Last week I posted some photography tips, and I talked about one of the most important… Animal Behavior.
This story begins on a cold January afternoon. It was the kind of cold chill that went to the bones. It was overcast and the sky was draped in gray. I knew where the swans were that afternoon and I just had to go see if I could get some decent shots. I took out walking carrying a load in my backpack. My camera, a couple of lens, and my trusty tripod.
When I arrived at the pond where the swans were feeding. Some of the swans were on the pond bank and some were in the water. I noticed that they had company. A few cows were standing on the same side of the pond as they were except they were on the opposite end. I noticed the birds were getting a little nervous moving around more and more. I climbed up the pond bank keeping as low as possible crawling on the damp cold ground. There were two adults in the group, a Pen and Cob, along with five young Cygnets.
Since spending many hours watching Trumpeter Swans, I have learned when they are not happy and when they are not going to stick around. This group was not going to stick around long. The adult male Pen was the first to get very nervous. The cows kept getting closer to the group and that did not suit the Pen at all. Cattle are very strange when it comes to something they don’t see every day. They were curious and just as scared as the swans. I kept holding my breath hoping that the swans would stick around just a little bit longer.
The male Pen started bobbing his head up and down and calling out to the group. This made all the swans nervous and now all the group were bobbing their heads. All the swans got in the water and started swimming toward the lower end of the pond. The Cob was telling his group to get ready. Every swan lined up side by side with the Pen in the center. I knew this was not a good sign. They were lined up for what seemed like an eternity to me, bobbing their heads and honking back and forth to each other. I lay there on the ground waiting while holding this huge heavy lens up afraid to let my guard down and miss the shots that I knew were to come.
The Pen lifted his angel wings high into the air. I knew this was going to be show. All of his group were lined up evenly at his sides. In the photo above you can see the adult Pen in the center lifting his wings, the adult Cob is on the left side at the very end.
When he started to take flight, all of the swans started to lift their wings and take flight. None of them were going to stick around.
All the swans took off with the Cob waiting until the very last to leave.
Knowing animal behavior and having patience is so important. If I had not known the reason that they were bobbing their heads, communicating, moving around, lining up to take flight, I would have not known to be ready. You must have the patience to stay and be ready to get the shot. Not knowing all these important aspects will make you miss that great shot you only dreamed of capturing.
I will let the photos tell the rest of the story…
And the walked on water…….
Seeing Eye to Eye