Wading Birds

Important Announcement

From this point forward postings will be made on the main page, but the photos will also be added to the gallery. To see the written information about the photo do a search for the number (the first number, if it is a set).

West Cliff Drive – Santa Cruz, California – November 22, 2011
After walking through the park side of the Lighthouse Point area, we crossed the street to see what was on the cliffs or on the beach. We saw this Snowy on the beach, and I took a quick photo. I didn’t think it would come out due to distance, but it actually cropped pretty well. The light was on the wrong side of the bird, but with white birds this can sometimes be a good thing. Nikon D7000, Tamron 70-300 VC zoom at 300mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/800 sec

Moran Lake – Santa Cruz, California – November 19, 2011
I’m not that pleased with this photo, but I have to post it because it is my first bird photo with my new camera. I obviously have a lot to learn about it, but I guess that’s the name of the game. Nikon D7000, Tamron 70-300 zoom at 130mm, ISO 800, f/4.5, 1/250 sec

Moran Lake, Santa Cruz California – November 9, 2011
Here is a set of 3 Great Egret photos. I rather like the first one, as I captured a bit of feather detail. Taking photos of white or black birds can be challenging. In this case, there was quite a bit of light/sun, so there is a tendency for the white to be washed out. I guess I could spend more time with the photos to try to increase the detail, but there are just too many photos waiting in the wings to be processed. The second and third photo are good examples of how the white can get washed out. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 230mm, ISO 200, f/5.3, 1/500 sec, tripod

Moran Lake, Santa Cruz, California – November 9, 2011
Two men were walking the opposite direction from us on the trail that goes along one side of the lake. I was setting up my tripod to get some photos, and the guys stopped to look at the birds. I was polite. I didn’t crack up until they had passed, but my wife and I got a really good laugh over this. You know, I just thought of something. I don’t think many birders go on their bird hikes with their spouses (if they have one). Probably because of different interests. I’m really fortunate that my wife loves to go on these walks with me and is very patient when I decide to stay in a location for a while and wait for birds to come to me. She doesn’t use a camera, but she constantly has her inocs (my grandkids word for binoculars) up to her eyes and is enjoying the surroundings and helping me locate birds. It makes it easier when I have a hidden agenda on a vacation – to photograph some birds. I know she will enjoy the outing as well. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 200 mm, f/5.0, 1/640 sec, ISO 200, tripod

Moran Lake, Santa Cruz, California – November 9, 2011
Moran Lake is one of our usual walking routes while in Santa Cruz. I think it is a bit of a stretch to call this a lake. I’d go with lagoon, though it probably isn’t really classified as a lagoon. It looks like one. Water comes into this body of water from a stream, but it is right across the road from the beach. Whether ocean water ever comes into it, I don’t know. It looks like it could, but maybe the large pipe under the road is for overflow when the lake gets too high and the water flow is actually toward the ocean and not the other way around. I do know that when there is little rain, the water level of the lake gets quite low. And visa versa, when a heavy rain falls the water level can overflow to the point that the trail along the side of the lake is under water. This Fall you were practically guaranteed a snowy or great egret sighting in this location – usually both. There is a lot of mud and the birds like to stir up the mud to look for tasty morsels. The second photo isn’t very sharp, but the reflection of the bird in the water is nice. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 360mm, f/6.0, 1/250 sec, ISO 200, tripod

Moonglow Dairy/Elkhorn Slough – Moss Landing, California – October 14, 2011
Just east of the smokestacks at Moss Landing, is the Moonglow Dairy. It is private property, but fortunately, the owner welcomes birders. Drive into the dairy and park down near the slough in a Eucalyptus grove. It is a short walk down to the slough and a couple of ponds. Drive very slowly and remember you are on private property. Right of way goes to farm machinery and Holsteins. These photos were taken on the levee, and the bird was in the slough. I also saw several Long-billed Curlews, but didn’t get any good photos. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 400mm, ISO 200, f/6.0, 1/800 sec, tripod

Moss Landing, Calilfornia – October 14, 2011
On one side of the road I had the sea otter to photograph, and on the other side this Snowy. This bird wasn’t spooked at all and just posed. He would pick off the little fish as they came through the pipe. You’ll see a lot of postings of Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets from me when I’m down in California. They are abundant. Our cottage is next to Corcoran Lagoon. If I walked down the hill there is no doubt I would see one or both of these species feeding in the lagoon.

