Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pic of the Day

Snowy Egret, Egretta thula:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm; 
Saint Augustine, Florida

     Aigrette, a plume of feathers, an ornamental tuft of upright plumes, brush; all apt descriptions of the graceful plume feathers of egrets and some herons in their breeding dress.  

     This photo shows a male Snowy Egret with it aigrette feathers raised in nuptial display.  The demand for these delicate aigrette plumes in the millinery trade was the reason that these beautiful birds were driven to near extinction at the turn of the last century. 
     The mass killing of egrets for the millinery trade was also the catalyst that initiated the formation of the Audubon Society.  Its members were instrumental in passing the Lacey Act (1900), which ended the use of birds and feathers in the millinery trade.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 300mm f2.8, 1/1250 @ f7.1

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pic of the Day

Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis:  Saint Augustine Alligator Farm; 
Saint Augustine, Florida

     Cattle Egrets are relative new comers to North America.  They arrived in South America from Africa sometime in the 1940’s.  By the 1950’s they had spread to Florida, and to California by the mid-1960’s.
     I had long awaited an opportunity to photograph these birds in their breeding plumage, and finally had an opportunity a few years ago at the Saint Augustine Alligator Farm.  I have made numerous post on this blog about the wild birds that come to the alligator farm each spring to nest.  If you type, Saint Augustine Alligator Farm in the search box you will find many other egrets species that nest there.  If you have not visited the alligator farm between mid April to late June, you are certainly missing a bucket list adventure.

Bottom:  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/500 second @ f4.5
Top:  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/400 second @ 4.5

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mr. Parker, Parkerus robisonii
Photo taken on my recent trip to the Tennessee Aquarium.
Spending the day with Parker was the best part of the aquarium experience.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pic of the Day

Gila Woodpecker, Melanerpes uropygialis:
Gilbert Water Ranch; Gilbert, Arizona

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/640 sec. @ f9

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pic of the Day

White Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata:
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge;  NW of High Island, Texas

     I spotted these White Water Lilies while driving through Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge searching for rails.  When I saw this composition I could not pass up the shot.  Anahuac is a wonderful refuge.  In April, it is possible to get six different rail species: Black, Yellow, Sora, Virgina, King, and Clapper (pictured here).

Clapper Rail, Railus longirostris: Bolivar Peninsula; near High Island, Texas

       For more information on the Anahuac Rail Walk, click on this URL;

Top:  Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/2000 sec. @ f7.1
Bottom:  Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1250 sec. @ f5.6

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pic of the Day

Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda:
Tallgrass Prairie Preserve; Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4 with 1.4 teleconverter, 1/200 second @ f6.3

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pic of the Day

Lookdown Fish, Selene vomer: Tennessee Aquarium; Chattanooga, Tennessee

     The Lookdown fish was first described in 1758 by Carolus Linnaeus in the 10th edition of his book Systema Naturae. The Lookdown is a thin fish that is silvery on both sides, although young fish have several faint vertical bars on each side that fade as the fish matures.  The Lookdown fish of the western Atlantic are found from Canada and Maine, south to Uruguay, including Bermuda and the Gulf of Mexico.  I took this photo at the Tennessee Aquariums, Ocean Journey exhibit.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 35mm 2.8, 1/50th second @ f3.5

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pic of the Day

Black-necked Stilt, Himantopus mexicanus:
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area; Farmington, Utah

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/250 sec. @ f7.1

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pic of the Day

Sanderling, Calidris alpina:  Sanibel Island Causeway, Florida

        Sanderlings are among my favorite shorebirds.  I love to see them scurry along the beach as the surf rolls in and out.  Sanderlings chase the receding surf to glean crustaceans and mollusks from the exposed sand.  
     Sanderlings are cicumpolar Arctic breeders, and winter on most ot the Sandy beaches of the world.  In the United Staes they can be found wintering along the shorelines of the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  I found this sanderling on one of the spoil islands that connects Sanibel Island to the Florida mainland.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/4000 second @ f4

Friday, August 1, 2014

Pic of the Day

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus:
Benton Lake NWR; Great Falls, Montana

     The Yellow-headed Blackbird is one of the most vociferous birds in the western marsh.  These birds are colonial nesters and weave their nests among the marsh cattails.  The males spend much of their time perched atop cattails displaying and singing their territorial songs.  I have spent many hours watching and photographing Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  One thing I have noticed over the last couple of trips west was that when a male yellow-headed sings its territorial call, it turns its head toward its left shoulder (like the image above).  After noticing this in the field over the last couple of years, I checked some of my older yellow-headed photos and found that each photo I have taken of a singing male, it is turning its head toward its left shoulder.  Are most Yellow-headed Blackbirds, lefties?   Have you observed them turning their heads over their right shoulder?  Send comments about your observations.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/320 second @ f8, Kirk Window Mount