This image was the last I took as the sun was setting on March 4, 2020, at the Ridgefield NWR. About 90 minutes before the shot, I parked at the south end of the refuge where the sun began setting behind my camera as I waited in my vehicle. Any creature that approached within a reasonable distance from my driver’s side window was a candidate for a shot and well lit for an image. Many birds made their appearance, including eagles, harriers, red-winged blackbirds, swans, ducks, herons, coots and a pied-billed grebe.
I’m parked on the road, just off-shore of the lake, camera ready to go with nearly 90 minutes until sunset. But for all this time I noticed the Red-winged Blackbirds around my truck on both sides of the road were quite noisy. At first I just ignored them and had my sights primarily on larger birds. After a while, I realized that one or more of the male blackbirds were constantly ‘circling’ my truck (usually one at a time) by flying out over the water just outside my driver’s window then turning and flying back to the opposite side of my truck. Sometimes they would fly out over the water only 20-30 feet and turn back; other times they would fly the entire 100-foot width of the lake to the far shore, land on some marsh grass for a few seconds, then fly back past my truck, back to the other side of the road I was parked on. They did this on the average every minute, if not more often. I soon realized this might be a good time to practice my blackbird flight shots which I knew I needed some brushing up on. (as if I ever tried doing blackbird flight shots!) 🙂 Ha, ha!
The birds were possibly trying to encourage me to move but I needed to take the best advantage of the time I had at the refuge, especially when the light was so awesome at sunset. I attempted a lot of blackbird flight shots after I became aware of their general repetitive pattern of flight. My success rate was very low and I was deleting blurry images right there on my camera–which means the shots were really bad. These birds fly fast. Anyway, I came away with a few blackbird frames that might be presentable to the public, which I only discovered once I got home and imported the images into Lightroom.
The image presented here is my favorite of the few I didn’t delete, but as you can imagine, it is a fairly heavy crop. The best viewing experience is achieved by viewing at the image’s normal size on screen. Presenting the Red-winged Blackbird in perfect avian symmetry. Thanks for viewing the shot!
Canon 5D Mark IV, 1/1250, f4, ISO 2000, 500mm, 5:40 p.m.