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Posts tagged “avocet

You Lookin at Me??

You lookin at me?  Better not be.  My boys behind me will come after you.

Made another trip to Bolivar Flats over the Memorial Day weekend while guiding three clients for two days.  They were at the end of a 3 week trip across south Texas with the Galveston area their last stop.  Thanks again to Kent, Bill and Ian for allowing me to show you around this part of Texas.  Had a great time and got to see lots of birds.

Made two stops to Bolivar Flats and found some avocets, reddish egrets and lots of snowy egrets.  Had several opportunities for some interaction shots which are always fun.  One was a little weird with an avocet trying to mate with an inanimate object.  More on that later.

While focusing on a avocet, saw two snowy egrets walking behind him.  Switched my attention to the background and visualized this shot coming as they crossed behind him.  The avocet cooperated by staring at me while getting some scratching action in.  Made for a cool shot.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Galveston FeatherFest 2016

FeatherFest in Galveston, TX was held this past week and it was a great success.  This was my fourth year being a photography event leader with four classroom workshops and three field trips this year.  Had lots of fun and got to meet some great people with several repeat photographers from previous years.  Thanks to everyone that participated.  Special thanks to Scott, Julie Ann, Barbara, the liaisons and all of the volunteers. They made the leaders days go very smooth.

The weather didn’t fully cooperate but the birds sure did.  I was amazed at how well the field trips went with the cloudy and sometimes extremely windy weather.  I’m hoping that everyone on the field trips had a good time and got some great photos.  Can’t wait to do it again next year but my ‘ol body needs a little rest first.

Shore Bird field trip on Friday

On Friday, we had a great time with photographing shore birds on Galveston Island.  Since it was cloudy when we got to the jetty on East Beach at sunrise, I encouraged the group to take blurred photos.  The usual flock of black skimmers launched for us several times, providing lots of practice for birds in flight and blurred photos, some of which are shown below.

We stopped at the east end of the island to see a few boring Avocets, some other shore birds and a cooperative Reddish Egret, which is always a good time.

We then headed to 19th St. pier to check out the Pelicans near the fishing boats.  There were lots of photo op’s of the pelicans and a lone Black Crowned Night Heron.  The colors of the Brown Pelicans were amazing but I ended up converting the photo below to B&W based on the texture of their perch and their wings.

Taken with Canon 1DX with Canon 100-400 II, handheld

Black Skimmers:  Shutter priority, 1/10 sec @ F 16, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Black Skimmers:  Shutter priority, 1/10 sec @ F 16, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Willet:  Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure

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Brown Pelicans:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation.  Converted to B&W using NIK Silver Effects Pro (which is now free!!)

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Ground Level Photography field trip on Saturday

On Saturday, it was off to Bolivar Flats for some good old fashion down and dirty bird photography using ground pods.  Even though it was supposed to be low tide, the high winds from the south drove the surf to near the shore line.  However, there was a flock of Avocets right next to the parking area and we enjoyed some great photo op’s.  After about an hour, we got up (thankfully from my body’s perspective) and went down the shoreline to another group of Avocets and Royal Terns.  We laid down but there was a ridge of seaweed blocking the view of the birds.  We were cutting off the legs of the birds in our photos.  With no other good option, we practiced doing some belly crawling to try to get on a higher section of sand adjacent to the water, with limited success.

The shooting wasn’t ideal so we headed back to our original location as there were no other birds in sight down the shoreline.  Unfortunately, the Avocets spooked and flew away before we could get into position.  I instructed the group to lay down and wait for them to come back as it was a good location, considering the conditions.  The Avocets didn’t come back but a Reddish Egret ended up landed right in front of us.  It was very sweet.  He put on a very good show for us, although he was too close for me at times at 700mm, which is a good problem to have.

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

American Avocet:  1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation; full frame shot

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation

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Ground Level Photography field trip on Sunday

It was obvious going into the weekend that Sunday was going to be challenging with the weather forecast of storms all day.  Got up at 3:30 a.m. to check the radar with no rain in the Galveston area, which was very good news.  However, it was raining off and on during on my drive to Galveston.  Made the 6:00 a.m. ferry and met the group on the Bolivar side.  I was hoping for the best based on Saturday’s outing but it was very windy (20 to 30 mph), which is usually a kiss of death at Bolivar Flats for birds being along the shoreline.

The first challenge hit when we turned onto the road to the beach and found that it was flooded.  Put my boots on and walked the road with Kevin and confirmed that there was only a few inches of water on the road.  We found the second challenge when we got to the beach and found that the beach was flooded and we couldn’t make it to the “flats”.  What could have been a major bust turned out to be a great outing with finding a couple of Oystercatchers, several Avocets and a Reddish Egret along the shoreline near the entrance to the beach.

We geared up and got down and dirty with our ground pods.  Always leery of getting too close and spooking the birds, I kept the group back a ways to start.  We then ended up belly crawling closer pushing our ground pods along in the sand.  I could tell that Kevin was really getting into it as he ended up in the water ahead of the rest of the group.  We eventually caught up with him and enjoyed some good shooting.

