…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “Galveston’s FeatherFest

White Morph Reddish Egret Launching

Sunday’s visit to Bolivar Flats with my last field trip for this years Galveston’s FeatherFest.  Was a little worn out after 4 days but it was well worth the effort to take a couple of groups to Bolivar Flats.  It was a new experience for some of them and we had some great photo op’s on both trips.  We couldn’t get very close to the avocets on this trip but I did find a morph reddish egret.  Spotted him at a distance and maneuvered the group close to the water as he was fishing.  He worked his way back and forth in front of us making for some great photo op’s.

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

Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Ground Level Photography from Galveston’s FeatherFest

Here are the group photos from Saturday’s Ground Level Photography field trip at Bolivar Flats.  Had a great time with lots of laughs from this group.

The morning started out ominous with very high winds, close to 30 mph, and high surf.  Wasn’t sure that we would see any birds until we got further down the shoreline.  Found an estimated 3,000 American Avocets huddled together within shooting distance.  You can see some of the remaining Avocets behind the group in the photos below.  Lots of belly crawling involved.  Turned out to be a very productive morning.

Participants can copy full size photos from my website:



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Reddish Egret Dancing

While getting prepared for leading workshops at Galveston’s FeatherFest again this year, went back over some photos from last years event and found this one taken at Bolivar Flats.  This reddish egret was dancing around and put on a great show for my group.

Wasn’t sure why the two birds were hanging out together until observing interesting behavior a few weeks later when a pelican kept stealing fish from a reddish egret.  Whatever works for getting breakfast.

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

1/2500 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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FeatherFest Field Trip to Galveston

The second field trip that I led at FeatherFest this year was to East Beach on Galveston Island.  It was another early morning and we got there right at sunrise.  Had 12 of us total with a larger bus than the day before.  We found a flock of Black Skimmers near the jetty with a few seagulls mixed in.  Also found a cooperative Tri-colored Heron fishing near the jetty.  It went well except for Beth’s 7D not responding soon after we arrived.  We tried changing batteries, lenses, memory cards, etc. but no luck.  I let her borrow my 7D and 500mm lens, which could be a problem as I sense a little 500mm fever coming on. 😉   Her camera started working again once we got back on the bus, go figure.

Spent the first hour of so on East Beach and then headed further north on the east end of the Island when the action at the jetty slowed down.  We found a group of Avocets in the distance but they weren’t moving around much.  We sat down and got a few decent shots of Willet’s flying around along with Black Necked Stilts hopping around on one leg.

My trusty assistant, Ed, suggested that we head to the pier area behind Joe’s Crab Shack near the Strand.  It worked out great with a shrimp boat coming into the dock as we walked up.  Brown Pelicans were all over the boat trying to catch scraps that the crew discarded.  My 500mm lens had too much reach and ended up getting lots of head shots.  Everyone had some great photo op’s including a Snowy Egret and a Black Crowned Night Heron.  It worked out well that we kept searching for where the birds were the most active.

Thanks to everyone that signed up for this field trip.  It was sold out and everyone appeared to have a good time, including me.  Thanks again Ed for your help and recommendations along the way.

All of these shots were taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens with the last 3 being handheld

Shutter priority, 1/6 sec @ F32, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -1 2/3 exposure compensation


Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 200, +1/3 exposure compensation


Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 200, +1/3 exposure compensation


Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.6, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation


Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F10, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -1 exposure compensation


Aperture priority, 1/250 sec @ F9, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation


FeatherFest Bolivar Flats Field Trip – Part II

Here are some more of my photos from my workshop at FeatherFest at Bolivar Flats.  These Pelicans were hanging out on the barricade poles where you park.  We took advantage of the early morning light with this gang of Pelicans and then moved to the opposite side to get some silhouette shots.

Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld

1/640 sec @ F4, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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1/800 sec @ F4, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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1/8000 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -1 exposure compensation

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1/8000 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, -1 exposure compensation

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1/640 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering

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Galveston’s FeatherFest Field Trip to Bolivar Flats

Had a great time this week with leading 4 classroom workshops and 2 field trips at Galveston’s FeatherFest.  The first field trip was at Bolivar Flats, which I kind of know like the back of my hand.  The goal was to give the participants experience at using a ground pod and to get some low-level shorebird photos.  Bolivar is at it’s best at low tide and of course it was high tide on Friday morning.  Never the less, we packed 10 of us into a small van and headed to the flats.  Note to self:  get a larger vehicle next year and leave earlier.

The good news was that the sun was out and the wind and waves were low.  The bad news was that with high tide, there were no exposed sand bars off of the shoreline so we had to stay on the beach.  There were several Pelicans on the poles at the barricade, which made for some good shots including silhouettes.  Went a little further down the beach and saw a Willet and some type of small sparrow in the brush.  Got down on the ground to shoot some small Sanderlings and 3 Marbled Godwits came walking towards us.  It was a good example of how close the birds will come to you while lying down on the ground.

We ended up working our way down the beach and got up and down several times.  My sharp-eyed liaison assistant, Phil, spotted a lone Avocet in full breeding color mixed in with some other birds further down the shoreline.  I told the group that it would be a miracle to get close to him but we would give it a shot.  We ended up walking closer to him with my goal to get to a point where there was some yellow plastic on the beach.  The birds started to stir a little, so we went down to the ground.  The Avocet was mixed in with several other birds and was difficult to get a good shot of him at that distance.  We ended up doing the old belly crawl trying to get closer while pushing the ground pods along.  When we made it to the yellow plastic, I was satisfied that we had reached that goal.  My group was very ambitious and wanted more so we kept crawling.  This is where a Skimmer ground pod really shines with it being easy to move along the sand.

We ended up crawling fairly close to the Avocet but ran out of time and had to head back to the van.  I was hoping that he would give us a good stretch and fly but he looked too tired.  It’s rare to see a lone Avocet like that as they are usually in a large flock.  The field trip turned out better than I expected with being stuck on the shoreline.

Thanks to everyone who came on this field trip.  It was a good time and can’t wait to do it again next year.  I’ll post of few more photos from this trip and my second trip on Sat. around Galveston later.

All of these photos were taken with a Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Marbled Godwits with my goal while taking this shot was to get the first two with their beaks together.  Got an added bonus with the 3rd one.  Shows the depth of field with a 500mm lens.

Aperture priority, 1/500 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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Got this Marbled Godwit taking off as he walked around us along the beach.

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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This Marbled Godwit was doing his best pose for us.

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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Our targeted Avocet in full breeding colors as he finally walked away from the other birds around him.

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, no exposure compensation or flash

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Leading Workshops at Galveston’s FeatherFest

Galveston’s FeatherFest is just around the corner, April 11-14.  I’ll be leading bird photography workshops again this year along with a couple of field trips.  My field trips are booked up but there is still room in the classroom workshops.  Look forward to seeing some of you there.