Spring Arrivals: Vultures

Almost Spring? A deep, crusted snow lingers on a bitterly cold, four-degree (F) morning. Old Man Winter has a death grip. Soon, there won’t be a hungry vulture in the county.

This sequence, my second sighting of vultures this season, was captured at a small abandoned barn and traditional vulture roosting site.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Vultures to Roost

A week or so ago I was on the road just before sunset. The sky was clear and blue, the evening light warm and golden. I noticed several vultures circling in tight formation, indicating they would soon be roosting. By the time I maneuvered into position for  photographs, they had settled in on the upper branches of a dense stand of spruce trees. I stood and watched, thinking that I had missed a “golden” opportunity. Then, I saw another gliding in and circling the roost, and another, and … about 8 or 10 more birds arrived over the next 15 minutes.

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I knew what I wanted to capture, but didn’t realize how much the odds were stacked against me. Even with birds circling overhead at fairly close range and me panning like a spinning top, the times when everything came together – posture, lighting, my lens – were all too brief. I quickly realized that the window of opportunity was just a second or two, or a few degrees, out of the full 360 degree circle.

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My goal was to capture the golden evening light on the wings. I failed to freeze most of the fast, wing-beat shots, but got a some of the gliders.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.