Red-breasted Merganser – At 220mm

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You don’t always need to have long focal lengths to get close up images, this image was taken with a moderately priced Nikkor 70-300mm VR at only 220mm and it is practically full frame. How did I get an image of a wild Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) from so close?

Patience. I approached the bird very slowly from the water by sitting on my legs and shuffling them forward and keeping my appearance as small as possible. Observation. Watching the bird carefully for any sign or alarm or distress. If I noticed the bird show either sign I stopped dead still and waited. When I could see clearly that the bird was relaxed I would inch forward.

The series I have of this bird numbers over 100, it was so relaxed it preened while I photographed it. It also helped that the bird was in a location where it had become habituated to humans on the beach, that can help with shorter focal lengths. Then I retreated as slowly & carefully as I approached it without disturbing the Merganser. That felt awesome.

Red-breasted Merganser – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 160, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 220mm, natural lgith

Mia McPherson, OntheWingPhotography.com

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson is a nature lover, wildlife watcher and an avian photographer. Mia first become serious about bird photography when she moved to Florida in 2004. Her recent move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing them. With so many birds species there easily accessible it wasn’t long before she was hooked. By learning more about each species, she can anticipate their behaviour and create opportunities to obtain ever better images of those species.

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson

Mia McPherson is a nature lover, wildlife watcher and an avian photographer. Mia first become serious about bird photography when she moved to Florida in 2004. Her recent move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and photographing them. With so many birds species there easily accessible it wasn’t long before she was hooked. By learning more about each species, she can anticipate their behaviour and create opportunities to obtain ever better images of those species.

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Wilson Desre
Wilson Desre

The red breasted merganser looks like a dusty old partially duck and swan animal. With what you’ve done, I’d probably think you’re meant to be a wildlife photographer. Anyway, the camera did splendid in capturing a good photo of it.

Mia McPherson

Thank you Wilson, being a bird & wildlife photographer gives me tremendous joy. I liked your description of Red-breasted Mergansers, they really don’t look much like a duck.

Steven Scott
Mia McPherson

Steven, I love the great behavior your images show on your post! Thanks for commenting.