I like to shoot birds. Okay - I like to PHOTOGRAPH birds! It takes time, and frequently, I feel guilty for doing a lot of walking around, sitting around, hiding in the bushes, etc., waiting for birds. My husband, Roger, and I were going around this place we like to check out for wildlife on Holden Beach. It's near the marshes. We thought that it would be a perfect place for Painted Buntings - grassy area, near water - why not? We had been around there a million times.
Finally, I said - what do they sound like? Roger googled the song of the Painted Bunting. We went around again and this time, listened hard to hear the different songs. By gosh, there it was! A bit far off, but we heard it! We kept slowly moving closer and closer, and finally - there it was! Oh, it took some back and forth, sneaking up, getting busted, and trying all over again, but we finally found out where they kinda like to hang out. No luck getting them close that time, but this past weekend, I went back - on a mission to get a closer shot of the buntings. Nothing. No sounds.....Kept walking around, and then, suddenly, there it was! I heard the back and forth songs of the Painted Buntings. It took awhile to find them - they don't exactly hang out in obvious places, for the most part. And, if it wasn't for the bright colors, I would never have seen them. Even then, it just looks like a different colored leaf (yes, I know they are brightly colored, but they aren't usually right out in the perfect light for you to see that!).
I guess my point is, you don't always get to shoot. Sometimes, you have to do your homework. First, you have to know what your subject looks like. Second, you need to know what environment they like. Third, it's nice to know some of their habits, but sometimes, you can only get that from observation. Fourth - know the sounds they make. If you can't SEE what you are looking for, perhaps you can HEAR it. THEN, it might help you actually FIND it. Do your homework. Do the waiting. Put in the time. (Dodge the bloodthirsty mosquitoes.) I'm going back tomorrow to put in some more time, and use what I learned today to try to get better photographs. One without a little stick in front of his face. One where he's not blowing around in the tree. One where he doesn't just fly away, leaving me with an empty branch. I'm a bit of a perfectionist in some things. Let's see what happens tomorrow! Oh - and maybe the Waxwings will return....I'm not asking for much....am I?