Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer birds in sun and shadows

Now that we plan to get a jump on winter by traveling to our second home in Illinois, it's nice to look back on some random images from our south Florida neighborhood and local wetlands.

During the rainy season the sunrise over our back yard lake can be spectacular as moisture moves in from the ocean, 18 miles to the east. This iPhone shot was taken on September 9, 2014.

Sunrise iPhone 20140908

Walking out early around sunrise presents problems of insufficient light for photography, as I have fallen out of the habit of bringing my flash unit. Many of my early morning photos look more like silhouettes, like this one of a Green Heron. Its profile is unique and does not require any other details to establish its identity.

Green Heron 20130907

This Bald Eagle is presumably one of the pair that has a nest about 2 miles NW of where it flew overhead about 15 minutes after sunrise. This photo, also taken on September 9, turned out soft and dark, requiring sharpening as well as brightening a full 2 stops. 

Bald Eagle 20140909

A Loggerhead Shrike also came out too dark against the gray sky, but the photo was enhanced by the absence of shadows due to the filtered sunlight  behind me. It cleared up quite nicely, but don't look too closely.  

Loggerhead Shrike 2-20140909

The day before, a pair of Northern Flicker males displayed in full sun as they competed for the attention of a female who looked on. Shadows and overly bright highlights now detract from the image quality.

Northern Flicker male 2-20140908

Northern Flicker males 20140908

Northern Flicker male 3-20140908

That same day, my photos of a Brown Thrasher in heavy shade turned out remarkably well. Since a childhood  encounter with one at a nest I have felt intimidated by their fierce-looking yellow eyes. Thank to image stabilization, the hand-held photo taken with my 420 mm lens came out well with minimal processing, despite being shot at shutter speed of 1/125 second, ISO 3200, and f/5.6. 

Brown Thrasher 4-20140908

Brown Thrasher 5-20140908

A large gathering of Black Vultures at the local soccer field had the look and stench of death. I processed this photo without color.

Black Vultures gathering 20140907

Close up, one vulture's facial textures are enhanced by sun and shadow.

Black Vulture portrait  20140907

A Wood Stork in our back yard on September 8th bears some resemblance. Indeed taxonomists now classify storks and vultures as close relatives.

Wood Stork portrait 20140908

Early morning back-lighting helps define the plumage textures of white birds, such as the stork and a White Ibis nearby.

Wood Stork 2-20140908

White Ibis 20140908

A Tricolored Heron was also foraging close by. If I had a wide-angle lens I could have captured all three in one frame.

Tricolored Heron 2-20140908

The waders gathered where a Double-crested Cormorant was fishing just offshore. Perhaps its activity was driving small fish to the periphery of the lake.

Double-crested Cormoranr 20140908

If video does not appear in the space below, TRY THIS LINK


  1. Enjoyed the video. A fantastic series of birds. I really like the flicker with its wings spread and those vultures, scary things!

  2. Brilliant photos here! A great collection of lovely birds and your sunrise was absolutely gorgeous.

  3. love your images! the flicker shots and thrasher are wonderful!

  4. Hello! Many thanks for your visit.:) These are a great selection of birds, and really well photographed. I particularly like your pictures of the Brown Thrasher, and the Northern Flicker. I can see a little resemblance between the Vulture and the Wood Stork in the shape of the head and the neck texture,.. probably would not have noticed if you hadn't mentioned it. I'm not a birder but love birds, and like learning about them. I would like to follow your blog to learn more.

  5. wow- all excellent photos...the little brown thrasher is especially sweet.

  6. Wow! You post the most amazing photos!

  7. Great set of shots - I really like that last Flicker image.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  8. Beautiful, beautiful shots - you are an amazing photographer! Thanks for sharing all of these!

  9. Wow so many different birds here. Some I've never even heard of. I loved your photos and that sunset/sunrise was just amazing and beautiful.

  10. What a treat this blog post is! Wow! That sunset is AMAZING! The bird photos are AMAZING! What a lovely visit I have just had in your world.

    Just FYI, a lot of people don't understand why the murals are allowed to be in the Denver Airport, but the airport is privately funded, as I mentioned, and the people who control it believe that there will be a cataclysm and then a new world will emerge (New World Order) when most people will be gone and the children of the world will inherit a time of peace, but with the elite in charge. This is one of their ways of telling us what is going on, without trumpeting it loudly. It's like the Georgia Guidestones (look them up if you don't know about them). We just had to go see them for ourselves!

  11. Really great photos!!!! So many birds I'd love to observe better in the wild. You nailed the Flicker and Thrasher! Love the details!

  12. Gorgeous photos! The sunrise is spectacular.

  13. So many great birds and super captures. Finding it very hard to pick my favourite

  14. Great collection of birds. I really like the Black Vultures..

  15. My gosh , it was gorgeous in your 'backyard' this summer. When I see these great birds, I think maybe some year we should stay all summer.

    And speaking of that, are you not going in the wrong direction for this time of year? Or maybe you were just missing Autumn and Winter?

  16. What wonderful wildlife you find right outside your back door. That sunrise shot is spectacular.

  17. Wonderful bird captures with magical light but my favourite is that little, less showy shrike.


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