Red Knot in nonbreeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f5.6, 1/640, ISO 320, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
A simple image of a Red Knot taken in Florida in early morning light. Morning has been; and is, my favorite time of day to photograph birds and other wildlife because the rising sun can add drama and a warm glow to whatever subject I am photographing. I was laying on the wet shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico when I photographed this Red Knot in nonbreeding plumage.
Red Knots are a species on the edge of extinction, their numbers are rapidly declining and collectively we need to do everything we can to ensure the survival of these shorebirds.
Having one Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) in my viewfinder is a joy and getting two of them in the same frame is even more of a delight.
A pair of Red-tailed Hawks in morning light – Nikon D300, f9, 1/200, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
On the morning of the last day of my recent trip to southwestern Montana we found this pair of adult Red-tailed Hawks perched on the sun-bleached branches of a dead Aspen in Beaverhead County, I believe they are a mated pair because they stayed close to each other the entire time that I photographed them. The warm morning light lit the raptors up beautifully while clouds moving in from the west created a wonderful background.
The shrill “kli kli kli” call of a pair of American Kestrels could be heard each time one of the Red-tailed Hawks lifted off from the branches they were perched on, perhaps the kestrels had fledglings nearby but I never saw them. The small falcons dive bombed the flying hawks with amazing fierceness. I wish that the action had happened closer and more out in the open so that I could have gotten images of it.
Alert Red-tailed Hawks – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited
In just the 9 minutes between the time these two images were created the clouds in the background became significantly darker and the warm, golden tones of the sunlight falling on the hawks and branches added a dramatic contrast to this frame. I have no idea what the Red-tailed Hawks saw in the sky that caused them to be on alert, the pickup roof obscurred my view.
After losing the light it was time to pack up and leave Montana but not the memories or treasure trove of images that I created while I was there.
More Red-tailed Hawk images
Light plays a huge part in my photography, I try to be at my location just before the sun comes up or goes down to take advantage of the beautiful light that occurs at those times of the day.
Snowy Egret hunting in early morning light – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
Morning or late afternoon light can add drama to a beautiful setting and subject, make the subject appear 3D and give more visual appeal. Harsh mid day light would not give the effect that early morning light gave to this image of a Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) hunting in the Gulf of Mexico at Fort De Soto’s north beach.
More Snowy Egret images
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) in still water
Fort De Soto County Park, Pinellas County, Florida
Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 160, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 360mm, natural light
There is a quality that feels very tranquil about this image for me. It may be the still, silky texture of the water or the soft pastel color of it created by the early morning light. It might be the relaxed pose of the Tricolored Heron or it may be a combination of them all.
I had belly-crawled in the sand until I was laying at the edge of a tidal lagoon when I photographed this to get a low angle and so that I wouldn’t startle the heron. As I recall this Tricolored Heron stayed in this location for at least half an hour and it gave me the opportunity to compose quite a few images. Some were vertical, some were horizontal and I also varied the focal length on my zoom lens. I came away very pleased with the pictures I had taken of this heron and then crawled backwards so that I wouldn’t cause the bird to take flight before I headed down the beach in search of more birds.
More Tricolored Heron images