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DPChallenge Forums >> Business of Photography >> Thanks to Bear -- a story 2 years in the making
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07/03/2013 08:02:20 PM · #1
I should also say thanks to ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21.gif', '/') + 1) . ' glad2badad -- he first said it sounded like it should be in a newspaper or a magazine. But it was Bear_music who said: "Contact your local paper with this link; wouldn't surprise me at all if they did a feature story with this tale and your pictures. Go for it!"

It was the Go for it! that I kept hearing for about 9 months.

What am I talking about?

In July of 2011 I was watching a nest of ospreys -- two parents and a baby. I was completely and totally hooked, and spending multiple hours watching the nest with the baby.

Here's the original post from July 8, 2011: (if you're bored already, skip the italicized parts between the lines)


WARNING: This story does not have a happy ending. :(

My son and I have been volunteering to check bluebird boxes at a local park. The furthest box is on the point in a river. There are many osprey nests along the river, but we noticed one nest that was quite accessible with a long lens. It was nesting on a sign in the river, and there was a baby in the nest:

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My son and I went out to watch the nest for the take two challenge. I had tried getting an osprey flying into a nest with a fish a couple of years ago at a different park in Maryland. It was a good shot, but I had always hoped to have an opportunity to do better.

We sat out for about an hour and a half and completely lucked out! One of the parents flew in with a fish! Not only that, he flew in, didn't deposit the fish, and then flew off. He did that four times before actually dropping off the fish. Here are the shots that I was able to get:

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I ended up with many chigger bites, but it was worth it.

Of course, after I entered the take two challenge -- then they announced the National Geographic challenge!!

I went back out, this time staying around for about 2.5 hours. No flying fish that day, but one parent did fly in with a stick and started arranging it in the nest, I probably should have entered this one in the challenge, but I really liked the intensity of the one I did enter. This one has more action, however:


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Other shots from that day:

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I sprayed myself more liberally with spray, but many more chigger bites and three deer ticks.

The bug bites were keeping me awake at night, but the osprey were so incredibly fascinating, that I had to go back out again. This time I brought a queen sized sheet, laid it out on the ground, sprayed it with bug spray and set up a tripod (the other shots were hand held). It worked!!! Hardly any bug bites! (although I was only there for about an 1.5 hours this time.)

Not much activity in the nest. The other parent had already dropped off a fish, so there was feeding time. Though a branch was quite problematic.

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After that I went to the mountains for a couple of days. It was about a week before I was able to get back to the nest. I had really been looking forward to watching the baby grow up. I figured he'd need to eat more, so perhaps I could get some fishing shots, and perhaps even the fledging.

My son and I went out to the park. When we got there the sign was empty. The nest was completely gone -- not even one stick left! We were both devastated. We stopped by the ranger station on the way out, wondering if it was a storm or human destruction. They said the people that live on this creek on the river are very respectful of the wildlife, and even the kids that boat through are very responsible. Other nests, farther out, were fine. There was a bad storm on the 4th of July, and they assume that the nest blew down.

The incredibly sad part of the story is that I don't think that there's anyway that the baby was old enough to fledge. He was still awfully little the week before, and it takes 7 to 8 weeks to fledge. I felt so incredibly bad, and I still do. I spent about about 6-8 hours watching them, and was completely fascinated. I had fallen in love with the little family and thought that I had weeks to observe and photograph. They were incredibly special. I'm sure the parents are fine, and will nest next year.

But I just wanted to say: "Rest in peace, baby osprey. It was incredibly special to have watched you."


It was Bear's Go for it that kept coming back to my mind for about 9 months. I finally wrote a query to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, and they contacted me pretty much right away. However, they were switching from a monthly to a bi-monthly magazine, and it would be about 1.25 years until it would be published. Would I be interested? I said yes.

The magazine is out -- and I have my first photo essay!!

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So thanks to Barry and especially Bear! It's been two years in the making -- but it's here!

Though it still has a sad ending. This is the third year now that the osprey pair has had one or more babies and lost them to a storm. I went out a couple of weeks ago to check on the nesting progress after a particularly bad storm, and the nest was in half, and the baby was gone. It has been a very unlucky location. I didn't even get any pictures this year. I saw on one of the bluebird checks that the nest was successful, and was planning on coming back another time. :(

Message edited by author 2013-07-03 20:03:06.
07/03/2013 08:13:20 PM · #2
Huge congrats Wendy, well deserved.
07/03/2013 08:24:47 PM · #3
VAWendy, - this is what happens when you hang around for hours at a time,
camera at the ready, getting bitten, getting soaked, getting restless, but
hanging around anyhow.
This is how you and the National Geographic folks get those stunning images
that keep the rest of us up at night, wondering "how'd they do that!", but
knowing perfectly well how they did that.

