Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two new species photographed

Soaking the Morning Sun
Another fall visit to the West End of Jones Beach produced two new species for me - though they aren't anything spectacular, the photos came out very well for a first time encounter.  For those non-photographers viewing this, it is extremely difficult to come away with good photos of a species the first time you come across it (especially once you have been at it awhile and gotten the gimme birds out of the way).  Knowing a species habits, habitat, food sources, interactions with other species and other key information is almost always needed to get top notch images of a bird.  The same applies for shooting a new location (though it's less of a factor if you are with someone with experience of that area).  It takes awhile to figure out the best way to get the shot, the best approach, how long you have to wait etc, but every now and then you get lucky.  Almost 1 year ago to the date, I got extremely lucky and came away with my best wildlife photos ever (the gyrfalcon seen at the top of this blog) - never mind that they're some of the best images of a gyrfalcon in the lower 48 where it's a rare visitor.  So, a long story short, I was stoked when the red-breasted nuthatch (above) came down to an open branch as the sun rose and let me shoot away - and equally thrilled when I stumbled upon some fellow photographers in the median of WE2 and caught a glimpse of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (below)
Showing how it got its name

Tasty Bugs

As small as a pine-cone

Just a moment before the sun broke over the dunes, I was lucky to observe this Osprey (it's getting late in the season for them) flying toward me before it banked to my left and headed out over the open water.  I wish I'd gotten some better lighting on the bird, but I think it's kind of a cool silhouette regardless.
Morning Glow

The must frustrating moment of the day came while I was walking along the median toward the coast guard station on the south side of the parkway.  I thought I'd seen a N. Harrier moments earlier but dismissed it.  After snapping some photos of a dark-eyed junco playing hide and seek (my best photos of this species as well), I turned to see a "grey-ghost" (aka Male Northern Harrier) flying away from me.... if I'd turned a few moments earlier I may have finally gotten a half decent shot of this species, instead of this:
The one That got Away
While photographing the ruby-crowned kinglet, I also came away with some nice looks at yellow-rumped warblers which once again were truly everywhere.  The number of yellow-rumped (aka "butter-butts") was quite amazing and it's the case for many areas along Long Island and I'm sure other coastal areas.  I also photographed some while waiting out Golden-crowned kinglets that didn't want to give me looks like last weekend.  Oh well, I'll take the Ruby as a consolation prize.
Hanging Out
Gazing into the morning
The morning started out with a Merlin on a snag right next to the Coast Guard station.  Some nice photos but I'm starting to get a good number of pictures just like this - merlin on a branch.  I hope one day soon I can get one with prey or even stretching it's wings/tail out to give me something a bit unique.
Looking for a Meal
Speaking of raptors, I rounded out my morning by hanging out with Richard Ettlinger once again and trying to photograph some speedy sharp-shinned hawks and merlins.  I was too optimistic in keeping my 1.7X teleconverter on for most of the session which meant sloooooowwwww autofocusing and missed shot after missed shot (which Richard always made clear to me by showing me the photos on his LCD and saying "see what you missed?").  Finally I gave up and took it off reducing my focal length from 500mm to 300mm and this sharp-shinned winged by... too bad I had to crop so much.  Perhaps better luck next time.  We also had a near encounter with a grey ghost (almost certainly the one I'd seen previously in the morning) but as soon as it popped over the dune and saw Rich's camera it made a U-turn and went back east... a truly difficult bird to photograph.  All in all, it was a gorgeous (albeit cold) morning with the full moon setting and a warm sunrise on a crisp fall day filled with birds.  The only regret I have is not making the run to Robert Moses after hearing a report of a sleeping red fox (a species I've only seen a few times and never had the chance to photograph).  Mike Lotito who gave me the head's-up came away with gorgeous images of a sleeping fox soaking up the morning glow of the sun... oh well, you can't be everywhere all the time!

Catch me if you Can

1 comment:

  1. Luke, you have some great images in this post! My favorites are the ones of Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I have never been able to get a decent shot of one, espcially one with the ruby crown patch showing.