Whooping Crane Family

•May 10, 2017 • 2 Comments

I love whooping cranes.

These cranes are endangered and rare and are just so beautiful and elegant that I can watch and photograph them for hours. Which is exactly what my photography buddy Bob Karcz and I were able to do in Rockport, Texas on Aransas Bay. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is the wintering grounds of the whooping crane. Home to a small but reliable sub-flock (Wood Buffalo – Aransas Flock) of the total crane population of about 600 birds. Through conservation and restoration programs these beautiful birds have come back from near extinction when their numbers were down to 21 in the 1940’s. The whooping crane is the tallest bird in North America. It stands 5 feet tall and has a wingspan of 7 1/2 feet. It looks down on most children.

A Whooping Crane takes off from the waters of Aransas bay.

 

We hired Aransas Bay Birding Charters (Captains Kevin and Lori Sims) to take us out into the bay where the whoopers were feeding on the marsh, and small islands. Their favorite meal – the blue crab:

A whooping crane snatches a blue crab from the waters of Aransas Bay.

 

 

Multiple Panel Running Start

The cranes often come to shore and hang out in residential backyards and fields along the waterfront. We were invited by Kevin and Lori to use their bird blind in their back field that they built expressly for the whoopers. What were the chances? We did not expect to see any whoopers in their back field. But after arriving just after sunrise and setting up in the blind, we were astonished to watch a whooper family of two adults and one juvenile, glide over the tree tops and land like gazelles in the field. I was awestruck as I photographed these beautiful creatures for the next hour.

Whooping Crane Family Over The Trees

 

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It’s been 6 years since my last (and first) visit to Aransas Bay to see the whooping cranes. It’s great to see that the cranes have increased in population since 2011 and that they are still migrating to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge for the winter from Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada.

For more whooping crane images see my website:

Whooping Crane Gallery

Be sure to read my previous post on whooping cranes.

Whoopers

As always, feedback and comments appreciated.

Rich

 

 

 

Bosque del Apache Spectacular Sunsets

•February 12, 2017 • 9 Comments

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (San Antonio, New Mexico) is known world wide as the wintering home of the sandhill crane and snow goose, where 10,000 cranes and 40,000 snow geese rest, feed and prepare for the flight north to their breeding grounds. But it is also know for spectacular sunsets, so I have been told. In my many past visits, I did not experience such sunsets. However, my last visit in December 2016, changed all that. Now, I have seen the light!

Bosque experienced three nights of vivid red and pink sunsets and stunning reflections. A wonderful opportunity for photography and videography.

Sandhill Cranes Roosting Sunset - Sandhill cranes arrive at the ponds and roost for the night just as the sun is setting. Roosting in ankle deep water protects them from approaching predators. Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico.

Sandhill Cranes Roosting Sunset

 

A few images from my last visit to Bosque del Apache in December 2016:

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But wait, there is more. Bosque is also known for some stunning sunrise reflections as shown in this video:

Click the link to view my Bosque del Apache images and video clips. If you see an image that you love, click BUY for a print or an image file download.

Link to Bosque del Apache gallery of images and videos

Thank you

Rich

ps. Check out some of my past blog posts on Bosque

More Than Just Cranes

Bosque del Apache

Sandhill Cranes Roosting

 

Nature’s Reflections

•January 29, 2017 • 5 Comments

Nature’s Reflections – Nature’s mirror, the wonderful experience of seeing nature twice in the same moment.

I have had the good fortune to capture many beautiful reflections of scenics and wildlife. Have a look at my Reflections Gallery. If you see an image that you love, just select BUY for a print or an image download:

Link to Reflections Gallery

Fall Winter Photography Newsletter

•December 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday.

Holiday Sale and Donation

10% of my profit on sales goes to the “National Wildlife Federation, Guardians of the Wild”. So with each purchase you are helping to protect our wild places.

