Wildlife photography is always unpredictable. It is often full of days when nothing seems to go right, but there are the rare days when nothing can go wrong. Today was one of those special days. It felt like all I had to do was look through the viewfinder and quality images started to fly. The day began with an adorable pair of Whitetail Deer in the sand dunes. The mother was leading her fawn to find the tasty morsels that the dunes offered. They rarely looked at me, but here was one of the few times they did.
After spending a little bit with the deer, I moved on. The day just proceeded to get better. The winds were perfect and I found a great place that was ideal for flight shots. Some of the first images were of the Double-crested Cormorants who were fishing in the area.
While working the cormorants and a few ducks in the area, the big boys flew in. A few at a time, the Brown Pelicans arrived. You really don’t realize how massive these birds are until you see them up close with their wings stretched out.
Their wingspan is just enormous… They use all this surface area to glide over the water, but today there was no need for gliding. The pelicans were actively flying and often just a few feet away. Staying still and low were the key things that made them feel comfortable enough to come in close.
They weren’t here to see me, but it was the fish that brought them in. The pelicans dove repeatedly into the shallow water to catch the fish that were schooling there. It wasn’t long at all before I had taken hundreds of photos of them hard at work.
These opportunities come along once in a blue moon. Naturally I would find a great spot like this only on the last full day at Cape Hatteras. But even if I had the chance for another day or two, getting the conditions that make for the special time I had would be unlikely. Everything has to line up just right – the light, the wind, the birds, the fish, etc. These kind of circumstances remind me of the planets and heavenly bodies – they only line up rarely and you have to seize the opportunity when it arises. On a day so good, I couldn’t stop photographing even after the sun left the sky. A quick stop at nearby Bodie Island delivered one final opportunity.