Tag Archives: Egret

Day Tripping to Corkscrew Swamp

2010Apr-12 On Sunday, I had the great fortune to make a road trip down to southwest Florida to visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, along with two friends from NAPP, Michael White and Bob Arlen. The late spring is generally a good time in Florida for birding, and we hoped to get a chance to exercise our photographic muscles. Rather than head out the night before, we toughed it and left our respective homes prior to 4am (!) in order to make it to the sanctuary by opening time of 7am. The weather cooperated, as the powerful storms that were threatening Florida held off until later Sunday night.

The tone was set for excitement as we spotted an 8-point buck near the park entrance. Deer that size are rare in Florida! We proceeded into the sanctuary, cameras ready and with bated breath. Alas, two natural occurrences prevented the day form being everything it promised: due to the cold Florida winter, there had been no wood stork nesting activity in the Sanctuary this year, and due to the unusually wet winter, there was a lot of water everywhere – so instead of the birds congregating in the center of the swamp, there were very few wading birds in sight.

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When a Bad Hair Day is Great for Photography

As I mentioned yesterday, my little unplanned afternoon by the bay turned into a most enjoyable birding expedition. Besides the photo opportunities, I had great fun explaining to my 2-1/2 year old granddaughter what was going on with the Reddish Egret you see below. As you may know from experience or from one of my earlier postings, Reddish Egrets are very animated when fishing, running and trotting in circles in shallow water with their wings out, in what is known as “canopy fishing”

We had a gleeful time watching the antics, and then he stopped directly in front of us, stared, and proceeded to shake himself vigorously. Click! I was able to catch these shots. The light was fading, so there is a good bit of motion blur, but I still like the shots!

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These images were processed in Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS5. I’d like to give Lightroom 3 a shot at the noise, but I haven’t had time to install the beta version yet.

Tune in tomorrow for some travel photos!

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Bird portrait retouching – from good to great

We see loads of tutorials online teaching aspiring photographers how to retouch portraits of people, but it’s not very common to see one that deals with our avian friends. Nevertheless, retouching in bird photography is every bit as important (maybe more so) than retouching people. Since most birds haven’t had the chance to apply makeup before the shoot, we’re going to have to give them a little bit of help in post production to have them looking their best!

So, join me as we apply a little bit of makeup, mascara, and maybe even (gasp) a little plastic surgery as we retouch our bird portrait – and take it from good to great.

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Egrets (Three Different Ones)

GreatEgret-4 As a teenager in the Boy Scouts, I had several opportunities to attend summer camp at Central Florida’s McGregor Smith Scout Reservation, one of Florida’s hidden gems (since acquired and operated by the SW Florida Water Management District). It was during a wilderness survival camping trip along the Withlacoochee River that I first learned how to distinguish the three white Florida egrets, and I can trace my passion for ornithology to that one afternoon in a rowboat on the river, as we set trotlines for catfish and just enjoyed the afternoon.

The stretch of the Withlacoochee bordering the reservation is beautiful, and was absolutely pristine in the seventies. The river was full of fish and turtles, and there were more birds than you could count. I mentioned this to our counselor, who promptly pointed out several species that I had never heard of, including Limpkin and Anhinga. I responded by indicating a cluster of large white birds near the shore. “Egrets!” I proudly announced.

“Yes, but can you tell me what kind of egret?” he asked.

I was stumped. “There are more than one kind?”

It turned out that there are three types of white egrets in Florida (and in most of the US) and they are relatively easy to distinguish, once you know what you’re looking for. The telltale features are the legs, and the beak. Here, for your enjoyment, I’ll spell out for you the differences that started me so long ago on the path to being an avid birder. Continue reading »

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