Archive for January, 2011


1/31/2011: Ring-necked Duck, Viera Wetlands

I have trouble remembering that this is not the Ring billed Duck, for somewhat obvious reasons. I have yet to see the neck ring, though I have no doubt it is there. Duck plumage has a will of its own, of course, especially what appears to be “black” most of the time. It can be green or purple, in various shades, depending on the angle of the light…as here on the head and back.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of approximately a 3000mm lens, 1/400th @ ISO 125. Effective aperture of f9. Programmed auto.

And, from the same sequence.


1/30/2011: Limpkin, Viera Wetlands

Happy Sunday!

I can still remember my excitement in seeing my first Limpkin, a wader, strangely unrelated to the herons and egrets that share its habitat. It is the only species in its family, thought to be somewhat related to the rails and cranes, and has a very restricted range…only occurring in Florida, where it feeds on the declining population of Florida Apple Snails. It is listed as a “species of special concern”.

Viera Wetlands is an easy place to see and photograph Limpkins. Several individuals were feeding there the day I visited. This shot was late in the day when the lowering sun brought out the copper in the feathers.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 3000mm lens, 1/500th at ISO 125. Effective aperture of f8. Programmed auto.

Being Sunday, I will express my sense of gratitude to the folks who preserved our National Wildlife Refuges as habitat for the amazing birds of Florida…or, in the case of Viera Wetlands, who created new habit. I know things could be better, and that we could do better as stewards of this creation, but I am always reminded at places like Merritt Island NWR and Viera Wetlands (not to mention Bosque del Apache and Estero Lano Grande and Brigantine) that things could be a lot worse, and would be without the efforts of concerned humans, knowingly or unknowingly fulfilling the task the creator gave them.

One more Limpkin…from earlier in the day.

And the video:


Limpkin, Viera Wetlands, FL

1/29/2011: Green Heron, Viera Wetlands

When I started birding I learned this bird as the Green-backed Heron. Somewhere in there it lost the backed and became just the Green Heron…not even the Little Green Heron, or the Common Green Heron, or the Lessor Green Heron, or the American Green Heron…just the plain Green Heron.  Either way it is a striking bird, and especially so in the kind of close-ups you can get among the duck-weed at Viera Wetlands in Florida. 

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56 Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 3000mm lens. Effective aperture of f8 @ 1/800th @ ISO 125, Programmed auto.

Processed lightly in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.

And this shot, backed off to about 1500mm equivalent.

And here is the video.

Green Heron: Viera Wetlands, FL

1/28/2011: Tricolor, Viera Wetlands

Tricolored Heron is among the most striking of the herons…more colorful by far than a GBH…but much harder to photograph. Unlike a GBH, the Tricolor rarely stands still, sits still, or is otherwise other than in rapid motion. Or so it seems most of the time. This bird was racing up and down the little band of open water next to the dyke at Viera, catching fish as it went. Getting it in frame was a challenge. Keeping it there more-so. Still, gotta try with a bird like this.

Canon SD4000IS behind the eyepiece of the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the field of view of a 1000mm lens, 1/1250th @ ISO 200. Effective aperture of f5 (set by camera). Programmed auto.

Lightly processed in Lighroom for clarity and sharpness.


1/27/2011: Little Blue Heron, Viera Wetlands

I really like the range of colors in the plumage of the “little blue” heron. The purples shading into blues and blue-grays. They show to really good effect in the Florida sun of Viera Wetlands.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 1600mm lens, 1/500th @ ISO 125. Effective aperture of f5.0.

Lightly processed in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.


1/26/2011: GBh, the portrait, Viera Wetlands

One of the clear advantages of Viera Wetlands for photography is the fact that you can get ridiculously close to the birds. So close that your average 600mm lens can fill the frame most of the time, and a digiscoping rig will give you intimate portraits like this one. The birds are used cars on the dyke and pay not the least attention. They will even, most of the time, let you get out and set up your tripod within 50 feet without flushing. Especially Great Blue Herons.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece of the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of something like a 4000mm lens, 1/1250th @ ISO 160, effective aperture f11. Programmed auto.

Processed lightly in Lightroom for Clarity and sharpness.

And one more for varieties sake.


