Florida Trip, Day One

sm4him

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Well, a week later, and I'm finally getting around to posting a few photos from my Florida trip. It was quite a whirlwind tour--started on the Gulf Coast, headed inland for a day, then drove over to the east coast for the remainder of the week. I saw over 50 different species of birds, not including some like starlings, mourning doves etc.
I'd say the majority of them are birds we have here as well, but they are usually much, much less common and take days, weeks, even months to finally track down and get photos of--down there, it was like shooting fish in a barrel! Already planning for next year's trip!

My first day there was Sunday, Dec. 28 and I spent it at Ft. DeSoto beach. What a beautiful spot! Everywhere I looked there were more birds to photograph!
I spent the entire day trekking through the sand, or driving from North Beach to the East beach and back again. I also discovered that if one hasn't worn one's Chaco sandals in months, one should not make a full day trekking through sand and water their first adventure--I wore blisters all over my poor feet! Next year, I'll break the Chacos out about a week before I go, and wear them around the house to acclimate my feet to them again.

Without further ado, Day One photos:
(Note: My shorebird skills are not great, since we don't get a big variety of them around here--so any help with shorebird ID would be appreciated!)

1. Willet in flight
FtDeSoto_4619editweb.jpg



2. American Oystercatcher
FtDeSoto_4556editweb.jpg



3. Reddish Egret on the hunt for lunch
FtDeSoto_4642editweb.jpg



4. American Oystercatcher; I guess the horseshoe crab was easier to catch than an oyster.
FtDeSoto_4565editweb.jpg



5. Snowy Egret
FtDeSoto_4775editweb.jpg



6. White Pelican
FtDeSoto_4869editweb.jpg



7. Err...umm...a Shorebird. A Dowitcher, maybe? EDIT: Short-billed Dowitcher; thanks to Hunter58 for the ID!
FtDeSoto_4683editweb.jpg



8. This one really has me stumped. I'm guessing some sort of Plover, but haven't found a good match on allaboutbirds or in my guidebooks. EDIT: Black-bellied Plover, thanks again to Hunter58 for the ID
FtDeSoto_4268editweb.jpg


9. This is not that great a photo, but what an incredible sight! I wish I'd had my D5100 with the wider angle lens on it, but it was back in the car. This was a sandbar jutting out from the beach. There were at least a hundred pelicans on the sandbar, and tons of other birds. All of a sudden, the other birds took flight, forming two different murmurations. One HUGE murmuration of Black Skimmers were going in one direction, and a slightly smaller murmuration of various shorebirds were going a different direction. They flew around for several minutes before finally alighting back on the sandbar.
FtDeSoto_4907editweb.jpg


There are more images on my flickr page. That's all I'll post here for Day One, but I'll post Day 2 later today or tomorrow.

As always, C&C, general comments and witty banter are greatly appreciated!
 
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Hunter58

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Very nice set. #7 Is a Short-billed Dowitcher and #8 is a Black-bellied Plover, non-breeding colors. You right on track with both of these. Like the Willet in flight with the wing tip dip.
 

baturn

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Wow, Sharon must have been quite the adventure. Florida is on my bucket list.
Great photos. I think I like #3 from this lot.
 

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Some really great photos........... I'm jelly!!! What gear are you using?! #1 is killer with its wingtip just grazing the water!
 

snerd

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Some really great photos........... I'm jelly!!! What gear are you using?! #1 is killer with its wingtip just grazing the water!
If I remember correctly, you use the same Sigma 150-500 I have, that I get nowhere near the image quality you do!
 

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sm4him

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Very nice set. #7 Is a Short-billed Dowitcher and #8 is a Black-bellied Plover, non-breeding colors. You right on track with both of these. Like the Willet in flight with the wing tip dip.

Thank you, Hunter!! Good to know I was at least in the ballpark; I actually even had Black-Bellied Plover penciled in as my ID, but just wasn't at all confident of it.

Some really great photos........... I'm jelly!!! What gear are you using?! #1 is killer with its wingtip just grazing the water!
If I remember correctly, you use the same Sigma 150-500 I have, that I get nowhere near the image quality you do!

And were these handheld or tripod?

Well, just wait for some of the shots from Days 3-5, when the weather turned crummy on me and there was NO light. Ended up shooting at ISO 6400 for some of the shots, and it shows.

These were all handheld; I almost always hand hold, and at that, I have to do my best to compensate for what is sometimes a fairly significant hand tremor. Over the two years or so I've had this lens, I've done some fine-tuning of the focus and it has helped.
 
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sm4him

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Wow, Sharon must have been quite the adventure. Florida is on my bucket list.
Great photos. I think I like #3 from this lot.

I'll definitely be going back; would love to make it a yearly tradition, to ring in the New Year at the beach! The only two problems with the trip is that:
1. Instead of the week of warm helping me endure the rest of the winter, it's made even less tolerant of the cold.
2. Doing bird photography in Florida has pretty much ruined me for wanting to do it here at home where it takes so much more effort to find good bird subjects!
 

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Ft. DeSoto is a great location--I've been there a number of times (winter and summer) and always offers some surprises.

And you certainly know your birds. Lovely work and thanks for sharing.
 

snerd

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Very nice set. #7 Is a Short-billed Dowitcher and #8 is a Black-bellied Plover, non-breeding colors. You right on track with both of these. Like the Willet in flight with the wing tip dip.

Thank you, Hunter!! Good to know I was at least in the ballpark; I actually even had Black-Bellied Plover penciled in as my ID, but just wasn't at all confident of it.

Some really great photos........... I'm jelly!!! What gear are you using?! #1 is killer with its wingtip just grazing the water!
If I remember correctly, you use the same Sigma 150-500 I have, that I get nowhere near the image quality you do!

And were these handheld or tripod?

Well, just wait for some of the shots from Days 3-5, when the weather turned crummy on me and there was NO light. Ended up shooting at ISO 6400 for some of the shots, and it shows.

These were all handheld; I almost always hand hold, and at that, I have to do my best to compensate for what is sometimes a fairly significant hand tremor. Over the two years or so I've had this lens, I've done some fine-tuning of the focus and it has helped.
Well, good work! I've tried micro-focusing my siggy, but it's not made much difference. I was shooting wide open at 6.3 on the long end, so I will be trying more at f/8 when it warms up a little here. Hopefully that will help some, from some of the advice I received here earlier.
 

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I absolutely love that first one, the snowy and the last one.. pretty pictures, wouldn't mind being there shooting some of those birds myself. :)
 

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