Hummingbirds Galore

Back from our short Mendocino weekend getaway. (yes, it has been over a week…I’m also trying to figure out what happened to the past week.) It was a great weekend with ideal weather on the first day and then normal weather on the second. When we arrived into Mendocino on Friday night, it was absolutely clear. We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast located in the middle of a redwood forest (more on that in another post) and Friday night, you could see stars and the full moon rising through the woods. Then on Saturday night, the weather went back to normal, fog rolling in about 5pm with cool weather all night. No stars that night.

On Saturday, we were walking around downtown Mendocino. While my wife was in a shop, I wandered down the street into a residential area. When I turned a corner, I was greeted by about 20 warning chirps coming from humming birds. There was an empty lot that had been overgrown with a bramble bush of some sort along with fuschias. The hummingbirds had the perfect home, food, protected places to rest, and sun.

I quickly went back to get my wife and the car. We drove up and parked right next to the empty lot. I climbed into the back seat of our car and rolled down the window. With a 300mm lens on my camera, we just sat and waited. Soon, the hummingbirds were fluttering around and eating, resting just 5-10 feet from our car (and my camera). It was an amazing opportunity! And for once, my wife didn’t mind watching me shoot, she enjoyed watching the hummingbirds, fluttering and fighting as well. That was one of the funnier things, every so often, one bird would fly into the space of another and the defender would start chirping and chase the invader off. Sometimes flying quite a ways away to chase them off!

Photographing hummingbirds takes, patience, a long lens, and a lot of shots. I ended up taking about 100 shots over the course of a half hour and in the end have 10 that are keepers. The other need is a fast lens. I started off using my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L but quickly realized it wouldn’t get me close enough. Luckily, I had planned ahead and brought my 70-300mm IS. It would only take me down to f/5.6, but provided plenty of blur in most situations. Ideally, a 2x converter on the L lens would have been ideal at 400mm. Another item for the shopping list.

Regardless, it was perfect shooting conditions! For those who might be heading that way in the future, the lot is on the corner of Ukiah and School streets (just east of Lansing Street, one of the main drags through town).


I have some more image that I will upload later today. Click through on the images above to view the entire portfolio. And if you really like one or more of these shots, remember that art prints are available of most of my work!

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