My Roseate Disposition Left Me With Great Egrets
So after Saturday’s trip to Fredericksburg I was ready for a trip to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. It had been about a month since I’d been out there last and I was due for a visit. For once I got out there early, had a wonderful chat with one of the docents, and then proceeded to my fun.
Conditions were just about perfect. Calm winds. Some clouds to help diffuse the sunlight now and then, and temperatures that were warm but not baking. The bird pond was incredibly productive when it came to Roseate Skimmer dragonflies (Orthemis ferruginea). They were both exceptionally active and willing to perch that morning. For every 10 dragonfly shots I made that morning, 8-9 of them were Roseates. However, I did get a smattering of other dragons to include Blue Dashers, Eastern Pondhawks, Common Whitetails, and a single Pin-tailed Pondhawk. That Pin-tailed Pondhawk was a life list add, bringing me to 20 new dragonflies for the year and a total of 22 new odonates.
It wouldn’t be called the bird pond if birds weren’t regular visitors. They also did not disappoint. Great Egrets were thick on the water as the water itself starts to thicken. I probably counted 2 dozen on the water with a few eventually getting close enough to make images of. Also out on the water were the usual suspects: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (along with their ducklings…very pretty), American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, and many others.
After working the pond for a little while I moved over to the polders. As the water levels drop the air around the polders are becoming, well, fragrant to say the least. Rather than the normal marathon of a walk, I instead only walked around the east polder. The walk was generally uneventful and unproductive, but I did make an image or two of a male Four-spotted Skimmer, a couple of shore birds, and I made an image of a butterfly that is destined for my life list once I figure out what the heck the thing is. The images aren’t of a high enough quality to share here, but I’m almost 100% certain it is a butterfly I haven’t seen before.
All in all it was a good day. About 400 images into the memory card, of which probably a couple of dozen will warrant some additional work down the road.
And I still had part of a Monday to play with.
About the Images:
Both images were using the Standard Gear. The Roseate Skimmer image was ISO 400, 1/125 at f/20. I am try to experiment more with slightly longer exposures but smaller aperture openings when the backgrounds are further away from the subject in hopes of getting more of the wings in focus.
The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is becoming a regular visitor to these pages, with now three instances this year where an image has graced a blog entry. Technical details were ISO 400, 1/2500 at f/9. With the birds, O.C. Garza taught me (and the rest of the workshop participants) that with birds, especially at distance, that what really matters is speed and not aperture opening. The odds are really good that even wide open you’re going to get enough DOF to keep the bird together. With that thought, I cranked open the aperture, which also cranked up the speed, and got a solid stop-action with the egret.