Returning to Magee Marsh on the day after the Migratory Bird Festival, I still found quite the crowd on the boardwalk in the early morning hours. Walking along trying to get my bearings and I saw movement off to the right. There, perched nicely on a tree branch, was a Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum). This bird is a fly catcher. He also eats berries and is often times found in wooded areas similar to Magee Marsh. This image is one of my favorites form the last week and I will continue to visit the marsh as there will be a second and possibly third wave of migratory birds over the next couple of weeks.
The Cedar Waxwing’s habitat can be found in woodlands, fruit trees, and orchards. Their nesting habits is late, not beginning until mid summer. Only a small area is defended as their territory. Birds may nest with other Waxwings in small colonies. They have a tendency to lay 3-5 eggs and incubation is about 12-13 days. Both parents share the feeding chores and the young leave the nest from 14-18 days after hatching.
Traveling along the boardwalk each morning allows for some people watching as well as bird watching. Even though the festival has ended, there were quite a few folks crowding the Boardwalk. One advantage is that if you com along a group of people with binoculars and cameras pointed up into the trees, you can rest assured there is something there of interest. Find your spot and look where they are and voila you found your bird as well. Although I have only met two people whom I know from the area, I did come across a photographer whom I have travelled with in the past. Moving along towards the far end of the Boardwalk I spotted this gentlemen and he looked really familiar. As I walked closer I realized it was Moose Peterson from Mammoth Lakes, California. Moose is a famous Nikon shooter from California and I knew he was going to Columbus to teach a class at a camera store there. He apparently detoured after the class the the marsh for some bird photography. His website can be found here. He has many blog postings and video tutorial, always interesting to see what Moose has been up to in his travels.
More posts coming in the future as I continue to focus on migratory birds in Northwest Ohio. Enjoy!
Venturing out once again to Magee Marsh along the coast of Lake Erie, I headed out early to beat the rush. This week is the International Migratory Bird Festival and the boardwalk around the marsh gets crowded later in the morning. So, I spent a few hours in the early day sunshine to find and photograph some of the birds traveling through this month on their way up north. This image was captured on my way out of the refuge. Several Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) circled around the trees and caught my eye. This particular bird was right over my head along the boardwalk and was kind enough to settle on an open branch for several photographs. Baltimore Orioles are one of the most brilliant colored song birds sharing its orange and black col,ors with the coat of arms of the late Lord Baltimore.
Baltimore Orioles can often be found in open woods, along riversides, and among shade trees. They generally breed in open woodlands and along the outer edges of the forest. These birds often winter in the tropics and can be found in nests in town ares where you find elm trees and semi open wooded areas. They often can be found foraging for insects often catching them in mid-air. They are attracted to sugar water feeders and pieces of fruit. These birds are some of the most popular here in the marsh areas around the lake. Many of the birders who come here can find them out on the boardwalk are easily sighted because of there distinctive color.
I plan on continuing my trips out to the marsh areas to capture these small bird species as they continue to migrate toward the north. Keep an eye on my Blog and web site as I hope to be posting more of these small birds. Follow me on Facebook Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Leave a comment or two and share with all your friends. Enjoy!
The Biggest Week
This week in Northwest Ohio is referred to as “The Biggest Week.” As in the biggest week in birding for the International migratory bird celebration. Each year thousands of birders and photographers gather for the bird migration during the second week of May. The above image was captured yesterday. Tree Swallows populate Magee Marsh this week as they continue their trek north to Canada. I arrived early yesterday morning chasing the light and hoping for some quality bird photography. manof the birders arrive later in the morning and jam the Boardwalk at Magee Marsh. Some are also photographers and the large tripods seem to take up more and more room each year. I was carrying my trusty Olympus EM-1 Mark II. Coupled with my 300mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter, I could maintain a long reach and yet could hold it pretty steady without the tripod. This combination helps me keep a smaller profile and allows me to be more agile when tracking the birds here in the marsh.
Tree Swallow, Magee Marsh.
Tree Swallow. (Tachycineta Bicolor). This bird breeds in North America and winters in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. They are small birds and weigh less than an ounce. This appears to be a female as they tend to have more greenish colors. Males have a tendency to have more bluish colors. These colors also seem to point out that this is an adult as the juvenile Tree Swallows are more dull in their coloring. This bird allowed me to capture some great shots. Earlier in the morning it was a little tough going. The birds were keeping to the brush and trees. I could see them and pick out their colors, but a great photograph of these birds was a little difficult. I will be back in a day or two as more and more of these warblers begin to populate the areas around the edge of Lake Erie. Enjoy!