1/25/2011: uncommon Moorehen, Viera Wetlands

The Common Moorehen has been somewhat of a nemesis bird for me, at least for digiscoping. They are abundant at Viera Wetlands and Merritt Island, as well as in the Rio Grande Valley, so I have seen hundreds, if not thousands. I have tried to digiscope them on every trip, but never gotten a keeper. Generally it is an exposure issue. The red of the bill and face shield burns out and the black of the body closes up. I had about given up on Moorhens. Still…you have to try!

And I really like this shot. Not only is the exposure spot on (for which I take no credit…it is auto exposed), but I love the way the water on the back is caught in tiny beads, as well as the glint in the black eye. The glistening green weed adds something to the shot as well, as does the foamy water (the bird was swimming near an intake standpipe which was vigorously  pumping water into the empondment). So, moral of the story…try try again! At least when it comes to Moorehens.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece (near its wide end) on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope for the equivalent field of view of a 800mm lens, f4 @ 1/800th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

Lightly processed in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.


1/24/2011: Osprey! at Viera

Viera Wetlands is one of my favorite digiscoping and birding destinations and I always try to get down there at least one day on every trip to the Space Coast Birding Festival. It is a 30 minute drive straight down 95 from where I stay in Titusville. I got a late start yesterday, due to a long day of travel from Las Vegas on Saturday, but decided, given the busy schedule of the coming week, to do Viera anyway. Viera is now, officially, the Rich Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera. You may remember from posts from last year at this time that it is a “improved” waste water treatment plant…one of a growing number where the settlement ponds have been converted to small lakes and marshes ideal for migrant and resident birds…and, in a truly enlighten move, basic facilities (portapodies, viewing platforms and towers, and several miles of good dyke roads) provided for visiting birders and the curious public. Yesterday I would estimate that while I was there, there were about 100 other visitors driving the dykes and observing the birds. While at least half were serious birders or bird photographers, at least half were the curious public variety…from young families with children to retired folks. There were even a few walking the dykes, jogging, or bicycling. Viera is wonder, and I, for one, and sincerely thankful to the foresight of the folks who conceived of and funded its conversion.

This Osprey, who was busy with a meal, was the first bird to great me from the dyke (or at least the first I pulled out the scope for and set up).

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL for the equivalent field of view of a 3000mm lens. 1/1000 sec. @ ISO 160. Programmed Auto. Effective aperture of f8.5 (computed).

Processed very lightly in Lightroom for clarity and sharpness.

And here is a second shot, this time at something closer to 4500mm equivalent field of view.


1/23/2011: vegas segment 6, light and shadow

Happy Sunday! This might be my last Vegas Segment, as I have moved on to Titusville FL and plan to be out today for pics…

This is the Winn of course, which has come to dominate the Las Vegas skyline in the short time it has stood there, and even now more-so with the Encore to echo it. I shot up through the structure of the Fashion Mart, itself an interesting piece of architecture, using the foreground shapes of girders to frame the reflection of the sun.

Canon SD 4000IS at 106mm equivalent, f5.3 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 125. Programmed auto.

Processed in Lightroom for clarity and intensity. Extra Fill-Light to bring up just a touch of detail in the girders.

As I said last Sunday, it is possible to find and celebrate the beauty in Vegas, for it is there…but it is always beauty that has to be seen despite itself and its intention. It is like the whole city is as artificial as the city-scapes built in miniature inside the hotels. I survived it, but I am certainly delighted to be “outside” again! I’d like to thank all of you who kept me company on this week-long excursion into territory I don’t usually explore. I look forward to seeing the creation more or less as it comes from the mind of the creator, and maybe sharing a bit of that, somewhere out on Blackpoint Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island NWR today.


1/22/2011: Vegas Segments 5, Cranes

Vegas is not only the city that never sleeps, it is also the city that is never finished. There are people on the streets and in the bars and casinos 24 hours a day, and every year when I go back I see at least one new hotel, or new hotel wing, and there is always evidence of new construction at the moment. Construction cranes over Vegas are as much a part of the skyline as the Winn or the Venetian or Cesar’s Place.

Canon SX20IS at about 75mm equivalent, f4 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 80. Programmed Auto.

Processed in Lightroom for intensity and clarity. Perspective adjusted and cropped.