Of Birds & Butts

Of Birds & Butts
Be kind to your backside with the JK Elite Seat
By Butler Cox

Photographing birds is one of photography’s most challenging endeavors. You try to get as close as possible to them which is always difficult. It’s hard enough on terra firma, but from a kayak getting close magnifies matters. Wind, waves, paddle noise, movement, and distance add up to magnitudes of complications. To get the shot you want may require staying as motionless as possible in one spot for hours at a time. That can be hard on the butt when you’re in a kayak, not a blind.


For example, the photo below of two Great Blue Herons feeding their chicks took over two hours to get. The shot of the feeding seagull took more than an hour before the bird trusted me enough to feel comfortable returning to its perch for lunch. That’s a lot of seat time trying not to move because just about any motion or sound will scare away these birds. It’s hard enough sitting at a desk for that long. Imagine what it’s like in a stationary kayak! But it is doable with the JK Elite Seat, even for this 80 y.o body.


I’ve often touted the comfort of Jackson Kayaks, but the Elite Seat is armchairs ahead. In a future post I’ll dig deeper into the other benefits of this comfy place, but for now suffice it to say the below photos would not have been possible without it. Except when it’s ashore at a campsite, as you’ll see, it’s on my Cuda LT which provides the stability, as well as comfort, to be let into these bird’s domains. More about that also in the future, but for now, I hope you enjoy the photos below, totally impossible without the comfort of Jackson Kayak’s Elite Seat.


This photo shows Great Blue Heron parents feeding their chicks. When this was taken, the heads of the babies were not tall enough to stick above the rim of the nest. The nest is about 500 feet from the camera and about 60 feet high. As many of you probably know, Great Blues are easily spooked so I am extremely grateful the Elite Seat allowed me to stay waiting for the two hours it took for these majestic birds to accept me:Osprey

Seagulls are also easily spooked while feeding, unless you’re tossing scraps from the stern of a ferry. I waited an hour for this one:

Birds in Flight (BIF) are always a challenge and American White Pelicans, such majestic fliers, are easily freaked. You have to be stealthy to capture them:

Geese are an enigma. When you find them in city parks they may pounce you while you’re eating fish & chips. In the wild they’re much more timid, especially in the springtime. These guys were kind enough to let me join their wanderings:


I’m a big fan of Osprey. One reason is they can be the chattiest of all waterfowl. This one let out a few comments since chicks have just hatched, according to the rangers:


The comfort of the Jackson Kayak Elite Seat allowed me to capture these wonderful creatures, despite long hours of waiting. But the absolute best time in this perch, the absolute best, is early morning coffee at a scenic campsite, complete with breakfasting geese. See, another neat thing about the Elite Seat is that it quickly serves as a camp chair. Makes the coffee taste much better!

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