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on May 11, 2009 in Wildlife Photography

The Nest

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I’ve written about my long term project with the Greater Sage Grouse. I’ve had a love affair with these goofy birds for a couple of decades. 16yrs ago I came to the point in my coverage of its biology that I needed photographs of it on its nest. It couldn’t be safely done. There lies a challenge that until the other day, hadn’t been conquered. I was no sooner home from our Outer Banks DLWS and I was out with the 600m in the sage in front of a nest. What you see here is Greater Sage Grouse hen, #28, on her nest and days away from hatching. She spends 23hrs a day on the nest, leaving for just a 1/2hr in the morning and evening to feed.

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Here’s the view we saw at the point of the camera with a 50mm lens. Can you find the nest? Without working with a biologists, finding the nest is purt near impossible. The average nest success  at this stage is 50%, both hen and eggs being predated before the eggs ever hatch. So the nest’s safety is top priority. Working with biologists is essential on both these points. This is my second year working with Lief and I not only enjoy our biological conversations, I have a lot of respect for him and his knowledge.

You’re darn lucky, I’ve got a little Moose Cam action that, well, gives you a good idea of what it is I do and the relationships I have with the biologists I work with. It’s a rare, brief glimpse into my world. (Note: audio at beginning is faint)

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This was the first time since acquiring the Gitzo 5560SGT that having the extra height saved my butt. We were shooting on the side of the hill and with having to totally minimizing any movement, being able to extend on leg rather than mess with 3 to secure the rig made a huge difference in working safely with this sensitive species and nest.

I had less then 10min at the nest, it was in and out. Yet, those 10min were more satisfying to me then a whole lot of shooting from the last few months. You might be saying it’s not that great a shot, perhaps. That’s one of the great things about photography, rewards come to us all in different ways. To me, it’s killer and well worth the wait.

Photo captured by D3x, 600VR on Lexar UDMA digital film

Moose Cam captured by Canon HF10 on Lexar digital film