Flight: A Photo Essay

Today’s post will focus on one thing most birds can do rather well: Fly! And as anyone who is a bird photographer can tell you, it can be rather difficult to capture flying birds, even with a good autofocus DSLR. But since flying is an essential part of what makes birds so fascinating to us earthbound humans, wildlife photographers simply cannot resist trying to capture this aspect of bird behaviour. And even when capturing still photos, bird flight is impressive — in fact, a good picture can reveal things that go buy too quickly if you are looking at it at normal speed (even after the fact on a video).

Before I forget, Happy St. Patrick’s Day if you’re Irish, would love to be Irish or are just in the mood to celebrate something!

[QUICK UPDATE: If you like flying bird photos, you should also take a look at the previous blog by my colleague Tim Hopwood, who got some great shots of flying ducks!]

The first photo is not one of my best, but I still like to way it shows how this Anna’s Hummingbird flies from one treetop branch to another (taken in January 2014 at the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey Campus, next to Vancouver, BC):


From the incredibly small, let us move on to two impressively massive Bald Eagles. These two seemed to be a pair who, along with two other eagle pairs, seemed to be having some fun flying around and proving their dominance of this air space (taken in February 2014 at the edge of Pacific Spirit Regional Park, next to Vancouver, BC):


The following picture is also not one of my best, but it illustrates my previous comment on the fact that photos can show you things that are not easily perceived by the naked eye, since this is the aftermath of a flying pursuit and tussle between two Brown Creepers (I published the most astonishing shot of this sequence a few days ago on my person blog):


I chose this picture of a flying Glaucous-winged Gull just because this photo shows one the major problems when photographing moving birds, namely clipping their wings. But it also helps that this photo is so clear and was taken recently on a beautiful sunny day close to North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay:


This Killdeer is not quite airborne yet, but was about to take off on Wreck Beach in Pacific Spirit Regional Park (next to Vancouver, BC):


This Mew Gull was unusually close to shore and so I quickly got some shots of it flying around me close to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver:


Pigeon Guillemots are not the world’s most gracious flyers (taking off is laborious and they always seem to perform crash landings on water), their relatively slow speeds mean that it is possible to capture them on film. I should point out, however, that like the penguins they resemble so much, their “flight” underwater is quite impressive. Maybe I can capture this someday soon (both of these photos were taken last month, close to Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver, BC):

PIGU-NVBC-2014_02_28-01 PIGU-NVBC-2014_02_28-02

And finally, the following photo is one of the very few that I will ever publish of a Rock Pigeon. But although I do not usually find these birds to be beautiful when still, their superb flying technique is impressive and quite photogenic:



This entry was posted in Canadian Birds, Hummingbirds, Nature Photography, Raptors, Shorebirds, Waterfowl, Winter Birding in Canada and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Flight: A Photo Essay

  1. Thank you for the praise and comments! It is indeed difficult to get birds in flight… your probably have to throw out two dozen shots before getting a decent one (and it’s mostly a matter of luck with respect to distance, position and direction of light).

  2. Sharon says:

    Fascinating post, Pierre! I never even try to take photos of birds in flight … maybe one day. I love the shots of the Pigeon Guillemots! Thank you!!

  3. Thank you for your praise and comments! Yes, I am also especially happy with the Anna’s Hummingbird photo, especially since it was one of these “what the heck, I will see what I can get” shots that presents an unusual bird posture.

  4. Pingback: Image #220 – Flight pictures « Alice's WanderLand

  5. Kathleen says:

    The Rock Pigeon photo is most impressive, though I particularly love the unusual angle and the feather detail of the Anna’s Hummingbird. Nice photos!