Reddish Egret In Dancing Action

From all the egrets and herons I have observed throughout the years, Reddish Egrets are assuredly the ones putting one of the best hunting shows. I recently had the chance to capture a long hunting dance in the Florida blue waters surf. As a reminder, whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill (Feb 22-23 or May 2-3) and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one!

Reddish Egret Running - Sarasota Bay
Reddish Egret Running In The Bay – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

I have long striven to create the image above. The running motion has always been a well sought after prize in my book. The difficulty is to obtain a nice running motion with the wings up, fully extended and well lit. If you can get a front foot out of the water and a back foot water splash, you are golden! 🙂

Reddish Egret Landing
Reddish Egret Landing In The Waves – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

During their hunting dance, Reddish Egrets will run, volt-face and jump up and down. The image above is the short landing after a big jump in the air. This bird is extremely good at spotting fish in the shallow waters. For some reason, this egret was well at ease hunting in the surf. While not being what I have commonly observed, it made for impressive spouts of action among the crashing waves. I particularly enjoy the water splashes from the wave bumping the sand bar. Put together with the bird, there is a beautiful diagonal going from top right to bottom left.

Reddish Egret Flaring Wings
Reddish Egret Flaring Its Wings – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The wings-flared-up hunting motion is the trademark of the dancing Reddish Egret! Whether the bird does this to better spot the fish or cox it into going into a specific direction, it is not all clear and there are different theories on the topic. In any case, it is always a very enjoyable sight.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 3 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 2 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Black Skimmers In Flight In The Sarasota Bay

It is always a delight to photograph the Black Skimmers nesting colony. Not only, one gets very cute closeups between chicks and adults, but there is also prime flight action from the adults. As a reminder, whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one!

Black Skimmers Skimming_Florida Photography
Black Skimmers Skimming – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/4000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The adults tend to stay nearby to collect fish for the youngsters. The image above displays two skimmers in hunting mode to feed the new generation. I am always amazed by the degree of accuracy needed for effective skimming.

Black Skimmer Banking Over The Water
Black Skimmer Banking Over The Ocean – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

In the end, most adults fly very close to the water surface so to skim for preys when spotted. Even if they look like they are flying away from me, I know that some of them will end up quickly turning around. This is the best time to capture banking shots just above the blue water. The open beak in the image above was a nice bonus.

Black Skimmer Skimming
Black Skimmer Skimming – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 400 | f/5.6 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Another skimming adult from a different angle! I love the water spray they leave behind. As in most action shots, the addition of flowing water really adds to the image’s movement. Note that I am pushing the bird against the image’s edge for once. The idea is to display the water splashes left behind the skimming action.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 3 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

2020 Spoonbill Tour Dates Announced

The 2020 Roseate Spoonbill tour dates will be February 22-23 and May 2-3. Whoever signs up for both a Spoonbill and an Osprey tour (Mar 28-29) gets a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Food for thoughts…

Roseate Spoonbill Squawking - Photography Workshop
Roseate Spoonbill Squawking – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 1600 | f/8 | 1/1600 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 2x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The image above was created during the late April 2019 Spoonbill workshop. The deep high key effect is a result of having the bird in the shade while the sandy background was fully lit. Needless to say, that I called out the situation to the group before positioning myself for the shot.

Florida Spoonbill banking - Photo Tour
Florida Spoonbill Banking In Flight – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/5.6 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

After explaining the Spoonbill site flight patterns, I point out what behavior is likely to bring in banking shots. While this remains a difficult creation, having the proper pointers really helps anticipate the situation. Action photography is all about anticipation…

Spoonbill flight blur - Florida Photography tour
Spoonbill Flight Blur – Tampa Bay, Florida
ISO 500 | f/8 | 1/25 sec. | Tv mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 100-400mm f/4-5.6 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Each morning, we will start with a short blur flight photography session. While there are far less keepers from this endeavor, the results can be quite surprising and very pleasing.

