Green Herons Galore

During last week’s kayak outing, one of the things that I noticed very early was the number of Green Herons (Butorides virescens). They seemed to be everywhere! In many cases, there would be 3,4, even a half-dozen of them all perched closely together over the water. Here are a few of my favorite images from the outing:

Green Herons in a tree, just as the sun rises

Green Herons in a tree, just as the sun rises

(Note: the bright, white spot in the above photo was an American Lotus bloom. Normally, I would just move the kayak a few feet and get it out of the frame. But in this case, the herons are often quite skittish, so I decided to leave it in the frame to get the 3 herons. I could probably take the lotus out of the image via Photoshop, but this image is just not worth the time involved!)

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron

This next image shows the incredible balance these guys have when fishing. He is intently watching the small fish fry in the water below, getting ready to strike. What you cannot see in this image is that the water surface is at least 12″-18″ below the point of the heron’s beak!

Green Heron stalking fish

I’ll likely make another trip out in Rubber Ducky soon … as long as the weather holds, the water level remains high enough to kayak, and I’m feeling ok!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1600 (all – images captured just about sunrise and the sun was still low, behind the trees, so ISO 1600 used for higher shutter speeds)
  • Aperture f/8 (all)
  • Shutter 1/25 sec. to 1/50 sec. (Even with ISO of 1600, shutter speed quite slow … grateful for IS!)

 

 

Posted in 2015, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Me, And My Shadow

While kayaking through a large field of American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea), I saw this image and immediately thought of the old song, “Me, and My Shadow”:

American Lotus

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 “IS” telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 475mm)
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Two More Flowering Water Plants

Today I’m featuring a couple more flowering water plants that were busy blooming as I kayaked a local Missouri Conservation Area, a little over a week ago.

The first is the Water Smartweed (Polygonum amphibium). This is quite a colorful plant, but difficult to maneuver a kayak through, primarily due to it’s stiff stem, with swollen nodes along the stem, and the dense colonies that are formed by this aggressive plant.  This plant is know as both a terrestrial and an aquatic plant. Here is an image of the water smartweed that I captured that morning:

Water Smartweed beginning to bloom

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 560mm)
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/50 sec.

 

The second plant is one that I’ve featured previously, the Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis). The many, ball-shaped flowers really make this plant stand out. The seeds from the buttonbush are readily eaten by Wood Ducks. Here is a full plant with it’s ball-shaped flowers in bloom:

Buttonbush in bloom

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 560mm)
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/400 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Male Eastern Pondhawks

A short time ago, I published a blog post with images of female Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies. During my recent kayak outing, I found lots of Eastern Pondhawks … and all were males! Males are identified as their abdomens change colors from the green of the female and juvenile males, to a beautiful blue color. This blue color begins at the back end and the color changes, moving forward. When they mature, the males have a solid blue color. Here are some of my favorite images of the male Eastern Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis):

Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly male

Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

The plant with the round seedheads are Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) plants, growing in the waters of the Conservation Area. Wood Ducks forage on the seeds of this plant. If you missed the post of the female Eastern Pondhawks, here is the link:

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC (all shot at 560mm)
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/320 sec. to 1/1600 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Marsh Mallow?

Another wildflower that is currently blooming in the shallow waters where I recently kayaked, is the Rose Mallow (Hibiscus lasiocarpos). I came upon several nice patches of this beautiful wildflower as I kayaked. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Rose Mallow wildflower

Rose Mallow wildflower

Rose Mallow wildflower

Rose Mallow wildflower

Rose Mallow wildflower

By the way, as the title questions, what do you call a rose mallow that is growing in water … is it a “marsh mallow”?  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 “IS” telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC, at various focal lengths
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 and ISO 1600 (bottom image, when water was moving)
  • Aperture f/7.1 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/10 sec. (top 4 images) and 1/1000 sec. (bottom image)

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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More American Lotus Images

From last week’s kayak outing, today I’m featuring some more American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) images that I captured from my kayak:

