Barn Owlets

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Other Places

Now that these birds have safely fledged, I want to share images of these adorable Barn Owlets that grew up near my house. These are actually my lifer Barn Owls. I think this is the first time that my lifer bird for a species was a cute fuzzy baby!

Barn Owlets
Barn Owlets

Barn Owls are nocturnal creatures. They nest in cavities, or often in barns. You can tell these are babies because of the fuzzy feathers around their faces. That fuzz will turn into adult feathers, but the birds will retain their heart-shaped faces.

A few weeks later, just the smaller of the two birds was still at the nest site. He wasn’t in the mood to have his picture taken…

Barn Owlet
Barn Owlet

I didn’t linger long at the nest site, as it is in a high-traffic area, and I didn’t want to cause harm to the birds by drawing too much attention to them.

Now I have a new goal: to find and photograph an adult Barn Owl! ;-)

Spoonbill Heaven at Stick Marsh!

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Stick Marsh

For years I’ve heard of Stick Marsh, and this year, I decided to go see it for myself. Oh wow!! It’s Roseate Spoonbill Heaven! The birds nest on a small island that is easily viewed from the shoreline. They fly in regularly to grab sticks to take back to their nest. I sat back with my intermediate telephoto and enjoyed some amazing flight photography.

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

Such beautiful birds!! Such bright pink colors against the pale blue water in the early morning light! It was easy to see why they call this place the Stick Marsh…

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

I can’t remember the last time I had such a fun morning with my camera. Bird after bird flew in, and the flight shots were amazing. Most of the best shots were the spoonbills coming in to grab a stick, but sometimes, I’d get one on a good angle carrying his stick back to the nest…

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

My friends don’t always understand how I can sit in one place and photograph birds for hours on end, but I think even non-birders would enjoy watching these beautiful birds up close.

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

When there were lulls in the incoming bird action, I switched to doing close-ups of the birds at the water’s edge. Some were quite selective about their sticks. It’s very important to get just the right one! Then when you do find the perfect stick, it’s very important to show it off for the camera…

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

In fact, sometimes the perfect stick is so great, it attracts multiple spoonbills! I had to laugh when these two birds each grabbed opposite ends of the same stick. They appeared to play tug of war. The one on the right won. I’m sure his mate was impressed with such a good stick.

Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh
Roseate Spoonbills at Stick Marsh

As the morning went on, the light wasn’t as good, and the flight shots were less frequent. That’s when the baths started. This Roseate Spoonbill was still showing pretty good breeding colors when he waded out into the water and started to splash around. What a great end to a wonderful morning!

Roseate Spoonbill Bath
Roseate Spoonbill Bath

Now that I’ve discovered Spoonbill Heaven, I’ll definitely be back!

Easter Sunrise at Orlando Wetlands

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Orlando Wetlands Park

On Easter Sunday I headed to Orlando Wetlands for sunrise and some time with God’s creatures. It was an amazing morning to be out on a bike with a camera!

I got there before sunrise and biked along to scope out a good spot for my sunrise photo. As I went along, I came across this adorable family of Mallards. Mom looked tired as her six babies lined up in a row to swim across the pond. The one in front wasn’t sure he wanted to lead the pack!

Mallard with Ducklings
Mallard with Ducklings

The pre-sunrise colors were awesome, especially when I cranked up the ISO on my R5 and found that I could take some decent flight shots. Like when this eagle flew in front of me as I looked toward the sunrise…

Eagle in Flight
Eagle in Flight

The pond water glowed pink and purple from the reflection of the clouds. This Tricolored Heron did a little dance for me as he tried to spot his breakfast.

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron

As I approached the small rookery island where the wading birds are nesting, I had more and more birds flying over my head. I was totally amazed at the images from the R5. I never dreamed of getting this kind of shot in the low morning light…

Wood Stork in Flight
Wood Stork in Flight

The sun took its time to emerge from behind the clouds. Finally it burst out in celebration, sending “God rays” over the landscape. This shot was bracketed for exposure and then HDR-processed in Photomatix.

Easter Sunrise
Easter Sunrise

It turned out to be an excellent day for flight shots. I biked closer to the rookery, and the birds put on a good show for me. This Great Blue Heron gave me a flight shot…

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

…and then I got the rookery. Oh my gosh! There were a ton of Roseate Spoonbills there, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen them in those numbers! They would fly towards me to grab nesting material from trees behind me. Their feathers glistened bright and pink the early morning light. So beautiful! What a nice Easter surprise!

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight
Roseate Spoonbill in Flight

The spoonies weren’t the only show-offs. Wood Storks were nesting in the tall trees behind me. They would steal a stick from the rookery island trees and then fly back to their nests. That meant they were flying right at me, in perfect morning light. So I ended up spending most of the morning at the same location, enjoying the flying birds and the joy of Easter morning.

Wood Stork with Nesting Material
Wood Stork with Nesting Material