Keeping busy 07-31-17

These last few months have been a busy time for me.  Since June 17th, I've not only been doing bird photography, but have taken a new long-term project: red foxes living on the salt ponds in Hayward, Calif.
 

For those of you who have been following me, you may remember that I took my photography in a completely different direction when I took up birding in February 2016.  This new project has been another great departure that's presented many new challenges.  It's also been very rewarding.

Evening walkEvening walkA red fox walks across a salt pond at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 22, 2017.
The greatest challenge with this new project has been gaining the trust of my subjects.  Although the salt ponds are located in an urban area where many people visit each day, the foxes are very shy and reluctant to allow themselves to be seen, much less photographed.  Initially, they would be very quick to hide, run off or take cover in their den any time I was near.  On several occasions, I missed getting a shot of them, as they'd either sneak around me or make an appearance when I wasn't in a position to make a clear picture. 

I've made an effort to be out on the salt ponds at least three times a week so that they'll become more accustomed to my presence.  The progress has been slow, but it's starting to pay off.  On one occasion, a female allowed me to follow her while she was hunting for food.  I was never more than seven yards away.  Hopefully in the future they'll trust me enough to go about their business as though I'm not there. 

WalkaboutWalkaboutA red fox walks across the salt ponds at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 8, 2017.
A typical day of shooting involves arriving on location in the late afternoon to grab some bird shots -- CYA images so that I have something to show for my time there -- followed by several hours of waiting to see if the foxes will show themselves.  They appear to be more active in the late afternoon and evening than the morning.  As their den is west-facing, the light is better later in the day.  About a third of the time the foxes are a no-show, but I'm fortunate that on most nights I can also capture more bird pictures during golden hour if I'm not lucky enough to see the foxes or have finished making pictures of them before the sun has completely set.

Flight timeFlight timeA snowy egret takes flight at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday, July 15, 2017.

IncomingIncomingA snowy egret comes in for a landing at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 8, 2017.

GracefullyGracefullyA snowy egret flies over the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Sunday evening, July 16, 2017.

I  gotcha!I gotcha!A snowy egret attempts to catch a fish at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Sunday evening, July 16, 2017.

Into the lightInto the lightA snowy egret takes flight at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Sunday evening, July 30, 2017.

On the porchOn the porchA red fox prepares to enter its den at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 1, 2017.

On the roadOn the roadA red fox prepares to go for a walk across the salt ponds at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 8, 2017.

Dynamic DuoDynamic DuoA pair of red foxes play together at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Friday, July 14, 2017.

Itchy!Itchy!A red fox scratches itself at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday, July 15, 2017.

An intimate momentAn intimate momentA pair of red foxes share an intimate moment at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Sunday evening, July 16, 2017.

StandoffStandoffA red fox prepares to go for a walk across the salt ponds at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 8, 2017.

Seventh inning stretchSeventh inning stretchA red fox stretches before settling down for a nap at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday evening, July 22, 2017.

CuriousCuriousA red fox looks out from a hiding spot at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Hayward, Calif., Saturday, July 15, 2017.

Some people have suggested that the reason I've been able to produce these images is that I have "good" or "expensive" equipment.  Good photography involves so much more than good cameras and lenses, f-stops and shutter speeds.  Unfortunately, those who believe otherwise will never be good photographers.  Producing good pictures takes a lot of dedication and hard work.  My experience with these red foxes is testament to that.


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