One of the aspects of nature photography I enjoy, is its unpredictability. I read and hear photographers discussing the different approaches they prefer, some prefer planning extensively for one shot and others prefer finding a random shot. Their discussions sometimes sound like politics trying to convince you that their method is better and that you should subscribe to it. The beauty of it all, is that sometimes a photograph is the result of careful planning and other times a shot is there in an instant without warning. In my experience, I have taken photographs that are a result of lots of time spent in pre-planning and some happen in an instant.
Once, after spending a day at a beach photographing the local birds and the ocean views, I was just packing my camera into my back pack, when I turned to go to the back of the car and saw the sky had turned to gold from the sunset light. I had my camera in hand and saw a tree being highlighted against the golden background. Raised my camera and took the shot. The resulting photo was a keeper. It took seconds.
Another time I had been kayaking in the Nashua River and about 100 feet from the shore I put my camera away in a dry bag. As I sealed the bag my wife Alice said "look up"... A short distance in front of me was an Osprey diving for a fish. It caught the fish no more than 30 feet in front of me and flew by me with the fish in its talons. Where was my camera? neatly stored.
Always prepare, learn and plan. Learn about light, learn about the tides, the times of sunrise and sunset and the myriad of things that come together to produce a photograph. Practice until you know your equipment inside and out. Having done all of that, always be ready for the unexpected. I carry my camera everywhere because you never know...