This was my first year to enter NANPA (North America Nature Photography Association) photo contest and was honored to get all 10 of my entries in the semi-finals and two photos making the top 250.
Here is my first one with a coyote intimidating a field rat at Anahuac NWR in Texas, which was taken in Dec 2018. After pulling up behind a group of vehicles taking his photo, he reversed course and came my way. Saw him “mousing” and he came up with a field rat and brought him out in the road right in front of my car. He initially played with him like a dog plays with a toy.
I tried to take photos out my car window but gave up as he was right in front of my car and didn’t want to get out and spook him. After watching him for a while, slowly opened up my door and stood between my car and my door taking photos.
Right before devouring breakfast, he stood over the rat and bared his teeth which was very intimidating.
Almost full frame shot with only cropping a little off of the bottom to remove the yellow stripe in the road. 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 6400, evaluative metering, 700mm
Taken with Canon 1DX, Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld
On Saturday morning at Anahuac NWR, was talking photos of black-necked stilts on the back side of Shoveler Pond when a large bird flew overhead with other birds chasing it. Looked like an eagle but couldn’t tell for sure until his white head came into view. He went along the tall grass and grabbed a coot and flew back to the middle of the pond. Not a good time to be a coot at Anahuac these days as they are prime targets for raptors.
Had just backed off from ISO 3200 to 1600 with the stilts and didn’t have time to crank it back up with the eagle so had to work with a slow shutter speed of 1/250 for this flight shot.
1/250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 700mm, handheld out my car window
When the eagle first caught the coot, a northern harrier followed him and kept circling to try to steal a bite. After the eagle was finished eating, the harrier made his move and landed just behind the eagle and stole a piece. Gutsy move.
Spent most of my time tracking the harrier while the eagle fed. Thought that it would be a more interesting photo with the two birds in one shot than just the eagle eating. Paid off in my opinion.
1/2500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm, handheld out my car window
Caught this juvi red tailed hawk yesterday at Anahuac NWR east of Houston just after sunrise. He flew from a tree in front of me and landed on this fence post. Stayed in position just long enough for me to get a few vertical photos.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld out my car window.
1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 exposure compensation, 700mm
Got very excited when the Anahuac short-eared owl flew towards the sun giving me a chance to play in the light with back-lit photos. Was heavily cropped but still fun to see and take photos.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
1/2000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm
There have been lots of posts on Facebook about some short-eared owls hanging out at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in SE Texas. Made a trip over there recently to check them out. Took a couple of trips to finally find them and it was a blast. Ended up spending about 1 1/2 hours watching them fly back and forth hunting over a large area. Most of the photos were at a long distance away but they did make a few close passes, which were very exciting.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
1/2000 sec @ F6.3, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation
Had a most excellent adventure with a coyote yesterday at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. I arrived at Anahuac around 6:30 a.m. and headed to Frozen Point to try to find the short-eared owl. With the cloudy conditions, it was very dark before sunrise and couldn’t spot any activity.
Drove back towards Shoveler’s Pond and saw a couple of trucks tracking something along the canal. Found my buddy Doug in full camo pointing out where a coyote was working the opposite bank of the canal. Luckily, he started coming back towards us and we started shooting away. He eventually got back to the main road and I backed my car up and followed him for a short distance until he started hunting in the grass along site the road. It was very cool to see him jump up and down like a mousing fox.
Got a couple of decent head shots and he then came up with his prey, a field rat. He brought it out on the road and ended up playing with it like a puppy would play with a toy right in front of my car. Tried to take photos of him out my car window but my car wasn’t in the best position with my side mirror kept getting in my way and it was challenging to shoot over it. Didn’t want to spook him by opening my car door initially. Stopped taking still photos a couple of times and took video with my iPhone. I’ll post one of those later. Eventually opened my door to get an unobstructed view of him.
Parents always tell their kids not to play with their food, but this coyote was a master at it. He would pick up the rat and throw it around and then try to intimidate it by baring its teeth as he stood above it. He eventually ate the rat and then started staring at something to my right, which ended up being Doug laying down near the right side of my car. He slowly started to stalk Doug and then Doug showed up next to me.
Here is one of my favorite shots. Don’t worry Doug, I would have repositioned myself to get the shot if he wanted to play with you.
With the low light, had to use full open aperture and sacrificed depth of field to get the shot. Initially was using ISO 6400 but backed off to 3200 for this photo.
1/125 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 2/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority, 700mm
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
1/1000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation
1/2000 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation
It’s tough to express any true reflections on a year that just started, so instead, here is my first reflection shot from 2015. Looks like it could be a good year.
It’s easy to ignore Coots in SE Texas as they are very abundant and can be somewhat boring but in the right light with a good background, they can stand out with the best of them. Had to expose for the white beak so no positive exposure compensation on this one. Taken at Anahuac NWR in Texas.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter, handheld out the car window
1/800 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering