…morning light is magic…

Posts tagged “Wimberley II

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

033_Bolivar Flats_04142017 (1)-2


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

0224_Bolivar Flats_05262017-2


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

0158_Aransas NWR_04252017-2


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

287_Bolivar Flats_04222017 (1)-2

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

289_Bolivar Flats_04222017 (1)-2

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

308_Bolivar Flats_04222017 (1)-3


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

518_Bolivar Flats_04222017-2

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

579_Bolivar Flats_04222017-2

 


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

040_Bolivar Flats_04092017-3


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

120_Bolivar Flats_04082017-2

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

235_Bolivar Flats_04082017-2

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

368_Bolivar Flats_04082017-2

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

370_Bolivar Flats_04082017-3

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

515_Bolivar Flats_04082017

…that they got wet and dirty.  Mission accomplished.

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

534_Bolivar Flats_04082017

 

 

 

 


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

917_Bolivar Flats_03192017-3


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

529_Bolivar Flats_03192017-3


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

159_Yellowstone_01222017-2

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

177_Yellowstone_01222017-2

 

 

 


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.

076_yellowstone_01202017-2

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.

516_yellowstone_01202017-2a

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.

 

918_yellowstone_01202017-2922_yellowstone_01202017-2a923_yellowstone_01202017-2934_yellowstone_01202017-2

 

 

 

 


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

219_yellowstone_01162017

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

105_yellowstone_01202017-2

 

 

 


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

031_santa-clara_11202016-2


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

586_bolivar-flats_10232016-2

Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F9, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 700mm

590_bolivar-flats_10232016-2


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

369_bolivar-flats_10232016-2-2

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

488_bolivar-flats_10232016-5

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

706_bolivar-flats_10232016-2a-2


White Morph Reddish Egret

Found two White Morph Reddish Egrets at Bolivar Flats last weekend while guiding my old buddy Newton.  He brought along Ruth Hoyt, who is an excellent professional photographer/guide at south Texas ranches, like Laguna Seca, where I first met her.  It was great to see both of them again.

The tide wasn’t low but the birds were out in force.  We started with a group of Willets and other small shorebirds with a lone Avocet nearby.  There was a group of Avocets within striking distance but they were spooked and took off.

Spotted a couple of Reddish Egrets further down the shoreline and headed that direction.  The Reddish Egrets weren’t very active initially so Newton and I headed back up the shoreline to a group of Black Skimmers.

We then spotted at least two White Morph Reddish Egrets back down the shoreline so we headed back in that direction.  Lots of up and down on this trip.  Found two White Morph’s and two Reddish Egrets along with one Great Egret standing around.  They eventually started to catch fish with one of the Reddish Egret’s trying to chase the two white morph’s away.

This White Morph was striking some nice poses with his feathers all perked up as he was checking out the other egrets.

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

789_bolivar-flats_10232016a-2

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

843_bolivar-flats_10232016-2


White Tipped Dove

White tipped doves don’t really show how colorful they really are until they extend their wings.  Very beautiful birds.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F 6.3, ISO 1600, spot metering, 500mm

016_santa-clara_06252016-2

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F 6.3, ISO 1600, spot metering, 500mm

025_santa-clara_06252016-2


Drinking Roadrunner

The roadrunners were the highlight of my last trip to Santa Clara Ranch in south Texas in June.  On the last day, they were very cooperative and came to the pond to drink.  Up close, they are very beautiful birds.

On the last photo, you can see the reflection of the pond in the water drop.  They scoup up the water in their bill and tilt their head back to drink.

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

Aperture priority, 1/2000 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

480_Santa Clara_06262016-2

Aperture priority, 1/2500 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

488_Santa Clara_06262016-2

Aperture priority, 1/1600 sec @ F9, ISO 800, evaluative metering, 500mm

719_Santa Clara_06262016-2


Bronzed Cowbird

One of my favorite birds from my last trip to Santa Clara Ranch was the Bronzed Cowbird.   They have a bronzed iridescence and their eyes turn red during breeding season.  When trying to impress a potential mate, the male will vibrate his wings and hover in the air a few feet off of the ground.  Got lucky on the last day and caught that behavior with the last two photos.

