Tundra Swans in Aylmer

This article shares a selection of photographs of Tundra Swans in Aylmer, captured handheld at the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area. Each spring during migration season between 10,000 and 60,000 birds make a stop at this location.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4896 pixels on the width, subject distance 91.4 metres

There is a limited time in the spring during which you can see and photograph Tundra Swans in Aylmer, Ontario. Once the birds start arriving they often only stay in the area for 3 to 5 weeks.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4123 pixels on the width, subject distance 100 metres

The Aylmer Wildlife Management Area has a telephone hotline that provides a recorded message. This message provides daily swan count estimates during the migration period.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3995 pixels on the width, subject distance 134.7 metres

While the main building is closed due to COVID-19, there is an elevated viewing platform and a pair of ‘no flush’ outhouses available to visitors. There are also a number of trails that can be explored.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-2000, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3901 pixels on the width, subject distance 143.8 metres

Certain areas near the viewing platform adjacent to the main ponds where the Tundra Swans congregate, are off limits to visitors as the birds can be very skittish.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4848 pixels on the width, subject distance 64.6 metres

The main viewing platform can accommodate about 15-20 visitors. During our weekday visit we found that everyone was masked and observed proper protocols.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3816 pixels on the width, subject distance 102.6 metres

Not wanting to shoot into the early morning sun, we arrived at about 11 AM and photographed the Tundra Swans until 2 PM. One never knows how many bird-in-flight opportunities will present themselves during a visit.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4770 pixels on the width, subject distance 144.3 metres

Occasionally some of the Tundra Swans in Aylmer would do a fly-over fairly close to the viewing platform. Most of the time I was photographing birds at a distance. As a result I shot with my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom fully extended, with my MC-14 teleconverter attached.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2000, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4822 pixels on the width, subject distance 137.9 metres

This combination provides a focal length of 560 mm… an equivalent field-of-view of 1120 mm. Even at this efov there were numerous times when the Tundra Swans in-flight were too far out to bother attempting to photograph them.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 585 mm, efov 1170 mm, f/13, -0.3 EV, 1/1600, ISO-800, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4610 pixels on the width, subject distance 110.1 metres

I used my M.Zuiko MC-20 for the last hour or so that we were at the Aylmer Wildlife Management Area. I didn’t even bother trying to process the vast majority of my MC-20 images as I didn’t feel they were quite sharp enough at these long distances.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3500 pixels on the width, subject distance 144.3 metres

This is the first time that I’ve visited this location to try my hand at photographing Tundra Swans in Aylmer. Overall it was an enjoyable experience.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-640, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4716 pixels on the width, subject distance 150.1 metres

Photographing birds-in-flight that were generally more than 100 metres away is not typically my cup of tea, as I like to get in much closer to subject birds.  It was still a beneficial outing as I had the opportunity to practise my handheld technique with distant birds.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, -0.3 EV, 1/2000, ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 4109 pixels on the width, subject distance 141.1 metres

It was also an opportunity to assess the results of the MC-14 and MC-20 teleconverters when used with the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS zoom in this specific shooting environment.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted for each photograph.

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