2018 Highlights – Februrary

Today’s post highlights some of my favorite images from my extended photo trip to Florida, in February of 2018.  I experienced some wonderful things, including snorkeling with manatees, kayaking in Myakka River State Park, photographing all the wonderful birds at the famous bird rookery in Venice, Ding Darling NWR, the Everglades, Green Cay, and multiple locations around St. Petersburg. Here are just a few of my favorites from this long journey:

Manatee resting in the Crystal River

Black Vulture closeup

Great Blue Heron

Myakka River view, from kayak

American Alligator

Male Anhinga arriving at the rookery

Roseatte Spoonbill

Great Egret with nest material

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Great Egret "sky pointing"

Tricolored Heron

Purple Gallinule running

I’m ready to go back!!!

 

 

 

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2018 Highlights – January

I thought I’d highlight this past year, with regards to my photographic endeavors. Today’s post features January 2018. During these often cold and dreary months of winter, there is not a lot of things going on. January 2018 was not very different, except for a couple of photographic projects.

I made 3 trips to some prairies in southwest Missouri in January, working at capturing some of the Short-eared Owls that sometimes migrate south to our prairies, in search of food. These little owls are not the easiest to photograph. They fly very quickly, and usually don’t become active until dusk, when the light is often low enough to make action photography a real challenge!  But sometimes things just work out!

Short-eared Owl hunting over the grassland

Short-eared Owl hunting over the grassland

Short-eared Owl hunting over the grassland

January 2018 also saw our first Super Moon of the year:

Super Moon Rising over Amarugia Lake

Super Moon over Cornerstone Community Church

Super Moon over farm silo

Super Moon over farm silo

Next up … February, and my favorite images from a long trip to Florida!

 

 

 

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Sunrise Swans

I hope everyone has had a great holiday season! I backed away from the blog for a short while, to visit friends and family over the Christmas break. I had a wonderful time and am really looking forward to the New Year!

In today’s post, I’m featuring a couple of sunrise images I captured of Trumpeter Swans in flight at the Loess Bluffs NWR (formerly, Squaw Creek NWR) in northwest Missouri. The swans are truly a thing of beauty, particularly when you can capture them in the golden light of sunrise:

Trumpeter Swans in flight at sunrise

Trumpeter Swans in flight at sunrise

Coming up … a few more species I photographed at the refuge during that November photography trip.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 250 (image #1) and ISO 200 (image #2)
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/500 sec. (image #1) and 1/6400 sec. (image #2)

 

 

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Fun Friday: Taunting the Seniors

Bald Eagle interactions are always interesting to watch. While at the Loess Bluffs NWR in northwest Missouri recently, I ran across a pair of adult Bald Eagles perched very close together in trees that contained a pair of bald eagle nests:

Pair of adult Bald Eagles

As I photographed the pair, a juvenile Bald Eagle flew over the trees, causing a response from the pair of adults:

Juvenile Bald Eagle flying over a pair of adult Bald Eagles

To better see the expressions of the adults, I cropped and enlarged a portion of the above image:

Adult Bald Eagles reacting to a juvenile flying over them

Both were voicing their displeasure from the young eagle flying so close.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/2000 sec.

 

 

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The Buck Stops Here

During my recent trip to Loess Bluffs NWR in northwest Missouri, I came upon this nice White-tailed Deer buck. It was in the woodland area of the refuge and just watched as I photographed it for a couple of minutes, from my car:

White-tailed Deer buck

White-tailed Deer buck

Coming up, an interesting behavioral reaction between 3 Bald Eagles, captured on the refuge.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/400 sec.

 

 

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Immature & Adult Bald Eagles

On my recent trip to photograph Bald Eagles and Trumpeter Swans at the Loess Bluffs NWR, the number of eagles were not nearly as high as I would have liked to see. But I did get several opportunities to photograph some of the eagles.

Immature Bald Eagle numbers seem to increase dramatically every year … giving proof to our conservation programs, to bring them back from very low numbers due to the DDT problems we encountered in the late 1900’s.  Some of the immature bald eagles I was able to capture:

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle

And a couple of adults:

Adult Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle

More bald eagle and swan photos will be posted soon!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens (top 2 images) and Canon 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (bottom 2 images)
  • Handheld, with IS “On” (top 2 images) and Bogen 3221 Tripod with ballhead (last 2 images)
  • ISO 400 (top 2 images) and ISO 250 (bottom 2 images)
  • Aperture f/9, f/5.6, f/8, f/8
  • Shutter 1/400 sec., 1/2000 sec., 1/800 sec., and 1/1000 sec.

