I rented a 400mm lens from www.lensrentals.com. The goal was to capture as many subjects as possible that couldn’t be shot with a lesser lens or that could be shot more dramatically with a lens of significant focal length.

With one of my sons along, we first headed to the Swan Lake Wildlife Management Area northwest of Nicollet. The predominant wildlife was from the suborder Nematocera, a.k.a. Gnats! If they could have collectively harnessed their flying power, I’m confident they would have carried us off!

In far fewer numbers we encountered two species of Tern making sport of small fish for breakfast.

Numerous ducks were flying in and out of the area but we weren’t willing to risk ticks and other insects by walking through the tall grasses to get closer to the numerous small bodies of water.

We were delighted to spot many very small birds including finches, swallows and warblers.

Next up was Sibley Park. We wanted to see if we could spy the Red-tailed Hawk that is nesting there near the animal barns. We got a good view of it as well as some Blue Jays that dared get near the hawk. No trip to Sibley would be complete without multiple varmint sightings of the Grey Squirrel variety.

One of our old standbys is the Sakatah Trail between County Road 86 and the southern waters of Eagle Lake. I knew we would be able to shoot numerous Red-Winged Blackbirds, Sparrows, Swallows and Geese. If our timing was right we might even spot Pelicans and Herons. I was surprised to get within range of some Dragonflies.

Shooting during the “golden hours” — an hour or so after sunrise and before sunset — provides dramatic lighting, so the multiple trips I made to Sakatah in the morning and the evening paid off.

Riverfront Drive
Photo by Rick Pepper – An example of photographic “depth compression” on Riverfront Drive. Shooting along a continuous object such as railroad tracks, a road or structure with a longer lens (roughly 200mm or greater) brings the further reaches of the object into view while still capturing the mid ground.
Black Tern
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Black Tern carries off a Sunfish it plucked out of a creek (regulated outlet) of Swan Lake at the public access.
Black Tern
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Black Tern on approach to dive onto the creek for food.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Forster’s tern loops back to dive for food.
Gold Finch
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Gold Finch rests on a plant in the Swan Lake Wildlife Management Area.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A Red-tailed Hawk perches in the tree its’ nesting in within Sibley Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Red-tailed Hawk perches in the tree its’ nesting in within Sibley Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper - Red-winged blackbirds are common in any wetland, those surrounding the Sakatah trail near Eagle Lake are no exception.
Photo by Rick Pepper – Red-winged blackbirds are common in any wetland, those surrounding the Sakatah trail near Eagle Lake are no exception.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A painted turtle makes its way across the waters of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A painted turtle makes its way across the waters of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A Common Grackle rests on a rock at the edge of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Common Grackle rests on a rock at the edge of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A Barn Swallow rests on a guardrail along the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Barn Swallow rests on a guardrail along the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A Chipmunk munches on a seed it found on the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Chipmunk munches on a seed it found on the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A Sparrow on a branch in Sibley Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A Sparrow on a branch in Sibley Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper - An unidentified bird rests on a reed in the marsh adjacent to the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper – An unidentified bird rests on a reed in the marsh adjacent to the Sakatah Trail.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A dragon fly on Eagle Lake
Photo by Rick Pepper – A dragon fly on Eagle Lake
Photo by Rick Pepper - American flags and more depth compression along Belgrade Ave. in lower North Mankato.
Photo by Rick Pepper – American flags and more depth compression along Belgrade Ave. in lower North Mankato.
Photo by Rick Pepper - North American Bison at Minneopa Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper – North American Bison at Minneopa Park.
Photo by Rick Pepper - Finally! A Pelican takes flight and ventures away from the group on the east shore of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper – Finally! A Pelican takes flight and ventures away from the group on the east shore of Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper - A pair of Geese and Goslings make their way along Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper – A pair of Geese and Goslings make their way along Eagle Lake.
Photo by Rick Pepper - Another pair of Canadian Geese, one of them shakes its head to throw water off after diving for food.
Photo by Rick Pepper – Another pair of Canadian Geese, one of them shakes its head to throw water off after diving for food.
Rick Pepper
A life-long Mankato native Rick's current distraction of choice is photography. He especially enjoys event photography - capturing life's moments - and gets plenty of practice at his children's sporting events. He enjoys other media including live sound production and recording. He serves as a sound tech at his church.