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Posts Tagged ‘nesting birds’

Brown Booby (male) Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 second

Brown Booby (male)
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/125 sec.

During my visit to Cayman Brac in February 2014 I was able to photograph the Brown Booby colony on the island as they were incubating their eggs. I kept hoping that the eggs would hatch before I departed the island, but no such luck, so I planned my recent trip to be slightly later in to the nesting season to be assured of hatchlings at the nest.

Brown Booby pair at Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 330mm ISO 800, f11 @ 1/250 second

Brown Booby pair at Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm
ISO 800, f11 @ 1/250 sec.

On Cayman Brac the Brown Booby nests at the very edge of the 144 foot bluff that dominates the east end of the tiny island (Cayman Brac is roughly 12 miles long and about 1 mile wide). My timing for my recent March 2015 visit was perfect as there were birds sitting on eggs, parents with chicks, and chicks that had began molting. Shortly before sunset I would make way to the trail that follows the edge of the bluff to photograph in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 120mm ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 120 mm
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

The experience of being able to sit and watch these majestic seabirds with their young at the very edge of the bluff is one I will not soon forget, nor is the sight of the fluffy, white chicks stretching their little wings that will one day enable them to glide over the ocean waves and plummet into the sea to catch their prey.

Brown Booby Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 230mm ISO 100, f8 @1/250 second

Brown Booby Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 230mm
ISO 100, f8 @1/250 sec.

During my two weeks on Cayman Brac I created several thousand photos of the Brown Booby. This post represents some of my most favorite images…hope you like them too 🙂

Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

Brown Booby Chick Molting Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 second

Brown Booby Chick Molting
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/160 sec.

Brown Booby Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 280mm ISO 1250, f8 @ 1/80 second

Brown Booby
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 280mm
ISO 1250, f8 @ 1/80 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 360mm ISO 200, f16 @ 1/250 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 360mm
ISO 200, f16 @ 1/250 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm ISO 400, f11 @ 1/320 second

Brown Booby with Chick at the Nest
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 330mm
ISO 400, f11 @ 1/320 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @  1/250 sec.

Brown Booby with Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/250 sec.

Brown Booby (female) Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

Brown Booby (female)
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 400mm
ISO 200, f11 @ 1/500 sec.

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Brown Booby nesting on the bluff. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby nesting on the bluff. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Before leaving Ontario last month for the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac my research indicated that it would be nesting season for the Brown Booby on the island. The Brown Booby typically nests on the top most edge of the island’s bluff, which is at the most easterly point of the island. I made several trips up to the bluff during my stay, hoping to photograph some newly hatched boobies with their parents, as the eggs would be hatching any day. I had no luck with my hopes and only photographed the adult birds, but they were loads of fun to photograph nonetheless.

As I so often do when photographing any wildlife species I look for opportunities to create animate landscapes – that is to show the animal within their habitat. I found the best time of day to photograph these seabirds was at the end of the day as the male boobies would return and perch on the cliff top after spending the day at sea, diving for fishes. This was also a great time of day to create flight images of the boobies circling along the edge of the cliff, lit by the setting sun.

Here is an assortment of Brown Booby images that I created during my two week stay on Cayman Brac, in the Cayman Islands. Each of the photos was created using my Nikon D800 and Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. I used a variety of sensor crops, which are available on the Nikon D800. Often to extend the reach of my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens, when warranted, I will select the 1.5 sensor crop to effectively make the lens a 120-600mm lens – it is kind of like having a built-in teleconverter.

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby in flight. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby in flight. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby at the nest. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby at the nest. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby at the nest. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby at the nest. Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest_7758Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest

I have often found it to be a real challenge photographing hummingbirds and I have certainly never had the opportunity to capture them at the nest. In fact I have only ever seen a hummingbird nest once before. Typically their nests are tiny and very well camouflaged. Check out the Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest here as it is made of tiny pieces of lichen assembled together and virtually undetectable on the Tamarack branch where the nest is located.

Tonight after dinner my neighbors that own a large parcel of farmland down the road from my home called to tell me that they had discovered a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest in their Tamarack grove. I told them I would be right over. When I arrived they already had a 10 foot step ladder set-up for me. I positioned the ladder about 8-10 feet from the nest and climbed up and waited. Once the female hummingbird came back to sit on the eggs I fired off several bursts of images. Why would I expose bursts of photos, because the hummingbirds move their heads very quickly and I wanted to capture a good head angle and also because I was handholding my gear. Often when handholding for such imagery this is a good approach as the sharpest image will usually be the second or third image in a series…at least that’s how it works for me 🙂

The images in this post were captured using a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 80-400VR lens (the old one) with an ISO setting of 1250 due to the time of day.

Please click on the images to see the larger sharper versions and please let us know which is your favorite and why.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest_7776Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird on nest

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Female Wild Turkey on nest

I have spent the last several days up in Ontario’s Muskoka region opening up the family cottage. Aside from the regular chores of opening weekend, I made time for visits to my favorite frog pond in the forest to photograph chorusing Grays Treefrogs, take my daughter in the canoe to a nearby wetland to see what was new in there this spring, my daughter also decided that it was a perfect day for swimming, jumping off the dock, and practicing her doggy paddle in the frigid water, and of course take my dog for several long walks. It was during one of these walks on Friday afternoon that something caught my eye at the base of a massive, rocky outcrop near the entrance to our cottage lot. Something looked different, not quite right, and certainly out-of-place as I remembered it. And then as my eyes adjusted to what I was seeing before me, I made out a female Wild Turkey sitting among the leaf litter. She was not at all alarmed to see me and my dog walk past her at only a distance of about 15 feet. My dog was oblivious to her on the ground and I figured that the turkey was probably quite comfortable with how well concealed she was on the forest floor. I concluded that she was probably sitting on a clutch of eggs. What surprised me most was that every time I passed by her over the course of several days, during the dog walks, she was always in the exact same position on the nest. I have explored the woodlands in this region for over 30 years and not once have I ever seen a Wild Turkey in the vicinity of the cottage and today there is one nesting right on our lot. Nature never ceases to amaze me, but I do wish this turkey had selected a more photogenic location for nesting :).

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Juvenile Great Blue Herons on nest

Recently I became aware of a small heronry that consists of 3 nests thus far not too far from the family cottage near Parry Sound, Ontario. I drove down the highway to the location early one morning last weekend for a few photos. The juveniles are still at the nests, but are almost as large as the adults now. I counted a total of 8 young birds on the three nests. These nests are in tall dead trees standing in a large beaver pond. Usuing my 80-400mm VR lens I was still a little short for the composition I was hoping for. The solution here was to mount my camera on my tripod without the legs extended for maximum stability. Since the highway is high above the beaver pond I was still shooting straight at the nest. Next I selected the mirror lock-up feature to minimize vibrations from the slapping action of the mirror and thus render a sharper image. I then waited for three pleasing head angles from the juvenile birds. Once I shot the sharpest image possible I cropped it slightly for the composition I was hoping for and evicted some distracting elements from the background to render a more pleasing image. These distracting elements were removed by using a variety of quick masks and clone stamp tool. The original capture can be seen below.

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