…morning light is magic…

Birds

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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Sandhill Crane

Found this Sandhill Crane while exploring the back roads of NE Indiana.  Was checking out my favorite Osprey nest when this Sandhill started squawking right behind me.  Almost made me jump.  Turned around but couldn’t see him with a high berm along the dirt road.  Walked up an entrance into the field and saw him walking around very close to me.  He was apparently calling a couple other cranes that were hanging out in the field near the osprey nest.

1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400 II with 1.4x III teleconverter, handheld

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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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