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Photo Shoot Report: November 27th @ Mitchell Lake Audubon Center

November 30, 2011
Painted Lady

© jmillerphoto.com - Painted Lady butterfly

As mentioned in the last post, the holiday weekend presented certain challenges with shooting and I didn’t get to do a lot.  Early Sunday afternoon I told myself I needed to get out for a couple of hours and the best way to do that was to go Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.  It was close and it was open until 5, so I could get some good shooting in.

Of course, as also mentioned before, I got there and the sign prominently stated that Sunday hours were 8-4pm.  I looked at my watch and that told me that there was no more than an hour or so of shooting to be had.  Nah, that would still be worth it.  So I went in, paid my $2 fee, was asked if I realized the short amount of time that I would have (I did), and wandered down the road.

Black-necked Stilt

© jmillerphoto.com - Black-necked Stilt

With that little time to shoot, I knew that my standard walk around the big ponds was not going to work.  It was either going to be stop at the bird pond and make my images there or hit the north end of one of the polders.  As it turned out I pulled up to the bird pond and saw plenty of potential targets out there so that’s where I stopped.

Three hundred plus images later, I think I stumbled into the right spot.  Birds of note were the Black-necked Stilts, Northern Shovelers, and Great Egrets.  There were probably a half-dozen Great Egrets, and I was lucky enough to have one be patient enough with me to make a lot of shots.  Definitely at least one portfolio shot out of that set.

Great Egret

© jmillerphoto.com - Great Egret

I did roll down the road a bit to the north end of the polders just to see what was going on.  I didn’t see a lot there, but on the road back I found both an Eastern Meadowlark and a Loggerhead Shrike hanging on out the utility pole wires.  Neither of those shots are noteworthy here, but the Shrike was my confirmed life list add on the bird list for the day.

When I got back to the visitor’s center I notice what was almost a swarm of Painted Lady butterflies.  Even with the wind being what it was, I was very successful in making some portfolio-worthy images.  I also found what I am tentatively identifying as a White Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus albescens).

So for an afternoon that I thought could be a bust I managed to walk away with 310 images, 3 life list adds, and the successful trial run of a new toy.  And I’ll talk about that new toy in my next blog post.

About the Images:

There were an amazing number of Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui), but a good number of those were pretty beaten up by the wind, both structurally and a significant dullness to their wing colors.  This one was both colorful and cooperative.

The Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) and Great Egret (Ardea alba) were also both very cooperative.  These however are still some significant crops as cooperation did not come with coziness.  The abundant sun gave me quick shutter speeds to work with, but provided a huge challenge in keeping either from being blown out.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 30, 2011 11:20 am

    Great posts, Jim. I’d like to see that place. The Black-necked Stilts are one of my favorite shorebirds, and I can see the problem you had with the sun on the Great Egret.. I will Google Mitchell Lake Audubon Center and check it out.

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