…morning light is magic…

Birds

Whooping Crane

Spent this past weekend in Rockport, TX trying to find Whooping Crane at Aransas NWR via a boat with Kevin Sims.  Had a great time as always.  Thanks again Scott for the invite.

Saturday with very foggy and had to start late and tried to wait out the fog.  No luck with that strategy, so Kevin worked the shoreline.  We found three whooping cranes that were looking for crabs in a small pond close to the shoreline.  We got very luck as they worked their way towards us and ended up walking out of the pond and got very close.  Ended up having to taking off my 1.4X teleconverter as I was only getting head shots.  A great problem to have when shooting whooping cranes.

Got this stare down from the juvenile crane.  They stuck around for about 1/2 hour and then walked away.  Was a great experience.

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

1/500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, spot metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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White Tailed Hawk

Hope that everyone survived new years celebrations.  We did our usual Mexican restaurant for dinner and headed home before the crazies got on the road.

For my old friend Joe, here are a few shots of a White Tailed Hawk that I found on the road leading up to Anahuac NWR while guiding Stephen Bontempo around a few weeks ago.  These were taken out my car window.  Pulled up and had to quickly get ready to shoot.  He laughed before I got the first shot off but got several photos of him as he took off and flew away.  Good times…

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter.

1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Happy New Year!

Hoping that all of you had a great 2017.  My plan was to post my favorite shots for 2017 before now but I got tied up over the holidays so it will have to wait for early Jan.

2018 will start out with a bang for me from a photography perspective and then have some challenges.  It’s going to be an interesting year for sure.

Spend the morning of Christmas Eve at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast taking shorebird photos, along with a few raptors.  While walking out along the shoreline, saw a dark spot out on the sand that looked out of place.  Trusted my instinct and picked up my camera and spotted a peregrine falcon.  Got very excited and walking slowly closer to him, laid down, took a couple of shots, went to check my histogram and he took off.

Walked away from that area over to one of my favorite spots around the corner and spotted a couple of hundred Avocets feeding just off shore.  Laid down and belly crawled towards them.  The muck was very slimy and ended up on my knees and pushed my ground pod along for about 60 ft and stayed put for a couple of hours.

All of a sudden, all of the birds flew away, which usually means that either a raptor or human was nearby.  Spun around on my stomach thanks to the slimy muck and caught this Northern Harrier flying along the vegetation line.

Ended up seeing a couple of Harriers and four Caracara’s.  Tis the season for migrating raptors.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation.

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Reddish Egret Portrait in Golden Light

Golden light at sunrise rocks.  Got this Reddish Egret portrait shot from Bolivar Flats along the Gulf Coast on Friday.  As usual, was using my ground pod to get the low-level look.

I try to get into position about 1/2 before the sun comes up to get some cool pre-dawn color but that’s not practical with the time change.  Have to get up at 4:00 a.m. at the latest to make the 6:00 a.m. Bolivar Ferry.  Was walking out to my spot when the sun popped but it was still good.  Don’t know about the birds, but I had a great time.

Started out shooting black necked stilts when this reddish egret flew in.  He didn’t stick around long but loved the golden light on him and the weeds in the background.

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

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Reddish Egret Fight

These two reddish egrets went toe to toe yesterday at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast of Texas.  Had my ISO cranked up to 3200 while taking static shots of a couple of white morph reddish egrets when these two started fighting.  Should have increased to ISO to 6400 but didn’t have enough time to change any settings as the action happened very fast.  Lots of blurred action in this series but it was very fun to watch and photograph.  More to come…

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

1/20 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Hurricane Harvey and Aransas Bay Rookery

Since hurricane Harvey hit the Texas gulf coast, my brain has been in a major funk, so to speak, and I just haven’t been in the mood to post or take any photos for the past month, even though we made it through relatively unscathed.

The storm came ashore and devastated Rockport, TX, flooded the Houston area with about 50 inches of rain and then flooded Beaumont/Port Arthur.

We got very lucky and didn’t have any flooding in our neighborhood but others nearby weren’t so lucky.  The west end of my town, League city,  got extensive flooding from Clear Creek with about 7,700 homes being flooded.  Towns west and south of us (Friendswood & Dickinson) had greater flooding.  Overall, the flooding in the Houston area was devastating with around 200,000 homes and one million cars flooded.  With over 80% of homeowners without flood insurance, it’s going to be a very rough time for the people of Texas for a very long time.  Watching TV and seeing the high water rescues that were underway for several days was very depressing.  It was surreal to see highway off-ramps being used as boat ramps for the rescue boats.

We only had two roof leaks to deal with and feel very lucky.  Had to play bucket brigade with one of them streaming in on Sunday morning when we were getting 6 inches/hour of rain.  It would have been a major mess if we would have evacuated.  This storm was good motivation for us to replace our 23 yr old roof, which will be finished tomorrow.

I kept looking out my front door in the middle of the night to try to see how high the water level was coming up.  We then decided to move some stuff up to the second floor of our home just in case.  Didn’t realize until mowing the yard about a week later that the water came up into my yard about 4 ft with a visible debris line in my grass.  Somehow we never lost power.

It took a couple of days before the water receded on local roads where we could get to the store to pick-up a couple of fans to help dry out the carpet near our fireplace.  We also bought a couple of car loads of cleaning supplies to donate to a local shelter that was set up for people who had to evacuate their homes.

It’s been very sad to see people’s lives sitting at the curb with furniture, beds, sheet rock, carpet, etc. pulled out of their flooded houses with lots of it still sitting there a month after the storm.

Now back to the birds.  Learned recently that the rookery in Aransas Bay has been devastated with most of the vegetation being wiped out.  See the link below to see before and after videos at the rookery.  Reminds me of what happened to the High Island rookery after hurricane Ike but this is more severe.

http://www.caller.com/videos/sports/outdoors/2017/09/15/rookeries-take-hit-harvey/105609968/

Feel so fortunate to have visited the rookery in April.  Here are a few photos from that trip.  Hoping that it can recover soon.

Taken from a boat with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod.

1/125 sec @ F4, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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1/2500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation

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1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation

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Sandhill Chasing Whooping Crane

While taking pictures of a lone whooping crane, three sandhill cranes came flying in.  They apparently thought that they had power in numbers and tried to chase off the whooping crane.  It made for some very cool photo op’s.  They were almost successful when all of a sudden two other whooping cranes flew in what I thought was an attempt to save the day.  In reality, they ended up chasing away the original whooping crane.  Go figure…

1/500 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, – 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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

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