…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “avocet

Bolivar Flats Trip

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Hope that you have a great day and get plenty of food to eat.

Had a great couple of days taking shorebird photos this week at Bolivar Flats on the Texas gulf coast.  Went with Lisa and Catherine on Sunday and by myself on Monday with sunshine and low winds.

On Sunday,  we found a good spot to lay down with our ground pods and a huge flock of avocets made their way in our direction.  Was able to turn to my left to get some back-lit shots, which if always my goal with bird photography.

1/2500 sec @ F8, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

0741_Bolivar Flats_11242019-2

We moved locations and the avocets were walking right in front of us.  They were so close that I couldn’t get some of them in the frame.  A very good problem to have.  This is one of the main advantages of using a ground pod as the birds don’t recognize you as a person when you are laying down.  They will walk right up to you.

1/2500 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

3410_Bolivar Flats_11242019-2

Also got this shot that I really like of a dowitcher as he fed in front of us.  It pays to watch all of the birds as the small ones can provide some great photo op’s.

1/1600 sec @ F6.3, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

1027_Bolivar Flats_11242019-2

A highlight on this trip was this lone black-necked stilt that was walking amongst the hundred of avocets.  It was a challenge to get him isolated from the rest of the birds but was able to get a few shots.  Love their long legs, tux looking feathers and red eyes.

1/2000 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation

3220_Bolivar Flats_11242019-2

 


One of my 2018 Favorites

Happy new years everyone!  Hope that everyone had a great 2018 and is having a safe new years eve celebration.  Have a wonderful 2019!

Here is one of my favorite photos of 2018, an American Avocet from Bolivar Flats.  It’s a challenge to get one of these birds isolated from the flock and this one did not disappoint.  Sometimes before they take off, they will stretch out their wings and dip their head.  This one did it right in front of me with a slight turn of his head and then looked right at me.  Loved 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

1/1250 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm, aperture priority

0100_Bolivar_Flats_11242018-2


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

0224_Bolivar Flats_05262017-2


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

067_Shorebird Trip-Galveston Featherfest_04152016-2

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

081_Shorebird Trip-Galveston Featherfest_04152016-2

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

136_Shorebird Trip-Galveston Featherfest_04152016-2

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!!)

264_Shorebird Trip-Galveston Featherfest_04152016-3

 

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

215_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04162016-2

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

268_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04162016-2

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

483_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04162016-2

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

518_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04162016-2

 

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

265_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-2

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

702_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-2

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.

563_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-2

 


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

Bolivar Flats_56602242013-2


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

0550_Bolivar Flats_11292014-2

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

0560_Bolivar Flats_11292014-2

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

0617_Bolivar Flats_11292014-2

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

0780_Bolivar Flats_11292014a-2

0199_Bolivar Flats_11292014-2

 

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

0382_Bolivar Flats_11292014-2

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)

0534_Bolivar Flats_05232014-2

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

0541_Bolivar Flats_05232014-2


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

 

0574_Bolivar Flats_05232014-4


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

 

Bryan Beach_05307122013-2


Avocet Halo Affect

One way to get action shots of shorebirds is to shoot a burst of shots when their head starts going towards the water. You can catch some interesting splashing photos. In this case, the Avocet ended up with a water “halo” around his head.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/500 sec @ F11, ISO 500, evaluative metering, – 1/3 exposure compensation

Bolivar Flats 023012172013-2

1/400 sec @ F11, ISO 500, evaluative metering, – 1/3 exposure compensation

Bolivar Flats 024912172013-2


Avocet Posing

Found almost perfect conditions yesterday along the gulf coast with low tide, 36 deg F temperature, calm winds and sunshine.  Was hoping for still as glass water but it wasn’t quite there.  Found several flocks of American Avocets just off shore.  Good opportunity to try out my repaired camera by getting sand all over it.  Was successful at that, along with getting very close to some Avocets.  Laid down on a sandbar with water on both sides of me and waited for the Avocets to walk closer.  Got some shots looking towards the gulf and remembered one of my golden rules, look behind you.  Turned around and found several Avocets walking in the water right behind me.  Slowly pivoted on my stomach and got lots of close-up shots as they kept walking in front of me along the narrow stretch of water between my sand bar and the next one.  Can’t wait to go out again.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F11, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