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

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

407_Santa Clara_06252016-3

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F8, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

779_Santa Clara_06262016-2

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

526_Santa Clara_06262016-2

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F5.6, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, 500mm

542_Santa Clara_06262016-2


Pyrrhuloxia

Had to look up the spelling on this bird.  Related to the Northern Cardinal, the Pyrrhuloxia thrives in the desert southwest.  They were very skittish and didn’t stick around long so I was very pleased to get these shots, especially the wingspan shot of the female.

Took these photos at Santa Clara Ranch in SW Texas in June.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F5.0, ISO 1600, spot metering

158_Santa Clara_06252016-2

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F6.3, ISO 1600, spot metering

057_Santa Clara_06252016-2

Aperture priority, 1/3200 sec @ F6.3, ISO 3200, evaluative metering

215_Santa Clara_06252016-2


Roadrunner Stare-Down

He must have been wondering where the machine gun fire was coming from nearby.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F8, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

460_Santa Clara_06262016-2

 


Roadrunner Close-up

During my recent trip to Santa Clara Ranch, our goal was to see bobcats that have been frequenting the ponds lately.  The ponds in front of the blinds are the only water source on the ranch so they attract lots of wildlife, especially during the hot summer months.

It was looking very promising for us with the previous visitors seeing bobcats at multiple blinds.  Our hopes were dashed when it rained on both days.  With water available elsewhere on the ranch, the cats didn’t show up.  Bummer…

However, we did hit the jackpot on roadrunners.  Our guide, Hector Astorga, is an expert at getting roadrunners to come into the blind area.  He was calling one with his voice and it tried to come down the stairs into the blind.

This Greater Roadrunner eventually made his way to the pond and started drinking.  He was too close for full body shots at the pond so I kept my focus on his eye for head shots.  They are beautiful birds that are very colorful and look a little prehistoric, in my opinion.

More photos to follow with direct eye contact and drinking out of the pond.

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

Aperture priority, 1/2000 sec @ F9, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

489_Santa Clara_06262016-2


Female Painted Bunting at Laguna Seca Ranch

Made another trip to south Texas last week for some photo blind photography.  Had a great time as usual.  Thanks again Scott for the invitation and Richard for the six-hour ride down south.  Spent Friday morning at Laguna Seca Ranch and Saturday/Sunday at Santa Clara Ranch.

It was a little toasty sitting in the blinds with the temps around 98 deg F in the afternoons but it wasn’t as bad as anticipated.  Just felt like another warm summer day in the Houston area.  Although, I’m not usually sitting in a box at those temp’s, but it was well worth it.

Larry Ditto was our guide at Laguna Seca .  It was great to spend some quality time with Larry again as our paths usually only cross briefly at Galveston’s FeatherFest.

The activity was slow on Friday but there were still lots of birds around.  We saw some of the usual suspects, including painted buntings, bobwhite quail, green jays, cardinals, bronzed cowbirds, thrashers, etc.

We only saw one of the brightly colored male buntings for a few seconds but there were several female buntings that came up to the water.  It’s always fun to shoot off a burst of photos while they are bathing.

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

Aperture priority, 1/1250 sec @ F5.0, ISO 3200, spot metering, 500mm

636_Laguna Seca_06252016-2

Aperture priority, 1/640 sec @ F5.0, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, 500mm

486_Laguna Seca_06252016-2

 


Reddish Close-up

This Reddish Egret walked around us at FeatherFest during my Ground Level Photography field trip.  He was too close for a full bird shot so got these head shots with minor cropping.

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.

Update:  I’ve added copies of the original uncropped photos to show how cropping is a necessity sometimes when there are distracting backgrounds.  In this case, we were shooting back towards our cars parked on the beach.

Original photo:

797_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-3

Cropped photo:

Aperture priority, 1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

797_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-2

Original photo:

803_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-4

Cropped photo:

Aperture priority, 1/1000 sec @ F11, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 700mm

803_Ground Level_FeatherFest_04172016-2