Coastal Birds in April

 Galveston’s FeatherFest was almost two months ago.  How did I get this far behind?  The short version of a long story is this…I booked too many trips and took on too many photo projects this spring.  It was fun but grueling.  Anyway, here we are with plenty of time to look back and enjoy some of the images captured along the way.

During the first week of April, I led a photo trip on Kevin Sims’ boat at Rockport to photograph colonial nesting birds along the coast.  That was followed by two days with groups at High Island and Galveston Bay.  The weather was fantastic and we had a ball.

Here are some of my favorite shots from those outings:  When you click on an image it will enlarge and sharpen for better viewing.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck stretching wings at Paradise Pond.

After photographing along the islands of Aransas Bay in the morning, we headed south to Port Aransas for the afternoon at Paradise Pond and the Birding Center.

Green Heron walking a dead willow branch in Port Aransas.
Red-winged Blackbird flying from cattail perch at the Port Aransas Birding Center.
Great Egret displaying at nest, Aransas Bay, Texas.

Recommendation: when you are photographing at a nesting colony, set the big lens aside and go with a more flexible zoom lens (100-400 mm is ideal for me).   In doing so, fewer wings are clipped on the flight shots and you have more room in the frame for bird behavior or multiple birds at once.

Great Egret landing.

Large birds look best in flight when they are banking into a turn.  We got lots of photo opportunities working from Kevin’s boat as birds returned to the island with nest material and to feed young.

Roseate Spoonbill with nest material.
Great Blue Heron in flight at first light.
Great Egrets courtship display at High Island.

The rookery at High Island offered many nice shots of roseate spoonbills and various egrets engaged in mating and nest building.

Brown Pelican adults in flight.

Bird photography on Galveston Bay (also from Kevin’s boat) during FeatherFest, was superb.  We enjoyed an afternoon with brown pelicans, spoonbills, terns, skimmers and more.

Royal Tern carrying fish.


Roseate Spoonbill landing on oyster bar with laughing gulls, spring.

Late in the day, we couldn’t quit “shooting” passing black skimmers.

Black Skimmer after sunset on Galveston Bay.
Black Skimmer in flight at sunset.
Black Skimmer after sunset.

Then, as the light faded, I just had to get one more slow shutter speed shot of these pelicans.

Brown Pelican trio in blurred flight after sunset at 1/160 second.

There is no place for bird photography like the Texas coast in April.