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Merlin on a Snag

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A male Merlin doing a classic stretch after a long perch in the rain at Coyote Hills Regional Park of Fremont, California.....
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A male Merlin doing a classic stretch after a long perch in the rain at Coyote Hills Regional Park of Fremont, California..
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bobtoye PRO
bobtoye April 20, 2018
Fantastic!! Perfect timing, gorgeous clarity.
Alfredo_Jose August 11, 2018
Beautiful shot!
otisandalicereading January 20, 2019
DNproSTUDIO November 28, 2019
nice moment for this photo
wernerjansenvanvuuren April 08, 2020
perfect timing, great shot
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Behind The Lens


The photo was taken at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, California.


It was 3 days after Thanksgiving and I remember it started to rain as I was heading out to the park, which is about 15 minutes drive away from my house. The date was Nov 26, 2017 and the time was 11:26AM. For some reasons the same pair of the Merlin keeps coming back to the same spot at this park around Thanksgiving and leaves before Spring. It has been many years they have been frequenting Coyote Hills park.


It was close to noon time but the lighting condition was very favorable for photography due to the overcast sky and rainy weather. The rain had also set some mood by adding those sparkling dots on the bird's feathers. Finally, it was a picture perfect when the bird put up some stretching pose.


This was shot using the Canon EOS 7D Mk II with a 600mm attached to a 1.4x teleconverter on a Gitzo tripod. The tripod made the shot possible at 1/250s shutter speed using the heavy overcast natural lighting. A combination of the Canon crop body camera along with the teleconverter had provided a good reach to capture more details of the bird.


I always like taking bird pictures in the rain as it added a special mood to the image. The soft-lighting and the ability to capture streaks of raindrops using slow shutter speed are opportunities that don't come that often in California.


I keep the same post-processing workflow to make sure I have a consistent result. Striking a balance between the shadow and highlight usually makes your subject more pronounced and interesting.

In my camera bag

Having a good reach is essential for bird photography. I always carry a teleconverter (either 1.4x or 2.0x TCs) attached to my prime 600mm as it they were part of the lens. Often times I even stack the TCs especially when shooting still subjects. This was made possible with the latest Sony's equipment that I recently switched to from Canon.


Being patience is just a small portion in bird photography. Understanding the birds behavior as well respecting their comfort zone are essential as these two factors open up more opportunities to capture interesting poses when the subjects don't feel your presence as a threat. This is why a longer focal length lens is essential for the reach while respecting the comfort zone of the subject.

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