The Brant’s and Double-crested Cormorants are in breeding plumage at La Jolla Cove in southern California this week. This is a Double-crested, which is only this obvious in full breeding. What is never obvious, except on rare occasions when you catch the bird with its mouth open, is that amazing blue inside! Shocking, really, next to the oh so yellow of the throat patch and under those eyebrow plumes. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th at f4 @ ISO 320. Processed in Polarr.
Three trees obviously. Pine, Maple, and Birch. Two at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and one just down the road at Laudholm Farms. I don’t know if you can call it a “good” use of an ultra wide frame of view, but I like to try it on occasion. 🙂 Sony a5100 in-camera HDR at 18mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. The trick of course is to be really close to the tree…but then trees are not that shy.
There is nothing quite like a Roseate Spoonbill in breeding plumage. The bright pink body and wing feathers, the green skin on the head, the white feathers on the neck, and the bright, bright red eye, here caught in full sun for the full effect. Orlando Wetlands Park, Christmas, Florida. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f5.6 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
While down at the beach on Saturday, waiting for the Game Warden to call about the stranded Razorbill, there was a Common Loon fishing for crabs on the inland side of the causeway bridge in Back Creek. I managed to catch it with its mouth full. It took it 5 minutes to dismember and eat this crab. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr. This is a crop down to about 1200mm equivalent field of view.
I had a strange (and slightly wonderful) encounter yesterday. I decided to go down to the beach for a few moments to photograph the stormy sky. As I drove the access road, which runs along the top of a causeway, it was unusually high tide, with the normal marsh on either side of Back Creek where it empties into the Mousam River behind the dunes of our local beach was fully under water and the tide lapping high up on the causeway. I noticed what was obviously a fairly large bird right at the edge of the water, up against the causeway, not 6 feet from the road. My driving impression was that it was a Razorbill, and when I got the car parked and walked over to see, it was indeed a Razorbill. What it the world? What is a Razorbill doing behind the dunes, pressed up against a roadway? It seemed to be in relatively good shape. It stood and flapped both wings at one point, but when I approached it, instead of backing out into the water, it hopped out of the water altogether and came up the bank toward me, stopping right at my feet. Other than a slick of something brown on the chest I could see nothing wrong with it. Still, I called around trying to get help. I got an answering machine at both Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which manages the marsh behind the beach, and the Wells Reserve (Estuarine Research Reserve, which is just down the road from Rachel Carson). I called the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Game Warden hot line, which is really for reporting wildlife violations. A lady answered and took my particulars and phone number and said someone would call. About 15 minutes later a Warden did call. He could not get anyone to me on Saturday afternoon. I expressed my concern that a dog was going to get the bird, as the beach is popular with dog walkers in the winter, and not everyone obeys the sign that says the dogs must be on a leash…or, more likely, that gulls would get it. He suggested that I either box the bird up and drive it an hour down the interstate to the Animal Rescue in York, where they might be able to help it, or that I move it to a more secluded spot out of the sight of any marauding dogs, and with some cover from gulls, and let it fend for itself. He said birds are often not really hurt…but just resting after some trauma, and will recover if left to their own devices…something I already knew from past encounters with apparently injured birds. My wife needed the car in just a few moments, so I did put a fabric shopping bag I had in the back seat of the car over the Razorbill and moved it to the shelter of some overhanging brush well off the road. Best I could do.
When I got home, of course, I did a bit of research, and discovered one concerning thing about stranded auks…they can not take flight from land. I worried I had put the bird too far from water, so this morning at first light I went back to the beach with heavy gloves and a box, intending a deeper intervention, perhaps even an attempt to clean the oil or whatever it was from the birds feathers, if it was still there. It was gone…and there was no sign of predication. I am taking that as good sign.
Of course I took a lot of photos while waiting for the Game Warden to call me back. As I said, the bird apparently had no fear of me, and I got closer than I ever hoped to get to a living Razorbill (close indeed since I actually had it in my hands when I moved it). That was certainly special.
The three photos above are from the Sony RX10iv, close-ups at 600mm and wide shot at 300mm. All in Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.
Not only portrait…but head and shoulders! Another close shot of a heron from Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, Florida. Walking the trails along the dikes at Orlando Wetlands can bring you very close to the wildlife. Once again, as in yesterday’s Tricolored Heron, the variety of texture in the fine feathers of the head and neck of the bird always fascinates me. If you can view the image large enough, check out the fine fluffy feathers behind the eye and to the back of the head. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. 1/400th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV Processed in Polarr.
This morning we are back to my pics from Florida and the Space Coast Birding Festival in January. This is another close encounter from Orlando Wetlands Park, this time with a Tricolored Heron. It was feeding right at the edge of the water right next to the dyke and the trail. This is only cropped on the horizontal dimension so it is basically a full frame shot at 600mm equivalent. It captures all the feather texture and subtitle shades of purple-grey of the bird…and the pose catches the energy of the hunter well…or that is what I think. 🙂 Sony RX10iv. My birds and wildlife modifications to Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
We will take a break from the birds (and wildlife) of Florida this morning for this shot of ice bells on the Mousam River here in Kennebunk. I went out with my new ultra wide landscape camera to see what I could see along the Mousam, and had to walk back to the car for my RX10iv with its longer lens to get a close-up these ice bells several feet out into the stream. So it goes 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 378mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 160. Processed in Polarr.
No trip to Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas, Florida would be complete without an Alligator or two. They have some big ones there, and they are in the habit of hauling out at the water’s edge to warm up in the sun. On occasion they even get right up on the pathways. My rule is “never get closer to a gator than twice the length of its body” and don’t get close at all if you can help it. This shot was taken at 212mm equivalent from about 15 feet away…which was a little closer than I was completely comfortable with, but the alligators never even blinked as I edged by on the path above it. The worst part was that there was a Little Bittern in the reeds behind it, and I could not get a good shot of the bird without getting closer to the Alligator…such is life at Orlando Wetlands Park. Sony RX10iv at 212mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. 1/800th @ f4 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
I have written before about this pair of companionable Florida Sandhill Cranes that walked up the Limpkin trail with me at Orlando Wetlands Park in Christmas Florida. This shot was taken at 30mm equivalent, so I was just out of the frame behind the closest crane, and, as I said before, if I stopped to take a photo, they stopped and waited for me. It was so strange and so wonderful. And once more, I just can’t say enough about how great a place Orlando Wetlands Park is, in that it allows this kind of close encounter, on foot, with the bird and wildlife. Sony RX10iv at 30mm equivalent. My birds and wildlife modifications of Program mode. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.