Photographer Michelle Talich was walking toward the Coney Island subway station on a windy January day when she spotted a Peregrine Falcon standing on the beach. The falcon was enduring strong gusts of wind carrying dust and sand, then finally decided to escape to the sky. This photo, which won third place in BirdNote's 18th Birthday Photo Contest, captures the moment right before the falcon took off. Learn more about the story and get to know Michelle Talich below:
1. Describe your feelings after capturing and experiencing this wonderful birding moment.
It was awesome to see a Peregrine Falcon so low and so close, and to observe her reaction to being buffeted by the wind and sand. I was alternating between looking at her through my bins and taking photos, and fortunately was shooting when she finally decided to take off and fly further down the beach. Reviewing my pics in-cam during the subway ride home there were a bunch I was happy with but when I saw the one with her wings outstretched, I thought to myself that’s the one! I was overjoyed just to have witnessed that majestic bird on the beach, so coming away from the experience with a cool photograph was just icing on an already delicious cake.
2. Do you often photograph birds, and if you do, what do you enjoy most about bird photography?
I bring my camera with me whenever I go out birdwatching, and I go out birdwatching as often as I can. Photographing birds is challenging and rewarding and I love how it allows me to share my love of birds with all of my non-birding friends. Overall, I think the camera has helped me become a better birder in part because it has forced me to really slow down. I consider myself to be a birder with a camera, as opposed to a photographer who happens to shoot birds.
3. What advice would you give others who’d like to capture amazing bird photos like yours?
My advice to others who want to start photographing birds is to be patient – with yourself and with the birds! And always remember that the safety and wellbeing of the bird is always the most important thing. It’s never OK to intentionally disturb or harass a bird or other animal for the sake of getting a photo.
4. What’s been your best birding experience so far?
I’ve had so many fantastic experiences since I began birding it’s tough to single out just one! The past couple summers I’ve been volunteering with a group called the NYC Plover Project to help monitor Piping Plover nests along some of NYC’s busiest beaches. The very first time I saw newly-hatched Piping Plover chicks it brought tears to my eyes – they were so cute and tiny and perfect and so, so vulnerable. To watch them running around looking for food on a packed beach was both miraculous and harrowing, and it’s a day I will never, ever forget.
5. Please tell us what you enjoy most about BirdNote!
I discovered BirdNote several years ago when I was commuting daily in and out of Manhattan for work. I loved listening to the episodes during my subway rides. To this day, just hearing the cheerful, fluty intro music instantly lifts my mood. I’ve learned so much from listening to BirdNote over the years – the amount of fascinating information that can be packed into 2 minutes is incredible!
7. Is there anything you'd like to leave our readers with?
Live slow, watch birds!
Learn more about Peregrine Falcons on BirdNote Daily:
The Peregrine Falcon Makes a Comeback
Piracy Among Raptors