Happenstance can be defined as a chance situation. Or something that occurred because of particular circumstances, although it was not planned. As photographers we are often beneficiaries of happenstance. This is regularly the case with bird photography.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
We may visit a location hoping to see, and photograph, a particular species of bird. This hope is likely based on previous experiences we’ve had, or due to the suggestion of another photographer. We’ve all had experiences where our target birds simply did not appear.
We can research a specific bird species and learn about its migration patterns. Armed with this knowledge we can try to coordinate our visits during the time of year when that bird type is most likely to be at a type of habitat in our local area.
Whether we actually see and photograph a specific species… especially when we are trying to do so outside of prime viewing periods… is happenstance.
For example, in mid-October I visited 40 Mile Creek without a specific plan in mind. It was a catch-as-catch-can experience. I heard the familiar chatter of a kingfisher and concentrated on spotting it on the opposite side of the creek. I was fortunate to get two very brief opportunities to photograph that particular kingfisher in-flight. Some of those images are featured above.
Over the past couple of years when visiting 40 Mile Creek, I had noticed a male mallard duck with a strange lump on the back of its head. That specific mallard happened to be along the shoreline during my visit and I was able to capture an image of the back of his head from reasonably close range.
Depending on the number of birds in the area we can wait in vain for action-oriented image opportunities. At other times we can get opportunities to photograph birds landing… or in flight.
Happenstance can result in us capturing some inter-species aggression like a gull trying to take some food from a duck.
Without question, happenstance is a photographer’s friend. To reap some benefits from it… our part is pretty easy. All we need to do is grab our camera and go out on a regular basis… having faith that something interesting may happen.
Like capturing some images of a vulture late in the season… and getting close enough to photograph a face in-flight that only a mother could love.
All of the images featured in this article were captured during the same impromptu visit to 40 Mile Creek.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process in post. This is the 1,327 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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