We scheduled this morning’s photo hike to start at 8, recognizing that that was early for most people. But for me, that’s late! I arrived at Circle B at around 6:45 and hiked down to the lake to meet the sunrise. I was happy to see that the lake wasn’t all stinky with decaying fish (I was concerned that there was a fish kill with last week’s cold weather.)
As I passed the eagle’s nest next to the nature center, I saw both birds in a tree near the nest. There’s nobody incubating on that nest yet!
Yesterday I had noted that there were fewer pelicans out on Wading Bird Way, and I wondered if they were at the lake. In the early mornings you see the pelicans flying in the direction of the lake. Well, that’s where the birds were! A Belted Kingfisher made his voice heard over the swishing sound of the pelican wings overhead.
When I arrived at the dock, which is a great vantage point for seeing the sunrise, I happened upon this Great Blue Heron sitting on the dock railing. I quickly backed up and got a few silhouette shots. I turned on the flash and tried some shots with the heron nicely illuminated, but I liked the silhouette better.
The sun popped out from below the horizon just as I reached the dock. For this shot, I used my 400mm lens, with evaluative metering and -1 exposure compensation. I liked how the 400mm lens was enough of a zoom to better show the birds flying in the sunrise. My wide-angle didn’t do that.
I couldn’t stay long at the dock, as I had photo hike participants arriving soon! As I walked back towards the Nature Center, I stopped at a few breaks in the trees that made a nice frame for the rising sun. I took +/-2 stop exposures and combined them in an HDR image in Photoshop. I try to keep my HDR images realistic. This one seems fake somehow, but I liked how the trees were not silhouetted and the detail in the sky is seen. It really was a gorgeous morning!
As I reached the Shady Oak trail, I turned back and looked at the lake. The sun was peeking through the trees and the fog still hadn’t burned off. I took another bracketed set for HDR…
I saw a group of three Sandhill Cranes on my walk back to the nature center. This is the same place where Dyeyo and I used to see his “baby’s” family last year. The birds were extremely friendly and didn’t bat an eye as I approached them. Their mannerisms and habits were so much like last year’s family that I really wonder if this is Dyeyo’s baby. Look at the close-ups of the heads below. One of the birds has a brighter red head, a bright red eye, and less fuzz to the face. I think that’s the adult. The orange-eyed bird with the fuzzy forehead, I believe, is Dyeyo’s baby (but he’s not really a baby anymore!)
“Thousands” hardly describes the number of birds who slept on the lake and took off as the sun peeked over the horizon.