Patience, Observation, Passion.. Result is Great Photos

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My name is Steve Creek and I’m a wildlife photographer from Lavaca, ARK.  I love the outdoors and spend many hours in the woods with my camera.  Photography is my passion. 

I enjoy watching and studying wildlife; two key things you must do in order to get that perfect photo. I have had numerous opportunities to experience and photograph so many great things during my walks in the woods but most of them as a result of patience.  So many people enjoy wildlife, as I do, however they don’t take the time to really watch and study their subject.   They might see a bird gathering nesting materials, but they don’t stick around long enough to watch the nest being built.  That’s when the best photographs are taken. 

I found a nest of baby Red-Wing Blackbirds recently.  Both Mom and Dad were present and allowed me to get close enough to capture some great photos.  During my visit, I captured Mom flying in and out with food for the fledglings.

Lots of people believe that baby birds receive their food from their mom by the regurgitating process.  That isn’t how it happens.

Mom will stuff baby’s mouth with insects, some so large that sometimes she will have to tear off a wing or other parts to help, but most of the time, the entire insect is stuffed into the baby’s mouth. (photo)  She fed them continuously that day while Dad stood guard nearby.   

Through patience and hours of watching, I was fortunate enough to capture another behavior of Moms caring for her babies.  It was really hot that day.  Mom would stand at the edge of the nest and above her babies and spread her wings to shade them.

The babies would move closer into her in order to get under the shade that she was providing.   It is a great thing to witness and awesome to have photographs to share. 

I was also lucky enough that day to photograph Mom cleaning her babies.  She actually helps the baby shed its waste by removing the fecal sac from them.  (photo) She then flies away from the nest carrying the sac and drops it.  She doesn’t drop it near the nest because this alerts other predator animals of the nest location.  This is a common behavior with mother birds.

There are many opportunities for great photos that even amateur photographers pass up.  Television and computers have become such a way of life for so many that spending time outdoors is a thing of the past.  Most people can walk out their back door and find wildlife there and if they do it often enough they will find that nature offers them many photo opportunities. 

One day while walking around one of my favorite places, I decided to walk down to the river banks hoping to find something close to the water.  I saw this large water snake coming through the water, to the bank, with a large catfish in its mouth.  

Once it saw me, it headed back down into the water with its catch.  The current was really strong and the fish was really large, and I knew that the snake would have to resurface and return to the bank to feed.   Once it got back to the bank there was an added bonus.  There was a second snake attached to the other end of the fish. 

I watched the two snakes fight over the fish for several minutes until finally the larger snake swallowed it whole. I captured great shots during this event and felt privileged to share my photos with so many others who enjoyed them as well.

As a photographer, sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time.  But I’ve learned through my own experiences that the photographs don’t come to you. Once again, it’s so important to understand how patience and observation play a major part in capturing the best photos.  You have to experiment to learn the best times of the day, what factors heat and cold play and of course the location and lighting. There’s so much out there to learn and so much to see in the great outdoors. For those who don’t take the opportunity to spend time outdoors, they are missing out on some of life’s greatest adventures.  

In closing, I want to share one of my favorite stories.  One day while in the woods I came across a nest of baby Red-winged Black birds.  I noticed Mom hanging around as expected and coming and going to feed her fledglings.  I had taken a few photos and then realized there was a Scissor-tailed Fly Catcher also hanging around. After observing for a while, I found that she too, was feeding the young.

I had never witnessed this before.  While the Blackbird was on the nest, the Scissortail stood guard nearby, but they both took turns feeding.

I would not have believed this if I had not seen it with my own eyes and I was so fortunate for the opportunity to photograph it.  After posting photos to my sites, I received so much feedback that I realized that this was indeed a rare event and forwarded the photos to a well known Ornithologist.  He too responded that it was a unique event and one for the ornithological literature.  He also commented that he would not have believed it without the photos.

Photography can be such an exciting hobby and/or profession.  Not every day is a great day.  Not every day results in a photo.  But every day in nature is an adventure with continual and exciting opportunities.   Patience, endurance and observation will give you the results you are looking for in that perfect shot. 

This post was written by Steve Creek Outdoors

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