Some Nice Wildlife, Plus a Gruesome Scene (100-400 + 1.4x TC)

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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 31,787
Some Nice Wildlife, Plus a Gruesome Scene (100-400 + 1.4x TC)

So for this wildlife post, I've got some stuff taken back on September 8th - I'm starting to catch up a bit better now.  It was a good day with mostly good light and no rain surprises, and I had decided to shoot with the A6300 and 100-400mm GM lens with the 1.4x TC attached this time.  The selection in late summer is a little thinner, for Florida at least - not that we ever have a dearth of wildlife and birds...but there are fewer species in general, and in the extreme heat (temps in the upper 90s with humidity around 90%) most things try to hide or sleep during the day.

Along with the nice birds and bugs and wildlife, I also happened upon a gruesome scene - nature in action, circle-of-life kind of stuff...I'll leave that off until the end as a warning for any who might want to stop scrolling down before getting to those shots.

All shots taken at Green Cay Wetlands this time, and all posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals:

Starting with the very pretty and detailed, but very small, white peacock butterfly.  One nice thing about the 1.4x TC is that it does not lengthen the minimum focus distance of the lens when attached, so you can get in tight with bugs and such

A red-bellied woodpecker up in a tree, showing how it got that name - you rarely see their underside, and though they have an obvious red head, there was already a woodpecker with an even more red head that got that they went with the belly for this one

Fall brings back many of the small birds, either staying for winter or passing through for migration - so that brings back the opportunity to shoot the challenging but lovely black-and-white warbler, who never stops running around the trees looking for bugs

When it's this hot and humid out, the cold-blooded reptiles find shade or cool water.  This alligator went for the shade of some cypress trees to try to stay cool.  Watch your step when walking around on a wetlands levee!

This red-shouldered hawk refused to come down any lower - just circling around high in the sky keeping an eye on everything

I can't wait for winter to arrive - both for the better light and earlier sunset, but also because the flying birds get a lot closer - this osprey was using the hawk's playbook and staying at maximum distance away from me as he passed by

This tricolor heron had ditched his species' usual jumping, squawking, frantic hunting style and decided to try the great-blue-heron method - standing perfectly still in the shallows and waiting for fish to get used to him and swim into the strike zone

Even the bugs are smart enough to stay in the shade - despite being in the wide open wetlands grasses and reeds, the grasshoppers all stay on the shadow-side of the reed while sawing out their songs to each other

This female anhinga was quite tucked away in the reeds - usually these birds are right atop a tree or bush in clear view, but this one was sitting quietly down deep in the strongly backlit leaves, which had a nice look with the sunlight shaft illuminating her

A male American redstart, in full black-and-orange Halloween colors - another migratory bird feeding up on bugs and grubs for the rest of the trip south into the islands and South America

A glossy ibis, showing his 'gloss' as he puffs up his feathers and watches me

A snowy egret, standing mostly in a patch of shade with just a bit of light hitting his back...he was too busy watching for fish to cooperate with me for a photo

At least not until a minute later, when he decided to walk back out into the sunlight and let me get him in proper light for the circle of life.

If you don't like to see the circle of life actually occurring,

you may want to stop scrolling down.

There is blood.

There are guts.

Lots of them.

A predator is still an animal that needs to eat,

but not everyone wants to see them in the process,

and seeing the prey in that state might be disturbing.

We see scenes like this as nature photographers,

and accept that it's part of nature,

so we like to capture it too.

Anyway, that's enough warning and space to hopefully let people who didn't want to see it avoid it.

Walking along past a cypress tree stand, I had heard a splash up in the distance and saw birds go flying - a telltale alligator strike.  But alligators miss far more often than they I didn't go running to find the scene.  As I got closer to where the splash originated, I heard a big snap and a crack noise...and pretty much knew what had happened.  There was a short boardwalk ramp heading up to a covered gazebo with the cypress shore on either side, and that's where the noise came from, so I went up to check it out, and sure enough, the scene below me was exactly what it sounded like...a large alligator had scored a big softshell turtle for a meal:

The sound was the alligator slamming down that big mouth to crack open the turtle's shell.  Despite the name 'softshell', it's a thick leathery shell with a fingernail-like layer inside, so when the alligator opens them up, you can hear it from a good 300 feet away.  The gator was resting after the effort it took to open the turtle, and had his eyes closed

Until he saw me peeking through the trees from about 10 feet away.  Then the eyes opened, the gator let out a little hiss to warn me not to try to take its meal, and started working and squeezing that shell to make some smaller bites to swallow

I left the gator to its meal - it takes them a long time to get through a meal like that - probably 20 more minutes of squeezing then resting, over and over again - until the turtle was just a broken up blob of meat and shell and tendon, then after another long pause, the gator would lift its head high in the air and drop the whole thing down the gullet.  I didn't have the time, or the patience in that heat, to wait it out, and left him to finish eating in peace.

Comments, questions, or critique welcomed as ever!

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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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