A Morning with a Kingfisher
Monday, December 01, 2014 5:01PM
A Morning with a Kingfisher

Recently, I was lucky enough to find a pond on which a male belted kingfisher had set up his winter foraging territory here in central Florida.  As those of you who have ever tried to photograph belted kingfisher know all too well, this species is very hard to get close to.  Thus, getting good detailed images of them going about their daily activities can be very difficult.To get close to this particular bird I set up a blind and on the mornings I photographed entered the blind well before the first light started to show in the east.  I did this, because on many mornings the kingfisher would show up when it was still very dark. So getting in the blind early was a must.Over the past month or so I have been able to get some really nice images of this kingfisher, which I will share in the following post.  However, I have received far more than just nice images from my time spent with this bird.  I have gained a great appreciation for this bird and how it goes about surviving each day.  I hope you will join me on the following pictorial exploration of a bit of this bird's daily life. Each morning he would arrive early to a low perch over the pond.  It seemed apparent that this perch was this bird's first stop each morning.   After arriving on the perch he would often assume a posture with wingtips held low.  It appears this ...

Making Common Species Look Good
Monday, October 13, 2014 3:24PM
A Morning with a Kingfisher

Right now here in Florida I am impatiently waiting for cooler weather to set in and stay for longer than a day.  It has been a long hot summer. Last week we had our first taste of Fall here in east-central Florida.  But, alas, the cooler temps only lasted for two days.  It is 90 degrees as I am writting this post. During this time of year it can be difficult to find good, "fresh" avian photography subjects as the dog days of summer hang on into fall.  It is at this time of year I tend to turn to bird species that are common and tend to be somewhat overlooked by many bird photographers in the area.  I think of it as a challenge to go out and make these common species look their best in my images.  Whether it is really a challenge or not does not matter, because it serves the purpose of motivating me to get out there in the field.  Believe me, it is really easy to convince yourself to stay in the nice air-conditioned office instead of heading outside to instantly start sweating.  When I am in the field I try to focus on getting these "common" birds in great light and against interesting backgrounds as this tends to bring out the best in these subjects.  Of course having these elements fall into place for any image is never a bad thing.  Or, I go after a different perspecitive of a common species, such as a very close ...

Florida's Swallow-Tailed Kites
Thursday, August 28, 2014 5:27PM
A Morning with a Kingfisher

Swallow-Tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) I don't know about you, but for me, certain birds just make me stop and watch them.  Some birds just inspire a sense of awe in me when I encounter them.  Eagles, whether Bald or Golden or some other species, always get my attention.  It makes sense, given their size and power.  However, there is another, another raptor, one that is much smaller and not at all "powerful" looking that I just can't help but want to spend time with; the swallow-tailed kite.  It is the grace and awesome flight lines that this bird exhibits while living upon the rising air currents so prevalent in Florida that makes it such a wonder to me.  This bird can really fly.    We are lucky here in Florida to have a fairly large breeding population of these awesome birds of prey.  As a bird photographer I have been drawn to try to photograph these kites ever since I saw my first individual many years ago.  Over the years I did get some images, but they were poor as they were taken during harsh light with the bird soring over head.  I believe this is how a majority of people see this bird; mid-day soring in a thermal high above. More recently however, I have been able to watch and photograph this bird under much better circumstances.  All I can say is wow. What a great bird and what a ...

North America's Smallest Duck
Monday, March 17, 2014 7:25PM
A Morning with a Kingfisher

OK, who can tell me what the smallest duck in North America is?  Let me be more specific.  The smallest dabbling duck?  Yep, you are correct if you said the Green-winged teal (Anas crecca).green-wing teal pairAlong with being the smallest duck, an argument can be made that it also is the prettiest.  Well, at least the male.  Now a lot of people will be saying to themselves at this point, 'no way the male wood duck is the best looking duck.'  OK, well let's take a closer look at the male green-wing.Now you have to admit that is one good looking duck.  Look at that chestnut and green head, the spotted breast, the flankes, the tail area.  Personally, I rank this guy right up there with the wood duck and American wigeon for looks.  Well I guess it really does not matter which duck is the best looking overall.  So many duck species are very striking in appearance.   So, what about being so small?  What does it mean for this bird?  Well, given that they often times forage by 'tipping-up' to reach food (seeds, insects, snails) located at the bottom of wetlands, they need very shallow water in which to feed efficiently.  You can see by the image above, this male green-wing is landing in what is basically mud with just a bit of water over the top.  This small bird will be able to forage in this area and ...

Photographing Snail Kites
Wednesday, March 12, 2014 5:55PM
A Morning with a Kingfisher

 Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) March and April are good months to photograph snail kites in Florida.  However, photographers interested in getting images of these federally endangered raptors need to be careful about how they interact with these birds.  In general, nature photographers should always behave ethically in how they ply their trade or hobby by following some basic unwritten rules about the interactions they have with their subjects while in the field.  I won't go into detail about these rules here, but basically summerize by stating that photographers should never harass a subject to get a shot.  Instead, our basic attitude should be our subject's welfare always comes first.  Now, we have all caused an animal to alter its behavior now and again. Heck, just sitting along the bank of a wetland and having a duck swim up on you can startle the bird for a moment. There is not much a person can do about that beyond not being in the field at all.  However, this type of interaction with wildlife is far different than a person repeatedly approaching a subject that results in the subject continually moving away.  This type of tactic is not ethical and does not show nature photographers in a good light.  Moreover, in some cases this can be interpreted as harassment and thus is illegal.  Obeying nature photography ...