Then the third challenge hit when someone pulled up in a car with two kids and walked very close to the Reddish Egret to collect shells along the beach.  Some people have no clue.  The Terns scattered but luckily, the egret didn’t fly away.  I’ve learned over the years to not get too angry at clueless people but to take advantage of the situation.  Seeing that the Egret was more interesting in feeding than people, I got the group up and we shifted to be closer/more in line with where the egret was feeding.  It was a very good move as we were able to get very close to him and he ended up walking right by us at one point.

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

American Avocets:  1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret:  Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation.  Full frame shot with being cropped to vertical format.

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Avocet Wearing Water

Bathing birds can provide for some good photo op’s.  With a high shutter speed, froze the action when he came up out of the water.  Captured the water going over his head and body.  Always a good time seeing these birds up close.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod

manual exposure, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering, 700mm

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A Very Good Day

Bolivar Flats along the Gulf of Mexico in SE Texas continues to amaze me.  Made my second trip over the long holiday weekend yesterday and this one was special.  My typical goals at Bolivar include trying to find and photograph Avocets and Reddish Egrets.  All other birds are icing on the cake.  It was a target rich environment and had the opportunity to have my cake with lots of icing on top.

In my FeatherFest workshops, I stress to the participants to keep your head on a swivel and look behind you as the best shot may be there.  Took my own advice and it paid off big time on this outing.

All photos were 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.   Very little cropping on most of these photos.

Got up at 3:30 a.m. and made it to Bolivar before the sun came up.  Hiked along the beach to check out where the birds were located and saw this Great Blue Heron flying by.  Picked up my rig, including the ground pod, and got a series of blurred flight shots.  Got a nice blurred wing spread when he landed.

1/20 sec @ F16, ISO 1600, +2/3 exposure compensation, evaluative metering, handheld

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Worked my way down the beach and saw a group of White Pelicans, Gulls and Avocets in the distance.  Didn’t see a practical way to get close to them so headed to one of my favorite spots and settled on a small sandbar just off shore within reach of a Reddish Egret.  Got a few shots of him dancing around when the tide came in and the sand bar went under water.  Decided to stay put and laid in the water waiting for some more bird action.  Patience paid off as I heard a group of three American Oystercatchers coming in for a landing near by.  Got off my first shot as this one was landing and he gave me a very nice wing spread.  They only hung around for a couple of minutes and took off.

1/640 sec @ F7.1, ISO 4000, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, evaluative metering

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Looked behind me and saw a Reddish Egret dancing in the distance so headed back in that direction.  Saw what I thought was a Snowy Egret and decided to lay down and get a few silhouette shots.  Discovered that he was actually a White Morph Reddish Egret, which ended up providing some great shots over the next hour.

1/4000 sec @ F9, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Followed this White Morph back to near my original location when a Reddish Egret flew in and scared him off.  After the Reddish Egret didn’t do anything but stand there, turned around to see that the White Morph had landed back in the area where I first spotted him.  Moved my position again and ended up working his way back towards me.  Got some of my best White Morph shots as he danced around.  I’ll post some more shots of him later.

1/640 sec @ F11, ISO 800, +1 exposure compensation, evaluative metering

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After the White Morph walked passed me, heard a familiar bird and looked behind me to see a single Avocet starting to feed along side a Yellow Legs and a Willet.  The challenge at this point was to rotate around in the wet sand without spooking him.  The Avocet kept moving back and forth and got close enough for some head shots.  This one is uncropped.

1/400 sec @ F16, ISO 800, evaluative metering

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A very good day indeed.


Avocet Close-up’s

Here are a couple of close-up shots of an American Avocet from Bolivar Flats as he was walking towards me.  The darker colors around his head/neck are breeding plumage.  Only minor cropping and no sharpening.

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

1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation (due to bright background)

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1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Avocet in Breeding Plumage

Took Friday off of work to properly break in my new camera at Bolivar Flats with a little sand and salt water.  It was low tide at sunrise but most of the sandbars were covered in seaweed.  Just as well since I forgot to take my rubber boots with me.  The outing started out slow with some Willet shots at a distance but ended up great with getting head shots of Avocets and a Reddish Egret.

Relocated my position a couple of times and ended up with two options.  Off to my left was a group of Brown Pelicans/Black Skimmers and off to my right was a Reddish Egret with a few Avocets near by.  Not likely to get close to the Pelican’s without spooking them so I headed towards the Reddish Egret.  Couldn’t get real close without my boots so ended up picking a spot upstream of the Egret and laid down with my ground pod hoping that the birds would come to me.  I love it when a plan comes together.  The Reddish Egret ended up going right by me and two of the Avocets walked right towards me.  One ended up being too close to get a full body shot so I focused on the top half of this body.  Minor cropping to reposition him in the frame gave me this shot.

Losing the crop factor from my 7D won’t be a big deal when the birds cooperate like this.  Only minor adjustments in Photoshop with saturation/contrast for this photo.  No sharpening was required in Photoshop.  Something tells me that I’m going to like my 1DX/500mm combo.

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 @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

 

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Avocet with Breeding Plumage

My day job and non-cooperative weather has kept me away from photography lately so it’s time to dig into the archives.  Found this Avocet that was coming into his breeding plumage at Bryan Beach, TX last summer.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II head

1/500 sec @ F4, ISO 500, evaluative metering

 

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