Skywatch Friday: Whidbey Island Wildlife
|US Navy P-3C Orion|
In early March, I was at West Beach in Deception Pass State Park. It was a cold, windy, overcast day with occasional, brief sun breaks. I had the camera set up for wildlife, a 7D II with the 100-400L II lens mounted. Chances are good for spotting a Bald Eagle or two in the trees here. Black Oystercatchers also hang out here this time of year.
That morning, there were no eagles, but a lot of naval aircraft were in the air. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is just south of the park. On the spur of the moment, I turned the camera up and took a few shots as some passed overhead. I was surprised these turned out to be fairly decent. They usually don't; moving objects, bright sky, no time for settings, all the things that conspire against me were in play.
This is a Lockheed P-3C Orion Long Range Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft. Its mission is maritime patrol and surveillance. That "stinger" on the tail contains instruments for detecting submarines under water.
I even managed to catch the props without a blur in this photo. It was taken at f/8, 1/1000 second.
|US Navy EA-18G Growler|
This one is a Boeing EA-18G Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Aircraft. You might remember the old EA-6B Prowlers dating from the 1970's which this airplane replaced.
I captured another P-3C Orion coming in for a landing over the park, but this one introduces a mystery. The paint job is not typical US Navy. The US Coast Guard, US Customs, NOAA and several other countries also use the P-3C aircraft, but I could not find an image that matched this paint job. In the photo, it appears to be light blue with a white band along the fuselage. If anyone knows whose aircraft this is, I would enjoy hearing from you. This photo was taken at f/8, 1/1250 second which caught the propellers even better than the first photo.
There are more than gulls and eagles in the skies over Deception Pass State Park.