Category Archives: Birds

Ruddy Turnstone

Those that know me, know that Florida has a special place in my heart. One of the places I love to photograph is Jupiter Inlet, just outside of the Jupiter Lighthouse. One of the subjects always present feeding on the scraps left by fisherman working the jetty are Ruddy Turnstone.

Ruddy Turnstone Against Rocks

Although I have several images of Ruddy Turnstone, I still dont have what I think is the perfect Ruddy Turnstone image. These are close, but just missing the drama. I actually think if I could place the bird in the first image against the second image background, I would be pretty close. However, I am a purist when it comes to “documenting” wildlife so that is not an option for my photography. I will have to keep on trying until I can get it right in the camera.

Ruddy Turnstone Against the Water

Have a great weekend.

Touching Video About Midway Atoll Albtross

I first saw this clip on Chase Jarvis’s blog and became instantly captivated by the work of the photographer, Chris Jordan. I have to admit that some of the images are graphic so watch with some discretion.

Im not sure what it is about this video and the work Chris is doing that I find so compelling and moving. I suspect what moves me is the realization that all our carelessness with the environment is directly affecting the lives of other creatures. The proof is powerful. If you really think using styrofoam cups and soft drink bottles doesnt have an impact on our lives, spend 5 minutes and watch this video.

Monday Musings – My First Publication!

The current issue of the BT Journal published by Wildlife Research Photography (WRP) contains a portfolio of images I created during the time I studied under Moose Peterson’s Master of Light Program (MLP). Here is the link for that story.

This is a really special opportunity for me. My images in the BT Journal are the first images I have ever had published professionally. I can never thank Moose and Sharon Peterson enough for their help and guidance during and after the program. I am truly honored to have my images included in this great publication. Below are 3 of my favorite images from my time in the MLP

Moose in Baxter State Park

As Moose states in the BT Journal article, I always wanted to photograph Moose. I can’t wait till the fall so I can get back up to Baxter and have another crack at some more images. I hope to one day make it to Alaska to photograph the bigger Moose of the species.

Feeding Time
Osprey Being Harassed by Red Winged Black Bird

The thing I love about this last image is the fact that you can tell which bird is harassing the female osprey, Being able to capture the red in the Red Winged Blackbird made the image special. This Osprey nest is one I worked for several months on Long Island. Moose encouraged me to keep working nests so that I could not only learn about the species biology but also document it through my photography. I look forward to returning to that nest this Spring.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight Blur

Normally I am not a big fan of blurred images. However this image struck me as an interesting blur. I enjoy this image as a blur, in part, because the background is almost completely black. We were photographing on this day in the rain, with overcast skies. You can also see a few drops of water coming off the feet of the bird which again is a cool effect on a dark background. I think if the background were blue or green, the blur effect would not be as pleasing and the pink of the bird would not stand out as well. If you are interested in creating “pleasing blurs”, Art Morris at Birds As Art and Denise Ippolito at A Creative Adventure have some really fantastic workshops and tutorials on doing so.

Roseate Spoonbill Preening

In the image above, I really like the color of the Roseate Spoonbill against the dark black water. This is actually how I saw the image, I did not intentionally “colorize” the image. That is a technique some photographers use but not one I employ on my wildlife images.

Images captured by D700, 200-400 VRI w/TCe 1.7 II on Lexar UDMA digital film

Monday Musings – Check Out BirdsEye

BirdsEye App

I know some of you might have thought the title was referring to the frozen vegetable brand but I meant an app that I am currently using on my iPhone. The app is called BirdsEye. As an emerging birder, I found this app to be worth every penny (yes, I paid the $19.99 for the full version). One of the things that makes this app so cool is that it is powered by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ebird system. According to the ebird website, they utilize over 1 million bird sightings a month in compiling their data.

So you might be asking, how does BirdsEye help birders? Its pretty simple. BirdsEye makes this database available to us in an easy to navigate and use interface. There are 6 main features you can access thorough the main menu (In version 1.3, the current version).

