Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-120mm / f4

Joan, I, and the dog went out this evening for a nice long walk into the Deere Marsh, a wetland area between the Mississippi River and the big John Deere factory north of Dubuque, Iowa. We had a fresh and clear day with a few puffy clouds in the sky, but unfortunately they all had disappeared before the evening.

Joan likes to shoot wildflowers and plants and this area had still plenty to offer for her. I just brought my favorite “walk around” lens, the Nikkor 24 - 120 / f4, and was hoping to chase some good light.

We had what I call a “dirty sunset”, a little hazy and not too pretty, nothing really special about it. But after the sun disappeared behind the ridge of the Mississippi Valley things started to unfold. Hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds were flying above us towards a grove with tall trees, located on a small island in the river. They obviously spend the night there after feeding on insects and seeds during the day between the water lilies and arrow heads that grow in the backwaters of the river. I would not have made any picture of the sunset because I didn’t have a middle-ground with an interesting silhouette, but the blackbirds took care for that and became the story telling element in this photo.