The Big Boys Come Out to Play

I’ve been featuring a lot of birds as of late and just wanted to assure all my readers out there that … you are in store for a lot more of them.  Just being honest, my backlog of bird shots is so large now it is going to buckle the floor in my den.   So, if you happen to like bird posts, you are going to be extremely happy over the next couple of months.  Now, on the other hand, if you happen to consider bird posts as simply pointless filler between my liberal rants or book reviews… well, my absolute apologies.  There is a reason I am trying to get through the bird posts as fast as possible – no, I am not going to reveal why until I get further along with that project.  I’ll try to sprinkle some non bird posts in whenever I can, but for now, check out one of the Greats
Great Egret Shot on Texas Birding Trip - November 2013

Obviously the Great Egret is not a new bird on my list – it appeared on Life Intrigued way back in 2011 (link here). The best thing about the hobby of bird photography is even though you have a bird on your list already … you can always try to improve your shots.  Maybe you can get it in a new setting, displaying some new behavior or maybe just improve on the technicals of taking a photograph.  With the exception of those damn Coots, I’ll still take shots of whatever I see that has feathers.  Just so happens that the Great’s are a lot easier to see (ha).
Great Egret Shot on Texas Birding Trip - November 2013

Hit the jump to see a couple more pictures of this long necked member of the Egret family.

All of these shots were taken on our Texas Birding trip back in November 2013.  Yes, I am still milking the hell out of that trip for post after post.  Our latest trip to Texas over the recent holidays produced a similar number of blog fodder so get used to scenes from the Lone Star state.  Let;’s put it this way.  If you want to dramatically improve your North American birding life list (maybe you are trying to keep up with your brother who his racking up points right and left), then the Gulf Coast of Texas is where you want to be.

Great Egret Shot on Texas Birding Trip - November 2013

These shots were taken in the Galveston area.  Apparently I was able to tear myself away from all the peeps, Spoonbills and Brown Pelicans to get a few of the Great Egrets in the tin.  Although I have not been able to get a shot of the Egret swallowing a big fish (an entry on my must get shot list along with a baby riding on the back of its mother), I was able to get a few eating shots.  You have to feel bad for the tadpoles and small reptiles in these swampy areas based on the constant feeding frenzies that occurs down there – luckily that species adapted the “flood the market” approach to survival.  With the exception of Alligators, there really isn’t much of a threat to the Egret population … maybe Coyotes, but we have not seen a lot of those hanging around.
Great Egret Shot on Texas Birding Trip - November 2013

The Great Egrets are in the upper echelons of stoic looking birds.  Their majestic white feathering gives them an air of superiority over the more dingy brethren that call Texas their playground.  They are also a photographer’s dream since they rarely make any sudden moves and allow you to drop the ISO to near zero noise levels while they are hunting.
You do have to be careful to not blow out the whites and watch your shutter speeds.  Watch your histogram boys and girls, it will try to let you know if you’ve clipped anything.
Great Egret Shot on Texas Birding Trip - November 2013
That’s about all I have for you today.  I’m in Davenport where Raven is busy tearing up the agility courses giving me some down time to get another post off the draft queue.  Also means you get the added benefit of extra posts in January (yeah).



2 comments on “The Big Boys Come Out to Play

  1. Ron

    What, another secret project!?? Are you going for a bird-post big year?? Or trying to slaughter me with your bird count? Maybe I should dream up a secret project… Yeah, that’s it. A secret project.

    So what is the Great Egret in the first pic eating? It doesn’t look like anything familiar. A lizard?

    I have an awful time photographing these birds–there is simply too much contrast between their white feathers and any sort of background. You did a very good job of not blowing the highlights while retaining the background. A very difficult bird to shoot, but a fantastic bird in itself.


  2. admin

    Definitely not a “Big Year”. Pretty sure I could not afford to do that based on all the key places you need to get to in a year to harvest those big numbers. I do have a secret project in flight, but this is slow going so far and do not expect to see the fruits of this labor until at least next year (good lord, what have I gotten myself into). Pretty sure the first delicious morsel is a tadpole. They pretty much feast on those things from sun up to sun down over there. Definitely a food source that survives only on the shear number of offspring each year.

    I agree, these birds are difficult to photograph. I generally dial my shutter meter a few bars slower than what the camera indicates because my camera seems to be a bit too sensitive on the whites (I manually manipulate the settings rather than take the easy route and simply add/decrease the exposure compensation) This will give me enough detail in the white feathers at a cost to the background – I take the background back down in the digital darkroom (might be reverse of what you were expecting). Every camera is slightly different, but this has been working for me so far.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Leave a reply