5/19/17 - Screech Owl, Woodpecker, & Friends

Started May 19, 2017 | Photos thread
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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 29,409
5/19/17 - Screech Owl, Woodpecker, & Friends

Time for another bird and wildlife thread!  This time, I have some owls & woodpeckers on different 'floors' of the same 'building'...a bittern on the hunt, a few other birds, an extreme rarity both for me and for my area, and even one non-bird.

Shots taken with A6300 - the first batch mostly with the FE70-300mm G OSS, and the last bunch with the LA-EA3 and Tamron 150-600mm.

All landscape-oriented shots posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals.

First, the shots with the FE70-300:

A red-bellied woodpecker, hammering away at the entrance to its new home - a top floor penthouse unit in a very popular palm tree

The downstairs neighbor - annoyed with all the construction going on above - is this eastern screech owl, who's lived here for a few years about 1 foot below

Least bitterns are often found in some intense pose like this...hovering over the water standing on some reeds, waiting.  This is a male, with the lovely black coloration on the head and back

See...here's another one - same type of pose, same intensity!

They're not doing it to amuse themselves - they've learned that this is a great hunting strategy, and will usually net them a dozen fish in a few hours' time

A purple gallinule, climbing his way through the leafy tops of the reeds looking for flower buds to eat...and showing off his lovely purples and blues

A lucky moment passing by this green heron mom on her nest.  She's picked a very difficult shady spot to shoot, but while watching her, I noticed a ball of fluff moving from under the safety of her belly to poke its head out for a look at the new world

And now on to the Tamron 150-600.  This is something extraordinarily rare...hard to appreciate unless you know me.  I actually woke up and got out to a pond to shoot by 8am on a Saturday!  I know...crazy.  I sleep in on weekends, and generally don't start shooting at the wetlands until 1pm.  But I had heard rumors of a very very rare bird at a pond area not too far from my house, and my best chance to see this lifer bird would be to wake early - as he was always spotted in the morning.  It's not only a bird that's not supposed to be down here in our part of Florida, but one I've never seen or photographed, so it was worth a try.

The downside - light was not getting to the pond much, and the closest I could get to the pond was about 50 feet - 300 feet to the opposite shore.  I caught these mottled ducks sitting quietly side-lit and partial silhouetted

Then...there it was.  In terrible light.  Extremely far away.  And trying to hide in the reeds.  But when you're a bird photographer, you take a rarity any way you can - so with the big Tamron at full 600mm, ISO cranked up, and cropped about 80%...I was at least able to identify a lifer bird...

A least grebe!  I know - not the most exiting looking creature.  This is a grebe usually found in the Caribbean, central America, and into Texas...only rarely does a migrant stray make it into S. Florida, and then, you never know where.  This one decided to come to Boca Raton, where I live

He never cooperated with me - he was shy, and stayed to the opposite end of the pond...so every shot is mega-cropped and at full 600mm...I stopped down 1/2 stop from wide open to keep a little extra detail with such huge crops - but still very happy to add this bird to my list

At least while walking back from the pond, I caught this red-winged blackbird male in a lovely pose atop a long branch, with a smooth distant background of wheat-colored reeds

And because I promised at least one non-bird...here's another creature that's surprisingly rare for me.  I see marsh rabbits all the time, but this eastern cottontail rabbit is something I haven't seen around my hometown for about 10 years.  They're much more common in central Florida...but early morning has a few extra perks

As always, comments encouraged, critique and questions welcome.

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 zackiedawg's gear list:zackiedawg's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Voigtlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton +22 more
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