It’s always fun to watch and photograph great egrets in mating season when they put on a display of their breeding plumage. Caught this mating dance at High Island’s rookery at sunrise.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
1/60 sec @ F4, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority
Finally, some sunshine in SE Texas. This day was a little to windy for Bolivar Flats and my gut was telling me to head to High Island to see if there was any activity yet.
Got up at 3:15 a.m. and make it there well before sunrise. One of the challenges at the rookery at sunrise is the mosquitos, which can take swarming to a new level. In preparation for the skeeters, bought a mosquito net to fit over my had, which worked wonders. Best $10 ever spent at REI.
Got to the last platform in complete darkness so it was difficult to tell if there were very many birds present yet. Could hear the pig-like grunting from some cormorants, which always show up first. Once the pre-dawn light started falling over the area, finally could tell that there were enough great egrets to make it a worthwhile trip. Before the sun came up, several more great egrets came to the rookery and started displaying their breeding plumage. Didn’t take long for the courtship’s to begin. Only a few minutes were required for them to arrive, find a match, mate and then take off to find sticks to build a nest.
I always go to the rookery at sunrise to get back-lit photos. Exposing for the brightest areas of the birds with the sun coming through their feathers can make for some amazing photo opportunities.
This is a photo of a pair of great egrets that I watched after the sun came up. One would take off to find sticks and then arrive with great fanfare and pass of the stick to their mate for nest-building. Felt great to get back in my element.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F5 IS II lens on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority
We were lucky enough to find a long-tailed weasel. He was across the river on a hill and was very difficult to spot. I couldn’t find him after he was spotted. Had to try to find his black tail bounding across the snow. Cute little critter but a very vicious carnivore with sharp teeth and claws.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens, handheld
1/800 sec @ F6.3, ISO 1600, spot metering off the snow +2 tops, manual mode
To cap off my coyote encounter at Yellowstone, the coyote almost face-planted while nearing the top of the hill. The snow must have gotten deeper or the hill was steeper causing him to almost fall into the snow. He was able to maintain his laser focus on what he was looking at and didn’t miss a beat.
Minor cropping off of the left side of the frame on these head shots.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm lens, handheld while sitting in a snowbank.
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400
Here is a full frame shot of the Yellowstone coyote as he went around me after jumping up the hill. Was a very good day.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld while sitting in a snowbank.
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, manual mode
Yellowstone coyote on his way to the small creek before he ran up the hill. Full framed shot without any cropping. Saw this composition coming as he got near the cattails. Used back-focus button to get him in focus and then recomposed to put him in the lower left corner with the cattails in the top of the frame.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld
1/3200 sec @ F8, ISO 800, manual mode
Our second coyote encounter on Day 1 at Yellowstone was incredible. One of our workshop leaders spotted a coyote crossing the river at a distance. We got out of the snow coach and walked down the road to try to get a better view of him. He got up on the bank and made his way to our right in the snow, catching some food along the way.
Three of us went with Jared further upstream and waited for him to come to us. While sitting in a snowbank, got some cool shots of the coyote working his way along a small winding creek at the bottom of our hill. Was very happy to get those shots and expected him to continue along his way at the base of this hill.
All of a sudden, he took off and ran/jumped up the hill directly towards us. Luckily didn’t have my tripod or would have missed some of the shots as I had to lean back and to my left to shoot as a small tree got in the way.
He bounded up the hill while glancing from left to right with making direct eye contact with me several times. He would blast up out of the snow, which created a cool ring of snow around him. As he got closer, began to wonder if he was going to run right into me so I briefly lifted my head up to see how close that he was getting and he veered off to my left, leaving me with some full frame shots as he went by.
He kept going up the hill while almost face-planting into the snow allowing for a couple of cool head shots. At the top of the hill, he looked back at us and then went down the road like nothing happened. He left us with the thought “What just happened and did we capture it?” Downloading my photos revealed that I got 37 out of 40 photos in the sequence in focus when he ran up the hill in about 75 seconds. Have a 12 frames/sec camera really paid off.
I keep having these once-in-a-lifetime photography experiences in Yellowstone, which will ensure that I keep going back. Thanks again Jared and Doug. One of my favorite Yellowstone encounters ever.
All photos were taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens, handheld
Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, 500mm