Tag Archives: shorebird

Semipalmated Plovers at Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

I loaded up my kayak and paid the reserve a visit a few mornings ago. As is usually the case, my efforts were awarded with plenty of photography opportunities. I found these plovers feeding along mouth of Deep Creek, the entrance into the tidal flats. These small birds are a joy to watch and a challenge to photograph. They tend to be more than a little suspicious of anything approaching them. Getting close to them, however, is easier from the water than from land. Such is one of the benefits of using a kayak for photography. Here are a few shots from the encounter.

A tiny plover explores the beach looking for a meal.

Semipalmated Plover at the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve

Plovers are very small shore birds.

North Carolina's Crystal Coast is a wonderful destination for nature and wildlife photographers.

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Little Blue Heron

While paddling my kayak this morning I came across three Little Blue Herons. Two of these tres hombres were quite shy and took to wing before I got within camera range. But one was absolutely calm in my presence and just kept fishing along the waters edge. The bird was in classic breeding colors (hint, look at the head, neck and bill), making it a very handsome model. These and Reddish Egrets are my favorite large wading birds. I’m always thrilled when I get to observe them. Below are a few photos from the encounter.

Little Blue Heron on Taylor's Creek

Little Blue Heron in breeding colors.

Rachel Carson Reserve is home to many interesting birds.

Little Blue along the Crystal Coast of North Carolina.

Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron.

Little Blue Heron found along North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks.

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A Tough Shot from a Kayak!

I launched my kayak last Saturday afternoon with the goal of paddling into a blackwater swamp and sitting for a while in hopes of getting a shot of a Prothonotory Warbler. It was suppose to rain that hint and all-day Sunday. As I started my paddle the wind was starting to pick-up and I could see clouds building off in the distance. I made it into the swamp as planned but my stay was cut a bit short as light was fading quickly because of the increasing cloud cover. Finally I realized it was time to head back to the ramp or risk a return trip in total darkness. As I made my way to the ramp I noticed a Great Blue Heron feeding along the river bank. It was a picturesque location and certainly was worth an attempt at getting a shot.

The challenge was going to be getting a useable shot. In the dim light getting a shutter speed that would be fast enough to make a sharp image was going to be tough. I started cranking up the ISO, going all the way up to iso 1250! A high setting like that would almost insure a lot of noise in the resulting image. Checking my exposure settings, even at that high ISO setting, my shutter speed was going to be less than 1/100 of a second. That’s much too slow to insure a sharp image when hand-holding a 500mm lens. In order to get to a faster shutter speed I opened my aperture up. I know this lens and this lens is at its sharpest at around f/8.0. Opening the aperture wider than that can result in images that a bit soft. I ended up compromising, choosing an aperture of f/7.1. That got me a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. A speed still much slower than the theoretical minimum target of 1/500 of a second for hand-holding a long lens like this. Considering I’m shooting from a kayak on choppy water and ideally I’d have a shutter speed closer to 1/1000 of a second! In these lighting conditions this was the best I was going get, 1/125 at f/7.1 and iso 1250. I tried to steady myself, holding as carefully and steady as possible and squeezed off a few shots. Honestly I was optimistic about what I’d find on the memory card.

When I got home I unloaded and stored the kayak away, put the camera up and spent some time visiting with my wife. I didn’t even bother to check the images for several days. I knew the odds of getting and image that was even suitable for use on the internet were pretty low. Much to my surprise there was a fairly decent image in the series. Was it perfect? Not by a long shot but the noise wasn’t too bad and it was reasonably sharp. A little post processing work in photoshop include a touch of noise reduction resulted in a fairly pleasing image.

Sometimes conditions are tough. When you understand the limitations of your equipment it’s easy to convince yourself to not even try to make and image in some situations. Personally I think it’s always worth the effort to give it a try. You probably won’t get anything for the effort except the comfort that you gave it your best shot. Then again, sometimes you get lucky. Below is the image described above.

Sometimes you just get lucky.  Theoretically this image wasn't possible in the conditions shot.

 



 

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Shackleford Banks Seagulls

It’s all too easy to overlook seagulls when making nature photographs. After all, along the coast they seem almost omni-presents. They’re almost everywhere. Even so there are a variety of different gulls and they can make interesting photographic subjects. Here is a Laughing Gull and a Ringbill Gull photographed while waiting on pick-up from Shackleford Banks. Often times the best tactic for photographing shore birds is to take a seat along the beach, stay reasonably quiet and still, and to allow them to come to you.

 


A Laughing Gull strikes a pose along the beach on Shackleford Banks
A Ringbill Gull goes for a wade.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Posted in Avian Photography, General Photography, Nature Photography, Photo Tip, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Not Only Wild Horses

While the focus of last weekend was on photographing wild horses other opportunities did present themselves. For example, while waiting on the boat to pick us up we had several interesting shorebirds stroll past. Below is one of my shots taken on Shackleford Banks while waiting for a ride.

 

Wild Horse photography workshops often present opportunities to photograph interesting shorebirds as well.

 



 

Now available my “Introduction to Kayak Photography” eBook. Learn how to approach skittish wildlife from the water to add an interesting perspecitve to your photographs.

 

USD 4.99 / Download

Posted in Avian Photography, Nature Photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife Photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Ooops! Night Heron Repost

Yesterday morning I did a post on Black Crowned Night Herons. Unfortunately my site host was making a nameserver change and that post got lost in the migration. Basically I mentioned stopping by my Night Heron hot-spot on the way bac from my wild horse photo outing. That day there were over twenty of the Night Herons roosing in the trees along with several Tri-color Herons, White Ibis and other birds. Below are the images included with that post.

A Black Crowned Night Heron gazes out over Taylor's Creek near Beaufort, NC.

A juvenile Night Heron.

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Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

It seems a bit of a cliche but it’s true, sometimes life gets in the way. Several weeks ago I made a change in part time employment. I happened to time it just as my new employer experienced a shortage of employees. Because of that timing my “part-time” job has been occupying me 6 and 7 days a week! That doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time for getting out a shooting. Plus, when I do get out it doesn’t leave a lot of time for post processing the resulting images. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. In these challenging times having work is a really good thing. As things ease up a little I’ll be working up some of the photos I have in queue waiting to be processed as well as getting back out and making new imagery. Below is a shot from a few weeks ago. Hope you enjoy it.

A small peep strolls along Bird Shoal on North Carolina's Crystal Coast.

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Snowy Egret on a Winter’s Day

During my last kayak photography outing I came across a reasonably cooperative Snowy Egret. Here’s a couple shots from the encounter.

Snowy Egret on a winter day.

Snowy Egret

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Seagulls in Flight

To those of us making our homes along the coast gulls are a very common sight. You see them almost everywhere. To many they’re little more than pests. Locals call them names like “Sky Rats,” indicating their disdain for them. Yet there is something graceful about their flight. They glide gracefully with seemingly little effort. Here are a couple shots of a Ring Billed gull in flight.

A Ring Billed Gull soars above North Carolina's Crystal coast.

Flying high, a Ring Bill Gull.

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Sanderlings

These little birds are in a state of constant motion. It’s really quite entertaining to watch them dart in and out of the surf as they search for food. Sanderlings are always a hit with beach goers. Here’s a couple shots from yesterday morning.

A Sanderling darts in and out of the surf in search for a meal.

Sanderlings are a popular little bird with the tourists.

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