3 Days in Port Aransas

I spent three days in Port Aransas last week photographing whooping cranes, songbirds, waterfowl and water birds.  The  first day dawned a beautiful red to gold to yellow morning and then turned to clouds which persisted for most of the trip.  Nevertheless, it is hard to fail when photographing in the Port Aransas and Rockport area.  Never mind that we bypassed the marinas on foggy mornings (one of my favorites shoots), we still had plenty of subjects.  I will have groups in that area again this week and next, so January promises to be lots of fun.

Here are some of my favorite photos from last week.  Don’t forget to click on the photos to open them in a larger, sharper format for viewing.

On a cool, foggy afternoon, the night-herons came out of the woods to warm in a spot of afternoon sun.
On a cool, foggy afternoon, the night-herons came out of the woods to warm in a spot of sun.
Laughing gull resting on a huge granite boulder at the Port Aransas jetties.
Laughing gull resting on a huge granite boulder at the Port Aransas jetties.
It was hard to find a well marked Northern Shoveler male, but this one showed its speculum while stretching.
It was hard to find a well marked Northern Shoveler male, but this one showed a beautiful speculum while stretching.
Whooping crane enjoying a blue crab in the salt marsh at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Whooping crane enjoying a blue crab in the salt marsh at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.
Whooping cranes headed from the marsh to inland sites where prescribed burns have created large, grassy openings where the birds can feed.
Whooping cranes headed from the marsh to inland sites where prescribed burns have created large, grassy openings where the birds can feed in safety.
Male Wilson's warbler feeding in the woods at Port Aransas.
Male Wilson's warbler in the woods at Port Aransas.
Yellow-rumped warblers are common in south Texas woodlands during most winters.
Yellow-rumped warblers are common in south Texas woodlands during most winters.
All of these photos were done with the Canon 7D camera and 500 mm IS lens on a Gitzo cf tripod with Wimberley head.  For the warbler shots, I added a 1.4X teleconverter and fill flash.  I had to boost the ISO settings to compensate for the cloud cover and dark shade, but the Photoshop noise reduction tool helped smooth out the noise that created.
Have a good week.
Larry

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe 2011 is here already.  The fall and early winter have flown by, and I didn’t get to do nearly as much photography as I’d hoped.    I just spent most of the holidays editing and culling photo files.  Still there are thousands of shots to be edited, labeled and optimized.  The computer stuff never ends, does it? 

In spite of all that computer time last week, I did sneak out one morning to chase white-tailed deer and then I spent an afternoon sitting in a photo blind.  Here are a few of those shots.

Remember to click on the photographs to enlarge them for better viewing.  Then you can click on to the next and view them at your own speed as a slide show. 

Ten pointer following the trail of a doe.
Ten pointer following the trail of a doe.

 

In late December, the big bucks are in constant pursuit of females and have little time to pose for photos.  This big guy allowed me to follow until he topped a little ridge and paused in front of the sunrise.
In late December, the big bucks are in constant pursuit of females and have little time to feed or pose for photos. This big guy allowed me to follow until he topped a little ridge and paused in front of the sunrise.

 Both of the previous shots were taken with the Canon 1D Mark III and 100-400 mm IS Canon lens, hand held.

It took several tries to get this shot of a green jay landing.
It took several tries to capture this green jay landing.

 

Most of my shots of landing birds look like this.  It has good color...
Most of my shots of landing birds look like this. It has good color...

 

I had to crop the tail of this green jay since I shot this photo close in with about 1,000 mm.
I had to crop the tail of this green jay since I shot this photo close in with about 1,000 mm of telephoto power.

 

Another close focus at 1,000 mm.
Another close focus on a green jay.
These last two green jay shots were taken with the Canon 7D, 500 mm IS lens and 1.4X teleconverter at close range.  I was geared for warblers, but couldn’t resist the green jays.
This verdin came to feed on an orange and wouldn't sit still in the open for long.
This verdin came to feed on an orange slice I had placed near a perch. Unfortunately, green jays persisted in chasing it away.

 

The yellow-rumped warbler came in to bathe and feed on a few insects around the pond.
Yellow-rumped warblers fed and bathed near my blind all afternoon.
When I am in a blind photographing birds with the big lens, I always keep a second camera ready with the 100-400 mm lens in case a mammal comes to water.  On this day, a thirsty armadillo spent about 5 minutes drinking at the small pond about 15′ in front of me.
That long tongue and snout look like they are made for drinking, but I suspect they are more useful for rooting in leaf litter and grabbing invertebrates.
That long tongue and snout look like they are made for drinking, but I suspect they are more useful for rooting in leaf litter and grabbing invertebrates.

 

I always try to remember to mix some vertical shots with the horizontals, even when the shot demands a horizontal.
I always try to remember to mix some vertical shots with the horizontals, even when the shot demands a horizontal.

Santa didn’t bring me the new cameras and lenses I was hoping for, so I’ve decided to try being the first photographer to completely wear out a 500 mm lens.  Mine has 11 good years behind it and is still going strong.  I’m going to sprinkle a little salt spray on it this coming week.  You will hear more about that in the next newsletter.

Happy New Year!
Larry

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