…morning light is magic…

Galveston’s FeatherFest Field Trip to Bolivar Flats

Had a great time this week with leading 4 classroom workshops and 2 field trips at Galveston’s FeatherFest.  The first field trip was at Bolivar Flats, which I kind of know like the back of my hand.  The goal was to give the participants experience at using a ground pod and to get some low-level shorebird photos.  Bolivar is at it’s best at low tide and of course it was high tide on Friday morning.  Never the less, we packed 10 of us into a small van and headed to the flats.  Note to self:  get a larger vehicle next year and leave earlier.

The good news was that the sun was out and the wind and waves were low.  The bad news was that with high tide, there were no exposed sand bars off of the shoreline so we had to stay on the beach.  There were several Pelicans on the poles at the barricade, which made for some good shots including silhouettes.  Went a little further down the beach and saw a Willet and some type of small sparrow in the brush.  Got down on the ground to shoot some small Sanderlings and 3 Marbled Godwits came walking towards us.  It was a good example of how close the birds will come to you while lying down on the ground.

We ended up working our way down the beach and got up and down several times.  My sharp-eyed liaison assistant, Phil, spotted a lone Avocet in full breeding color mixed in with some other birds further down the shoreline.  I told the group that it would be a miracle to get close to him but we would give it a shot.  We ended up walking closer to him with my goal to get to a point where there was some yellow plastic on the beach.  The birds started to stir a little, so we went down to the ground.  The Avocet was mixed in with several other birds and was difficult to get a good shot of him at that distance.  We ended up doing the old belly crawl trying to get closer while pushing the ground pods along.  When we made it to the yellow plastic, I was satisfied that we had reached that goal.  My group was very ambitious and wanted more so we kept crawling.  This is where a Skimmer ground pod really shines with it being easy to move along the sand.

We ended up crawling fairly close to the Avocet but ran out of time and had to head back to the van.  I was hoping that he would give us a good stretch and fly but he looked too tired.  It’s rare to see a lone Avocet like that as they are usually in a large flock.  The field trip turned out better than I expected with being stuck on the shoreline.

Thanks to everyone who came on this field trip.  It was a good time and can’t wait to do it again next year.  I’ll post of few more photos from this trip and my second trip on Sat. around Galveston later.

All of these photos were taken with a Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Marbled Godwits with my goal while taking this shot was to get the first two with their beaks together.  Got an added bonus with the 3rd one.  Shows the depth of field with a 500mm lens.

Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

Bolivar Flats_06204122013-2

Got this Marbled Godwit taking off as he walked around us along the beach.

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

Bolivar Flats_15704122013-2

This Marbled Godwit was doing his best pose for us.

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

Bolivar Flats_24704122013-2

Our targeted Avocet in full breeding colors as he finally walked away from the other birds around him.

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

Bolivar Flats_36304122013-2

4 responses

  1. The things that we birders will do for a shot are amazing, almost as amazing as your photos!

    April 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m very spoiled with living so close to the Gulf of Mexico. Just a little change of pace from my days growing up in northern Indiana.

    April 14, 2013 at 9:33 am

  3. I didn’t have to scroll down past this image to know that it was yours. This is absolutely stunning, and the light is amazing.

    April 14, 2013 at 8:47 pm

  4. Thanks Emily. Appreciate your comments. Shorebirds at sunrise are always a good time.

    April 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

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