Waving Great Blue Heron

We were setup on the Wildlife Drive at this popular spot at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. It is a fairly wide open area with sandbars where birds tend to land and flock to. Plus a lot of activity in the water around it. A lot of people also fish here so it gets very crowded for photographers! Sometimes there are up to 40 or more people here photographing the birds. This Great Blue almost looks like it is waving to us. I also liked the Cormorant swimming by in the background. Image taken @800mm.

Wood Stork Preening

I am going through backup drives looking for images to post here since we are staying home during the virus outbreak. It actually gives me time to go through backup drives and clean out files that I do not need to make more space. Also I am finding images I have not worked on before. We saw this preening Wood Stork in the water along the Wildlife Drive at the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I was using a Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 zoom lens and the featured images was taken at 800mm. I liked the “splash of color” of the Roseate Spoonbill in the foreground.

 

Wood Stork Sunset Panoramas

I am going through images from previous trips to some of our trips to Florida. Here are a few panoramas of Wood Storks I photographed from the Wildlife Drive at J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I was using a Sigma 300-800mm f/ 5.6 lens, all @ 800mm. The Wood Storks did not move around to much, but the ducks were constantly  moving about.

I first tried a 5 image panorama which is the featured image. Because they were moving around somewhat I manually aligned the images and used soft-edge masks to blend the images for the final image. Then I photographed a 3 image version again at 800mm.

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Single image from 5 img panorama, Wood Storks @ 800mm

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3 images panorama @ 800mm

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Single image shot @ 318mm showing group of Wood Storks. Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 lens

Roseate Spoonbill Tree

It was interesting to see this tree full of Roseate Spoonbills surrounding this White Ibis. The featured image was captured with a Sigma 300-800mm lens @ 800mm. It seems to be very helpful at J.N. Ding Darling to have a long zoom lens with a long telephoto zoom range. Many photo opportunities there are quite far in the distance. So instead of severely cropping your image you can frame a nice pleasing image to fill the frame with your subject. The Sigma 300-800mm lens was a huge & heavy lens and with a camera body was about 12 lbs. Add a Wimberly gimbal head & heavy duty tripod and you basically setup in an area and just work that area for a while. That is why I usually also carried another camera on my shoulder strap with a 400mm DO lens for faster moving subjects that flew close by.

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Roseate Spoonbill, Sigma 300-800mm @ 631mm

 

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Roseate Spoonbill 400mm f/ DO lens

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Splashing Roseate Spoonbills, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 7D

 

 

 

 

Willet Shorebird – Eye To Eye with Prey

I came across this Willet looking for a meal at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida. These are from a visit years ago. I was using a Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 lens on a Canon 1D MkIII. These are all at 800mm. It caught a small reddish orange crab that seemed to only have one eye. It was trying to swallow it but as it was trying it lost its grip and was holding it by one leg. Then that leg broke off and the crab fell into the water. But it managed to catch it again and have it’s meal.  I thought the crab got away but the Willet won in the end.Eye2eye_Willet_800mm_3-8_1DmkIII_v1_80I9608-2Eye2Eye_Willet_800mm_1DmkIII_80I9613-2Eye2Eye_Willet_v1_oops_800mm_3-8_1DmkIII_80I9615-2Eye2Eye_Willet_oops_800mm_3-8_1DmkIII_DD_80I9616Eye2EyeWilletRecov_v1_800mm_3-8_1DmkIII_80I9618-3

Little Green Heron & Black-crowned Night-Heron Foraging

We found this Green Heron foraging for a meal early in the morning at J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida. It was very focused on something in the water and hardly moved for quite a while. I guess what it was staring at disappeared and then it relaxed it’s stance and moved on. Also nearby was an immature Black-crowned Night-Heron. It was fun to see the 2 small herons close to each other. Because of the wide range of smaller photo subjects and the distance to them at J.N. Ding Darling, I usually use here a 400mm D.O. lens, with a 1.4x teleconverter on a Canon 7D. (Full Frame field of view equivalent ~896mm)

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More CloseUp American Alligator Images From Florida

 

An assortment of close-up images of Alligators from 2 Florida locations, along the paths at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Rookery. Featured image taken at Ding Darling NWR with 300mm f/4 Lens, Canon R.

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Alligator Teeth 560mm, Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel, Florida.  Canon 1D mkIV, 400mm DO lens, 1.4X Teleconverter

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Alligator @ 400mm, Tamron 150-600mm lens, Canon R, St. Augustine Alligator Farm

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Alligator @ 226mm, Tamron 150-600mm lens, Canon R, , St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Following is information on Alligators from Ding Darling NWR’s website.

One of only two alligator species in the world, the American Alligator is a large reptile found in freshwater habitats throughout the southeastern United States. Adult male alligators can grow up to 4.6 meters long and weigh over 500 pounds while females are generally smaller and average only 3 meters long with a weight of 200 pounds. Commonly portrayed as green, the skin of an American alligator is actually a dark grey color with pale yellow on the underside, and the juveniles have bright yellow stripes along their backs until they mature and the striped fade. The dark coloration allows this predator to better blend into the swamps, marshes, and wetlands it inhabits and camouflages the animal while it hunts at night. Another adaptation that allows the alligator to better hunt within its watery habitat is a double set of eyelids. One set of eyelids is much like a humans, they close up and down and protect the eye from debris and light. A second set of translucent eyelids, called a nictitating membrane, close front to back and are used to protect the eyes while the alligator is underwater. Like other reptiles, American alligators are cold blooded and need heat from the sun or other sources such as warm water to be active or even to digest their food. Special bone plates called scutes grow between layers of skin along the back of the alligator, giving the animal an armored appearance and acting as a solar plate. The scutes collect heat from the sun when the alligator sunbathes and warms the blood that runs through the vessels of the skin, transferring the heat throughout the body. Despite their appearance as slow, lazy, or unresponsive which sunbathing as alligator is capable of running up to 11 miles per hour on land in short bursts. This species is much better built for water travel, where it is able to utilize its tail as a paddle and rudder to guide the torpedo-shaped body through the water at speeds up to 20 miles per hour.

 

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