High Rock Lake is a bird watchers paradise. Along the hundreds of miles of shoreline you'll find just about every native species and many migrants during various times of the year. On the lake, you'll find a variety of water birds, osprey and the majestic bald eagle. In the summer months bridges become home to colonies of swallows. In late winter and early spring, we are usually visited by a large flock of american white pelicans. We are planning an expansion of this page to include tips on capturing bird images and where to go and when. Be sure to check back here often.
Gallery of various birds seen on High Rock Lake
I dare say that no other bird generates as much excitement as a bald eagle. There are multiple active nests around the lake and therefore many eagles. They have become a common sight on and around High Rock Lake.
We have created an entire page dedicated to the bald eagles. You'll find picture galleries, videos, viewing tips and stories from people who love to watch them. To go to the page, click here.
American White Pelicans
American white pelicans are not supposed to be found at High Rock Lake but for several decades now a growing number has returned every year during the late winter and early spring.
One of the largest birds in North America, the white pelicans are impressive on the water and in the air. Their bright white feathers accented with jet black wing tips are a beautiful sight to behold. Because of the spectacle and unusual occurrence of their visit, we've dedicated an entire page to the birds. Click here for more.
These little birds are a common sight around High Rock Lake. You will find nesting colonies underneath bridges. They look very similar to their cousins the barn swallows, but are a little more rounded and have a small rusty brown patch on their rump. The nests are different too. Cliff swallows build a jug type nest with a small opening. Barn swallows have more of a half moon shaped nest that is more open.
You can find more pics and info about these little birds by clicking here.
Capturing good bird pics is a combination of equipment, planning and mostly luck. The more you are out taking pics, the odds will be in your favor. I'll admit right up front that even though I've been a professional photographer/videographer all my life, I'm no bird photography expert. That said, I've taken my share of bird pics including the ones for this website. Below is a list of tips that will help you be more successful in your quest, (I didn't want to use the word "hunt") for birds.
Equipment can be a matter of choice. You can even get good shots with modern smart phones. I've taken some pretty cool pics with my iPhone, but when I'm out specifically taking pics of birds, I prefer an actual camera and long lens. I personally use a Canon DSLR and a Sigma 150-600mm lens. I would love to have more expensive equipment but its hard to justify.
As I mentioned above be prepared. If your intention is to get bird pics make sure you have the right camera and lens combination ready. Even if you plan to shoot with a smartphone, make sure it's set up to use in a moments notice. The perfect shot can be captured or missed in seconds. Get familiar with your camera's autofocus settings and make sure to be in a mode that will follow action. Most modern cameras do this using something known as AI servo mode. I won't get too technical but set your exposure for a fast shutter speed. I like to go with at least 1/1500 or faster. Your lens aperture, (f-stop) is another preference, depending on how much background you want to see. The larger the number f22 for example, the more stuff will be in focus. Smaller settings like f2.8 will blur the background and isolate your subject. Practice with your settings. Watch some Youtube videos.
If you want to really take great pics you need to spend some time looking for the best locations. Do some scouting. Visit the same spots during various times of day. Birds tend to be creatures of habit and can usually be found in a general area at regular times. Learn the behavior of the birds you are seeking. Bald eagles for example are often have favorite trees to perch.
Don't be afraid to take lots of pics. I toss out the majority of the pics I take. Sometimes I shoot hundred before I get a keeper
I'll add some tutorial videos here in the future. If you take some pics you are proud of and want to share, please send me an email. David@HIghRockLakeLife.com