Smith’s Longspur in the sweet Churchill evening light…
I’ve just returned this past weekend from leading a photo workshop up in the wonderful destination of Churchill, Manitoba. What a trip we had! The weather could not possibly have been any better. The birds were cooperative and numerous. Plus we had a fantastic crew of photographers to spend the week with. It was perfect!
Willow Ptarmigans are always fun to shoot
We had perfect conditions for this Horned Grebe!
This male Long-tailed Duck put on a show!
I will say that the weather was most certainly NOT perfect when I arrived in Churchill a few days prior to the trip to scout. In fact, just 3 days before I got there they had 6 inches of snow. Yes that’s right – 6 inches of snow in June!!! I arrived in Churchill to temperatures hovering around freezing and a chilly wind off of the bay. Not ideal at all. Especially since I forgot to pack my long john’s!
In any case as I mentioned the weather improved significantly the next day and we had perfect weather for a pre-workshop evening shoot.
Does light get better??
One of my favourite places to be in Churchill is right down at the mouth of the river where it meets the Hudson’s Bay. This is such a dynamic area and there is always something going on. It is an incredible place to practise flight photography of all kinds of birds that are zipping by. Eiders are always numerous as are all three Scoters, Pacific Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, Gulls, Terns and Jaegers. Not to mention the Beluga whales that migrate back and forth up and down the river each day. It really is a phenomenal place to be!
Common Eider flying by and out into the Hudson’s Bay.
There is still quite a bit of ice at this time of year.
Arctic Tern with the days catch
During the 6 day workshop we had such fantastic luck with the specialty birds up in Churchill. We just slowly picked them all off one by one each morning and evening shoot. From Red-necked Phalaropes, Hudsonian Godwits and Arctic Terns in small ponds to Willow Ptarmigans, Whimbrels and American Golden Plovers out on the tundra the birds were literally posing for us. We also picked off some of the boreal forest birds like Blackpoll Warbler, Spruce Grouse, Common Redpoll and American Tree Sparrow.
American Bittern coming to playback was a surprise!
I have a list of about 25 birds that I hope my groups will photograph in Churchill. We’ve always done pretty well on this list but I have never had quite so much luck as on this trip. I think the only bird we missed was the Sabine’s Gull. Otherwise we pretty much nailed ‘em all!
American Golden Plover
Willow Ptarmigan female. Perhaps even nicer than the male!
HUGO up in a tree
The highlight of this trip for me was without a doubt the time we spent with the Smith’s Longspur. Prior to this trip I had searched several times for them in Churchill but never had any luck at all. I had never even heard one before this trip. One afternoon we were heading out to a site I knew for American Golden Plovers and from the van window I thought I heard one off in the distance calling. I wasn’t 100% sure so I got the group set up on the plovers and then walked back to investigate. Sure enough my ears had not lied and there was a fantastic male Smith’s Longspur calling away. He seemed to be sticking around the area (breeding?) so there was no huge rush. Once the group was done with the plover we had a great photo shoot with this bird. On the final night of the trip we had basically finished with all of our target species so we went back to see if we could relocate the bird. Sure enough he was still there and we were able to do a sweet tundra setup and get even better images in the soft golden light. It was a perfect way to end an incredible trip!
What a setting for this lifer!
I’ll be leading this trip next in 2016 and it is limited to 6 participants. Be sure to send me an email if you would like to be placed on the wish list for this workshop or are ready to send in a deposit and reserve your seat.
This guy will be waiting for you in Churchill…
The group out in the tundra working hard and having fun…
***SPECIAL NOTE – I PUT MY CLIENTS NEEDS FIRST ON MY WORKSHOPS AND I SHOOT VERY LITTLE MYSELF. AS A RESULT MANY OF THE IMAGES ABOVE ARE FROM PREVIOUS TRIPS***
Earlier in May I took a short road trip down to Washington State to pick off a few targets that are a lot tougher up here in BC. It was a short but great trip! Here are a few of my faves…
This guide is for you if you want to:
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Isn’t it worth $25 to learn how to make your images all that they can be?
- ECUADOR #1 (Jan/Feb, 2015) - SOLD OUT
- ECUADOR #2 (Jan/Feb, 2015) - SOLD OUT
- VANCOUVER ISLAND #1 (March 9-13, 2015) - SOLD OUT
- VANCOUVER ISLAND #2 (March 16-20, 2015) - SOLD OUT
- COSTA RICA #1 (April, 2015) - SOLD OUT
- CHURCHILL (June, 2016) - SIGN UP TODAY - EMAIL
- PERU (September, 2015) - INFO COMING IN OCTOBER - EMAIL TO JOIN THE WISHLIST
- COSTA RICA #2 (October, 2015) - INFO COMING SOON - EMAIL TO JOIN THE WISHLIST
Limited edition hats are now in! The only way to get one is to join me on a workshop :-)
I’m also going to be adding some new videos to Youtube so be sure to subscribe to my channel to check them out.
All the best!
The tundra is a beautiful place to be in June
Teaching in the boreal forest…
Dusty van window art…
Flight shooting at the river…
It’s a tough job…but someone’s gotta do it