Spoonbill Workshop Testimonials

Hi Steven, Great fun joining this tour. I saw nice birds and you provided top class instruction. Thank you for the experience and I will look forward to returning. — Robert S

I found Steven’s spoonbill tour to be well organized as well as educational. He offers in-field advice and tips on shooting birds-in-flight as well as low light creative blurs. After the daily shoot he also presents a very informative post processing session. Steven is a friendly, easy-going individual who truly showed concern for the photographic success of his clients. — Rick B

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. If you also sign up for a Spoonbill tour you are entitled to a $300 discount on this tour. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Also sign up for the Osprey tour and get a $300 discount on the Osprey one. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Fluffy Black Skimmer Chicks

The Florida West coast hosts a few Black Skimmer colonies. In the midst of nesting season, I had the chance to visit my preferred location to photograph some of my favorite shore birds. With good timing for young fluffy chicks, it was a delight!

Black Skimmer Chicks - Florida
Black Skimmer Chicks – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 5000 | f/8 | 1/1000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The adults were very active and kept on skimming the water close-by to bring back food for the young chicks. The image above is a display of the home coming with fish. Note the broken egg shell at the feet of the adult.

Black Skimmers Family
Nesting Black Skimmer with chicks – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 2000 | f/8 | 1/1000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The chicks above should be about one week old. They were quite cute and fluffy! The nesting colony is actually very busy, with many nests and lots of activity. I chose to clean up the other nests in the background for the viewer to focus on the action around a specific area.

Nesting Black Skimmers - Florida
Nesting Black Skimmers – Sarasota Bay, Florida
ISO 5000 | f/8 | 1/1000 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 1.4x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

For those who had the chance of visiting other rookeries, you will recognize the loud young-lings singing their hunger to the bewildered parents. By the way, did you know that the skimming fishing technique of the Black Skimmer does not come from natural instinct? It is a taught behavior from the parents.

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 2 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake. Many nests are at eye level, allowing shooting from up close in a natural habitat. No big lens needed! An ideal setup for beginners… 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,390

February 22nd-23rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 5 openings

May 2nd-3rd 2020 / limit 6 people – 4 openings

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Breeding colors are a bit more intense in February, while May is likely to have new fledglings in the open. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Florida Brown Pelicans With Breeding Plumage Tour

Florida Brown Pelicans with breeding plumage tour? The recipe to this pursuit is to attend the Florida Spoonbill tour from March/April, when Pelican’s activity is at its peak. The Florida Spoonbill tour occurs in the biggest rookery in Florida, located in the Tampa Bay. Brown Pelicans are very well represented there! See for yourself a few images from the recently concluded March workshop.

Florida Brown Pelican Photography Tour
Brown Pelican with breeding colors in flight – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 2.0x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Brown Pelicans very frequently fly in and out from their nests. This creates tons of opportunities for flight shots and spectacular over the water images. In the image above, the bird gets close to the water after dropping from its nest.

Florida Brown Pelican with breeding colors
Brown Pelican with breeding colors portrait – Tampa Bay Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/3200 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focus
Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 2.0x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

The portrait above gives you a very clear view over the breeding colors on the Brown Pelicans from the East coast. Do you like them? I really like the blue background all around on this head shot.

Florida Brown Pelican flapping its wings
Brown Pelican flapping its wings after bathing – Tampa Bay Spoonbill Rookery, Florida
ISO 1000 | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | Manual mode | AI servo rear focusing
This photograph was created with the Canon 600mm f/4 L IS II coupled with the 2.0x extender and the Canon EOS 1DX mark II.

Since the Pelicans are hanging close to their nests, you will often see them bathing in the water (sometimes quite close to us). As most birds, the bathing is followed with some memorable wing flaps: not to be missed for the action photographer!

Florida Spoonbills Photography Tour – $1,290

April 27th-28th 2019 / limit 6 people – FULL

Florida Spoonbills Photography Workshop

2 working lunches and 3 boat rides to the absolute best rookery to photograph spoonbills with breeding colors. $250 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

Do not hesitate to shoot me an email to be put on the early contact list. You will be among the very first ones to know about future dates 🙂

Florida Ospreys Photography Tour – $1,490

March 28th-29th 2020 / limit 5 people – 3 openings

Florida Osprey Photography Tour

3 boat rides on a pristine cypress trees lake and 2 working lunch sessions with lunch included. $300 deposit. Send me an email at steven@stevenbirdphotography.com

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