Bolivar Flats064912152013-3


Stop! said the Avocet

This Avocet appears to be yelling at the waves to stop them from coming in.  Didn’t work but added some interest to the shot.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II head

1/250 sec @ F8, ISO 500, evaluative metering, + 1/3 exposure compensation, fill flash with better beamer set at -3 stops

Bolivar Flats_11211162013-4


Avocet just Chillin

The last few weeks have been a challenge so it was good to get out again to take some shorebird photos, although the alignment of the stars must have been off yesterday.

While driving to Galveston, an electronic sign along the interstate showed that the ferry to Bolivar was going to be shutdown from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., which meant that I could get to Bolivar but couldn’t return on the ferry.  A two-hour drive home going around Galveston Bay was the alternative.  Turning around wasn’t an option as it was going to be low tide at Bolivar and the shorebirds were calling.  Although I had spent quite a bit of time the night before getting prepared for this excursion, I decided at the last moment in my infinite wisdom not to take my camera bag.  It’s too small to hold my 500mm lens when the 1.4x is attached.  Bad decision as my supply of CF memory cards were in that bag.  Luckily there was one 32 gig card in my camera that was enough to get me through the mornings shoot.  Arrived at Bolivar before sunrise and geared up.  Another glitch in the system was a hole in my rubber boot.  Beginning to wonder if someone was trying to give me a major hint.  Ended up ignoring the pending signs of doom and had a good time with capturing photos of Avocets, Willets, Marbled Godwits and Snowy Egrets.

There were hundreds if not a few thousand Avocets feeding just off shore.  This lone Avocet landed nearby just after sunrise and rested on one leg with its beak nestled in his feathers.  Got close to him by crawling on hands and knees and got this nearly full framed shot.  He kept his eye on me but didn’t spook.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

Bolivar Flats_19111162013-2


Avocets Filling the Frame

Being close enough to Avocets where they fill the frame doesn’t happen to me often enough but it’s very cool when it does.  It helped on this trip to have my 1.4X teleconverter installed along with my flash.  Had to crank up the ISO to 800 since the clouds were out at sunrise.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens and 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II head, fill flash using 580 EX II w/better beamer

1/320 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, fill flash at – 3 stops, 700mm

Bryan Beach_42207132013-2

1/400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, fill flash at – 3 stops, 700mm

Bryan Beach_42407132013-2


Avocet Posing

My goal for the last trip to Bryan Beach near Freeport, TX was to concentrate on Avocet shots as some of them are in full breeding plumage.  Of course, when David and I got into position near the pond, most of the Avocets were on the other end.  After getting some Skimmer shots, ended up moving to the other end in search of the elusive Avocets.  Ended up doing the old belly crawl to get close to them, which is always fun in the stinky muck around that pond.  Well worth the effort to get close to these guys.  The interesting part was after getting in to position, I felt something started crawling under my stomach.  Likely a small crab but I wasn’t about to move at that point so was glad that it didn’t bite.

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

1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation

Bryan Beach_07907132013-2

 


Avocet Water Mask

This is one of my favorite photos from Bolivar this year, so far.  This Avocet was taking a bath very close to me as I was lying down with my ground pod.  He started dunking his head/body into the water and I kept trying to get a photo of him with water on his head.  This one went above my expectations when he came up with his entire head covered with water and the splash coming off the top.  This is where 8 frames/sec comes in handy.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

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

Bolivar Flats_55302242013-2


Dripping Avocet

What a difference a day makes.  The previous day at Bolivar Flats was cloudy with few birds within reach.  The next day was sunny with Avocets right in front of me.  My rules of thumb are 1)  If you have a bad day photographing wildlife, go back the next day and try again and 2)  If you have a great day of shooting wildlife, don’t go back to the same location the next day as you will likely be disappointed as it won’t be the same.

