Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) Elaborate courtship behavior called “Rushing” across a local lake, San Luis Obispo, CA

As part of a complex mating ritual, both Western and Clark’s Grebes perform a rushing across the water.


A little bit of research goes a long way, and I always say get to know your subject before you go and photograph it, whether it be a location or animal. Being able to predict behaviors gives you an edge when trying to capture a certain shot. For me, this was crucial when trying to capture Western Grebes rushing across a local lake. As part of their mating ritual, they have predictive behaviors prior to rushing. Once you see this behavior, you can prepare to set up your shot. It isn’t always going to turn out the way you want, but your chances of capturing what you are after improve greatly. I was watching a couple of Grebes having a dispute when I heard another pair off to my right rushing. I missed the whole thing, but the next time the chance presented itself, I was prepared. I had the privilege of sharing this beautiful light with several other local photographers. Check out their images at Lisa Roeder and Alice Cahill’s Facebook pages.
Some people think nature and wildlife photography is all chance. But researching behaviors and location makes it so much easier to previsualize the shot you are after. It allows you to be prepared for the moments when the animal moves to a certain background or gets ready to display behavior that you have been wanting to capture. Capturing natural behaviors is what this is all about. Knowledge is key to being able to do just that. Research, research, and more research! It’s fun to learn all you can about a species and then share that information when posting to social media with those who appreciate the natural world. Who knows, you might even convert a few people into nature lovers or bird watchers. If you can convert them, they will be more likely to want to protect and preserve these amazing opportunities for future generations. That in itself makes all of this worthwhile.