Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Alewives Are Running

Alewives using the Fish Ladder at Damariscotta Mills, Canon 60D, Tamron 150-500mm at 150mm, f5.0, 1/500 sec, ISO400   

May brings the annual migration of the Alewives to rivers along the Maine coast. With the fish come Osprey, Eagles and Gulls looking for an easy meal. Of course, with all of these elements present, it also brings out the annual influx of photographers. They come from all around the area looking for that one great shot of an Osprey, or Eagle, lifting off with its prize catch. I have shot this annual event for the past several years. Some years are better than others, and only the Osprey know why. 

I was told of another opportunity to shoot the Osprey in Warren, Maine at Payson Park on the Saint George River. The day I chose to go was one of those perfect spring days. Lots of sunshine, warm temperatures, not too hot and not too cool, with plenty of blue sky. Unfortunately, the town of Warren has a fish trap across the river from Sunday through Thursday, and the alewives don't make it up to Payson Park. The area of the fish trap is not quite so accommodating for photographers. The river banks are high, and the river is wider, with a lot of vegetation blocking the view. The alewives were there, as were at least six Osprey, diving and catching their fill. I took a few shots, but none were close enough to provide the detail and sharpness I would have liked. I will try this area again on a Friday or Saturday morning.

Taken in 2010 with a Canon 30D, Tamron 150mm-500mm lens at 150mm, f5.0 1/800 second at ISO200

In past years, Damariscotta Mills has been very good for photographing Ospreys. You can shoot at almost water level, and are very close to the action. The past two years has not been optimum for the Ospreys. The alewives are there, the multitude of Gulls are there, but the Osprey have been elsewhere. Wednesday, I left Warren, and decided I would see how things were at Damariscotta Mills. I spent over an hour there and only saw two Osprey. They flew over, but apparently did not like what they saw and flew on. I had to be content with capturing a Gull getting his own dinner. If you observe Gulls for any length of time, you know they would prefer to steal their food.

Canon 60D, Tamron 150-500mm at 500mm, f7.1, 1/1000 sec at ISO 400

I usually prefer to shoot on Manual. But, when shooting fast flying birds I have found a fast Shutter speed to be more important than the Aperture. I shot this gull at 1/1000 of a second, and let the background fall where it may. This shot is a little soft and probably should have been shot at a faster shutter speed.

There are a couple of more weeks to the season of the Alewives running. Damariscotta Mills has their 6th Annual Fish Ladder Restoration Festival on May 25, 26, and 27.  Get out and do some shooting. It is very exciting to track and photograph an Osprey diving for his dinner.