Friday, November 12, 2010

Featured Feather Friend - New Weekly Item!

We would like to introduce a new weekly feature here on our blog. As you may have noticed, I love taking bird photos. For me (Maureen), it really enhances my birding experience. To capture that perfect shot, especially of a life bird, gives me such an extreme feeling of accomplishment. So here we present to you “Featured Feathered Friend” where I can display one of my best bird photos and share a little story behind the shot. Since this is an intro post, I'll give a little background about myself and include 3 lovely pictures from the same event. But after this one, I'll keep them short and sweet ;-)

Really, our birding experience really started with me taking photos of birds to figure out what they were. Nick and I started out with a general Audubon Field Guide, a camera, and curiosity, and our love of birding took off from there. I had a long lens I wanted to learn to use, and we had birds all around us that we wanted to figure out and identify. We started with taking pictures of the “easy” birds – the ones that would stay still as long as you didn’t approach too closely, such as the array of herons and egrets here in South Florida. Then, the challenge would take on a new dimension as we started chasing down those little tweeting things high up in the trees, which we soon found out to be warblers.

Now everywhere we go birding, I have my camera around my neck looking to find a new lifer and to take that perfect shot. While no shot is perfect, I suppose that’s the thrill of the game – trying to get the best shot possible. And even with run-ins with birds we’ve seen before, I’m always trying to get a better shot than the last. And then there are also the times when I just see such a beautiful opportunity that I can’t pass it up - the bird is in perfect light, a raptor flies by me at just the right speed for me to snap a shot, a passerine is so close and so still that it feels like he’s posing... 

But enough about me... Here is our first featured feathered friend. Here we have a young Roseate Spoonbill. So, in the first picture, I had the great fortune of having this pretty in pink bird take off right in front of me and towards me! Nick and I had been taking one of our many walks along the boardwalk of Green Cay Nature Center. We came around a bend and found a photographer standing there with tripod set up and camera positioned on this spoonbill standing on a snag. The man had told us that he’d been there about an hour waiting for this bird to take flight. I wasn’t sure if this was true, but I wouldn’t doubt it. So I decided to take my chances too and set up my tripod a few feet down the boardwalk and wait to see if I could get a nice take off/flight shot. Well, I got lucky and didn’t have to wait very long. After about 10 minutes or so, the spoonbill was turned towards me and took flight! I got off a couple of shots, and this was one of the prize ones. The light was coming through it’s wings so fantastically! The second picture is a continuation of the spoonbill's flight.

The spoonbill then landed in the shallow swampy water below and started feeding with other spoonbills that we hadn’t even realized were there. The spoonbills were now low and wading amongst the bald cypress trees. Like a true sport, I got down on my knees, and at some points, my elbows, and started snapping away, pointing my camera between the planks of the boardwalk. I believe I was even laying down at one point... All for that perfect shot, which leads me to my next picture. This juvenile Roseate Spoonbill (which you can tell is young by his fuzzy-ish white head rather than the bald head of the adult) paused in his frantic feeding long enough for me to snap away as he posed in the water, his creamy pink feathers contrasting with the lime green duckweed. And here, my friends, is our first featured feathered friend.

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