shooting really stopped down and into bright light. But in addition to that, the weather seal on the camera mount end has deteriorated and fallen off. While its still under warranty I really need to send it in to Tamron USA for service, and along with that there’s a firmware upgrade that would be done while its in there. Unfortunately now that Fall is here the bird migration to the South will begin soon so I can’t miss that!

Oh well, there’s always Winter. Right? Or not.

Great Blue Heron - Spillway near Deeds Point

Thanks for reading!

Jeremy