Sandhill Cranes at Sunset
Our amazing time at Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge in New Mexico included many great sunrises and sunsets. Staying true to our photographic pursuits, we wanted to capture the golden hours of the day. The best light occurs at dawn and at sunset. So in chasing the light, we want to be there during those times when the light was the best. The above image, Sandhill Cranes at Sunset, was captured during one of our late afternoon into the evening hours journey to photograph these Cranes. The light was perfect and as the sun descended behind the mountains the golden light provided a nice silhouette.
Photographers are often called “Chasers of Light.” you can have a great subject matter and bad lighting and it becomes difficult to produce images that juts POP with color and contrast. There have been many a morning when we would rise up at Zero dark thirty to capture a great sunrise only to be met with rain and wind. In addition, finding the right place to be to get the best shot can be a challenge. Research, mapping, and compass apps. come in handy while we venture to pursue photographic excellence.
Rule of Thirds
Using the rule of thirds applies concepts to our photographs that enhance the composition of our images. People like to see things in thirds and the Rule of Thirds in photography helps with the dynamics of our images to attract the eyes of the viewer into the photograph and directly to the subject of the picture. In the above photograph, I isolated three Crane standing in the water feature at the base of the mountains. There was great separation among the cranes and using the concept of thirds, I captured an image that I find to be quite dynamic and pleasing to the eye.
Finding the right light with a great subject is on the top of the list when making great photographs. Its not as easy as it may seem, but the rewards can be very satisfying. Enjoy!
Blandings Turtle. As a nature and wildlife photographer I find it important that you must always be aware of your surroundings. First, for safety reasons. While walking around in the outdoors there might be several hazards that you must contend with. Uneven ground, animal burrows, bugs, snakes, and other nasty things just looking to take a bite out of you. Second, you should always expect the unexpected. The other day I was walking along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Refuge in Northwest Ohio. I had my long lens on my camera and was birding. Looking to photograph the many birds that will soon be populating the area. In a recent post I mentioned the bird migration and the International Migratory Bird Day coming soon. Although I found very few species of birds yet to arrive, I stumbled on this treasure.
I wasn’t looking to photograph turtles, frogs, or other water bound species, but on my way out of the refuge I saw two people looking out over the vegetation in one of the water features. I joined them along the railing and saw that they were looking at this little guy sticking his nose out of the pond. The couple were birders and had binoculars. They said they thought it was a frog. I put the long lens to work and saw that it was a turtle coming up to take a breath or two. My research told me this was a Blandings Turtle. You can tell by the orange coloring on his chin. I was able to captured several images from different angles and he did not seem bothered by us at all.
This wan’t the only time I have found a gem while photographing something else. One morning I was capturing the sunrise out at the Lighthouse in Marblehead, Ohio. Seriously focused on the sun as it rose over the horizon. As I gathered my things to leave I turned and found the sun had cast a beautiful golden light on the lighthouse. Had I been in too much of hurry, I might have missed it all together. Keeping your eyes open and your camera ready for unexpected treasures can enhance a previously uneventful trek in the woods. Enjoy!
Albatross, Galapagos Islands. Keeping with my bird photography as we approach the International Migratory Bird Festival held right here in Northwest Ohio. My last major excursion was with a group of friends touring the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. We hiked out one day on one of the islands and found a large colony of Albatross. These are truly wonderful birds to see and to photograph. They are rather large birds in comparison to others on the Islands. Because of their size, these birds need to launch themselves from the side of a cliff. They just cannot get up enough speed to take off from a standing position. In addition, they are so large they just hop around and not necessarily walk. So they take short hops to the edge of the cliff and jump off into the wind.
Airborne, these birds are magnificent. They ride the winds around the shoreline and seem to float at times. This gave us many great photo opportunities as the birds seem to just hang in the sky a few feet from where we were standing on the side of the cliff. Taking pictures of birds in flight is often a challenge. However, due to the size of these birds and their flight habits, capturing some great images was quite easy. Aside from the fact that we had to take a Zodiac to the island from our little cruise ship, walk quite aways over lava rocks, and climb a small hill. Add to that the weight of your pack and an extremely high humidity made for a challenging walk to the cliffs.
Sometimes the challenge of nature photography is not the capturing of the images but the trek to get where you need to go. Perseverance is the key and patience drives the bus. Enjoy!
Sandhill Cranes in Flight. During my recent trip to Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico, we had so many opportunities to capture Sandhill Cranes in Flight. After monitoring their activities for a few hours we quickly became acclimated to their environment as well as their habits. When traveling long distances to photograph wildlife it is important to know what to expect when you arrive at your destination. Since weather plays an important factor to any outdoor activities, knowing what to expect from Mother Nature helps you pack the right clothes for the trip. Showing up at a new location and not being prepared for bad weather can ruin a great outing. In addition, you should study and know the habits and behaviors of your subject. In landscape photography you plan on where you need to be based on the sun to capture the best images. Morning and evening shoots can be magical times if you know when and where you need to be.
