I always feel any trip to south Texas in not complete until I have had a chance to photograph a Green Kingfisher, and I do come home some years without one. This one was distant…way across a pond at Estero Llano Grande World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas…but it caught some kind of eelly thing and ate it…and with Clear Image Zoom out to 1200mm equivalent, I could just barely do it justice with a heavy crop. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
One of the last “lessons” in my Advanced Field Techniques class for Point and Shoot Nature Photographers is “birds in flight” and yesterday, at Estero Llano Grande World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas, we came back to the deck at the Visitor Center overlooking the pond to see if anything would give us a chance to practice. Cue the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks! We had two groups circling the pond in the space of 30 minutes, giving us plenty of opportunity to practice our skills. Most P&S superzoom cameras (or “bridge” cameras as they are sometimes called) have an effective “sports” mode that works well for birds in flight, so it is not as hard as it sounds. And, of course, my Sony Rx10iv has wonderful tracking auto focus and shots at up to 24 frames per second, with makes it as good as any camera made of bif. The light was less than ideal…one of those grey cold front south Texas days…but still, needs must. And we could not have had better targets. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds-in-flight modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The first official day of our #Epic_Uganda_Vacations safari was spent getting to Murchinson Falls National Park, with a stop at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary along the way for Rhino Trekking, and we drove through the Murchinson gate at sunset, did not reach the Nile Ferry until 7PM, and Pakuba Safari Lodge deep in the park until well after dark. We woke the next morning to a herd of Defassa Waterbuck feeding around our cabins. These shots were taken before sunrise, using the Sony RX10IV’s Anti-Motion Blur mode for the low light levels. Two of the young bucks were testing their combative skills. 600mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr.
I shared my best single shot of this courting pair of Cedar Waxwings offering an apple petal to each other…but I took more than 50 shots at 3 frames per second as they passed the petals back and forth several times while I watched. This is one sequence. (It reads left to right then down and left to right again.) I am not sure why the female is “puffed out” but it seems to be part of the ritual. Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve) in Wells, Maine. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in Framemagic.
This is not a great photo as photo go. The birds were too far away across the Little River Marsh from the overlook on the Laird-Norton Trail at Laudholm Farms (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve)…so far away that it took 2x Clear Image (digital) zoom to identify them. And then a heavy crop to make the birds big enough so that you can identify them in the photo. But they are Red-breasted Mergansers, and they were actively displaying and courting, and on the theory that any photo is better than none 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
I think this is a Brant’s Cormorant (but it could be Double-crested…hard to tell in this photo…there were more Brant’s than Double-crested that day). Sally (my daughter) and I observed a lot of this behavior off the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in southern California when we visited the end of February. I though at first it might be some kind of mating ritual, or territorial display, but after inquiring of “someone who knows better”, I now know that the bird is just wetting itself. Yes that sounds a bit off-color, but that is what my expert said, and I don’t know how else to describe it. The Cormorants get cold in the cool waters of Southern California, and have to come out onto the rocks to warm up and dry off. Then, when they get back in the water with their dry plumage, they are too buoyant to dive after fish, and have to wet themselves down…which they do by this vigorous splashing. The splashing gets water into the back feathers without their having to submerge. Simple enough, and makes total sense, when you know. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
Sally, my daughter, and I found a couple of Dusky-footed Woodrats uncharacteristically out and about in daylight, feeding on flower petals along the path in Tecolote Canyon Nature Park in San Diego, California. She almost stepped on one right at the trail-edge while looking at birds. I managed to get this shot through the thick foliage. I know. It’s a rat, and many people have a thing about rats…but it is one of our few native rats, and an interesting creature. It builds large domed nests of sticks and litter (and sometimes adds a tree loft in a nearby tree), often in villages or hamlets of a dozen or more nests (perhaps the origin of its common name, Pack-rat, though it is a solitary creature in all other ways), stores food, builds a separate “toilet” faculty away from the nest, has soft fur and furry tail. I find it appealingly cute…certainly as cute as any gerbil or hamster. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 500. Processed in Polarr.
Not the most colorful bird in the world, of course, but still a charmer, and not easy to photograph. This specimen kept well buried in the brush at Tecolote Canyon Natural Park in San Diego, teasing us with its chatter, but staying mostly out of sight. As you see, it is carrying nest materials and was perhaps particularly secretive…unwilling to betray its nest site. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 800. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
Pelicans are among the best birds to practice your Birds in Flight skills on. They are big, so the camera focuses well, and when they are using the air currents over waves or breaking surf, or along a cliff, their flight is relatively predictable, so they are easy to track. Plus, the boldly textured feathers in all seasons, and the colorful breeding plumage in season, make them attractive subjects. Finally, shooting from sea cliffs in southern California, they are often at or below eye-level. This bird was below the cliffs at La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
I think it might be the guano streaked cliffs behind the bird that give this shot, to my eye, a slightly prehistoric aspect…and the pose of the bird below only adds to the effect. In reading this morning I discovered that the modern Pelican probably dates back 30 million years, so, yes, the bird is indeed legitimately prehistoric. La Jolla Cove, California. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 400. Processed in Polarr. This is a good example of the tracking auto focus of the RX10iv. I have the whole sequence of the bird coming in and landing.