Author Archives: Vincent Mistretta

About Vincent Mistretta

Photographer and wild nature enthusiast that enjoys sharing visual stories about our wonderful planet.

Scenes from Dubrovnik

We recently spent some time in Europe, a combination family vacation and 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration for my parents. One of the countries we all loved visiting was Croatia.

Dubrovnik Scenic

Our favorite city was by far Dubrovnik. So much so, that I have multiple days worth of images to share with you!

Dubrovnik through a Cannon Hole

One of the aspects I loved of Dubrovnik was the geometric patterns created by the terra cotta roofs.

Roof Tops in Dubrovnik

This picture was created from the fort walls which surrounded and protected Dubrovnik. I hope you enjoy these images and I hope to share more about Dubrovnik soon.

Images captured on Nikon D700, 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital Film

Monday Musings – Where Have all the Birds Gone?

Herring Gull Calling

My backyard has been bare. Occasionally I see a House Finch, Cardinal or Downy Woodpecker. But my yard used to be full of them including about 6 American Goldfinches. I have not seen one of the Gold Finches since Irene came through.
American Goldfinch

The only birds I have are Crows and Mourning Doves. One theory I have as to why the feeders have been empty of the more preferred birds is that the Crows and Mourning Doves might be crowding the smaller birds out. To take care of this problem, I switched to Safflower seed this weekend. Safflower seed is high in protein and great for song birds getting fat for winter….but the black birds and Mourning Doves don’t like it. So far, it has made a difference with the Crows and Doves, but still no song birds.

My other theory is that a family of Red Tailed Hawks has still been chasing squirrels and Crows in the yard and I am wondering if the smaller birds have kept away while we have this much hawk activity. It has been very interesting watching the hawks attack the bigger Crows.

I will let you know what happens over the next few weeks. I even traveled this weekend to some of the places where I am usually lucky finding shorebirds, but not much luck. I’m sure I will get some emails about the bounty of hawks and other birds around Connecticut. The birding blogs I read are heavy with sightings. But you have to remember, I am a photographer and birder. Seeing a bird and being close enough to photograph a bird are two very different things ;-).

Willets On A Rainy Morning

I made a project out of trying to make some better images of Willets this summer.

Willet on Rocks

I know trying to find and photograph one species of wildlife does not carry a high degree of success, however there is something about a Willet that just says majesty, especially when they fly. The patterns made by the feathers in their wings are amazing! The problem is that they fly in patterns and at speeds that make them wildlife’s equivalent to flubber ;-).

Willet in the Grass

I need to make some images of Willets in flight!

Images captured with Nikon D700 w/600mm f/4 and Tce1.4-II on Lexar Digital Film.

Sunset with Sanderlings

After my disappointment in finding my favorite Osprey nest was destroyed by Hurricane Irene, I decided I just needed to grab my camera and go shoot.

Sanderling with a Clam

A closeup shows just how much this bird had to eat. It took him about 5 minutes of flipping and dropping the clam to figure out how to get it in his bill in order to swallow it!

Sanderling with a Clam, Closeup

Given how far I had to walk to find these 3 birds, I decided not to bring my big glass with me. The gear I used here was a 70-200 VR II and Tce 2 III, a new birding rig for me. It gave me a zoom range of 140-400. Normally I would select my 200-400 for that focal range in order to have one extra stop of light. But that lens was not with me. The results are not half bad.

Sanderling Shiver
Sanderling Digging Deep

If you are wondering how I was able to get this close to a usually very skittish bird, here is the trick. I sat myself down on the beach with my back to the sun (over my right shoulder) and people swimming to my left. The birds, after a short time, didn’t even know I was there. I knew that if I stayed still, they would gradually make their way away from the noisy swimmers and right towards me…..and the beautiful sunset light :-).

Images captured on Nikon D3x w/70-200 2.8 VR II and Tce 2 III on Lexar Digital film.