The same is true for wildlife. Shooting during the morning and evening “golden hour” helps to light your subject in a way that delivers the best results. With birds, its essential to have the sun at your back and in a position where the birds can fly into the wind when landing and with the wind when preparing for take off. If the wind changes while you are shooting, be prepared to move to a better location. A quick review of their habits helps to identify where they might be located in the morning and then the evening for the best photo opportunities. Planning and perseverance can pay off with a successful trip regardless of weather and other factors that would impact your travels. Enjoy!
Turf Wars between Sandhill Cranes landing in Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge
Turf Wars! During a recent trip to Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, I was photographing the activities of the many Sandhill Cranes located in and around the refuge. The later part of the year is the best time to go and we were even able to time our visit during the full moon. Bosque is located near Socorro, New Mexico just about an hour south of Albuquerque. We found many opportunities during the early morning hours as well as later on in the afternoon and evening hours to capture some great images of these large birds. Often times when birds are coming into the refuge to spend the night there is a large amount of them trying to share the same space. Every now and then a Crane is trying to land near another one and a bit of a scuffle occurs between the two birds. This image is a perfect example of the conflicts one can see as the sun is setting and the Cranes are settling in for the night. These Sandhill Cranes like to sleep in water features found throughout the refuge as they provide protection from some of the predators in the area. Coyotes are known to prey on these birds but will not walk through the water to get to them. My travels to this refuge have long been on my list of repeats. I was glad to have made the trip with two of my friends and captured many dynamic images which can be found right here on my web site. Click on the above portfolio link and look for Bosque Del Apache or check out my many galleries to find the right image for your home or office. Enjoy!
I had seen on an internet post recently that there were three young Great Horned Owls and their mother located along the trails at the Ottawa National Wild Life refuge located nearby in Ottawa County. I went for a stroll along the lake yesterday and found the nest about 30 yards off the path near the Ranger Station. Although there were three young owls in the nest, only two were able to show their faces. The third one seemed to be below them in the hollow portion of the tree where the birds were nesting. Since I haven’t been an avid bird photographer over the years I wanted to test my skills and photograph birds nearby my home in Northwest Ohio. The refuge is located near Lake Erie about an hours drive from my home. It also boasts one of the greatest birding areas in the country, Magee Marsh. Next month thousands of bird enthusiasts will descend on Northwest Ohio for the International Migratory Bird Festival. Even though I am anxious to see how many birds I can photograph, I am not sure I want to interface with all these people as I try to better my skills with Bird Photography. Since I have the freedom to go to the Refuge during the week, I think I will avoid the congestion usually found on the weekends.
For you bird photographers reviewing this post, I used my Olympus EM-1 Mark II, Olympus 300 f/4.0, and 1.4x teleconverter. I shot hand held at 1000/sec, f/6.3 at ISO 800. You can click on the image for a larger view. Follow me on face book, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. Just click on the icon on the home page and follow me along the social media highway! Enjoy!
Bosque Del Apache. The Woods of the Apache is located south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Near the town of Socorro, Bosque is a National Wildlife Refuge that is home to many migrating birds during the winter months. Native Americans often camped at this river side forest. The Refuge is 57,331 acres located along the Rio Grande at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan desert. The reason I bring this up is that my next adventure is scheduled for December to photograph the thousands of birds that flock to Bosque. The above image was taken during my last trip which was about 10 years ago. My friends Bill and Mike will be joining me for this quick trip to the south west. We targeted the middle of the month because of a schedule which includes a Full Moon. This should provide some really interesting backdrops for birds in flight. Specifically, Sand Hill Cranes. These birds have a large wingspan and their population during December can be as large as 14,000. birds. Increasing the photo opportunities. All of this and almost 30,000 Snow Geese illustrated in the image here on my blog.
Bird photography can be quite challenging. Some of the birds are small while others can fill the frame. Long lenses and fast shutters are important to capture some of these birds in flight. The morning blast off from “the flight deck,” an area along the waters edge where many of the birds spend the night, is something to see. Tens of thousands of sleeping birds begin to wake as the sun begins to rise in the East. We get there early to find the right spot as many photographers gather at Bosque during this time. As the birds wake they prepare to leave the rest area in search of food and then in a flurry, they take to the skies. In my next posting I will give you a glimpse of the morning shoot at this magnificent place. Enjoy!