Your amazing photographs were perfectly presented in that article.
Very well done! Congratulations.

Message edited by author 2013-07-03 20:25:05.
07/03/2013 08:30:43 PM · #4
Awesome!! Huge congrats!!!
07/03/2013 08:33:24 PM · #5
Wow - fantastic photos and great that you had the story published!
07/03/2013 08:34:48 PM · #6
Thanks! It was such an incredibly long wait -- but it was great fun to see it finally come out.
07/03/2013 08:34:55 PM · #7
Impressive shots! Well earned... :)
07/03/2013 09:16:52 PM · #8
Love it Wendy!!!! Ahhhh did that trip to the mountains involve and vertical hikes????
07/03/2013 09:19:10 PM · #9
A series of images done very well as part of a deliberate project can have a very different impact than images accumulated one at a time without connection to each other. Wonderful achievement, and especially rewarding to have your good work recognized and published.
07/03/2013 09:43:57 PM · #10
I read recently in a forum that you were wondering if your pictures are not "eye candy".
Did it not cross your mind that you are doing excellent nature photography?
Personally I am never impressed by how many hours, weeks, months , etc one spends to do good work. Since "Genius is largely the result of hard work, rather than an inspired flash of insight" I would not count the time and perspiration put in a piece of art.
But I do appreciate the work itself.

I'm very pleased to see some of your pics published. Keep up the good work.
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07/03/2013 10:09:25 PM · #11
The saying 'good things come to those who wait'. And you certainly had patience and persistence not just with waiting for the magazine to come out but to wait and watch this osprey family:-) Congrats on getting published Wendy - next National Geographic will be calling you:-)
07/03/2013 10:23:20 PM · #12
Originally posted by CNovack:

The saying 'good things come to those who wait'. And you certainly had patience and persistence not just with waiting for the magazine to come out but to wait and watch this osprey family:-) Congrats on getting published Wendy - next National Geographic will be calling you:-)

I got an email saying that National Geographic wanted to use my photo in an article called "flight"!!! I was sooooo excited!!

Unfortunately, they were testing a new system for their "your best shot", and it sent out messages by mistake. :(
07/03/2013 10:23:29 PM · #13
Wendy, this is great! Good job and congratulations!
07/03/2013 10:50:35 PM · #14
That's awesome. You GO, Wendy! "I knew her when..."
07/03/2013 11:44:35 PM · #15
Wow, this is awesome Wendy!
07/04/2013 01:06:13 AM · #16
Congratulations on the well-deserved recognition, Wendy. You have given pleasure to and educated many - not least of all your DPC friends and audience. WTG!!
07/04/2013 01:08:33 AM · #17
Too cool!
07/04/2013 01:32:49 AM · #18
Congratulations Wendy, fantastic work. I'm so pleased you had it published!
07/04/2013 01:54:36 AM · #19
congrats :)
07/04/2013 03:52:37 AM · #20
What dedication!
Great story. I'm in awe of your ability to capture such detail of birds in flight.

It's so easy to glance over some nature shots and not realize what went into them. I remember a video I rented from the library about a NatGeo photographer who went into a South American rainforest to get pictures of a certain creature. It involved waiting in very hot and wet conditions for days or weeks at a time and all the tribulations and discomforts he had to endure. He got the shots he needed to complete his assignment but when he got home he got sick with a severe form of Leishmaniasis which the symptoms, he said, lasted for months, left him very weak and unable to work, and could have killed him.

Another story I remember seeing involved a traveler (don't think she was a photographer) who spent a lot of time in the wet conditions of a rainforest in SE Asia. She wound up with what she described as crunching sounds inside her head and a large bump on top of her head. This had been going on for days when she finally decided to seek out medical attention. Turns out a Bot Fly which landed on her head in Asia had burrowed its eggs inside her scalp. When the larvae grew big enough it would eat her scalp from the inside in order to get out. It was surgically removed.

I'm only telling you these stories to scare the bejesus out of you. Don't go into the wild unprepared for all of the different wildlife you can encounter that could ruin your day. Parasites are no fun and you don't want to bring them home either.

Congratulations on being published.

Message edited by author 2013-07-04 03:53:45.
07/04/2013 05:39:16 AM · #21
Excellent! - I love it.
07/04/2013 05:55:48 AM · #22
Congrats with the publication. I'm truly impressed by the quality of your osprey images, they are amazing. We (sometimes) have had one or two nests nearby, but I never managed to get images like that. Thanks for sharing this story and the images with us!
07/04/2013 06:15:47 AM · #23
Congrats Wendy! That is so awesome!
07/04/2013 06:29:19 AM · #24
That is some work Wendy. Well done !

07/04/2013 08:51:50 AM · #25
Thanks everyone!! It's so much fun to have family here with with to share. :)
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