Bald Eagle, Big Gator, and Friends (200-600mm + 1.4x TC) 2/20/20

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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 32,437
Bald Eagle, Big Gator, and Friends (200-600mm + 1.4x TC) 2/20/20

Picking up with where my last wildlife post left off, on January 18th shooting various birds and ducks in flight and around the wetlands, this post finishes off that day, includes a few shots from January 19th including a rare encounter with a bald eagle and a brief visit to the wetlands all taken with the 1.4x attached, and then continuing into the next weekend on January 25th adding in a few more wetlands birds (without the TC again).

All shots were with the A6600 and FE200-600mm combo, with the shots in the middle from January 19th taken with the TC attached - I'll note in the comments under each photo which ones were using the extra reach. All posted at 1400 pixels on the long side if you click the originals:

More black-bellied whistling ducks from the last post - as sunset approaches, they all gather around the shallows and start calling loudly, flapping around and jousting with one another, as they all get excited and antsy...

It's all just play fighting, showing off to one another...sometime about 15-20 minutes before sunset, all the whistling ducks start to take off and fly off to a nighttime roosting spot - they don't stay in this wetland. Waves of hundreds of ducks take to the skies - the excitement before liftoff involves a lot of noise and lots of jumping around like this

An ibis cruising by in sunset light

The next day, Sunday, I took my mother out to the wetlands - so I wasn't concentrating quite as much on the photography - just snapping what I could and following at her pace rather than my slow photographer 'stop-for-everything' pace.  I decided to just stick the 1.4x TC on the 200-600mm and play around with it - knowing I wouldn't be stopping to shoot as much, but figuring the extra reach could come in handy if something rare or interesting popped up.

This large alligator on the bank with its mouth open was something she wanted to stop and see! Taken with the 1.4x TC

This tricolor heron was 'running on water' - actually fishing - they use a crazy technique of jumping off from the shore across the open water, dragging their feet along and plunging their head down as they fly just above the surface, trying to nab confused fish quickly (1.4x TC)

And so on the way home from the wetlands, I got my rare sighting...I noticed atop a cell tower at the local high school appeared to be a large black and white bird.  Last year, in April, I discovered a pair of bald eagles had nested on that tower, and photographed the two eaglets and parents on and around that tower - eagles are not a common or regular sighting in my area, so forgive my excitement - all of you up central US and north see these all the time, but for me, I'm lucky to see one every few years!  It appeared that the eagles will be choosing that spot to nest again this year, or somewhere close by - I had to pull over and try to nab a few shots - having had the 1.4x TC attached I didn't need all of the reach, but didn't have time to switch anything - I just jumped out of the car and nestled against a tree so I wasn't too disruptive to the was late in the day and the light was pretty hard.

The bald eagle didn't sit too long on the cell tower - by the time I parked and got out to take some shots, it was circling around surveying the area (1.4x TC)

More of the circling eagle - such big, majestic raptors (1.4x TC)

There were some noisy monk parakeets in the tree I was hiding under, so I think the eagle decided to circle over that tree to shut them up - they scattered when he flew overhead (1.4x TC)

Love that intense eagle look (1.4x TC)

Coming around again! (1.4x TC)

Another circle nearly overhead (1.4x TC)

And a final, almost head-on facing shot as he flew around one last time before retreating behind a tree line and diving down, probably for a meal (1.4x TC).  I know - a lot of shots of one circling bald eagle - but this would be as exciting as someone from Minnesota finding a roseate spoonbill circling their house...this is only the 4th time I've photographed a bald eagle in S. Florida in 15 years!

And now back to the wetlands the following Saturday, without the TC - a glossy ibis walking along and showing some of his glossy iridescent colors

The always cute and fluffy looking pied-billed grebe, making his own ripples

Most birds use bird baths to splash themselves off and clean - but sometimes when it's hot, you'll see larger birds go for a deep soak - like this wood stork who is down for nesting time, and finding the South Florida winters to be warmer than expected - a nice, full body soak in the cool waters will solve that!

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as always!

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