Know your species
Osprey in flight
I have anxiously been waiting for the snow to melt in the paths through the forest so I could hike into a certain spot and see if the ospreys had returned to their nest this spring. When I reached their nest, I saw it had not survived the winter well. I walked around to see if there might be any sign of their return to the area but could find none.
Osprey pair close to their nest
I took some other pathways close to the lake the osprey call home looking for any warblers that might be back and checking out a few favorite playing places for fox kits when I heard the unmistakable call. Looking up I saw an osprey circle above and I realized it was calling out to its mate. On my path, I did not have any great line of sight, just trees on either side. Knowing the osprey would be nesting probably atop a broken spruce tree with easy access to the lake I headed for the shoreline. I got to the edge of the lake and looked back to the forest that bordered it, tried to scope out a likely nest site. I found three that fit the bill none however had an osprey sitting atop it.
Osprey in flight
So, I waited. None of the potential nest sites had a nest, the destroyed nest from last season meant they would be building one. Within a few minutes, an osprey circled above a branch in its mouth and landed on one of the trees I expected could make a good nest site.
Great gray owl in the early evening
I recently gave a webinar on finding and locating great gray owls, much like the osprey story above, I can often find these beautiful birds because I have studied their behaviour. I know where to most likely look for them and when. Just like I did with the osprey. Much like our family or close friends that we know well, we can often make an educated guess on where to find them, same with wildlife if you take the time to get to know them. I cannot tell you the number of times I drive along and go wow... what a great place for a great horned owl, or there has to be a fox denning there, or I beat if I came back here around sunset there is a good chance I might see a black bear. You will have way more luck finding wildlife if you get to learn the behaviours and preferred habitat of the species you want to photograph.