Photo of the Week - Great Black-backed Gull



"Great Black-backed Gull"
This photograph is from my "Shorebirds" Collection. 

There are days which seemed to be cursed from the time you crawl out of bed until you get back home at the end of the day.  This is a story about one of those days.

After getting my gear together, my son and I headed out the door and began our travels to Pea Island, a wildlife refuge along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It was a hot, late July day.  The kind of day where all the alarms in your head are telling you it is time to stay home.  Not exactly great weather for a day of photographing birds.

Well, the first woe of the day happened at the Dunkin Donuts drive through, where I spilled my coffee all over my legs and leather seats in the Jeep. This took about 5 minutes to clean up and we were back on our way to Pea Island. 

We arrived at our destination in good order.  I wanted to go light, so I grabbed my Sony A7 III and my trusty Sigma 150-600 C.  I began to feel a bit better now and off we hiked over several dunes down to the shore.  

Now, the second woe happened. Well, it appears that once again the government has roped off a large area for shorebird nesting.  I know, I know, it is for the good of the birds. I get all that, but darn, I just want to go somewhere and photograph birds without being molested by laws at every turn.  I am a responsible photographer and will not cause any harm to come to them.  I kind of wish the government had a certification process that photographers could go through to be able to use restricted areas responsibly.  Of course, my favorite shorebirds, the black skimmers are all all behind the "fence".  I'd say a good thirty birds!

So, now I am determined to make lemonade from lemons.  I move down the beach and find a large group of terns. I bring up my 150-600 to my eye and I discovered there was condensation all over the front and rear elements.  The 1/2 hour drive was not enough time to get it acclimated to the ambient temp and high humidity.  At this point I have two options.  Sit along the beach and wait for the lens to fully acclimate, or head back to the car and get my 300 mm.   So, I decide to go back to the car. This is the third woe!

I return about 20 minutes later with my Canon 300 F4 L and my full kit. I begin to shoot images of the terns as they fly in with fish for the youngsters.  Of course, the lens is not producing the results I need, because it is just do dang short! Now the frustration is mounting as I began to realize The light is slipping away.  

About an hour has gone by now and I find that the 150-600 is ready to shoot and condensation free.  A bit of relief, but I find the birds are very skittish at this location, and even my belly crawl is making them a bit nervous.  So, portraits of individual birds is out.  

At this point, I go down to my son and ask if he wants to walk down the beach with me.  So off we go toward the jetty.  Suddenly, I see a very large bird.  It appears to be a gull, but it is massive.  It is even larger than the herring gull!  It has a black back, but it is definitely a gull.  Indeed, it is a gull.  It is a great black-backed gull and it is a real treat for me.

I began to slowly approach the gull, and I motion to Jacob to stay quiet.  I get to about 20 yards away and the gull takes flight.  I raise my Canon 7D II just in time to get a few frames of this massive bird as it flies by me.  

What a treat it was to photograph and see such an amazing creature!

It got worse again after this, but I'll share that story another time.  Some days... Some days...

Canvas Prints

Metal Prints

Deluxe Prints



Shop this Image >
Browse All >
Proud member of the Carolina's Nature Photographers Association

Become a VIP and Sign up for My Newsletter

* indicates required



Post a Comment