For those of you who are not dialed into the world of photography, or who don’t keep up with the latest technological advancements in digital cameras, it’s possible that you would not know about “Super Zoom” cameras. I’ll admit that they kind of snuck up on me too. But once that cat was out of the bag, and after an exhaustive bit of research and product reviews, I decided to pull the trigger on a new Nikon CoolPix B700 camera.
And of course as soon as it arrived we were hit with about a week of rainy weather. That didn’t keep me from playing with my new camera, but the crummy weather and a little bit of a cold did keep one of my favorite bird watching companions from joining me on those first few outings. Finally, a beautiful sunny Sunday morning found me, and my 9 year old grandson Booker, headed out to Spencer Island… strapped with cameras, binoculars, several layers of clothing and a pack full of snacks.
Progress was slow as we hiked over to the Spencer Is. bridge. We “had” to stop every few feet and glass every single bird we saw.
Booker was using a little waterproof Pentax camera that I gave him several years ago. Now some photographers might suggest that the Pentax point & shoot might be a little on the small side for wildlife photography, but that certainly didn’t trouble us one bit. And Booker is one of the most tech savvy little guys I know. He knew every button on that camera and thought nothing of zooming in, zooming out, and diving into the menus to shoot video, macro close ups, intermittent shots… He was all over that thing.
…and of course I was having a blast with my new camera. For those who need to “geek out” on some specs, the lens has the 35mm equivalent of a 24mm – 1440mm lens, and shoots a 20.3 megapixel image.
One of the things that I love about Booker is how well he takes direction and really listens to any of my suggestions or instructions. We talked about how important it was to try to get the birds with strong, bright front lighting, and how the key element to focus on was the birds eye.
I paused for a moment and asked Booker, “how old does a juvenile eagle have to be before he develops that classic white head and white tail feathers”? His answer was automatic, “four years old”. What would you expect from a kid that has seen every episode of the Wild Kratts show ever aired.
Of course we weren’t just out for the birds of prey, or even just the large birds. We put the glass on every bird we saw all morning long.
While I was shooting this song sparrow, Booker was taking a little video of him singing his cheerful tune.
Eventually it was time for a break. We dropped down off the trail into the marsh where we found a nice big log that was bathed in the sunlight. Here we plopped our butts down, dropped our packs, and broke out the snacks.
Ok, now before you go off and start getting all preachy… It’s decaf coffee with caramel macchiato creamer and a squirt of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. Totally approved for kids and grandpas. In fact Booker loved it!
We hiked along, following the trail north along the slough. We tried our best to grab a photo of some black-capped chickadees, but those little guys were just too fast for us. As soon as I’d get focused in on one it would disappear from my viewfinder. We agreed that the best placed to get a great image of a chickadee would be in my back yard. We continued along our way, discussing how we could set up a blind near the suet feeders at my house.
We spotted a beautiful bald eagle in the top of a tree farther to the north and started heading that way. Unfortunately as we crept closer the eagle decided he had an important engagement elsewhere, and flew off across the marsh. Alas, it was time to head back.
As luck would have it, there was a juvenile bald eagle hanging out in a cottonwood tree directly over our car in the parking lot. We approached cautiously but quickly learned that this big boy was really not the least bit concerned about people gawking up at him from the ground.
We snapped a series of photos of this beauty, and then poured the last of our coffee, and toasted to his good health.
How about one last pic from the super zoom…
As soon as Booker and I got back to his house we couldn’t wait to show his dad all of our images and tell him all about our day. We are already planning to go out and photograph the osprey as soon as they return to their pacific northwest nesting areas.
Well that’s about it for this edition of the Adventure Journal. Thanks to Booker for being such a great birding partner and thanks to all of you reading this for following along.