Watching this graceful American egret in the evening light, my mind went right back to Lincoln Center and the vision of a ballerina dancing Swan Lake. The egrets lines were so beautiful as she moved ever so slowly, and her reflection in the wading pool accentuated her grace.
You can tell an Anhinga from a Cormorant by remembering that the beak of an Anhinga forms the letter “A,” and the Cormorant’s beak forms a little “C” at the tip. Both birds are large black tropical birds (35″ long), and can both be spotted in Florida.
Often called the snake-bird for its long neck, you can spot this bird swimming underwater. This Anhinga typically takes time to dry off after swimming. This fearless black bird takes a moment to preen its feathers. Keep an eye out for one when you visit Florida.
The National Aviary is an interesting family outing for folks in Pittsburgh, especially over the holidays when the weather can be frightful. When you visit, you will have a chance to meet William and Mary, two Victorian Crowned Pigeons, roaming around among the visitors in the Tropical Rain Forest.
This bird named for Queen Victoria is the largest pigeon in the world, and it comes from Northern New Guinea. I like its colors and fancy crown. I processed my image with Topaz Simplify.
Inching along the grass in the Florida wetlands, I tried to get as close as I dared to the wading birds having dinner last night. I kept checking around me for alligators, but luckily, they were hunting somewhere out of sight. I was able to get a close look at two Yellow Crested Night Heron. It’s not terribly common in my neck of the woods, and I wasn’t sure what kind of heron it was at first. But I quickly became a fan of its zebra striped face, yellow crown, red eyes, distinctive accent feather, light and darker grey feathers and its long coral colored legs. This fellow kept a careful eye on me and in no time took flight to the safety of a nearby mangrove tree. But not before I got off a few nice shots.
After I captured this image of an ibis taking flight from the beach, I began to wonder what it would be like to take flight to the sky at a moment’s notice. Only birds can do this, but what a gift! I think the closest I can come to that feeling is to glide through the water while swimming. As I glide weightless with the water rippling through my hair and the cool water skimming over my body, I feel that magic combination of freedom and relaxation. I wonder, why don’t I swim more often?
The blue heron is statuesque while standing motionless in the swamp. Instantly, he changes shape as he takes flight. Notice the water falling from the feet. Captured in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, Florida with Nikon D800.
My camera settings were ready to capture this graceful Great Egret in flight when he lifted off. You need a fast shutter speed, the bird in focus, and a proper exposure (difficult when the bright sky is the background). I was really excited to see this egret with two wing positions and water dripping off his feet.
Since the sky was cloudy, I had my ISO set to 400. My Nikon 70-200 lens was extended to 200 to isolate the bird without moving too close to disturb him. I had my Nikon D800 set to Aperture Mode and set the aperture to f/5.6 to keep the bird in focus if he moved a bit closer or farther from me. This setting gave me the balance between wide depth of field and enough light to yield a fast shutter speed (1/1,000) to freeze action. I also employed the fast continuous shutter mode, so my camera would shoot multiple exposures with one long depression of the shutter button. Of course, you have to make these choices ahead of time, so when the bird takes off, you can pan and press the shutter button.