…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “ground level bird photography

Galveston FeatherFest 2021

Had a great time again this year leading field trips for Galveston’s FeatherFest. Very glad that we could have the field trips this year as last year had to be cancelled due to Covid-19. We reduced the size of the groups this year for social distancing but it turned out great. Actually like the smaller groups better from an interaction perspective at Bolivar.

The weather did not cooperate with day 1 trip to Bolivar Flats being cancelled with high surf. Had everyone cancel ahead of time except one participant that was driving from Winnie. She called me as I was waiting at the Galveston side of the ferry and the highway along the Bolivar peninsula was getting flooded and had debris on the road. Safety first so I cancelled that trip. Had another day with very high winds that turned out very well. I’ll post some of my bird photos later.

Here are some cell phone group shots from 2021 FeatherFest at Bolivar Flats and the east end of Galveston Island.

White Morph Reddish Egret

Spent some quality time last week at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary on the Texas gulf coast. Found several reddish egrets at sunrise with this white morph really standing out from the rest. Right place at the right time for some great action and beautiful light.

This was about 1/2 hour after sunrise. Had to cranked up the exposure compensation to get the proper exposure. Having 16 frames/sec from my new 1DX III comes in real handy in these situations with being able to capture the action as it happens. The focusing ability of this camera is just off of the charts.

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

All photos at: 1/2000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation, 700mm from ground pod, minor cropping

Incoming Pelicans

Took a couple of vacation days this past week and headed to the Gulf coast for some quality social distancing at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary. Was well worth the time and effort.

Saw these 3 brown pelicans flying close to each other at a distance and started tracking them with my camera. Got about 80 shots of them just waiting for this photo when they were side by side, coming right at me with their wings outstretched.

Pre-visualized this shot as I’ve gotten some similar pelican photos probably 10 years ago and have been waiting to recreate it ever since. Was very pleased on how this one turned out.

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

1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, aperture priority, + 2 exposure compensation, 700mm from ground pod

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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Galveston FeatherFest 2018

As another year at Galveston’s FeatherFest comes to a close, thanks go out to everyone who participated this year. Special thanks to JulieAnn Brown, Executive Director from Galveston Island Nature Tourism Council, and her flock of 200 volunteers that make the event possible every year.

Had a great time leading three field trips and three classroom workshops again this year. This was year #6 for me as a leader and can’t wait to do it again.

Extremely high winds on Friday and Saturday mornings provided some challenges but the birds and rain cooperated. We had a flock of black skimmers and beautiful sunrise at East Beach on Friday, a few thousand avocets in breeding plumage on Saturday morning at Bolivar Flats and a white morph reddish egret dancing away right in front of us this morning.

Here are some group photos from today’s Ground Level Bird Photography field trip to Bolivar Flats. They received the full ground pod treatment including laying in some prime-time muck. Thanks again Chris for helping out again this year.
I’ll post more photos later as time permits.

For the participants that would like a full size copy, I’ve posted them on my website that you can copy from:


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Ground Level Bird Photography Field Trip #1 – Galveston FeatherFest 2017

Last Thursday through Sunday was a very busy time for me at Galveston’s Texas FeatherFest.  I led three classroom workshops and three field trips.  This was my 5th year being one of the photography leaders and it was a blast, as always.

My field trip on Saturday started off by catching the 6:00 a.m. Bolivar Ferry.  I met up with my group once we got off of the ferry and they followed me to Bolivar Flats.  It was going to be a sunny morning with low tide so I was hoping that the birds were going to be out.  Reports from the previous day indicated that the tide was abnormally low along the jetty without many birds in that area.  Upon pulling up to the parking area on the beach, I could see that there were some exposed sandbars and what looked like a flock of avocets, which was a major relief.  After we geared up, I gave everyone a quick lesson on how to try to try to keep their hands clean when lying down and getting up and we headed out.

There were two other photographers lying on the beach shooting the avocets so I decided to take my group out on the sandbar so that we weren’t looking into the sun all morning.  We walked through the water to the sandbar without incident, which wasn’t the case on Sunday.  More on that on my next post.

Ended up having the group lay down on the sandbar in a long row so that we wouldn’t be in each others line of fire for photography.  We had 8 participants along with myself and my liaison, who helps me keep track of everyone and gets us back to the headquarters on time.  I had the first person lay down near the water line at the north edge of the sandbar since the tide was supposed to be receding.  Well that theory didn’t work too well as the water level came up later and the first couple of people started getting wet so we had to shift the line to the right, which would have been an interesting video.

The flock of avocets kept walking back and forth across the area between the sandbars, which provided some decent photo op’s.  It’s always a challenge of trying to get one of the birds isolated from the flock.  Decided to get a little closer after a while so we practiced crawling on the sand while pushing our ground pods along.

After the action died down, I had the group rotate 180 deg. so that we could get some photos of willets that were in the water behind us.  Also, I had noticed several groups of avocets and brown pelicans flying by our sandbar and it finally hit me that we should turn around and get photos of them flying towards us.  That turned out to be a great decision as they birds kept coming our way for the rest of the field trip.

Thanks to Richard Howard for being my liaison and to everyone who came out to play in the wet sand with me.  I’m hoping that you had as much fun as I did and got some great photos from a different perspective that what you normally see.

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.

This photo is of the flock of avocets that kept walking back and forth in front of us.

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Caught these two avocets that were isolated from the rest of the group.  I’m always looking for how two birds will interact of make an interesting photo together, such as their beaks crossing when coming close to each other, etc.  These two made a cool mirror image of each other.

Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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After we turned around, several groups of avocets flew close to us.  This group was clustered together when I first spotted them and they then spread out as they got closer to us.  The ones on my far right were doing some very cool synchronized flying with common wing positions.

Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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This is the same group 1 second later as they got a little closer.

Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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Here are the group photos so that I have evidence that yes, they actually laid down in the wet sand and…

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

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…that they got wet and dirty.  Mission accomplished.

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

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