American Lotus

American Lotus

American Lotus

American Lotus

And while I kayaked back to my take-out point, this beautifully backlit lotus caught my eye:

American Lotus

The American Lotus plant is a very interesting and useful plant. Native Americans used to dig up the starchy roots, using their feet, and eaten as an important food source. The young shoots were eaten as “greens”, while the unripe seeds taste like chestnuts; when ripe, the seeds can be hulled and roasted. Waterfowl, particularly Wood Ducks, also eat the seeds, and are often seen “hiding” among the large colonies of lotus plants. These large colonies also offer shelter from small fish fry.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 “IS” telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC, at various focal lengths
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec. to 1/2500 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: Sunscreen … the Natural Way

 

From my kayak outing the other morning, I found this American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea), in a seemingly self-protective mode from the sun bearing down:

American Lotus

There were a lot of lotus plants in various stages of bloom, from an unopened bud to flowers where all the white petals were off the plant and lying on the water at the base of the stem. I’ll share more lotus images in an upcoming post.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 “IS” telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC (shot at 295mm)
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/7.1
  • Shutter 1/2000 sec.

 

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Fun Friday post, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Ribbbbit!

 

Yesterday morning, I did something I haven’t been able to do in a long time … a very long time. I loaded up my gear and headed out with the kayak (“Rubber Duckie”) for a wonderful morning of nature photography. I was able to get out a couple of times last summer, but the preceding two years saw little or no activity due to our drought. And with my recent surgery, it’s taken me this long to be able to give it a try this year. I wasn’t sure how I’d do, but I just had to give it a try.

I arrived at my location about one-half hour before sunrise. I unloaded my gear, hauled the kayak ~300 feet to the launch area, and was in the water about 15 minutes before sunrise. I paddled back to my favorite spot, which was a bit difficult to get to because of the large quantity of water plants (primarily American Lotus, which I’ll feature in an upcoming post). I ended up seeing and photographing quite a few critters and flowers. One of the things that I noticed very early was the number of bullfrogs … literally hundreds, if not thousands! On my way back to the take-out area, I stopped along the way to photograph a few of these guys:

Bullfrog

Bullfrog

I’ll likely make another trip out in Rubber Duckie pretty soon! Oh, and just a note to say that I think I did extremely well on my first big outing since surgery. No real issues, but I sure was exhausted when I got home! So much, that I lay down and took a well-deserved nap! :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-5.6 IS telephoto lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Handheld from a kayak, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400 and 500
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. and 1/800 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Nature Photography, Photography from a kayak, Reptiles and Amphibians | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Common St. John’s-wort?

Today’s post is a new wildflower for me … one I photographed in a small meadow just down the road from my rural Missouri home. I’m not positive, but pretty sure it is a Common St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum). If anyone can confirm this, or let me know what it is, I’d appreciate it!

Common St. John's-wort wildflower

Common St. John's-wort wildflower

If this is the Common St. John’s-wort, it is a non-native, coming from Europe. Recently, derivatives of this wildflower have gained popularity as a treatment for depression.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod + StudiBall ballhead
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/11
  • Shutter 1/160 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Female Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly

When I walked onto my front porch to photograph the Jerusalem Artichoke wildflowers that I featured in yesterday’s post, several species of dragonflies and damselflies flew up. After photographing the wildflowers, I managed to capture a couple of images of a female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly:

Female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

Female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly

The Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) is a medium-sized dragonfly, about 1 inch long and a 2-inch wingspan, that is quite common around my area. Females and newly-emerged males are green, with dark brown bodies. As they mature, the males turn from green to blue, starting at the back and moving forward, until they are solid blue. Both males and females have green eyes. They are considered a ferocious dragonfly, occasionally eating one another.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens (top photo also included a Canon 1.4x TC)
  • Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT carbon fiber tripod + StudiBall ballhead
  • ISO 500 (top photo) and ISO 800 (bottom photo)
  • Aperture f/11 (top photo) and f/6.3 (bottom photo)
  • Shutter 1/320 sec. (both photos)

 

 

Posted in 2015, Blog, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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