Headed back to High Island yesterday to get some more photos from the rookery for an upcoming presentation that I’m doing for Houston Audubon on April 7.
Had the platform all to myself, which was great and worth taking 1/2 day off of work. Challenging to get flight shots from that location so moved down to the second platform and the flight opportunities were amazing. Great egrets and spoonbills were flying back and forth from the rookery island to the trees on the south side of the pond. They would occasionally bank right towards me like this great egret.
1/1600 sec @ F5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, aperture priority
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
It’s always fun to watch and photograph great egrets in mating season when they put on a display of their breeding plumage. Caught this mating dance at High Island’s rookery at sunrise.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
1/60 sec @ F4, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority
Finally, some sunshine in SE Texas. This day was a little to windy for Bolivar Flats and my gut was telling me to head to High Island to see if there was any activity yet.
Got up at 3:15 a.m. and make it there well before sunrise. One of the challenges at the rookery at sunrise is the mosquitos, which can take swarming to a new level. In preparation for the skeeters, bought a mosquito net to fit over my had, which worked wonders. Best $10 ever spent at REI.
Got to the last platform in complete darkness so it was difficult to tell if there were very many birds present yet. Could hear the pig-like grunting from some cormorants, which always show up first. Once the pre-dawn light started falling over the area, finally could tell that there were enough great egrets to make it a worthwhile trip. Before the sun came up, several more great egrets came to the rookery and started displaying their breeding plumage. Didn’t take long for the courtship’s to begin. Only a few minutes were required for them to arrive, find a match, mate and then take off to find sticks to build a nest.
I always go to the rookery at sunrise to get back-lit photos. Exposing for the brightest areas of the birds with the sun coming through their feathers can make for some amazing photo opportunities.
This is a photo of a pair of great egrets that I watched after the sun came up. One would take off to find sticks and then arrive with great fanfare and pass of the stick to their mate for nest-building. Felt great to get back in my element.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F5 IS II lens on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, aperture priority
Made my first trip to High Island’s rookery last Monday and the birds are out in force. Lots of activity with mating dances in full breeding plumage. Some Great Egrets sitting on eggs already. Caught this Great Egret mating shot before the sun came up. Not enough light to get sharp photos so went into blur mode.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
As 2014 comes to a close, I wanted to share some of my favorite photos from this year. It was challenging for me to get out and shoot on a routine basis but ended up with some photos that made it worth while.
Highlights in 2014 included seeing the Sand Hill Crane migration in Nebraska, leading successful workshops and field trips at Galveston’s FeatherFest, getting published again and finally upgrading to a pro series camera. Now that I have all of the tools, just need some more trigger time to further develop my skills.
Thanks to everyone around the world that checked out my blog and especially to those who left some comments along the way. Appreciate your support. Looking forward to more wildlife photography in 2015.
Great Egret from High Island’s rookery
Sandhill Crane from Nebraska
White Morph Reddish Egret from Bolivar Flats
American Oystercatcher from Texas City Dike
Reddish Egret from Bolivar Flats
American Avocet from Bolivar Flats
Graphic of where people were from that visited my blog in 2014
After waiting for Canon to come out with a high-end crop sensor camera, finally decided it was time to upgrade from my 7D to a 1DX. I fought it for quite a while as full frame wasn’t on my radar due to losing the 1.6 crop factor of my 7D. With bird photography being my niche, being focal length limited can be a challenge. A recent trip to Nebraska convinced me that it was time to upgrade with missing some good shots while not being able to crank up the ISO enough to get higher shutter speeds. My 7D is a great camera but it gets noisy above ISO 400.
This was my first trip to High Island this year. Each season is a little different at the rookery with this year not being as good as previous years, IMO, with increased growth of the vegetation on the island covering up some of the best perching locations.
Besides the changing landscape, trying out a new camera was also challenging, especially when showing up in the dark about 45 min before the sun came up. Will need lots of practice with this puppy to get used to the button locations. Luckily the buttons to change focus points and ISO settings are similar to the 7D.
The ability to crank up the ISO to get higher shutter speeds was very sweet. Took most of my photos at ISO 1600, which look very similar to my 7D at ISO 400. I’ll post more later comparing the 7D to the 1DX after I get some more trigger time with the new camera.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4x III teleconverter mounted on Gitzo tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
Great Egret preening: aperture priority, 1/2000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation
This Great Egret was all bristled up while chasing off another egret from its nesting area. The breeding plumage can not only be used for attracting a mate, but also to intimidate an unwanted visitor. Some back-lit action from High Island’s rookery earlier this year.
Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400, spot metering