Made my first trip to Bolivar Flats along the Gulf Coast since April and it was epic. Saw on Jim Strough’s post that there were lots of reddish egrets in the area and that was enough to convince me to get back out there.
With high tide, there weren’t any exposed sandbars off shore, which concentrated the birds along the shoreline. Luckily for me, they were accessible and not out of reach around the corner or just near the jetty, which can also happen.
When driving on the beach to get to the parking area, it become very evident that I was going to be sharing the beach with several wade fisherman. Total of 10 trucks plus my car. Most of the fisherman were already out in the water with a few still getting ready. Knew from experience that bird photography and wade fishing don’t exactly mix so I decided to hang back and let the fisherman walk past me. On cue, one of them walked right through the flock of birds that were in my sights and scattered them in all directions. This gave me an opening to get to the spot that I wanted to lay down while the birds returned.
Had 16 reddish egrets to choose from including 9 red and 7 white morph’s. The highlight was when the tide started to come in. I was shooting away and saw the water getting closer so had to keep pushing myself backwards up the beach. Looked up and saw 12 reddish egrets moving in with the tide and they were all converging on my location. Wish that I would have had a wide-angle lens or my iPhone as it would have made a great video.
Ended up leaving early when thunder started rumbling in the distance. Didn’t want to leave but decided that it wasn’t a good idea to be walking on the beach in a thunderstorm while carrying a hunk of metal. A great morning that will need to be recreated, very soon.
1/640 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation
Took this shot at the Texas City dike on Sunday morning. There was a small gap in the clouds as the sun started to come up. Started to go negative on exposure compensation as the sun started to pop. Really like how this one turned out.
Used my back-up 7D II as my 1DX is at Canon getting the shutter replaced after over 420,000 photos. My back-up camera works better than my original 7D but it doesn’t compare to my 1DX at high ISO capability plus it feels so small without a battery grip. Works well for a back-up but can’t wait until my 1DX returns.
Taken with Canon 7D II with Canon 500mm F4 IS II and 1.4XIII teleconverter, handheld out my car window
1/8000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 100, evaluative metering, – 2/3 exposure compensation
Mentioned to my FeatherFest group before we hit the beach on Saturday morning that one of my target birds for this field trip was avocets. Score!
Low tide turned into high tide with the winds from the south due to the storm system. The high tide drove all of the birds near the shoreline and luckily most of them were along the beach facing south before you go around the bend. We started with a small group of avocets and worked our way down the beach until we hit the jackpot with thousands of them that just kept flying into the same area.
The legs have it in this full frame shot from my ground pod with only cropping to pano format. If you look close, had some light rain going on at this time. Also a photo bomber flying in.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4XIII teleconverter mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
1/200 sec @ F 5.6, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, aperture priority, 700mm
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
While taking photos from my ground pod at Bolivar Flats, several hundred black skimmers were hanging out near the jetty. It was difficult to see what kind of birds were there until you hear them “barking”. They eventually lifted off and formed a cloud of skimmers, which is always cool to 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
1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation
Sometimes the stars align (no wind, no waves, low tide) along the Gulf of Mexico and the waters are very calm at Bolivar Flats, which makes for some amazing conditions for shore bird photography. This happened on Friday when I took some vacation time to get back to Bolivar for the first time in 4 months.
Got very excited when driving onto the beach while seeing the calm water. This happens maybe once a year if you are lucky, from my experience. Pulled up to the parking area on the beach with nobody else in site and quickly geared up before the sun came up. It was 41 deg F and my neoprene waders felt nice and toasty.
Found a small group of American Avocets along the shoreline and laid down with my ground pod for some silhouette shots. Also had some photo op’s further out in the water with pelicans and black skimmers flying by. The sun popped up which led to some interesting photo op’s with the changing light.
Got up from my initial position and turned to my right just in time to see a peregrine falcon taking off from the beach. Wish that I had seen him earlier but he was very skittish and getting close to him would have been very challenging. Was able to get some flight shots as he flew by, which is always fun with hand holding a 500mm lens attached to a ground pod with a Wimberley gimbal head.
Moved offshore onto some sandbars to take photos of willets, long billed curlews, more avocets and hundreds of black skimmers that would periodically blast off and fill the sky. On the way back to my car, a reddish egret landed right behind me so got back down on the sand for some very close-up shots which was a great wrap up to a wonderful morning.
Needless to say, it was great to be back at Bolivar in perfect conditions.
Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II and 1.4X III mounted on a Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.
1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation