Remembering Last Spring


While organizing photo files last week, I came across a number of  shots from a morning trip last spring to South Padre Island (SPI), Texas.  They reminded me that being on SPI in late April, rubbing elbows with dozens of other photographers is always a special event.  On this day, every clump of trees was teeming with colorful, migrating songbirds.  Maybe the best part of this trip was that I didn’t have to spend hours crouched in a photo blind or arranging perches and water drips to attract the birds… I just parked the car, grabbed the camera and start shooting.

These photos were taken in one morning on the grounds at SPI’s Convention Center.

Baltimore Oriole, male perched, April.
Baltimore Oriole, male perched, April.

On this day, a large number of Baltimore Orioles had just arrived.  Most were searching for food and water and didn’t pay much attention to the photographers.

Male Baltimore Orioles in spring migration.

Getting into position for a photo that offers a clean background and reasonably good lighting can be a photographer’s greatest challenge.

Male and female Baltimore Orioles fighting.
Indigo Bunting male perched, April.

First time visitors are always shocked at the variety and color of all those warblers, buntings, grosbeaks, tanagers, etc. crammed into a small woodlot.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak male perched, April.
Worm-eating Warbler searching for insects.

Some of the birds like this Worm Eating Warbler are unusual finds and they aren’t much for posing.  Photographers have to spot, focus and shoot quickly or the opportunity will be gone.

A motionless Yellow-billed Cuckoo watching for juicy caterpillars.
Foraging Yellow Warblers are easy to spot and hard to photograph.
White-eyed Vireo perched, April.

So, this is a small sample of what can be seen and photographed on a good morning.  These shots were made with Canon 500 mm and 100-400 mm lenses and Canon 7d Mark II camera.




From the Backyard

 After an August trip to the Davis Mountains in west Texas for hummingbirds, I decided to stay close to home until the weather improved.  That is to say, I stayed in the house and close to the air conditioner for most of September.

Late in the month, the first migrating hummingbirds began arriving.  It was the first autumn in many years when “hummers” came this far inland on their journey south.  Perhaps hurricane “Harvey” steered them slightly off the normal course, but whatever the cause, we were happy to see them.

While there weren’t many, 6-8 birds were enough to convince me I should break out the tripods and flashes to capture as many ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbird photos as possible while they stopped to feed.

Today’s newsletter has a few of those birds and one or two shots of resident wildlife… anoles.

Remember, you can click on a photo to enlarge and sharpen it.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird male nectaring at red salvia, s. Texas.
Male rubythroat flying up to salvia blooms.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovering in flower garden.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, male feeding at garden flowers.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird, male feeding at garden flowers

All the hummingbird photos were done with the aid of four flashes  on the bird and two on the background with each set at 1/32nd power.  The result is a pulse of light lasting about 1/12,000th second.  Such a short duration of light stops a bird’s wing beat and other motion.  The camera settings for each shot were approximately 1/200th second, f 22 and ISO 200 so that only the flashes provided enough light to properly expose the subject.  Each was captured with a Canon 7D Mark II camera and Canon 500 mm f4 lens.

Broad-winged Hawk migration over McAllen in mid-September.
Bark Anole (Anolis distichus) extending dewlap.
Bark Anole trying to attract a female.

I’m sorry so much time elapsed since the last newsletter.  Most people are using Facebook to share photos these days, so I got in the habit of posting images in that forum.  I’ll try to continue doing both.