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Posts tagged “Wimberley II

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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Whooping Crane

Spent this past weekend in Rockport, TX trying to find Whooping Crane at Aransas NWR via a boat with Kevin Sims.  Had a great time as always.  Thanks again Scott for the invite.

Saturday with very foggy and had to start late and tried to wait out the fog.  No luck with that strategy, so Kevin worked the shoreline.  We found three whooping cranes that were looking for crabs in a small pond close to the shoreline.  We got very luck as they worked their way towards us and ended up walking out of the pond and got very close.  Ended up having to taking off my 1.4X teleconverter as I was only getting head shots.  A great problem to have when shooting whooping cranes.

Got this stare down from the juvenile crane.  They stuck around for about 1/2 hour and then walked away.  Was a great experience.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II lens mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, spot metering, +2/3 exposure compensation

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Yellowstone in Winter 2018 – Day 1

Just got home last week from my second journey to Yellowstone National Park in winter, traveling on Jared Lloyd’s Winter in Yellowstone Workshop.  My first trip last year was one of those so called life changing experiences with it being an easy decision to go back again this year before the airplane wheels touched down in Houston.  Last year was very special with fishing coyotes, bull elk, jumping fox, frosty bison and a long-tailed weasel.  Also got to see wolves in the Lamar Valley about 1 mile away through a spotting scope.  This year changed that perspective, just slightly, forever.

Day 1 in the park started out with a slight delay with the snow coach but it all worked out with us entering the park at the West Yellowstone entrance around 7:30 a.m.  We had heard about a carcass near the road with wolf activity, so we were very excited to see what the morning would bring.  As we approached the location, we could see what was left of the carcass but no wolves, so we kept going in search of other wildlife along the Madison River.  We worked the river to the warming hut and headed back west.

Just past the seven mile bridge, we spotted two wolves on a hillside that were watching a young bison that was standing in the river.  The bison had apparently been attacked earlier by the wolves on her rear legs and was seeking shelter in the river.

Manual mode, 1/2000 sec @ F10, ISO 500, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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We photographed the wolves for over two hours and they eventually moved over the hill out of sight.  The bison took that que to try to make an escape by walking along the river right in front of us and then up on the road heading east, limping along as she walked.  We found her later on the opposite side of the road lying down next to a tree.

We all knew what would likely be her fate by the next morning, which came to pass.  The circle of life is very hard to watch in person but inevitable in the wild.

Manual mode, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/1000 sec @ F10, ISO 400, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Manual mode, 1/4000 sec @ F6.3, ISO 320, spot metering off the snow, +2 stops

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Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X III teleconverter mounted on Induro tripod with leveling head and Wimberley II gimbal head, some hand held.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy New Year!

Hoping that all of you had a great 2017.  My plan was to post my favorite shots for 2017 before now but I got tied up over the holidays so it will have to wait for early Jan.

2018 will start out with a bang for me from a photography perspective and then have some challenges.  It’s going to be an interesting year for sure.

Spend the morning of Christmas Eve at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast taking shorebird photos, along with a few raptors.  While walking out along the shoreline, saw a dark spot out on the sand that looked out of place.  Trusted my instinct and picked up my camera and spotted a peregrine falcon.  Got very excited and walking slowly closer to him, laid down, took a couple of shots, went to check my histogram and he took off.

Walked away from that area over to one of my favorite spots around the corner and spotted a couple of hundred Avocets feeding just off shore.  Laid down and belly crawled towards them.  The muck was very slimy and ended up on my knees and pushed my ground pod along for about 60 ft and stayed put for a couple of hours.

All of a sudden, all of the birds flew away, which usually means that either a raptor or human was nearby.  Spun around on my stomach thanks to the slimy muck and caught this Northern Harrier flying along the vegetation line.

Ended up seeing a couple of Harriers and four Caracara’s.  Tis the season for migrating raptors.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +2 exposure compensation.

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Reddish Egret Portrait in Golden Light

Golden light at sunrise rocks.  Got this Reddish Egret portrait shot from Bolivar Flats along the Gulf Coast on Friday.  As usual, was using my ground pod to get the low-level look.

I try to get into position about 1/2 before the sun comes up to get some cool pre-dawn color but that’s not practical with the time change.  Have to get up at 4:00 a.m. at the latest to make the 6:00 a.m. Bolivar Ferry.  Was walking out to my spot when the sun popped but it was still good.  Don’t know about the birds, but I had a great time.

Started out shooting black necked stilts when this reddish egret flew in.  He didn’t stick around long but loved the golden light on him and the weeds in the background.

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

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Sea Otters at Morro Bay, CA

Spent last weekend at Morro Bay in California taking photos of sea otters.  This was my second trip there in the last 4 1/2 years.  Got some time to see some old friends and make some new ones.  Love this small bay town and need to try to make this an annual trip.