Moran Lake, Santa Cruz, CA – September 28, 2011
I’m not the greatest photographer when it comes to aerial shots, but this one came out OK. I cropped this at 800×600, so if you click on the photo you can see a much larger view that this 450×338. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 300mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, handheld

Santa Cruz, CA – Moran Lake – September 28, 2011
I found this Green Heron at Moran Lake, one of the spots we frequently walk. The lake is more like a lagoon or swamp. When it rains a couple days, the water level can be over its banks, or if the tide is way in, water from the ocean flows into it. This body of water is fed by a small stream at its east end. A trail runs along the north side and a small part of the southwest side. This photo is not as clear as I would like, but it portrays very well the habitat of the lake. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/50 sec, tripod Notice the low light situation. It’s a wonder this photo is not even more soft.

Moss Landing State Beach – Moss Landing, California – August 1, 2011
I have to thank Dick and Cheryl from the Marshall Islands for being so patient with me when I discover a photo opportunity. As you bird photographers know, you don’t usually take a quick shot and move along. You often remain in one area for a long time taking many photos – knowing that none, or maybe one or two, may be worthy of keeping. This particular bird was fishing on top of one of several large drain pipes that goes under the Jetty Road and connects two large bodies of water. The current through these pipes can be quite fast during a tide change. So, as luck would have it the bird is quite close to where I was standing. Notice the yellow feet. There are a few things that distinguish a Snowy Egret from a Great Egret. One is size. The Great Egret is much larger, but if you’re like me, when you can’t compare the two it can be difficult. Snowys have yellow feet and GEs have black feet. But, if the bird is wading in the water, which is usually the case, you don’t get to see the feet. The clincher for me is the beak. The beak of a Snowy is black with yellow at the base of the beak running to the eye. The beak of a GE is yellow.

Moss Landing, California – August 1, 2011
On the way to 17 Mile Drive we stopped by one of our favorite birding spots – Moss Landing State Beach. Driving up Highway 1 from Santa Cruz, just before the big smokestacks and the marina, there is a sign that turns right into the birding area. The road is called Jetty Road. This place is a favorite spot for birders, surfers and people wanting to get a good look at the sea otters. As a birder, this location seldom disappoints regardless of the season. During low tide is the best time to see peeps and other water birds. Snowy Egrets tend to be found in greater numbers than Great Egrets, but you can often be surprised by a bird you haven’t seen in awhile.

Aptos, California – March 31, 2011
One of the disadvantages of being too lazy in processing photos is that I sometimes forget the location of the shot. I know I was at Seacliff State Beach on the 31st, so this is likely a photo from this location. This photo was taken with my Nikon D80 and Nikon 70-300 telephoto lens at 300 mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, handheld.

Theler Wetlands – Belfair, WA – March 23, 2011
Just past the cattails and the pond on the right, is some old pilings and water to the left. The Union River enters Hood Canal at this point. The trail then takes a right and you walk along the river. If the tide is low, look for peeps feeding in the shallow water and mudflats. I almost always see a Great Blue Heron or two, or three or… at Theler. With this photo series I celebrate my 900th series. I number my photos by series instead of each individual photo. In this case I have photo #900 and #900m, which stands for more. If I have more than 2 photos I number them like this – 900, 900m1, 900m2 and so on. Every photographer than his/her own numbering system. What ever works!

