Day at Bombay Hook

A Day at Bombay Hook DE NWR

A teeny tiny amount of our Trilliony-Gigazillion dollar deficit goes to fund a system of national wildlife refuges (NWRs) across the country. If there is one near you, go. They are great! So, I thought I would post what I snapped in a single day in January 2013 at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) located along the Atlantic coast in Delaware. This should give you an idea of what you can shoot in just one day at one of these refuges, all from your car window, and in the dead of winter no less.

My favorite reserve is Edwin Forsythe NWR near Atlantic City New Jersey and most of the bird and critter pictures I post here came from there. But Forsythe was hit hard by hurricane Sandy and is partially closed (or is it partially open) until repairs to the road are completed by this spring of 2013. Bombay Hook is my alternative go-to place when I need a nice serving of Heron or Duck and is only about a 1.5 hour drive from Philadelphia.

Some links for further investigation:

What I Found There

See if you can match this list with the pics above:

  • Farmhouse
  • Barn (hint, no feathers on this variety)
  • Snow Geese
  • American Bittern
  • About-to-be-eaten fish
  • Dead tree
  • Bufflehead Duck (female)
  • Great Blue Heron (frontal and butt)
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Some unknown duck
  • Ruddy Duck (female)

In addition to the above list, a bald eagle flew in and landed in a tree for a while but the light was poor. Other species I saw that day included an American Hercules cargo plane, many many duck species, various Fords and Toyotas, too many small birds to name, and a few enthusiastic Birder Brains who positively identified that Coopers Hawk. That Coopers Hawk was throwing off us amateurs in that he was huge and not very typical.

The American Bittern

This is only the second time I ever saw one of these guys. I was shooting a few ducks when I saw something move in the reeds. Pulling out my binoculars, I could see it was a Bittern! Now you know you are getting old and need a real life when viewing a bird in the reeds gets your blood going.

So, I sat and waited. And sat, and sat and sat and waited. It took about ½ hour before that fancy chicken finally came out of the reeds. I got a cramp in my foot, sore neck, and did some colorful cussing as I sat twisted, camera pre-aimed, waiting for him to come out. But, it was worth the wait. The lighting was crappy and inconsistent and the bird was far away. So I had to crop way down to about 100% and work magic in LightRoom to get them presentable. No, these won’t win any photography award, that is for sure, but I still am proud of them.

The Light

The light was really tough that day in that it was overcast and misty that gave way to pops of sun. The one really bad thing about Bombay Hook is that you shoot into the light in the afternoon (not an issue at Edwin Forsythe). When the light is poor, I have to really work hard in LightRoom to get the pictures to look halfway decent. Since I was in the software working hard, I guess I overdid it with those sunset shots. I liked the composition, a classic use of the rule of thirds, but the sky was pretty dull so I juiced ‘em up quite a bit. I guess I will just call it artistic license.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D MkII
  • Canon 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS II, with
  • Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS
  • Canon EF 1.4x II extender (teleconverter)
  • LightRoom 4
  • Neck pillow to place camera lens on open car window

Location Types: Nature Reserve. Galleries: Birding, Bittern, and Nature. Tags: 500mm and 5D Mk II.

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