Friday, March 28, 2014

Middle Creek 2014 Part I

Tundra Swans In Flight: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm F4 IS+1.4x extender-ISO 200-1/2000 sec. f 5.6

Originally I planned to spend several days at Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area during late February-early March as this is usually the peak of the spring migration for tundra swans and snow geese.  As everyone knows the migration was delayed this year because of the severe winter and when the peak occurred the lake and potholes were still mostly ice covered.  I like to go when I can film the various species of ducks, so I waited until most of the ice was gone and  didn't go to Middle Creek until last Saturday morning, March 22nd, which meant that I missed the peak of the snow geese migration.  According to the PGC website there were about 60,000 snow geese and 5,000 tundra swans on March 17th with the number reportedly still about the same  on March 20th, but numbers plummeted over the weekend and were down to an estimated 6,000 snow geese and 2,500 tundra swans by Sunday morning, March 23rd.

There were quite a few tundra swans, snow geese, and Canada geese visible where Hopeland Road passes by the edge of the lake on Saturday Morning and many remained throughout the day.

Snow Geese and Tundra Swans: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm F4 IS-ISO 200-1/800 sec. f 11.0
 In mid to late afternoon snow geese congregated in a field just up the road from where the lake is near the road.

Distant Flock: Canon 5D MK III-Canon 600mm F4 IS-ISO 400-1/1000 sec. f 11.0
Soon a large group of photographers and bird watchers gathered in that area and I joined the throng to get some close photographs and video of the flock.  This time I  concentrated on video and carried the Panasonic GH3 and GH2 the video tripod and carried the 7D with 70-200mm f 2.8 around my neck to use for flying shots.  I came to regret that I left the 600mm and 500mm in the car as there were some exceptional opportunities to capture the geese landing in the late evening light. I took several stills with the GH3 and the 100-300mm and it performed reasonably well. I love the perspective in the photo below as the geese were on top of a small rise in the field and I sat down so get a low angle which I think makes the birds more impressive looking.

Snow Geese Up Close: Panasonic GH3- Lumix 100-300mm f 4.0-5.6 @ 300mm-ISO 200-1/125 sec. f 11.0
I hoped the entire flock would take-off at once as often happens, but this was not to be or at least it had not happened by the time I left at sundown.  In several cases smaller groups took flight  and  I captured a few frames of this with the 7D and 70-200mm.

Lift-off: Canon 7D-Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS II@ 70mm-ISO 400-1/2500 sec. f 5.0
With this the first day of the trip came to an end. I returned to photograph on Sunday morning,spent the entire day there on Monday and Tuesday, and photographed on Wednesday morning before leaving for home.

I plan to post more Middle Creek photos within the next few days.

Originally published at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill.