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Posts Tagged ‘cuba’

As readers of this blog will remember, about a year and half ago I had the pleasure of photographing an unusually colored heron in Cuba’s Jardines del rey archipelago, an UNESCO World Biosphere, on the island of Cayo Santa Maria. My photos of this odd looking heron eventually made their way to Dr. James Kushlan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Heron Specialist Group. It is believed that this heron  is either a melanistic or genetic variant of the Green Heron and is most likely the first record for such plumage in this species.

Below you will see the JPEG version from the latest issue of Conservator, a beautiful magazine that is published by Ducks Unlimited Canada  and sent out to those that hold a membership with Ducks Unlimited Canada. The most recent issue of the magazine began hitting the doorsteps of DUC members this week and features an InfoGraphic on my Melanistic Green Heron that I photographed in Cuba. The inset image shows a normally plumaged Green Heron that was also photogaphed in Cuba.

Please take a moment to check out the Ducks Unlimited Canada website particularly the page that celebrates their 75 Years of Conservation Excellence.  DUC has conserved 6.3 million acres and has completed 9,000 projects all aimed at conservation. That folks is an amazing track record don’t you think!

To see a larger version of this excerpt from the magazine do remember to click on the image.

 

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For those folks that follow my blog, you will remember me posting images of a rather odd-coloured Green Heron that I photographed in Cuba, on the island of Cayo Santa Maria, in the Jardines del rey archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The Jardines del rey is a UNSECO World Biosphere. As it turned out, through my hopes to identify this heron, I had photographed a melanistic or genetic variant of this species. Subsequently, I was invited by Dr. James Kushlan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Heron Specialist Group to write a paper on my observations for their inaugural online issue “Journal of Heron Biology and Conservation.” It is now believed that this is the first record of such abbarent plumage in Green Herons. I would like to extend a big thank-you to Dr. Kushlan for this opportunity. It was a privilege to write the paper for an organization such as the IUCN. If you are interested in reading the article please click here.

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Here is another image of the heron I photographed in Cuba back in February. I have no definite answers to this riddle, but thanks to several folks some conclusions can be drawn to this mystery. While this heron does resemble a Lava Heron from the Galapagos, it is not. Lava Herons have larger bills and feet and stout legs. This heron is identical in size to Green Herons. Even its call is the same. Many folks suggested that this was a melanistic form of the Green Heron, however, two birds of identical plumage were foraging at the pond where I photographed them. One of the birds, maybe both, can’t say for certain, had a pure white feather on one wing.

Fellow Canadian photographers Mike Grandmaison and Dennis Fast suggested a melanistic color morph of the Green Heron. Famous bird photographer Arthur Morris identifies this bird as a melanistic Green Heron or a genetic variant of one. As the days went by, eventually David Gancarz, a member at www.birdphotographers.net forwarded an email from Dr. James Kushlan with the IUCN Heron Specialist Group who became aware of this odd colored heron and was rather intrigued by it. Since two birds of identical plumage were seen, Dr. Kushlan has suggested that it is most likely a genetic variant of the Green Heron.

Hope you enjoy the photo.

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It has been a rather hectic week, not much time for processing images. We have had lots of rain over the last several days and due to the ground being frozen the water has not had many places to go. As a result, I have had to contend with some minor water issues in my basement so that they do not become major issues. The joys of country living.

Here is an image I just processed form my trip to Cayo Santa Maria in the Jardines del rey archipelago in Cuba. The shoreline here was very impressive. This rugged shoreline, sculpted by the oceans waves over time, was incredible. The only way to shoot it was to stand out in the water. I used my 12-24mm lens down low, so that I was looking up under the rugged rock. After I was done shooting and back on board the catamaran I noticed a very large drop of water on the lens. This drop was cloned out when I processed the file.

 

Hope you like the photo.

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While on Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba I photographed a small species of Heron that frequented the small man-made ponds around the hotel. There were two birds at these ponds of identical coloration. I thought nothing of it, just a cool looking heron that I would easily identify in my field guides upon my arrival home. No such luck. I cannot find this species in any of my field guides and after posting the image in bird forums still have no real answers.

This bird is same size as a Green-backed heron and has a small crest on its head that it will raise if alarmed similar to the Green-backed Herons. I have wondered if this is actually a Green-backed Heron that has developed a strange coloration due to a constant diet of the same species of fish that have been stocked in the ponds around the hotel. The fishes are a cichlid-type fish, probably Tilapia? Another thought I have is also that the ponds that were plagued with an algae problem have also affected the birds coloration. Some folks in the forums have suggested a melanistic form of Green-backed Heron, or staining of the birds feathers from an unknown source. Either way I am still completely baffled by this bird. Below are some alternate images of this heron species. In some of the images there are hints of normal Green-backed heron colors revealed among the greens.

