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Black Skimmer’s Landing Gear

This black skimmer was doing a fly-by and actually skimming at Bolivar flats, which is a somewhat rare event in that location.  From my experience over the past several years, they usually just fly around looking for a place to land so this was a very nice change of pace.  Especially since this was during a guide trip that I was leading with three great guys from New Zealand, Canada and Indiana.

It’s always a challenge to capture these birds in flight while using a ground pod since your range of motion is limited while laying on the ground.  Added bonus was he briefly turned directly towards me.  Also like that his feet were hanging like landing gear coming down.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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All Puffed Up

This white morph reddish egret was all puffed up while strutting around Bolivar Flats.  There has been a record crop of white morph’s around this neck of the woods lately, which is very cool.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret Stalking

This reddish egret was stalking its prey just after sunrise.  He had his head on the down low while running towards the fish.  His legs lined up perfectly that it looks like he only has one leg with two feet attached to it.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/125 sec @ F10, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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You Lookin at Me??

You lookin at me?  Better not be.  My boys behind me will come after you.

Made another trip to Bolivar Flats over the Memorial Day weekend while guiding three clients for two days.  They were at the end of a 3 week trip across south Texas with the Galveston area their last stop.  Thanks again to Kent, Bill and Ian for allowing me to show you around this part of Texas.  Had a great time and got to see lots of birds.

Made two stops to Bolivar Flats and found some avocets, reddish egrets and lots of snowy egrets.  Had several opportunities for some interaction shots which are always fun.  One was a little weird with an avocet trying to mate with an inanimate object.  More on that later.

While focusing on a avocet, saw two snowy egrets walking behind him.  Switched my attention to the background and visualized this shot coming as they crossed behind him.  The avocet cooperated by staring at me while getting some scratching action in.  Made for a cool shot.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Yellowstone Winter Trees

It’s getting quite toasty with the heat/humidity in SE Texas so I thought that it was time to cool it down a touch with a couple of photos from Yellowstone in winter.  My trip was focused on “wildlife” but we did stop a couple of times for some landscape photos.  Proof that I can somewhat take non-critter photos.

I wasn’t the best prepared traveling without my ball head but made

do.  Trying to use a 17-40mm lens on a gimbal head was a challenge though.  Plus breaking my 100-400 lens on day 1 didn’t help so the last shot was with my 500mm lens.  Next time I’ll have my back-up camera ready with my wide-angle lens for just such an occasion.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 17-40mm lens mounted on tripod.

Manual mode, 1/60 sec @ F11, ISO 200, spot metered off the snow + 2 stops

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Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II handheld

Manual mode, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 100, spot metered off the snow + 2 stops

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Spoonbill Wingspan

Drove down to the Rockport, TX area at the end of April to participate in a workshop with Hector Astorga.  We spent two mornings visiting the Aransas NWR rookery by boat.  We experienced very high winds and high surf but boat captain Kevin Sims did an excellent job as always.  It was quite the roller coaster ride getting to the rookery with three foot waves bouncing the small flat-bottomed boat around in the dark before sunrise.

Once we arrived at the rookery, the waves reduced but the anchor wasn’t successful at keeping the boat still so Kevin put on his waders, jumped into the water and held onto the boat to keep it from moving around.  He would then push the boat around manually when we needed to switch positions around the island.  He definitely went above and beyond the call of duty on this trip

The rookery was filled with great blue herons and spoonbills, along with a few snowy egrets, reddish egrets, black crowned night herons, oystercatchers and terns.  Most of the chicks were fairly large but were still actively being fed by their parents.

Caught this spoonbill coming in for a landing with his wings outstretched while positioned at the upper deck of the boat.  With the wind/waves, it was challenging to keep the camera steady on my tripod.  Took way too many photos but liked how this one turned out.  Very minimal cropping on the right side.  Had to crank up the ISO to 3200 to get a decent shutter speed.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

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Pelican Stealing White Morph’s Fish

Here are some photos of the brown pelican scaring the white morph reddish egret in order to steal his fish.  He surprised me as well and they were too close at 700mm and ended up clipping the pelican’s wings in the first shot.  You can see the fish drop in the second photo with the pelican getting ready to enjoy his spoils in the last shot.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500MM F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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