Wildlife photographer took 40,000 photos to capture these extraordinary birds

Rebecca Cairns, CNN. Photos by Tim Laman

I’m willing, more than most people, to go through some discomfort.”

That’s how American conservation photographer Tim Laman ended up with water rising over his knees in a marshy river delta at midnight, his camera gear floating by his side. “I got myself into a situation,” he admits.

Laman was in Venezuela’s Orinoco Basin searching for scarlet ibises, bright orange-red birds that roost among the tangle of mangrove roots and sticky mudflats at dusk. He wanted to photograph the birds in the evening and morning light — which meant spending the night on a fixed plywood raft in the middle of the river. But the tide charts he was using were incomplete and, as the sun set, the water came up over the raft.

“I spent the whole night standing on the platform, waiting for the tide to go back down, which it finally did by morning,” says Laman. “The sun came up and I got my camera back out and got more pictures of the birds.”

It’s a shot from this trip that wraps around the cover of his new photo book, “Bird Planet,” capturing the birds in flight, contrasted against a baby blue sky and softly glowing full moon….