I had promised the ranger I would be back for closing time, so I had only some minutes to take some photos. While we were driving by the dam, I tried to quickly find something exciting on the water to take a good picture at sunset before the cloudy weekend kicked in.

The sun, though, had something else in mind. When I turned left, I saw more than 50 cormorants filling -even fighting for- the branches of big pine trees. I figured they were trying to catch the last sun rays just like me, before drying out for bedtime.

Watching the pretty big birds so high, chasing the last light of the day was spectacular. I am so used to see them in the water like pirates, flying fast above the water, diving and swimming for fish… Maybe you have seen a National geographic video of a cormorant pulling a suckerfish off a shark. These birds are amazing.

Behind Blue Eyes

When you see a cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) you normally see a pretty big dark bird. But up close, they have a bright yellow/orange bill and electric blue eyes with circular eyelids that are truly magnetic. I had not been able to capture those amazing eyes before. Birds move fast. Even when they are sitting, their head moves constantly, and with a long lens you loose focus very easily.

The sun was my ally yesterday. I tried not to get so excited that I would trip, freeze or make any noise that would scare the birds away. Or shooting irrationally and regret all that unsuccessful effort later.

I used the opened car door as a tripod and looked for those places were the sun was hitting the bird’s faces. Since the cormorants were looking at the sun, all I had to do was to look for a bird I could frame nicely from where I was.

Going after that sparkle of sun in the cormorants’ eyes before they moved their head was the most difficult part, but the birds were calm, relaxing with their bedtime routine. Let me know what you think!