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Posts Tagged ‘landing’

Some birds are stealthy and fly silently through the skies. Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) would not fit into that category. They like to announce their presence for all to hear, like this pair that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as they were coming in for a landing.

Unlike at the airport, there was no need for a loudspeaker to announce this landing.

Canada Geese

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Unlike the Great Blue Herons that stay in Northern Virginia all winter, Great Egrets (Ardea alba) depart for warmer locations during the winter. I was happy to note this past weekend that the egrets are now back at my local marsh, where I took these shots of one coming in for a landing.

The wing span of this bird is impressive and I love the way that it points its toes as it comes in for the landing. As is often the case, I had challenges getting a proper exposure—I try to expose for the brilliant white body, but often blow out the highlights. I am pleased that I was able to capture some of the details of the wings in these images, though the shadows caused much of the plumage to look gray, rather than white.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Continuing the theme of transitions from this morning, I thought I’d post a photo of several geese transitioning from rapid flight through the air to a complete halt on a frozen pond.

I love to watch geese coming in for a landing as they noisily announce their arrival, which is often accompanied with a big splash and energetic flapping of wings.

The situation is a bit more problematic when the ice is solid and any miscalculation could lead to physical injury.  It appears to me that the geese flap their wings as hard as they can to decelerate and attempt to carefully place their webbed feet. That is what the goose on the left appears to be doing. If that doesn’t work, as a last resort the goose can lower his tail to slow down his forward momentum, as the goose on the right is doing.

Judging from my observations, some geese are much more adept at this type of landings than others, who slip and slide and skid for a while until they finally stop moving forward.

skidding_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I usually think of Canada Geese as extroverts. They are loud and gregarious and announce their presence when they arrive. I captured this one making a big splash, literally.

Looking at the photo, I think that I must have had my focusing point on an area between the wings, because there are a lot of beautiful details in the feathers. In some ways I am using these geese as test subjects as I learn to track birds in flight (and landing) and try to time my exposures for maximum effect. They don’t seem to mind (though I am waiting for one to ask me for copies of the photos to show to his friends).

splash_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As the insistent honking got louder, I scanned the horizon for approaching geese and saw none.

Suddenly a pair of Canada Geese swooped over a nearby treeline and headed right at me as I stood on the boardwalk at my local marshland park. They were closing so quickly that it was hard to get my focus to lock on. At the same time I also had to adjust my zoom lens. Normally I photograph birds at the far end of my 55-250mm zoom lens, but the geese were filling up so much of the frame that I had to zoom out.

This is my best shot from the encounter. The goose and I were able to look each other straight in the eye at that moment.  The background has a nice blur, because I was shooting at f5.6, and a fair amount of the goose is in focus. I like the goose’s position too as he strains forward in preparation for the water landing. (Click on the photo to see more details)

Incoming_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most of the time I like to focus on individual birds, but in this case I think I prefer this panoramic-style shot of Canada Geese coming in for a landing on a snow-covered field. The expansive white backdrop allows us to see better the different body and wing positions of the geese (and I recommend clicking on the photo to see the details).

The snow is now gone from Northern Virginia, a victim of warmer temperatures and heavy rains. For many readers, snow is much more an everyday reality of the winter, but it’s rare enough here that it has a special beauty (as long as I don’t have to drive to work in it, in which case I tend to forget its beauty and view more as a nuisance).

landing_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I haven’t been out shooting in nature for almost a week, so I ventured out into my marshland park early this morning. I have not yet had a chance to go through all of my shots, but I knew I really liked this one as soon as I took it and did a quick review on the LCD of my camera.

I found myself in a good position when several Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) were coming in for a water landing and was able to track them and get a good focus. The buffer of my camera fills up pretty fast, so I didn’t want to start shooting too early. Just before they hit the water, I snapped off a few exposures and managed to get this shot in which one of the geese has landed and created a splash.  A goose in the foreground is landing in the midst of the splashing water. My shutter speed (1/320 sec) was fast enough to freeze most of the motion, with the exception of a slightly blurred wing. I like the blurry wing and thing it helps give the sense of motion, as do the droplets of water.

I have been trying to shoot a scene like this for quite some time and think that this is my best result to date. (I recommend clicking on the image to get a higher resolution view.)

Splashdown

Splashdown

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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