Grieving Gear

My Nikon D800 captured its own end.

My Nikon D800 captured its own end.


She’d been with me only about a year, but had photographed my wife, dog, daughters, parents, artists, raptors (though no rappers), the holidays, Seahawk heaven. She’d ushered me from sports to landscapes and wildlife, accompanied me to four national parks, four national wildlife refuges, and my 10th wedding anniversary, helped me win two competitions and get my first outdoor image published in a magazine.

I have another Nikon body that is faster, but not nearly as magical as the D800. She’s the one who helped me become a “real” photographer and for that she’ll not be forgotten.
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Snow Goose Frenzy

Thousands of Snow Geese make the mutual decison to leave.

Inside the chaos of a Snow Goose flock.

You likely will hear them before you see them. When thousands of Snow Geese make the mutual decision to move, even if it’s only a few hundred yards, the resulting cacophonous frenzy is like no other, at least in nature. About 75 miles south of where you see Snow Geese in the Puget Sound region is CenturyLink Field, after all, home of the loud-decibeled 12th Man.
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Super Conflicted

The uncomfortable boosterism in media.

The uncomfortable boosterism in media.

Two summers ago, I was on my feet at Safeco Field only because it was the only way to see. As Felix Hernandez was putting the finishing touches on a perfect game on Aug. 15, 2012, the woman next to me began to weep. Her boyfriend turned to me and said, in a concerned tone, “It’s OK to look happy about this.”

But I struggled with that sentiment, as I did last night, after returning home from watching the Super Bowl with my parents. “Congratulations!” said a friend, who watched the game with my wife. I felt odd about not brightening up, but not as odd as I would have felt fist-bumping my friend over my hometown Seahawks’ 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XVLIII.
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Hawking Homework

The Samish Flats provides a spectacular setting to view wintering raptors, including Bald Eagles.

The Samish Flats provides a spectacular setting to view wintering raptors, including Bald Eagles.

I know from experience that Bald Eagles are masters of the long chill. I once observed a nesting pair through the viewfinder of my camera, waiting at least three hours for something to happen. A lot happened, if you consider a change in gaze or slight settle on a branch “something.”

That’s why the Bald Eagle may not have been the best subject for my homework assignment from Bud Anderson’s Western Washington Hawk Watching class, which I have been taking down at the University of Puget Sound. Let me amend that: The Bald Eagle may not be the best subject for the way I usually like to tell stories these days, which is visually.
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Before the (Sea)Hawks, an Owl

A Short-Eared Owl on Samish Flats.

A Short-Eared Owl on Samish Flats.

For some reason, the Short-Eared Owl has been fairly elusive photographic quarry for me. I’ve now been photographing birds, off and on, for almost a year now. I started with a class in Padilla Bay from my friend Paul Bannick, during which one of the participants mentioned this curious bird.

From that moment, I was determined to photograph one. I returned almost immediately to a spot in the Samish Flats, about 75 minutes north of Seattle, that is managed by the Washing Department of Fish and Wildlife and to which birders refer as “West 90.” No luck, though I was told they were “abundant” there. Another birder/photographer told me the Short-Eareds were so omnipresent at Rawlins Road, near Fir Island, it almost wasn’t fair to photograph them there. The day I went, they must have taken a holiday.
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