Day 1 was cloudy with about 20 otters wrapped up in sea weed near the Morro Bay rock.  They wrap themselves in kelp to keep them from floating away at night while sleeping.

Tried to get as close to the water as possible, which meant positioning my tripod on the rocks and sitting on a rock for a few hours.  Had to shift position when the water came up with the tide.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 2/3 exposure compensation, 500mm

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Aperture priority, 1/400 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 2 exposure compensation, 500mm

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Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F4.5, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 2 exposure compensation, 500mm 


Reddish Egret Fight

These two reddish egrets went toe to toe yesterday at Bolivar Flats along the gulf coast of Texas.  Had my ISO cranked up to 3200 while taking static shots of a couple of white morph reddish egrets when these two started fighting.  Should have increased to ISO to 6400 but didn’t have enough time to change any settings as the action happened very fast.  Lots of blurred action in this series but it was very fun to watch and photograph.  More to come…

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500MM F4 IS II with 1.4X teleconverter mounted on skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

1/20 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Sandhill Chasing Whooping Crane

While taking pictures of a lone whooping crane, three sandhill cranes came flying in.  They apparently thought that they had power in numbers and tried to chase off the whooping crane.  It made for some very cool photo op’s.  They were almost successful when all of a sudden two other whooping cranes flew in what I thought was an attempt to save the day.  In reality, they ended up chasing away the original whooping crane.  Go figure…

1/500 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, – 1 1/3 exposure compensation

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

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Black Skimmer’s Landing Gear

This black skimmer was doing a fly-by and actually skimming at Bolivar flats, which is a somewhat rare event in that location.  From my experience over the past several years, they usually just fly around looking for a place to land so this was a very nice change of pace.  Especially since this was during a guide trip that I was leading with three great guys from New Zealand, Canada and Indiana.

It’s always a challenge to capture these birds in flight while using a ground pod since your range of motion is limited while laying on the ground.  Added bonus was he briefly turned directly towards me.  Also like that his feet were hanging like landing gear coming down.

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 @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Reddish Egret Stalking

This reddish egret was stalking its prey just after sunrise.  He had his head on the down low while running towards the fish.  His legs lined up perfectly that it looks like he only has one leg with two feet attached to 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

1/125 sec @ F10, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation

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You Lookin at Me??

You lookin at me?  Better not be.  My boys behind me will come after you.

Made another trip to Bolivar Flats over the Memorial Day weekend while guiding three clients for two days.  They were at the end of a 3 week trip across south Texas with the Galveston area their last stop.  Thanks again to Kent, Bill and Ian for allowing me to show you around this part of Texas.  Had a great time and got to see lots of birds.

Made two stops to Bolivar Flats and found some avocets, reddish egrets and lots of snowy egrets.  Had several opportunities for some interaction shots which are always fun.  One was a little weird with an avocet trying to mate with an inanimate object.  More on that later.

While focusing on a avocet, saw two snowy egrets walking behind him.  Switched my attention to the background and visualized this shot coming as they crossed behind him.  The avocet cooperated by staring at me while getting some scratching action in.  Made for a cool shot.

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

1/1250 sec @ F10, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation

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Spoonbill Wingspan

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

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Pelican Stealing White Morph’s Fish

Here are some photos of the brown pelican scaring the white morph reddish egret in order to steal his fish.  He surprised me as well and they were too close at 700mm and ended up clipping the pelican’s wings in the first shot.  You can see the fish drop in the second photo with the pelican getting ready to enjoy his spoils in the last shot.

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

1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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White Morph Reddish Egret

On this recent trip to Bolivar Flats in Texas, the reddish egrets were out in force, including two white morph’s.  I was guiding Bruno from San Diego, who hadn’t seen a white morph before so it was great timing.  They danced around right in front of us and both ended up catching some very large fish and had a close encounter with a brown pelican.  More photos to come.

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

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

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1/2000 sec @ F11, ISO 800, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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Brown Pelicans in Missing Man Formation

These brown pelicans were flying in formation in a line when three of them broke off in what looks like the missing man formation.  Taken during my second trip to Galveston’s FeatherFest.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500MM F4 IS II mounted on Skimmer ground pod with Wimberley II gimbal head

1/1600 sec @ F5, ISO 400, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation

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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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Willet Wars

On my last trip to Bolivar Flats, the willets were in fighting mode with breeding season in full swing.  While taking photos of avocets, the willets were squawking away and chasing each other around.  These two started going at it and were circling around after one grabbed the others neck.  He then lifted off trying to get away but the other one held on for a while.  He finally broke free and left the area.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @F 7.1, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, + 1 1/3 exposure compensation

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Avocet Silhouette

About 3 minuets after the brown pelican sunrise photo per my last post, caught this group of American Avocets passing under the sunrise.  Made for a cool silhouette shot.