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington – February 2, 2011
I photographed an American Bittern in this same location back in December. I’m told there are two birds that hang out in this general area. I think this photo opportunity was a bit better than what I experienced back in December. Nikon D80 with Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, f/6.3, 1/80, ISO 200. A tripod was used.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington – December 30, 2010
I found a few leftover photos from 2010 I wanted to post before getting into the 2011 batch. By far not my best Great Blue Heron photos, but what the heck. These were taken with my Nikon D80 with a Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm and tripod. f/6.3, 1/400, ISO 200.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington State – December 30, 2010
This is my first American Bittern photo. If a friendly fellow birder hadn’t pointed this bird out I may have walked right past it. It was just off the boardwalk trail close to two barns. I zoomed in a little more on the second photo. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 300mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO 200

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington State – January 26, 2010
My purpose in taking this photo was to show the beautiful feathers on this Great Blue Heron. I had my digiscope rig on my tripod and I was too lazy to switch to the Nikon D80. The bird was too close to get a full shot of the bird, so I decided to step out of the box a little and just go with a body shot. Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED with 30x wide angle eyepiece, tripod, f/2.7, 1/40, ISO 100 It’s a good thing that Great Blue Herons are often perfectly still, or this wouldn’t have come out so well at such low light.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – May 16, 2008
This heron was doing what they do best – fishing. I found the bird along the boardwalk trail in a swampy area.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom

Elkhorn Slough National Wildlife Refuge – California – April 2, 2008
This is not one of my better Snowy photos, but I think it gives you a good view of leg coloration.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, 200 ISO, tripod

Moss Landing, California – March 31, 2008
I have better photos of this species, but nevertheless, this is what I got on this day. It is always fun to see this bird. They are so graceful.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, f6.3, 1/640 sec, ISO 200

Unknown location – Washington State – December 8, 2007
I don’t remember where this digiscoped photo was taken. I had most recently been to Nisqually and Theler, so chances are it was shot in one of those two places. I found a few photos on my memory card that got piggybacked on to our Maine trip. Anyway, I do remember playing around with the ISO settings on my P4. The results at ISO 400 were unsatisfactory – way too much noise. This original was washed out, but I applied a few tricks to it and some noise reduction and it didn’t come out half bad. One thing I did learn – don’t use ISO 400 on my P4.
Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, 1/250 sec, f/4.8, ISO 400, Manfrotto tripod

Theler Wetlands – Belfair, Washington – July 19, 2007
Here is the second set of five photos I promised. Have you found the bird eating the fish yet?
Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, Manfrotto tripod

Theler Wetlands – Belfair, Washington – July 19, 2007
There were at least two of these beautiful birds in the pond just after the trail entrance. I will show you 10 photos in two sets of five each. Watch for the photo where the heron has a fish in its mouth. I’ve seen a few of these birds, but have never had such a good opportunity to photograph them. Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, Manfrotto tripod

Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary – Arcata, California – July 17, 2007
We visited this birding place the morning after we spent the night in Eureka, CA. We didn’t have time to explore the whole area, but it definitely would be worth a return visit. This is just one of several water birds we observed here.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 350 mm, 1/60 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Elkhorn Slough National Wildlife Refuge – California – July 14, 2007
This was a lifer sighting for me. There were 3 or 4 birds in the trees that surrounded a pond. I narrowed many shots down to a set of six.
Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, Manfrotto tripod

Elkhorn Slough National Wildlife – Refuge – California – July 14, 2007
I got a lot of photo of this species during my spring trip to California. Therefore, I just took a quick single shot of this bird since I was in the middle of trying to get some Black-crowned Night Herons up in the trees. I switched to digiscoping to shoot the herons.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500 mm, 1/125 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge – Ridgefield, Washington – June 2, 2007
Here are two photos of a heron we saw on our auto tour around the refuge. I really liked the setting this bird was in. I wish I had the digiscope setup ready. I think I could have gotten a clearer photo. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, 1/200 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington State – May 12, 2007
I never get tired of taking Blue Heron photos. Here’s one more I found on the boardwalk trail out to two barns. It was right next to a raccoon.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 500mm, 1/80 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington State – April 15, 2007
I like this photograph because it shows a heron doing what herons do – hunting for food. This particular photo is more about what is happening than to show many aspects of the bird. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 290mm, 1/50 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Moss Landing – California – South of the Marina – April 5, 2007
This is the only Great Egret we saw on our spring trip to California. Let me take that back, we saw a few others, but this is the only one we saw within camera range. Here is a set of 4 photos showing the same bird in different poses – one with different background.
Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 200mm, 1/500 sec, from car window