If any folks have suggestions or possible answers to this heron species please drop me a note. It will be greatly appreciated.

Just for fun I have included a Fractalius of this cool looking bird as the last image. Aside from this Fractalius image, the other photographs have had minimal processing – they are true representations of how the birds look.

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While on my trip to Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba, I would play around with shooting creative blurs while either walking around or as in the image above, when a lack luster sunrise found me extracting rippled ocean blurs of the sun’s reflection with my 80-400mm lens. To learn about all the various techniques that can be used for shooting creative blurs I highly recommend “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris. Click here to find out more about this wonderful eBook.

Below you will find some additional blurs created during my stay on Cayo Santa Maria.

Palm Frond Blur

Bouganvilla Blur

Agave Blur

Palm Frond Blur

Bouganvilla Blur

Palm Frond Blur

Boughanvilla Blur

Not sure on name of this shrub, but this is what it looks like after one too many Pina Coladas :)

Palm Frond Blur

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On Cayo Santa Maria I found that the bird life was not abundant during my visit, but there were some photogenic and co-operative specimens to be found. There were a few small flocks of Brown Pelicans which for some reason completely disappeared during my last couple of days there. There were numerous Royal Terns, that were a challenge to capture in flight with my slow focusing 80-400 VR lens, however, by tracking them from far down the beach until they were filling the frame my success rate increased considerably. The Great Egrets and Little Blue Herons were a little on the skittish side here and rather difficult to capture. I was able to photograph a rather unique looking heron which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

Juvenile Brown Pelican

Adult Brown Pelican in flight

Bahama Mockingbird

Little Blue Heron

Royal Tern

Royal Tern

Royal Tern

 

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Here is a collection of some of initial landscape results, or perhaps more appropriately they should be referred to as ocean-scapes, from my recent trip to the island of Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba. Much of the week there were strong winds that created rough conditions on the ocean – perfect for wave blurs. The last day or so the winds diminished and the ocean settled down quite a bit for some more peaceful ocean scenes. I found my 12-24mm lens to be my most used lens on this trip with my 80-400mm lens a close second, mostly for bird life. I used an assortment of filters for these images here, from ND filters to polarizers to grad and reverse grad filters. The islands in the Jadines del rey archipelago, a Unesco World Biosphere, are dominated by many mangrove sections that are very rich in birdlife. As fate would have it, while shooting landscapes one morning with my 12-24mm lens attached three Crested Caracaras flew by. I was a little disappointed that there was not as much birdlife on this island as I had encountered on a previous visit to Cayo Guillermo in the same archipelago, but nonetheless it is a beautiful location and I was able to add several new species of birds to my image collection which will be featured in an upcoming post in the coming days. Hope you enjoy this selection of imagery.

30 Second exposure at sunrise over Mangroves

Wave blur on the Atlantic Ocean

Daybreak on Cayo Santa Maria and Atlantic Ocean

Mangroves

Wave blur on the Atlantic Ocean at Cayo Santa Maria

Cayo Santa Maria ocean scene at low-tide

Rugged shoreline handheld from catamaran with 80-400 VR lens

Sunrise over mangroves

Atlantic Ocean at low-tide on Cayo Sanata Maria

Daybreak on Cayo Santa Maria and Atlantic Ocean

 

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Trying to get back into the swing of things and caught up on some much needed sleep after arriving home from the island of Cayo Santa Maria, in Cuba, at 3 am on Wednesday morning. Many images to process over the coming weeks, but thought I would post one photographed on my last morning there. At daybreak I was greeted with a low tide that left many rocks exposed that were covered during the periods of high tide. As usual, I went down to the beach long before sunrise to shoot many ocean-scapes. On this morning, I was able capture many wonderful scenes and was running up and down the beach to capture as many of these images as I could before the sun rose. I was also running to avoid being eaten alive by no-see-ums. Hope you like the photo.

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Hola! This will be my last post for about a week and a half. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Cayo Santa Maria in the Cuban archipelago,  Jardines del rey, a Unesco World Biosphere. I am including various images from my last trip to this region of Cuba on the small island of Cayo Guillermo. Hope you enjoy the images.

Hasta luego! (hope I said that right)

Sunset on Cayo Guillermo

Green-backed Heron

Rippled Beach Sand

Mangrove Wetland

Tricolored Heron

Black-necked Stilt

Sunrise on Atlantic Ocean

Sunrise on Atlantic Ocean

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