Roseate Spoonbills in a sea fogRoseate Spoonbills in a sea fog – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/180, ISO 400, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 250mm, natural light

One early morning  in May of 2008 I walked across the footbridge at Fort De Soto’s north beach not expecting much because a sea fog had rolled in overnight and that can cause exposures to be difficult. As soon as I crossed the north beach footbridge I spotted several Roseate Spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) in the tidal lagoon on my right. There were adults and a few juveniles, some were resting while others preened.

I had the whole beach to myself that morning, I guess the other bird photographers decided to skip the beach because of the sea fog. I stepped into the water of the lagoon, sank to my knees and very slowly moved closer to the spoonbills. I knew I wouldn’t have very long to photograph the birds because I could hear the machine that groomed the beach and removed trash left in the sand by beach-goers the day before. The birds weren’t going to stick around with the noisy machine so close. I wouldn’t have time for the sun to rise higher to illuminate the roseate spoonbills any better. In the low light I knew I had to push my ISO up to at least 400 and even then I was still only getting 1/180 for my shutter speed and I was shooting handheld.

Despite the low light, the sea fog and the noisy machinery I walked away with some images of these spoonbills that I really like in the 5 minutes I had with them.

In the image above the bird on the left is a juvenile and the out of focus bird on the right is an adult. Juveniles typically have a lighter, softer pink coloration than mature birds and their heads are covered with light colored feathers where the adults have bald heads. The juveniles also lack the carmine red patch that the adults have on their wings.