Leftovers and the best college football until bowl season are two reasons to stay indoors after Thanksgiving. Weather could be another reason.
But it is the weather that brings animals like migratory bald eagles out, and that is a reason to head back outside.
Outdoor photography during cold weather adds new obstacles to an already difficult task of photographing elusive wildlife.
Those obstacles don’t have to be hindrances. Preparation can make a venture into cold weather comfortable, if not successful.
Layering in clothes that will keep a body warm and dry is the first step to keeping patient in the outdoors. Without patience, wildlife is not easily found.
Anyone who spends time outside in the cold will testify that a ravenous appetite is developed easily. Having food readily available will also make staying out easier.
With personal comforts met, the next step is knowing animal behavior is next to finding them.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology paints Washington as wintering grounds for eagles from the north. The most likely time to spot eagles is when they are perched looking for or eating fish.
Although the birds are usually high above the ground, they usually take off easy when approached from the ground. So a long zoom lens and quiet observation are important to capturing images of unique behavior.
Waterfowl are still in the region and can be easier to be close to when they are taking off or landing.
Many waterfowl species are still in hunting season, and some of the tactics hunters use are effective for photographing the birds.
Wear colors that blend in and remain still, and shoot only during the daylight. During dawn and twilight hours it is not always possible to see photos due to the need for a fast shutter speed and a long lens’ small aperture.
Other non-hibernating animals are sticking around as well.
Freshly fallen snow makes animals easier to see, or at least easier to see where they have been.
The Wenatchee River is a permanent home to otters. Observing high-traffic areas in the mornings can reveal where they fish or play.
Now that deer are no longer in the rut, try to catch them between feeding and where they bed down.
Digital camera gear is another consideration.
Ion batteries found in most leading camera brands will die faster. Newer batteries are getting better at cold endurance, but it is best to take precautions and at least keep the camera close to some body heat.
Pack waterproof housing or a cover for the camera in the event of precipitation. Rain and snow can make otherwise mundane portraits look more dramatic, and it is always a shame to miss out on those rare opportunities.
You can prepare for the likely animals, but the fun in looking for wildlife is in all the unexpected sightings. Maybe you’ll find this year’s Christmas card photo.