Monday Musings – Oh Irene, Say It Isn’t So

Well, Irene has come and gone. The damage in this area was great. In fact, 8 days later and still not everyone has power. I had hoped to do some bird photography this weekend. Long holiday weekend at one of my favorite spots, the east end of Long Island. I was curious how well the Osprey nest that I frequent held up. My wife picked me up at the train station and after greeting each other I told her to drive past the nest. Unfortunately, this is what I found.

Osprey Nest Destroyed by Hurricane Irene

All nesting material was piled up under the platform. I used my long glass to make sure none of the Osprey were in the rubble but I couldn’t see well as this pole is protected in a tidal marsh. One can only hope.

I have spent a lot of time over the last 2 years at this nest, I hope the breeding pair will return in the spring. I did spend about an hour watching and listening to see if I could locate any of the nests 5 previous inhabitants but they were no where to be found. In fact, there were 3 breeding pairs and chicks in 3 different nests along Dune Rd this year and none of them had any sign of Osprey :-(.

Here are some of the pictures I have taken from this nest.

Osprey Chicks Waiting for Mother to Return

And one of my all time favorite images……..

Feeding Time

One positive thing came out of my disappointment in not getting to see the Osprey one last time this summer. I decided I need to keep better research notes. When I returned home and looked through the notes I had kept on the nest, I realized I did a poor job and needed to better document my birding experiences in the future. So now I am on the lookout for a good birding journal app for the iPad. Anyone know of a good one?

Nanos Mountain, Slovenia

Nanos Mountain, Slovenia

I know, I know. My blogging has been poor recently. As you read this I am off bringing my middle son to college. Between our 2 week trip to Europe, getting 2 boys ready for college, a job and oh yeah, Irene, it has been a mess around here.

One of our stops while traveling to Europe was Koper, Slovenia. On a drive from Koper to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Capital, we passed by the Nanos Mountains just after sunrise. What struck me about this image was the back lighting of the mountain with the dark forest in the foreground. It made me think of the mountain rising with the sun.

My only regret is that I was not there an hour earlier to get better light. It would have been killer on those clouds. Alas, the difficulty of traveling around Europe with 16 people!

Image captured with Nikon D700, 24-120 VR I on Lexar digital film.

Have You Heard About New Hampshires New Wildlife Guides?

Tufted Titmouse

Well Google+ has already paid some dividends. I started using “Sparks” and selected “birding” and “wildlife” as topics I was interested in. Sure enough the first story that came up was that the State of New Hampshire had just created a new wildlife website (

Available on this new website is New Hampshire’s Wildlife Viewing and Birding Trails Guide.

If you would like to try Google+ and need an invitation, I have a few left. Just click on this link: Google+ Invites

Monday Musings – Venetian Patterns

One of the stops on our European trip was Venice.

St. Marks Clock Tower

I’m going to give everyone a tip here, fairly common knowledge photographically but said in a different way than you have been used to hearing it. Photography is an art that sees 360°, make sure you do as well. Don’t always look in front of you, look up, look down and look behind you, you never know what you might see. Had I not looked up, I would have missed the cloud pattern behind St, Marks Clock Tower. To finish this image I used Nik Filters “Monday Morning”.

Green Window, Yellow Wall

I used Nik Filters “Glamour Glow” to finish this image. The morning light hits the walls in Venice with a special touch. One of the things I don’t like about vacation photography is that you are never in the right spot at the right time of the day. Put differently, I wish I could have parked my butt in one or two spots at sunrise and sunset and just took advantage of the light…no such luck!

Solids and Stripes

I dont think I executed the above image the way I wanted to. I saw the image differently when I pressed the shutter but the result was not what I wanted. One problem with this image is that I am shooting up from the street. Causes the proportions of the window to look funny.

Palm Tree Shade

This image was finished with Nik Filters “Tonal Contrast”

Overall, the colors in Venice are incredible. It is definitely on my list of places to revisit. One day was not enough time.

Images captured with Nikon D700 and 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital film.