Spring Photography on Galveston Island

Most of last week, I was in the Galveston, Texas area to lead several nature photography workshops and field trips.  All were part of FeatherFest, an annual event that attracts birders and photographers from around the country and the world.  My outings included San Luis Pass, Galveston Island State Park, and High Island (done on my own).  Surprisingly, we saw only a few of the various neo-tropical migrant birds (warblers, buntings, tanagers, vireos, etc.) which should have been “falling out” in the area in mid-April.  It was the resident birds that made our visit so successful.

Weather for FeatherFest was exceptional and included some great sunsets and sunrises.  The photographers at this year’s festival exhibited exceptional interest and focus when we were working on the beaches and dunes.  When we (tour group leaders) suggested a ground level position for photographing shorebirds, the photographers went to the sand like veterans.  If we spotted a bird in the marsh, everyone waded right it.  It is always fun to work with photographers who will go the extra mile to get exceptional photos.

Here are some of last week’s photos:  Click on a photo to enlarge and sharpen it.  Advance by clicking in the upper right portion of the photo.

Great Egrets were nesting in abundance at the Audubon Society's High Island rookery.


The High Island rookery photos were captured with the Canon 1D Mark IV camera, Canon 500 mm IS lens, Wimberly tripod head, and Feisol tripod.  Contrary to what we’d heard, we were permitted to use tripods while photographing at the rookery.

Roseate Spoonbills and a neotropic cormorant balancing on tree branches between flights to gather nest material.


Great Egret landing near nest.


At Galveston Island State Park the weather and bird diversity were exceptional.  On the first morning out, we were greeted by a variety of shorebirds, ducks, night herons, roseate spoonbills and other wading birds.


Yellow-crowned Night-Heron wading the shallows near Galveston Bay in the Galveston Island State Park.


Lesser Yellowlegs and Laughing Gulls were part of the array of birds we photographed at Galveston Island State Park.


Mottled and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were waiting for us at Galveston Island State Park.


Our photographers had to share the gulf-side beach with more casual visitors, but most got some great bird pics.


Dozens of Sanderlings scurried about the wet beach at Galveston Island State Park.


Black-necked Stilt landing in the salt marsh on the bay side of the island.


Forster's Tern hovering over Galveston Bay at sunset


Fishermen shared the beach with our photographers at San Luis Pass but the birds seemed to be used to all the human activity.


Beach Evening Primrose on the dunes at San Luis Pass


Herring Gull and Sanderling sharing breakfast on the beach.


Willet in the morning sun.


Laughing Gull take off.

Chasing gulls in flight was the best way for the class to learn the basics of action photography.  I sat on the beach while hand holding the camera and 500 mm lens to get this take-off shot of a laughing gull.

My next workshop at the Block Creek Natural Area near Fredericksburg is full, but I hope you will consider it for next year.  Eastern bluebirds, painted buntings, summer tanagers, hawks, owls and more await our arrival.

Images for Conservation’s Pro-Am photo shoot at Tacubaya Ranch (tacubayaranch.com) near Edinburg, Texas will be here soon (May 9-11) so get signed up at their site or with me or at ICF’s web site (ICF.com).  I’ll be the coach for that one and we still have room for 4 photographers.

Then, May 16-18 I will be at the Ramirez Ranch in Roma, Texas for butterflies, south Texas songbirds and hawks.  If you are interested, check my web site for details.

I hope you enjoyed this trip to Galveston Island.