You can order prints on metal, canvas, acrylic metal, wood, coffee mugs, mouse pads, refrigerator magnets, cell phone cases and yes, even paper of any of my images at exceptionally low prices at:

richardseeleyphotography

 

Click Here for :  Fall Winter Photography Newsletter

 

View of Monument Valley From Hunts Mesa at Sunset

View of Monument Valley From Hunts Mesa at Sunset

The American Elk

•October 28, 2016 • 1 Comment
Bugle Boy

Bugle Boy – A bull elk bugles his readiness to mate and his frustration that the cows seem to be ignoring him

I have the good fortune to live in a location where elk herds roam. I have been able to watch them and photograph them in the nearby ranches in Silverthorne, Colorado. I can watch them from my balcony on the distant meadows of Ruby Ranch.  I have also photographed them in Rocky Mountain National Park (only 2 hours away), Yellowstone National Park, and in Jasper/Banff National Parks in Canada.

I am fascinated by these majestic, elegant, very large, captivating mammals. I  stay a respectful distance and photograph them with zoom lenses. They can be dangerous.  A frenzied cow elk thought that we were too close to her baby (we did not see the newborn calf in the grass, practically on the trail). Mother elk chased us around the RV park until we lost her behind an RV. I would not want to encounter a bull elk with massive antlers in the heat of the rut. Photographing from a vehicle is a safe strategy and one that I use frequently. However, occasionally, there are opportunities when one can photograph in the field at a safe distance.

Wapiti Watering Hole

Wapiti Watering Hole

Here I was photographing from across a pond, almost at eye level with this 6×6 antler bull elk. A safe place to shoot from.

Have a look at my elk gallery of images and videos taken over the years from Silverthorne, Colorado through Alberta, Canada:

Elk Gallery

Enjoy

Rich

Rodeo Tie-Down Sequence – Westcliffe Stampede Rodeo

•July 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Westcliffe Stampede Rodeo is an amazing event to watch and photograph. The skills of the cowboys and the horses are impressive. Westcliffe is a “cowboy” town in southern Colorado where they hold the annual Westcliffe Stampede Rodeo – keeping the west in Westcliffe.

My wildlife photography skills came in very handy photographing the rodeo events, especially the Tie-Down event. A cowboy, riding his horse with lasso whipping, must chase down a calf, lasso the neck, jump from his horse, wrestle the calf to the ground, then tie three legs together all in a race against time.

See the following sequence where the event is captured:

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Herring’s Horror

•July 11, 2016 • 2 Comments

For the second year in a row, I have stood on the banks of the St. Georges river in Warren, Maine, watching osprey circle, hover and dive for the herring that swim upstream to spawn. This event occurs around Memorial Day, every year, and timing depends on weather, water temperature, tides and factors that I cannot imagine. Usually a 3 week window, from mid May to first week in June, is the sweet spot for this behavior pattern. A fish weir (net with “doors”) across the river in Warren creates a holding pool for the alewives (herring). At times the river can be “boiling” with fish driven by instinct to get upstream to spawn. A Cooperative of lobster fisherman controls the flow of the alewives, which they use for bait in their lobster traps. The osprey are here for the feast.

I wrote about this wildlife event in a previous post last year in:

Osprey Dive Catch and Kill

This post is more about the photographic challenge. Sometimes the osprey dive too far away for good photography. At other times they dive so close that they make you jump from the sound, if you are not ready. One bird approached from behind me and dove just 20 feet from the shore. I never saw it until it hit the water with a big splash, startling me. At one point I counted 15 dives in an hour at the peak. Others more like 3-4 per hour. Then there are those times when it’s zero dives per hour.

 

Fatal Finish for a Fish

Fatal Finish for a Fish

Canon 7D Mark2, Canon 100-400, f/4.5-5.6, IS II, 1/3200 sec, f/5.6, iso 500, EC-1, hand held

I use a Canon 7D Mark2 with a Canon 100-400 IS II zoom lens, handheld. I find this combination to be the most flexible for me to “find” the osprey in the sky, zoom in, and follow it to splash down. Many photographers use a 500 and 600 mm lens to catch the action. Whatever equipment is used, the challenge is to sight a bird circling and follow it down as it dives to the water surface. The “holy grail” image is talons out just before the osprey hits the water. I managed to capture a dozen such images in 5 days, 3 of which were acceptably sharp. Having a camera body that shoots at 10 frames per second is a big help, but the dominant challenge is the skill level required to follow the bird at the increasing speed (and it is accelerating from almost 0 mph to 35mph at the water surface) and holding the Auto Focus point on the bird the entire way down.

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I find that “practice makes perfect”, and a week of practice improves my chances.