Some new photographs of Snowy,Cattle,Great Egrets and Great Blue Heron chicks in their nests and fledged. A few images were taken previously. All were taken in San Diego Co, California at several locations.
We just returned from a trip to SW Florida including Ding Darling Preserve on Sanibel Island, Corkscrew Swamp (Audubon) near Naples, Fl, and Cape Coral, Fl where the Burrowing Owls and the Bald Eagle nest was located. Winter from Nov until March is the best time to go before some of the birds leave and the weather gets hotter and more humid. Sanibel Island (Ding Darling) is best early in the morning at sunrise and low tide. Forget the middle of the day as the light is too harsh and the birds are not very active. You need at least a 300 mm lens or 400-600 for more distant birds. Some birds are not very afraid of people so they come within 10 feet at times if you stay still but I used 420 mm most of the time. ( I used my new 300 f2.8 IS II with a 1.4 extender most of the time giving me 420mm with my Canon 7d mark II.) On the Bald Eagle nest I used the 300 with a 2x extender as I was over 150 feet away (as close as allowed with signs protecting the nest).
I will post more photos including Little Blue Heron, White Ibis, Painted Bunting, an alligator, and a Red-Bellied Woodpecker soon in the next blog.
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Snowy Egrets Fighting chosen for Photo of the Day on Smithsonian.com
Wood Duck at Santee Lakes, San Diego, CA Wood Duck Reddish Egret Feeding at Bolsa Chica Bufflehead at Bolsa Chica
Some recent photos taken at Bolsa Chica in Huntington Beach and Santee Lakes, San Diego
We just got back from a trip to S Texas and covered several wildlife preserves, and state parks near the Rio Grande from McAllen, Tx to S Padre Island. First we stayed in Alamo, Tx at Casa Santa Ana, a Bed and Breakfast right next to the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. They feed the local birds and attract lots of Kiskadees, Green Jays, Altimira Orioles, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, N Cardinals and others.
We continued to Estero Llano Grande State Park to search for the Green Kingfisher and Ringed Kingfisher with no luck. This is a very good park with lots of variety. We did see the Common Pauraque, a strange bird in the Nighthawk family which looks like a piece of wood or fallen leaves and is nearly impossible to see if it doesn’t move.
Next we traveled to the S Padre Island area and went to Laguna Atacosa National Wildlife Refuge which has lots of raptors including Cara Caras, White-tailed Hawks, Aplomado Falcons, Ospreys, Harris Hawks, and other S Texas specialties. The preserve is huge and has tropical thorn scrub, grassy plains, and coastal tidal flats. This part of Texas is as far south as S Florida and is the northern range of many Mexican and Central American species which are found no where else in the U.S.
The other area that we visited was on S Padre Island at the S Padre Island Birding Center next to the Convention Center, where there are a series of boardwalks over the salt water marsh. This is an excellent place to see Roseate Spoonbills, Tri-colored Herons, White Ibis, American Bitterns, Reddish Egrets, many Ducks and shorebirds.
Snowy Egrets at Solana Beach, CA fighting over territory shot under overcast conditions. This lasted only a few seconds and I had already pointed my camera towards these juveniles when they started to squabble over a branch for landing.
The White-tailed Kites are a breeding pair at Lake Hodges. The male goes out hunting for mice and other small rodents and transfers them to the female, sometimes in mid-air. I am still working on getting shots of the mid-air transfer.
I finally managed to get close enough to a Reddish Egret at Bolsa Chica at Huntington Beach, CA. This one was flying right passed me at the Bridge area after searching for a couple of hours with no luck.
Egrets taking off or landing in a tree or nest provide one of the best opportunities to show their grace in flight. Be sure and check exposure as it is easy to overexpose their white feathers. You want the pure white areas to be around a stop over or you can take an exposure from a neutral gray tree trunk and set your camera to manual exposure at that reading. A shutter speed of around 1/1600 or 1/2000 is needed to freeze action.