Pat Hatch's PhotoJournal A blog about photography & other musings…

19Nov/091

The Osprey Show

Nikon D40, Sigma 120-400mm zoom, f/5.6, 1/500 sec., @ 270mm

Nikon D40, Sigma 120-400mm zoom, f/5.6, 1/500 sec., @ 270mm

I was out on the kayak today for several hours trying to focus primarily on the ospreys. Following is a gallery of the best photos from today plus a couple from the last time.

Conditions were near perfect, with a light wind, temperatures in the 70's, and clear skies. The ospreys are adept at fishing and it is not difficult to find them near the shoreline consuming their catch. More difficult is capturing them in the act of dive bombing their prey and then leaving the water with a fish on talon. It's just a matter of time, though, before I get a good shot of "the catch."

The kayak is working out pretty well as a platform for these pictures.  Sometimes it can be a little tippy in the chop if there's any wind at all.  But it's a lot of fun maneuvering into position and getting the shot.  I'm using a monopod to stabilize the camera/lens combination, but it still requires two hands, and it becomes somewhat of a challenge trying to work the camera and keep the kayak oriented properly for the shot.  I can see that foot propulsion would be the perfect solution.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @400mm.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @400mm.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @ 270mm.

f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @ 270mm.

f/4.5, 1/1000 sec., ISO-200, @ 120mm.

f/4.5, 1/1000 sec., ISO-200, @ 120mm.

f/5.6, 1/320 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/320 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/800 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/800 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/250 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

f/5.6, 1/250 sec., ISO-200, @ 400mm.

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13Nov/090

Kayak Day

Great Blue Heron takes flight.

Great Blue Heron takes flight.

Yes, today was kayak day.  Been waiting for the right weather and today was just gorgeous with high pressure moving in, temperatures in the low 70's.  The wind was just a little too brisk, which makes it difficult to orient the kayak correctly for taking pictures.  I noticed the ospreys weren't having much luck today either as the light chop on the water makes it difficult for them to spot fish.

I took about 350 pictures.  The osprey were quite active, but the great blue herons were spectacular so today will be just the herons.

The great blue heron is a large bird, probably about an 8 foot wing span, and they are found mostly in the shallow water around the mangroves.  I startled this one and was just able to get his takeoff.  I had the Sigma 120-400mm zoom on the Nikon D40, which turned out to be just about right for today's photo shoot.  This picture was taken at f/4.5, 1/250 sec., ISO-200, and focal length was 120 mm.

In fishing mode.

In fishing mode.

In the second picture, this is a great blue standing in shallow water amongst the mangroves.  Typically, they will wait for their prey to swim by and will spear it with its bill, then swallow it whole.

This picture was taken at f/4.5, 1/160 sec., ISO-200, and 120 mm focal length.

Wings spread and facing the sun.

Wings spread and facing the sun.

In the third picture, this heron has its wings splayed facing the sun as if it were drying them, but I'm not sure that's what he's actually doing.  When I came upon him he had his wings spread like this and he remained in this position for a good 5 minutes or so, never made any attempt to fly away, even though I approached to within a few yards.

This area of the Indian River Lagoon is totally undeveloped so wildlife is plentiful.  You can move around in the mangroves from island to island all day long and not see another boat or human being.  If you like unspoiled, natural habitat, this is the place for you.

Exposure detail is as follows:  f/5.3, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, 185 mm focal length.

And finally, I had to include a close up to show off the full capability of this lens.  You can even see the feathers in its beak from where it had been grooming.  These are truly magnificent birds.  By the way, I managed to survive without getting any of the equipment wet!  Not as easy as you might think.  Exposure:  f/5.6, 1/320 sec., ISO-200, 400 mm!

I'll put the osprey show up next.

Great Blue Heron closeup.

Great Blue Heron closeup. Ardea Herodias.

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10Nov/090

Manatees

Young Manatee calf about 8 months old.

Young Manatee calf about 8 months old.

I took my backpack along on my bike ride today and stopped in at Round Island to see what the ospreys were up to.  As I crossed the pedestrian bridge over to the island, I noticed that there were quite a few manatees frolicking right under the bridge below me.  So, I took a few pictures.

Even though you usually see manatees almost any day at Round Island Park, it is rare to see them this close and in such large numbers like there were today.  I guess there were probably about 20 close to the bridge.  And they were quite playful for some reason.  I have been following a couple of twin calves that were born this spring to this one cow.  Manatee twins are rare so when these two are around they're very noticeable.  They were born this spring so I'm guessing they're about 8 months old.  Calves will nurse for a couple of years, so they'll be with mom for a while yet.

Recently I flew over to Crystal River, Florida to visit a friend and we went out on his pontoon boat to photograph the manatees. The water there is aquifer-spring fed and thus very clear as you can see from the photos below.  The manatees there appear to be different to me.  I'm not sure if it's the clear water or if these manatees are genetically different. But they seem larger and more aerodynamically shaped, if you know what I mean.

Crystal River, FL, location of the fresh-water spring in the background.

Crystal River, FL, notice the fresh-water spring in the background.

A couple of West Florida manatees in the Crystal River.

A couple of West Florida manatees in the Crystal River.

Back at Round Island here on the east coast of Florida (see below), notice how much murkier the water is here compared to the Crystal River. We will begin to see the manatee population increase now as the cooler weather drops water temperature and these mammals seek shallower, and thus warmer, water. Round Island Park is a natural for them. It is shallow and protected on all sides from the wind.

Manatee twins at Round Island.

Manatee twins and mom at Round Island.

Two manatee adults at Round Island.

Two manatee adults at Round Island.

One of the twin calfs at Round Island Park.

One of the twin calfs at Round Island Park.

One interesting fact about manatees is that they will venture into the ocean to migrate on occasion. I always thought they remained in the river, but recently I was at a party over at Felton's oceanfront condo when all of a sudden someone yelled, "Sharks!" It turned out to be about a dozen manatees cruising right off shore in the surf moving slowly from north to south. So I guess they would have been migrating from the Sebastian Inlet to the Ft. Pierce Inlet. One of the guests was a biology teacher and manatee expert, and she promptly ran down to the beach and got into the surf with them for a close encounter. Cool.

As always, click on a picture to see it in full size.

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1Nov/092

Chloe & Shela Lark

Chloe Riding Shela Lark

Chloe Riding Shela Lark

I was out at the barn today helping hang a fan in Shela's stall.  Chloe, who just turned 14, was out in the arena giving Shela a workout, so I took a couple of pictures of them.  Chloe is a dressage rider and Shela Lark is her 8-year-old mare.

Photo was taken with a Nikon D40 with Nikkor 55-200mm zoom lens.  Photo parameters:  f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @ 135mm.

And then I went flying.  I decided to fly out to Blue Cypress Lake to look for alligators.  Didn't see any, but it was a nice day.  So, the lake:  first of all, it's blue, as you can see; and then its shore is lined with beautiful cypress trees, thus the name.  I have seen kayaks out on this lake that are smaller than the alligators swimming nearby.  Been thinking about going kayaking out here.  Maybe not.  I'll let you know if I do.

Blue Cypress Lake - Nikon D40 w/Nikkor 55-200mm lens; f/5.6, 1/500 sec., ISO-200, @ 135mm.

Blue Cypress Lake - Nikon D40 w/Sigma 10-20mm lens; f/7.1, 1/200 sec., ISO-200, @ 10mm.

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