Snowy Egrets do sometimes change nesting locations, but they also show loyalty to the same sites year after year. This tree was actually an emergency roost for them after their previous habitat was razed for the same reasons: residents in a housing development complained. So, they were evicted from one home, found another, and now face the same conundrum of locating a safe place to raise their babies.
Taking time to observe without my camera, I saw a pervasive nervousness. They were not going about their business in comfort. They were attuned to everything new in their environment, stopping their feeding or play for the slightest disruption. So although it disappointed me to put my camera away, I decided I would investigate their history before I tried photographing them again.
One of the ethical issues that comes up time and again in wildlife photography is people encroaching so close as to harass or spook wild animals. There are a lot of reasons people cross and blur those ethical lines, but the main one is to get close to a wild animal, to fill the frame. The best photographers I know get these images through patience and through allowing animals to become comfortable with their presence.
The shorebirds are back, the ones who took flight months ago and flew thousands of miles here to forage and rest; • Hungry Brown Pelicans are chasing the herring and sardines, taking cues from each other as they amass with the tides; • Little sea otters are growing up, learning to swim, dive and find mussels under the tutelage of mom (otter dads don’t help);
First there was Blue. She came to us from the great blue, the wild blue, as blue as Lightin' Slim, singing pigeon blues, not Rooster Blues. She came on banded foot, born of two other Blues who gave our Blue her azul feathers and fuchsia feet ... in a lineage that swept back through the blueness of her grandparents and past the great grandparents before them. They all commanded the skies and taught Blue, through genes and ingenuity, to carry on forward when the color of blue left her own skies.
I work hard to frame and expose shots correctly in camera. But I almost always post process in some form. Photography instructors like Scott Kelby would say that you shouldn't avoid digital darkroom software ... that it's an amazing tool available to us these days. I have friends who believe they've failed if they use PP. I have other friends who grant themselves a lot more leeway than I do, often using Ansel Adams as an example of how PP has always existed in nature photography.
This photo series shows the calm before the Snow Goose storm ... and the ripple effect that sends thousands of geese into the air within seconds, at just the slightest provocation. They may call out, sending audio waves through the flock before erupting into goose mayhem. Or, they may fall unexpectedly silent for a split second before bursting into winged turbulence.
I wondered if they were, as Jung suggested about human dream states, creating psychic wholeness by connecting their conscious and unconscious realms. Externally, for us, there’s serenity in birds flocked together for slumber … Canvasbacks revealing just one wary red eye, Ruddy Ducks spinning with their sail of a tail, Scaup males waking before the rest and rustling the females to breakfast and mollusks. They utter the lightest peeps in their own language as their unconscious dream life meets life’s surface tension.
As an adjunct to the Clapper Rail story, Bird Note asked if I would revisit my observations of a Clapper Rail tagging operation at Arrowhead Marsh in Oakland — a study I photographed in 2009. The marsh was close to our home in the Bay Area, and a quick hop from Oakland Airport. The proximity gave me a ready excuse to stop by with my camera whenever I shuttled Hugh to his flights.