Elkhorn Slough, California – April 5, 2007
We only had an hour or so to quickly hike around Elkhorn Slough before the gates closed. We spent most of the day at Moss Landing. Here is a pair of Great Blue Herons on their nesting site. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 460mm, 1/320 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Natural Bridges State Park – Santa Cruz, California – April 2, 2007

Natural Bridges State Park – Santa Cruz, California – April 2, 2007
This bird was very cooperative. I think I got about 18 pretty good photos. Some were in the surf while it was chasing sand crabs. Other shots were made in the lagoon just in from the surf. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 380mm, 1/640 sec, Manfrotto tripod

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – Washington State – February 10, 2007
I can never pass up an opportunity to photograph a willing Great Blue Heron. This bird showed no concern about my closeness on the trail right next to it. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 200mm, 1/30 sec (good thing the bird was perfectly still), Manfrotto tripod

Theler Wetlands – Belfair, Washington – December 2, 2006
This Great Blue Heron was sitting on a bird house. He stayed in this position for hours. I passed the bird on the way up the trail and he was still there on the way back. Nikon D80, Tamron 200-500 zoom at 360mm, Manfrotto tripod

Theler Wetlands, Belfair Washington – October 21, 2006

Theler Wetlands, Belfair Washington – September 30, 2006
Here is another view of the Great Blue Heron posted previously. This one shows a little more of the bird’s environment. I can’t believe the many faces a Great Blue Heron can model – a truly beautiful bird.

Theler Wetlands, Belfair Washington – September 30, 2006
I was very fortunate to find this Great Blue Heron relaxing by the side of the trail. I see Herons every day, but not posing as grand as this bird.

Nisqually National Wildllife Refuge – September 23, 2006
Here is a different view of a Blue Heron. It was sitting in the same spot for hours. I took some photos on the way up the trail and some more on the way back. Maybe the federal government pays this bird to sit here to pose for passing birders. The next photo shows a close-up of this birds face.

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge – September 23, 2006

You’ll see a lot of Blue Herons on this website. It is truely a Puget Sound bird. A day hardly goes by that I don’t see one or two. This photo shows one of the many habitats that this bird frequents. I wanted you to see just how stretched out a Blue Heron can look. It is quite an amazing bird.

Vaughn Bay, Washington – September 2006
I couldn’t pass up this photo with the heron’s reflection in the water. The shot was a bit shaded, but I adjusted the shadows and highlights in Photoshop to clean it up. I normally don’t see Great Blue Herons this deep in the water. It may even be swimming here. They usually stand in the shallows or on a dock as they fish. Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, tripod

Vaughn Bay, Washington – September 17, 2006
There are many Great Blue Herons on Vaughn Bay. I see them daily, but usually only see one or two at a time. They are usually along. To my knowledge, none of them nest in the forest surrounding the bay. They tend to fly in, fish, and then fly out. This isn’t the greatest photo, but it does show how tall this bird is. These birds have a very distinct loud call. When we have a window open we hear them early in the morning. Great Blue Herons usually squawk as they launch into flight – often as a result of being frightened. Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, tripod

Launching Great Blue Heron – Vaughn Bay, Washington – September 17, 2006
I’m still playing with my new digiscoping system. I took this photo of a Great Blue Heron taking off from a floating dock. I didn’t get a crisp clear shot, but I just didn’t have the heart to throw it away. So, I played around with Photoshop and stumbled upon this. I liked it so much that I decided to share it on the website. I know it has moved from photograph to art form, but it’s my website! I hope someone out there enjoys this as much as I do. Nikon P4, Nikon Fieldscope 82mm ED, 30x WA eyepiece, tripod