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

Aperture priority, 1/8000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, -1/3 exposure compensation

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Bighorn Sheep

Another first for me was to see Bighorn Sheep in the wild on my Yellowstone trip.  We searched for a few days in the Lamar Valley looking for them with no luck.  On our next to last day, we found two of them just outside of town.  We parking along the highway and got several good looks from them.

One of my favorites was this face to face interaction.  Not the right time of year for head butting but it was cool to see.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Manual exposure, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400

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Manual exposure, 1/1600 sec @ F8, ISO 400

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Jumping Fox

One of the highlights of my recent trip to Yellowstone was the red fox.  Our workshop leader, Jared Lloyd, knew where to find him as we headed to Larmar Valley on the north side of Yellowstone.  He was sitting on top of a snow covered boulder that helped keep track of potential predators.

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We spent about 2 hrs photographing him in the morning and came back in the afternoon.  He had moved off of the rock and was sitting near his den along side the rock.  Got a couple of shots of him and then, in my infinite wisdom, I stepped away from my camera to see where the rest of my group was.  Of course, a snowball came rolling down the hill and spooked the fox and he quickly got up.  Missed that shot but got him as he stopped and turned towards us before entering his den under the rock.

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He ended up coming out the other side of then rock via the back door and climbed on top of the hill adjacent to the rock.  We got several shots of him in that position.  Some of us were thinking that we were going to leave at that point but Doug came walking up the road from parking one of the vehicles and said that we were going to stay put.  That was a great decision as the action picked up.  The fox finally got up, yawned several times and headed back to his rock.

He then got into position and jumped back onto the snow covered rock.  I was able to catch him in midair during the jump.

 

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Yellowstone Adventure

Sorry that I’ve been away for a while but a recent trip has kept me somewhat preoccupied.  Finally checked going to Yellowstone off of my bucket list.  Decided last spring to take the plunge and register for a 10 day trip to Yellowstone in the winter.  Goal was to avoid the crowds and to see the raw beauty of Yellowstone in the winter.

Ended up spending the rest of 2016 buying up warm clothes for the trip.  More on that later.

I’m still working on my photos and it will take some time to go through all of them.  Here are a couple of teaser shots.

More to come…

Frosty Bison:  it was – 20 deg F on the first day that we entered the park from the town of West Yellowstone.  We headed towards Old Faithful looking for “frosty” bison.  We found a herd along the way and were rewarded with some great photo op’s.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X teleconverter mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head.

Manual mode, 1/1600 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, spot metering off the snow with adjustments from there, 700mm

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Red Fox yawning:  We found this red fox sitting on top of a snow covered boulder, which he used as protection from coyotes.  He was one of my favorite targets on this trip.  We spent about 4 hours photographing him that day.

1/800 sec @ F7.1, ISO 800, evaluative metering, + 2 1/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Harris Hawk Landing

Made another trip to Santa Clara Ranch in south Texas over the weekend.  Had a great time, as always.  Thanks Hector.  Finally got to experience the raptor blind and it was awesome.  With a somewhat slow start, the action picked up with Scott and I maxing out with 10 raptors at the same time with a couple of Harris Hawks and the rest being Caracara.

Started out using my 100-400 lens and later switched to the 500.  Got several decent flight shots and wing spread photos when they came in to land.  This juvenile Harris Hawk put on a good show.

I’d go back just for the raptors.  Hope to make another trip next year.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 100-400mm II lens, mounted on tripod with Wimberley II gimbal head

Aperture priority, 1/5000 sec @ F5.6, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 400mm

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Reddish Egret vs. Great White Egret

While taking photos of a Reddish Egret fishing, a Great Egret flew in to challenge the Reddish for the best fishing spot.  The Great Egret won this confrontation.

Although the sun was reflecting off of the water, had use positive exposure compensation to get lighted up the birds.  It blew out the water but it still works.

Taken with Canon 1DX and Canon 500mm F4 IS II with 1.4X 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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Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Dance of the Reddish Egret in B&W

Partial sun turned into a cloudy morning at Bolivar Flats along the Gulf of Mexico.  The colors were somewhat muted so I converted these into B&W to bring out the feather detail.

Watching Reddish Egrets dance around while fishing is always a good time and provides some great photo opportunities.  This egret was very energetic and would launch himself out of the water to look for unsuspecting fish as the tide was slowly receding.  In the last shot, he got all puffed up while chasing a white morph reddish egret away.

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.

Aperture priority, 1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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Aperture priority, 1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

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

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