There is a lot of wildlife at Blackwater NWR (National Wildlife Refuge). But, we mainly went to shoot Osprey. One, they are seasonal (summer). Two, although there are bald eagles there, I rarely see them up close enough to get any decent pictures.
30% to 100% in Seconds
We thought our trip was going to be ruined by the weather. There was a 30% chance of rain, that suddenly turned to 100%. About halfyway into our drive, it started to pour and visibility got bad. I began to wonder if we were going to be able to shoot when we got there.
We didn’t let the rain stop us, and we kept driving. Fortunately, when we reached Blackwater NWR, the rain had stopped.
Drizzle to Stop
As we pulled up to the closest osprey nest on the loop within the refuge, it was drizzling. In the short amount of time it took us to get out of the car, the rain had stopped. So, we got the cameras and tripods from the trunk, Then, and we set up in front of the osprey nest. I was concerned that our lens might fog up because of the humidity (which would delay our shooting). But, since the cameras were in the trunk, we were good.
Photography Takes Patience
We arrived at Blackwater NWR to see the parent osprey in the nest with two chicks. But within minutes of us getting there, she flew to a tree in the distance. She wasn’t close, but she had a great view of us and her nest. At that point we knew we were gonna have to wait for her. We just weren’t sure how long. Since it had finished pouring, she was soaked. We could see her drying her wings. As it turned out, we waited about 90 minutes.
Hungry Osprey Chicks
She left the tree, and flew towards the nest. Just like us, the chicks noticed as well. They started screeching. They were hungry – another thing we had in common (we were, too). The mother osprey circled as the chicks continued to screech. We ended our chat with another photographer and we all started tracking her as she circled. This is what we waited for! It was pretty exciting – we knew she was looking for a fish to feed her babies. We also knew that the excitement wasn’t going to last long.
A Dive and A Miss
Through the lens, we watched as she quickly descended into a dive. The screeching was now joined by the clattering sounds of camera shutters rapid firing. She came up empty. This gave us a few seconds to regroup and refocus.
With hungry babies to feed, the persistent mother circled and hunted for about another few minutes. The osprey took another dive, and this time she caught a fish! She flew away from the nest with the fish, then circled back to the nest. The action ended, and I took a few seconds to review my shots on the LCD. I was pretty sure I captured it (you’re never really sure until you see them on the computer). My LCD glance showed me pictures of the osprey carrying the fish, and more excitingly…an osprey catching the fish.
The questionable weather turned from rainy to cloudy, to hot & humid. But all in all it was a great trip to Blackwater NWR. Our persistence paid off, and I left with some shots that I was pleased with.