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Snowstorm

Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs, Findlay Township, PA - 19 December 2010
 
In mid-December, a large flock of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks was found at Janoski's Farm in western Allegheny County. The flock also contained at least 3 Lapland Longspurs, the first for the county since up to 6 were found in the same location with Horned Larks in November 2008. Since they'd be only my second Longspurs for the county, I made my way out to Janoski's on the 18th and 19th.
 
Though the Longspurs were not difficult to find, I realized early on that the flock of Snow Buntings, a group of least 207 flighty and energetic birds, would be the real stars of the show. Having made a few marginal photos of the hard-to-approach Longspurs, I set about making images of the bunting flock in flight.
 
Just as I was parking my car, it started snowing. Hard. Coupled with heavy overcast and a quickly setting sun, this is usually bad news for camerawork. But on this day it brought a great opportunity. The best moments in bird photography come when you see a photo before it's made, and all you have to do is follow the birds right into the image. It's immensely satisfying when so many years of experience getting to know birds and their habits combines with a lucky circumstance, and all it takes to get the picture is patience. That day, it only took about 15 minutes of waiting, and suddenly I had a series of 11 photos of the flock flying into driving snow against a dark background. Just as I had seen it in my head when I walked into the fields. That is the kind of moment a bird photographer lives for.
 
I don't usually name my photos, but I can't resist calling this series "Snowstorm".

snowstorm_e9h8452m.jpg
Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L, 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

A wider angle (actually, simply less of a crop on another frame in the series):

snowstorm_e9h8454w.jpg
Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L, 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Even when the perfect moment happens, photographers are never satisfied. This image was the best of the next attempt at the same type of picture:

snowstorm_e9h8466w.jpg
Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L, 1/1250 sec. at f/7.1 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod

Oh yeah, there were a few Longspurs present too. Almost forgot about them:

longspur_lapland_findlaytwppa_20101219_1d4_0_e9h8296w.jpg
Canon 1DMkIV, 500mm f/4L +2x, 1/1250 sec. at f/9 (manual), ISO 1250, tripod



Unless explicitly indicated otherwise in the photo caption, all photos on this website were taken by and are 2003-2013 by Geoff Malosh. Unauthorized usage of these photographs for any purpose is strictly forbidden. If you are interested in using any photo for publication or if you are interested in obtaining a print, contact me at pomarine -AT- earthlink -DOT- net.