1) Find Nearby Birds
2) Notable and Rare Bird Sightings
3) Locate a Bird
4) View Birding Hotspots
5) Select Birding Location
6) Update Life List

So far I have mostly used menu items 1, 2 and 4. The app uses the iPhones location detecting capabilities (if you turn them on) to pinpoint your location and find bird sightings collected through ebird in your vicinity. It does this all very quickly. I am actually shocked at how efficient the database access is on a 3G network.
I also love the ability to build a life list with all the species you have seen in person. What I haven’t decided is whether I will use the life list to be my portable photographic species list for birds.

There are 2 recommendations I would make to better the apps performance. First, when you select the directions portion of the mapping section, you proceed out of BirdsEye completely without any ability to re-enter the app without hitting the iPhone home key and reselecting the BirdsEye App. I find this annoying.
Second and most important to me, I would like the ability to see bird sightings closest to my location sorted by how recently they were seen. Lets face it, I see 2 basic ways to use this app, and one of them is to know the most recent sightings in and around your current location. The application does sort by species and then shows when the last time that species was seen so I assume the change I am requesting is not a big deal. The other way to use this app is to search for certain birds and have it show their sightings.

All in all, this app in combination with iBird Pro, makes for a really powerful mobile birding reference tool. I highly recommend it.

Note: Image courtesy of the BirdsEye website.

Killdeer at Sherwood Island State Park

Recently I visited Sherwood Island State Park. The Connecticut Ornithological Association (COA) maintains a listing of all bird sightings reported by members. The lists are emailed daily with an archive maintained on the site. If you have a chance to check the site out, I highly recommend it. It really is a great system.
One recent report had sightings of Short Eared Owls in the field behind the model airplane field so I ventured there to see what I could find.

Killdeer at Sunset

When I arrived at the park, I realized I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t check the tide tables. Unfortunately, it was low tied, and any shore birds were well outside the distance of my 600mm f/4.

Killdeer Pulling on Worm

So I headed over to the model airplane field and walked along the creek and around the bird feeders. There was a lot of bird activity. Unfortunately not great photo opportunities but some great birds none the less. There were two Osprey building a nest on a platform in the creek, the first Osprey I have seen in CT this year. There were a pair of Boat Tail Grackle in the trees hiding among the branches as well as Starlings and many Red Winged Blackbirds. Unfortunately none of them made for good images. The one exception was a few Killdeer that were feeding in this field.

Killdeer Sunset Profile

Have a great weekend!

Images captured by D3x, 600 VRII w/TCe 1.4II on Lexar UDMA digital film

House Finches are Here

A mating pair of house finches are making our yard their own this spring.

Male and Female House Finches

The pair above made their way to our feeders and water supply over the last week and they seem like they are staying for the long haul.

Male House Finch

The awesome sunset light that we had on Saturday really brought out the beautiful colors in this male (sorry girls).

Mating House Finch Pair at Bird Bath

I have been playing around with where to put the bird bath, opting for just in front of a big Spruce tree most of the smaller birds like to hide in. It seems to have worked pretty well. Now I have to get rid of those squirrels……

Images captured by D3x, 600 VRII w/TCe 1.4II on Lexar UDMA digital film

Bird Land!

I have a trip to Florida coming up. Florida has a special place in my heart, it is a place I hope to explore more thoroughly in the coming years. Its rich in wildlife and easily explored.

One of my favorite birds to photograph are laughing gulls. Florida is the laughing gull capital of the east coast 🙂

Laughing Gull Preen at Sunrise
Laughing Gull Glide
Laughing Gull Checking Out a Fisherman

I have a host of new places to explore and new bird species I would like to photograph. It will be a challenge given the migration has started so I will be in between some bird movement but I look forward to sharing with you what I learn.

Have a great weekend!

Images captured with D3x and 70-200 VR I on Lexar Digital Film