Bird photography at Bolsa Chica Conservancy

bolsa_chica_birds2Owners of long lenses are either wealthy with disposable incomes, or they are extremely serious about their choice of subjects in their photography.

Few photographers can afford to be frivolous about this because a 400 mm f2.8 telephoto lens can cost close to $7200– more than my car!

Those lenses are quite rare sightings except at sporting events.

At least that’s what I thought… till this past Sunday when I happened to visit the Bolsa Chica Conservancy.

Also known as the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, it is located at 3842 Warner Ave, Huntington Beach, CA 92649-4263.

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Back in college, I owned a 400 mm f4.5.

I could count the number of times in a year when I could use it.

It didn’t help that it was a slow lens, also when fall and winter arrived, my “prey” or subjects tended to go indoors, so that lens saw little use while I was in Ohio.

All indoor athletic events back then required ISO 1600, 3200 or even 6400 at f2.8


Birds of the same feather–Birdwatchers and wildlife photography enthusiasts congregate on the walkway trading war stories about gear and “the one that got away” as they wait for a sighting.

So if you happen to have one of these lenses laying around in your closet and you feel like dusting it off, I recommend visiting the Bolsa Chica Conservancy.

Why? It’s free and you can find some wonderful images there.

Photography is plenty expensive enough. You shouldn’t have to pay to get some place to use your camera.

My visit was spur of the moment, so all I had was my trusty Canon Sureshot G3.

Even if I had planned this excursion, I don’t own any long glass now.

The longest lens I have is a 200 mm.  It might be enough if I was quiet and if I was very, very lucky.

Visitors gathering for a drink–Since I’m not an ornithologist or even an amateur bird watcher, I’m not going try and name these guys in the picture. Perhaps one of my readers can help me out? Taken with my trusty Canon Sureshot G3.

At this particular reserve, you get to go up to a fence and no further.

If the lighting is not in your favor, you can’t move.

That is what makes wildlife photography so challenging, frustrating, requiring tons of patience and perseverance.


Anyway, I was amazed at the number of photographers who had 400 mm lenses.

A elderly Chinese man caught my eye first. He had Canon 40D or possibly a 50D and a telephoto zoom lens. My best guess is it was a 100-400 mm f4.5-5.6 Image Stabilized lens.

It’s a shame he didn’t speak English and I didn’t understand the dialect of Chinese that he spoke.

I would have loved to ask him about his hobby.

I also came across lots of folks in camouflage, not in just their own attire, but for their lenses as well.

Hey, whatever it takes to “blend in.”

When I was at the newspaper, I never wore a vest because I wanted to “blend in,” that’s why.

So these guys are doing exactly that so that the birds act all natural. So what if they appear silly to us?

So long as Dick Cheney isn’t around with his hunting rifle, I can roll with that.

Related post: Nature photography with a point and shoot camera.

One thought on “Bird photography at Bolsa Chica Conservancy”

  1. What’s kills me is the long lens dangling from their neck-strapped cameras.
    Ouch for their camera mounts and their backs!
    Thankfully this shooting doesn’t involve pellets Peter, as you point out.

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