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
Drove down to the Rockport, TX area at the end of April to participate in a workshop with Hector Astorga. We spent two mornings visiting the Aransas NWR rookery by boat. We experienced very high winds and high surf but boat captain Kevin Sims did an excellent job as always. It was quite the roller coaster ride getting to the rookery with three foot waves bouncing the small flat-bottomed boat around in the dark before sunrise.
Once we arrived at the rookery, the waves reduced but the anchor wasn’t successful at keeping the boat still so Kevin put on his waders, jumped into the water and held onto the boat to keep it from moving around. He would then push the boat around manually when we needed to switch positions around the island. He definitely went above and beyond the call of duty on this trip
The rookery was filled with great blue herons and spoonbills, along with a few snowy egrets, reddish egrets, black crowned night herons, oystercatchers and terns. Most of the chicks were fairly large but were still actively being fed by their parents.
Caught this spoonbill coming in for a landing with his wings outstretched while positioned at the upper deck of the boat. With the wind/waves, it was challenging to keep the camera steady on my tripod. Took way too many photos but liked how this one turned out. Very minimal cropping on the right side. Had to crank up the ISO to 3200 to get a decent shutter speed.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head
Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm
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.