 

 

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Prepare for Liftoff

Today’s post features a group of Trumpeter Swans as they begin their liftoff into flight. These beautiful birds are so much fun to watch as they prepare to lift off.  They will do a number of “head bows”, while honking in their trumpet-like call. When ready to go, most (if not all) of the group will be head bowing and trumpeting … making it quite noisy. Then, one swan will begin running across the water, followed by the rest of the group. While flapping their wings and gaining speed, once they are able, they gracefully lift into the air and begin their flight pattern.  So cool to watch!

Here is one group and a sequence of them taking to the air:

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

Trumpeter Swans

During this trip, I also took a few videos of the swans.  I need to edit all the footage and hopefully will have some to share soon!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture 5.6
  • Shutter 1/2000 sec.

 

 

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Fun Friday: Where’s Waldo???

Today’s “Fun Friday” post’s images were captured last week during my 2-day visit to the Loess Bluffs NWR, in northwest Missouri. At this time of year, one of the highlights at the refuge is often the number of Snow Geese that lay over at the refuge and feed and rest up for the remainder of their migration southward:

 

But often, they are not this restful:

Snow Geese Frenzy

Snow Geese Frenzy

Snow Geese Frenzy

What makes them that way? Well, one of the most common causes is the feared Bald Eagle flying over the flock:

Snow Geese Frenzy

Bald Eagles are natural predators of the Snow Goose … and they know it! During the fall bird migration, the Snow Geese will move southward (from the Tundra regions) as the water freezes. As a result, the Bald Eagles will follow the Snow Geese on their migration southward, feeding on wounded and ill Snow Geese.

Interestingly, on occasion I have witnessed a lone Snow Goose get injured when this frenzy occurs. They often break a wing in the frenzy, disabling them from flying. As a result, they are easy targets for the Bald Eagle.

Back to the post title … if asked, could you find Waldo in the flock???

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D and 7D Mark II bodies
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens (matched with the 7D), and Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (matched with the 7D Mark II)
  • Handheld (7D), and Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head (7 D Mark II)
  • ISO variable
  • Aperture variable
  • Shutter variable

 

 

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Poetry in Motion

Today’s post features one of the magical moments of being in the field, photographing the Trumpeter Swans. During last week’s 2-day trip to Loess Bluffs NWR, I had the fortune of having several groups of Trumpeter Swans flying very close by as I photographed from the tour route road. Here are some of my favorite memories:

Upon entering the refuge, shortly after sunrise, the activity was already in progress (the Snow Geese were beginning to stir, in the background):

Trumpeter Swans in flight

As I settled in along the auto tour route, this pair of adult Trumpeter Swans were caught flying straight towards me:

Trumpeter Swans in flight

A short while later, a single adult Trumpeter Swan flew across, in front of me:

Trumpeter Swan in flight

I was “lucky” to see this pair of adult Trumpeter Swans as they flew across the refuge waters, very low:

Trumpeter Swans in flight

All of these images were captured on the first day. I’ll likely have more from Day 2 to share.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D and 7D Mark II bodies
  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS lens (matched with the 7D), and Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC (matched with the 7D Mark II)
  • Handheld (7D), and Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head (7 D Mark II)
  • ISO 400 and ISO 500
  • Aperture f/5.6 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/1000 sec. and 1/1600 sec.

 

 

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A Wonderful, Musical Bird

Today’s post features some of the graceful, Trumpeter Swans that have started to fly into the Loess Bluffs NWR (formerly called Squaw Creek NWR). As their name implies, when they communicate, it sounds like a chorus of trumpets being sounded! I particularly love watching these large birds as they take off from the water, and as they land. And nothing more enjoyable than to have a close-up flyby of a group! (I’ll share some of those in another post).

In this post, I’m sharing some of the “quieter” swans, captured while they foraged and rested in one of the refuge pools:

In this first image, an adult Trumpeter Swan:

And an adult and cygnet (cygnets are young swans, not yet white like the parents):

Adult and Cygnet Trumpeter Swans

And a mixed group of adults and cygnets:

Trumpeter Swans

And in this final image, a cygnet stretches it’s wings while resting on a muskrat hut in the refuge waters:

Coming up … more Trumpeter Swan images!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon EF 500mm f/4 IS lens + Canon 1.4x TC
  • Bogen 3221 tripod, with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 250 and ISO 320
  • Aperture and f/8
  • Shutter 1/640 sec. to 1/2000 sec.

 

 

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