Thursday, January 28, 2021

Crops & Clips: Shots in the dark

Getting out into the local Wounded Wetlands so early makes us more conscious of celestial events. A meteor shower is an excuse to stop and look up. The phases of the Moon are interesting. The full Moon casts long shadows and can be so bright that it causes night blindness. The surroundings look much darker as our pupils constrict in reaction to the glare. 

For two or three days after its rising, the full Moon can provide a backdrop for early morning bird photos.   

Around sunrise, several male Boat-tailed Grackles gathered together in a bare tree. During the non-breeding season the males flock together separately from the females and compete for dominance in elaborate displays. The dominant males will join the females who occupy the breeding territories. Although males who are lower in the hierarchy may also join the colony, only a few of them will succeed in mating within the harem. 

Here, the dominant male is probably the one highest in the tree:    

The "top" male ruffles and rattles his feathers and snaps his bill, calling out harshly in a loud, long and varied non-musical "song:"

Part of the males' dominance display involves pointing the bill straight up. The competitors seem to take turns doing this while screaming all the louder. They may come to blows, or a challenger may be chased off. A single alpha male may remain lord of the same colony for several years.

Since the Moon was quite high, I had to creep up nearer through the brush (watching out for snakes and hoping my intended subject would not fly off) to get these shots--



A Northern Flicker, illuminated by flash, provided another "Moon shot":  

Before sunrise, I snapped a photo of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron as it passed over Planet Venus (out of focus but conveniently appearing larger):

I used fill flash to capture this Great Egret on the lake before sunrise:

On a foggy morning, a Great Egret settled down :

Imitating reality, I layered a flock of White Ibises over an image of the full Moon:

The Moon is an interesting subject even as it wanes towards its final quarter. Sunlight catches the high tops of the mountain chain (Montes Caucasus) which partially surrounds the right upper part of the second largest lunar "sea," the Mare Imbrium (sea of Showers):

A very old Moon peeked through the clouds on January 11:

Another advantage of getting out early is witnessing the sunrise:. 

We usually only see the western horizon at dawn, but I decided to set out on the Levee Trail, which runs along the canal and provides a view of the eastern sky. On January 9 I was richly rewarded. This is a view to the south:

The foliage along the bar ditch was turned into gold by the early morning rays:

The best bird of the morning was a male American Robin. If lucky I may see one or two each winter, although they twice appeared in  large flocks. He called continuously, as if seeking to find others of his kind:

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Linking to:

Nature Thursday

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Wow, all fabulous shots but those moon photos are amazing. Well done. Keep safe, Diane

  2. Ich weiß immer nicht, wie ich meine Bewunderung für Ihre Fotos ausdrücken soll, so großartig sind die Fotos!
    Diesmal beeindrucken mich besonders die Fotos vom Mond, was für ein Job!
    Die Landung des Ibis ist ebenfalls wunderschön getroffen.
    Vielen Dank für diesen wunderbaren Beitrag und den Link zu "Nature Thursday"
    herzliche Grüße

  3. I love the bird shots that are silhouetted against the moon. Beautiful photos!!

  4. All these photos are beautiful. Makes me want to get my expensive camera back out!

  5. Great shots. I've never heard of Grackles before.

  6. Wow! beautiful ibis flying with moon backdrop

  7. The moon shots were wonderful and very creative, Kenneth, but my favorite was the sunrise casting those golden hues on the ditch.

  8. Fantastic pictures, Mr. Kenneth! You are a master! Congratulations!
    Good weekend.

  9. Hello Ken,
    Gorgeous captures of the moon and birds. The layered shot with the Ibis and moon is beautiful. Lovely captures of the Grackles, Flicker and Egret and the Robin. Your sunrise images are beautiful, lovely scenes. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post! Take care, enjoy your weekend! PS, thank you for visiting and for the comment.

  10. Your "moon shots" are great. Very imaginative to do that. I think yours is the fourth different species of robin I've seen in Eileen's critter event this weekend, from four continents.
    be safe... mae at

  11. Kenneth, I absolutely love how you combined the Moon shots with the birds...that was so brilliant and I'm so glad to have visited to enjoy this post!!! :)

  12. Oh, the moon photos with the birds are so beautiful! What amazing poses! We saw a few flocks of Robins today in water puddles when we drove over to the Gulf Coast. They are a fun bird to see. Enjoy your weekend!

  13. Hello Kenneth
    these night shots are an interesting topic, I would have to deal with it, at night it is a bit dangerous to walk through the forest due to the many hunters .. ;-))
    Nice report with even nicer pictures
    Greetings Frank

  14. I enjoyed seeing your photos. You have a real talent.

  15. Your wildlife photos are so artful!

  16. We're seeing 40-50 robins here, at one unusual. Love, love, LOVE the moon & Crackle images today!
    Thanks so much for sharing with us at IRBB this weekend. Stay safe.
    ~Anni at I'd Rather B Birdin'

  17. Amazing shots of the birds and the full moon. Interesting reading about the boat tailed grackles as well. Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

  18. Outstanding "moon shots", Ken!

    It's all too easy to pass by "common" birds on our way to search for something more "exotic". If we would just slow down, as you did with the Grackles, we might discover some unexpected beauty.

    Hope all is well way down there in south Florida! We're having fun here scouring old haunts and finding new ones.

    Take care!

  19. Lovely photos. I love the photos of the birds centered in the moon!

  20. Those are stunning capture from the nature. The birds captured are so beautiful.It would be my pleasure if you join my link up party related to Gardening here at

  21. Am amazed at your beautiful captures - the last ones with a golden glow. But am even more impressed with your birds in front of the moon! Had no idea that looking at it could cause night blindness!
    True, California is still in my heart - one does not easily forget 35+ years and many places one has visited, but I also have large scale archives from there, and here in Texas I really need to get to specific places to capture something worthwhile. So you will still see many California images for a long time:)

  22. Stunning photos! Absolutely marvelous. The golden hour light has made these magical.
    Thanks for sharing at

  23. You have outdone yourself, again, with your fabulous images! The variety of birds and impressive scenery are such a sight to behold.

    Thank you for being a part of 'My Corner of the World' this week!


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