bird in flight

Mobile, AL Birding Workshop

This past weekend was our birding photography workshop in Mobile, AL.  It went really well!  We were hosted Friday night by Calagaz Photo in Mobile, where David and I both gave presentations then Calagaz offered some super specials to the 6o+ in attendance.

Saturday and Sunday morning we held our field sessions of the workshop.  Due to weather and blustery winds, the bird activity started out a bit slow.  However, thanks to the nesting osprey in the area, we got plenty of chances to photograph stationary birds and birds in flight.

We made some great new friends and had a great time!

On Friday morning, while we were out scouting locations for the workshop, we got the opportunity to photograph some osprey that were busy nest building.  

Aperture-priority, 1/2,000 sec, f/6.3, ISO 400, Compensation: +2/3, 600mm

This is the female osprey bringing in a few sticks to accommodate the nest.  She and her mate spent about 45 minutes non stop adding to the nest this particular morning.  She would leave and get a stick, and upon her return, he'd then leave and go get a stick.

I used my Nikon D500 and Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens all weekend attached to my Sirui monopod.  The Tamron G2 did so well at locking on focus and never losing it!

Got you, Kingfisher!

So, if you've ever tried to photograph a Kingfisher of any kind, you know how incredibly frustrating that can be.

One morning while down in Florida, we chased one for probably a half hour before we conceded.  First, the little things are super, super fast.  Secondly, it seems every time you get your camera setup and almost ready, they wait until a nanosecond before you hit the shutter then  they fly off.  You repeat this process several times and they continue to watch you setup and fly away before you can trip the shutter.

One morning, I guess we were living right.  We were actually shooting an osprey that was having a fish on another tree and out of nowhere this Belted Kingfisher came and landed on this other dead snag not very far away.  He would land, scan the water for a fish, dive down and then come back to the snag for a bit.

ISO 640, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/1000th second

Hover over the image to view camera settings.  Click the image to view it larger.

Now, when I tell you he would land, dive and come back....the little boogers are so fast that he did it several times but never sit still very long at all.  So, I had to be quick.  Luckily, the osprey sat on his tree so long that I had plenty of shots of him...plus he had already finished his meal.

This image was made using my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All mounted on my Sirui Tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Roseate Spoonbill

One of my favorite wading birds is the Roseate Spoonbill.  And there were no shortage of them around the Titusville, FL area during The Space Coast Birding Festival.

I love the pink coloration of the bird and the oddball shape if it's bill.  Much like the American Flamingo, the pink coloration of the Roseate Spoonbill is derived from their diet.

A common breeding grounds for these birds is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, so it's no surprise that we found the largest concentration of these birds there.  We spent most of our time on a portion of the refuge known as Black Point Wildlife Drive.  It is a 7 mile drive along a gravel road with prime birding habit.  We saw several different types of birds here...we saw herons, egrets, eagles, osprey, kingfishers, blue-winged teal, pintails, redhead ducks and of course roseate spoonbills.  It is a great area to visit if you are in the area!

Here is an image I really wanted to get while I was there.  A roseate spoonbill in flight.

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 at 1/8000th second

Be sure to hover your mouse over the image to see the camera settings.  Also, don't forget you can click the image to enlarge it.

This image was made with my Sony A77ii and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  I had the combo mounted to my Sirui P-324S Monopod and L-20S Monopod Head.

On my Sony A77ii camera body there is a camera setting that allows the camera to shoot at 12 FPS.  That came in incredibly handy during my trip.  The only catch to using this mode is that it forces you to shoot at a wide open aperture.  I was totally cool with that, because that's what I normally do anyhow when I am shooting birds.  

Heed this warning...you WILL get tired of seeing bird photos in the coming days and weeks ;)