The challenge with Avocets is that they are very skittish, can be difficult to find in a good shooting location and travel in large flocks making it hard to get an isolated bird shot.  Found a group of Avocets near a sand bar but didn’t want to get too close and spook them.  Found a good shooting location and laid down and waited for them to come to me, which is usually the best strategy.  It paid off this time and they made their way towards me.  Got several isolated birds and had some being too close at 700mm.

Liked this shot with him looking right at me and the water dripping from his beak.  Shot in  aperture priority and had to use negative exposure compensation to keep from blowing out the white areas of the bird.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4xIII teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II head

1/1250 sec @ F9, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -2/3 exposure compensation

Bolivar Flats_32302242013-2


Shorebird Jackpot

Hit the jackpot last weekend at Bolivar Flats with my shorebird friends.  The morning started out a little boring but ended up with a bang.  Tried to get close to a group of Avocets by wading out into the Gulf with my intent to lay down on a sandbar that was still several inches under water.  Decided that it wasn’t a great idea with a pricy lens in tow.  Moved my position around a couple of times and ended up lying next to a small tide pool area with several Avocets hanging out beyond it.  Couldn’t get closer without spooking them so I decided to get into a decent shooting position and wait for them to come to me, I hoped.  Was rewarded when one Snowy Egret came into my area to catch a fish.  That attrackted several more Snowy’s and other birds.  Ended up with having 6 Avocets, 6 Snowy Egrets, 3 Willets and a Yellow Legs within 30 ft of me.  They got too close at 700mm and I had to settle for head shots in the end.  A great problem to have.

It was a good day with taking 3627 photos.  Took a while to sort through them all but ended up with saving 1200 with 146 being potential wall hangers.  Here is one of my favorite Avocets from this outing.  Only cropped to a vertical shot.  More to come…

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with 1.4x III teleconverter using a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/1000 sec @ F 10, ISO 250, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

Bolivar Flats_88912012012-2


Avocet at Sunrise

The Avocets are finally back at Bolivar Flats.  It was great to see them again with low tide in the morning, which doesn’t happen until this time of the year.  I almost left without taking any photos based on what I was seeing when first showing up.  About 15 mph winds, waves and no exposed sand bars which is not conducive to decent bird activity at Bolivar.  Decided to stick it out and was glad I did when spotting a group of Avocets feeding near the shore line. Got down on the ground and got lots of full framed shots with the 1.4x teleconverter.

It was about 52 deg F, which is finally cold enough to break out my neoprene waders for laying the in the wet sand.  My bottom half stays relatively dry and warm but I get totally soaked with salt water on my top.  I need to get a water proof coat one of these days.

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

1/500 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, spot metering, 700mm

1/400 sec @ F7.1, ISO 400, spot metering, 700mm

1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 400, spot metering, 700mm


Bolivar Shorebirds

Here are a few shots from my last trip to Bolivar Flats.  Turned out to be almost perfect conditions with low wind, calm water and low tide.  The light about 1/2 hour before sunrise was amazing.  Sheldon and I want out wading in the gulf to get some flight shots while David went to find a spot to shoot from.  We should have followed him.  Had to do a double take while wading around when I saw a fin come up out of the water.  Glad that no one was playing Jaws music at the time.  Using my higher intellect, ie. opened my eyes, to detect that it was just a dolphin.  I’ve never seen one before on that side of the jetty close to shore.  It was very cool to see.  Small groups of Avocets kept flying by us so there were some decent flight shot opportunities. 

We eventually moved to stake out some sand bars to get down low and shoot the birdies.  David was the furthest inland already shotting away, Sheldon was in the middle and I was on the outskirts.   There were more avocets there that day than I’ve ever seen.  Had to be hundreds if not thousands of them.  It’s a challenge to shoot them while they are in such large groups.  They tend to stick together and getting an isolated shot is tuff.  That’s where being on the outer edge helped as some individual ones wondered in my direction.  Had some crappy backgrounds (Sheldon)  to deal with but it was all good.  We kept following David around and he came upon the Peregrine Falcon that has been hanging out around there.  Too bad that he didn’t fly our direction when he launched but it’s always cool to see him.  Overall a great morning.