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Two Shutterbirds - Birding by Camera | Adventures in Nature Photography Two Shutterbirds Birding by Camera | Adventures in Nature Photography Menu Skip to content Home Articles Birding Gulf Coast Migrant Songbird Traps Stalking the Hunters: Observing and Photographing the Predatory Water Birds of Brazos Bend State Park, Texas The Rules of Composition American Alligator: Training for the Tropics on the Texan Riviera The View from the Park Blind Perspective in Nature Photography The Four Seasons of Birding: A Retro-prospective Collections Some 2016 Favorites Chris’s Selected Favorites, 2015 Avian Portraits Brazos Bend Predator Portraits Texas Flycatchers and Their Kin Texas American Sparrows Texas Ducks Birds of the Edith L. Moore Nature Sanctuary Galveston Island Birds Stalking the Hunters: Additional Images Some 2014 Favorites Some 2013 Favorites Some 2012 Favorites Elisa’s Selected Favorites, 2011 Chris’s Selected Favorites, 2011 About Us Archive: Images of the Season Resources Catching Birds in Action Posted April 1, 2017 by Chris Cunningham Many great actions are committed in small struggles. –Victor Hugo A Great Egret Shades its Young, Smith Oaks, High Island, Texas. Even in March, the brutal Texas sun can kill delicate nestlings. Mom (or dad) to the rescue! Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. As I write this, we stand on the cusp of the best month of birding on the calendar! But for the past few weeks we’ve been (mostly) photographing our more typical species (year-’rounds, wintering or summering species) going about their business, not transients flying through from somewhere to somewhere else. Singing Male Red-winged Blackbird on Rice Plant, Pilant Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. The margins of Pilant Lake were filled with Red-winged Blackbirds (and their calls) on our last visit. What a nice change: The marsh sounds as it should. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. One of the more pleasant surprises of the past few weeks is the recognition that Brazos Bend State Park (BBSP) is starting to rebound a bit from the catastrophic floods of the recent past. It is still nowhere near the mecca for observing wader action that it was before, but day by day things are improving. It will be interesting to see if songbirds return for nesting in a big way. Elisa spotted a female Northern Cardinal building a nest just above water-line on Pilant Slough, and the trilling songs of Northern Parulas are everywhere. Can Prothonotary Warblers be far behind? The Flip, Fiorenza park, Houston, Texas. The catfish hunt goes on! This Cormorant is attempting to maneuver a spiny armored catfish into swallowing position. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. White Ibis in Breeding with Beak Full of Arthropods, Pilant Slough, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. This bird has (at least) a spider, a water bug, and a metallic bronze damselfly in its beak at the same time. Water hyacinth is a nasty invasive, but it’s full of nutritious bugs! Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. As noted, wader action at BBSP is still a bit down from the best of times, but the patient observer can still see a few things occasionally. Especially prominent now are the American Bitterns. Bitterns can be seen hunting all over BBSP. On our last visit, we observed one confrontation between two birds on Pilant Slough. Soon calling and confrontations should be common, only to die away by May. In any case, starting today, we’ll shy away from BBSP for a few weeks and visit Galveston more. Hundreds of millions of songbirds have started streaming across the Gulf of Mexico, and we’re not going to miss it! With luck, we’ll capture some of these birds in action . . . Sipping from a flower, here, or grabbing a dragonfly, there. Can’t wait! American Bittern with Crawfish, 40-Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. Looking American Bittern, 40-Acre Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. ?2017 Christopher R. Cunningham. All rights reserved. No text or images may be duplicated or distributed without permission. Posted in: Evolution and Ecology, Special Places, Texas | Tagged: Brazos Bend, diving birds, family life, High Island, Houston Audubon Society, predator-prey, waders | Leave a comment Spring Begins at Smith Oaks Posted March 25, 2017 by Chris Cunningham A light exists in spring Not present on the year At any other period. When March is scarcely here . . . . —Emily Dickinson, A Light Exists in Spring Roseate Spoonbill in Flight, Smith Oaks Rookery, High Island, Texas. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. In our travels last week, we stopped by Smith Oaks on High Island, Texas, one of the most famous birding sites on the Texas Gulf Coast. Although we saw no early migrant songbirds in the surrounding woods, the rookery was hopping with activity—the drive toward life. Nest-sitting Neotropic Cormorants, Smith Oaks Rookery, High Island, Texas. Note that the nest is stained white with guano. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. Spoonbills, egrets, and cormorants filled the air. Great Egrets and Neotropic Cormorants shuttled back and forth with nest-building materials. Double-crested Cormorants fished in the water surrounding the rookery. Some Great Egret pairs were building nests, sitting on eggs, or rearing chicks. Neotropic Cormorants were nest-sitting, but no chicks were to be seen. A few energetic Tricolored Herons swooped past but gave no indication of intentions. Spoonbills squabbled with each other: Nesting can’t be far behind! Snowy Egrets in High Breeding, Smith Oaks Rookery, High Island, Texas. In high breeding color, Snowy Egrets have pink lores and feet. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4 L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. Nest-building Great Egrets, Smith Oaks Rookery, High Island, Texas. Nest building is a team effort for Great Egrets. Note the fluorescent green lores of high breeding color. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. Great and Snowy Egrets in glorious breeding plumes (that almost doomed these species to extinction in the Gilded Age) with lores ablaze in electric colors were everywhere and revved up on hormones. Soon, the later-breeding species, Cattle Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and Roseate Spoonbills, will join the frenzy. By that time, the trees will be filled with brilliant flashes of Neotropical migrant songbird plumage and the picture of spring will be complete . . . . Great Egret Feeding Young, Smith Oaks Rookery, High Island, Texas. A regurgitated crawfish is being presented to the nestlings. Three nestlings are visible in this image, but a fourth smaller one is also present. Canon EOS 7DII/600mm f/4L IS (+1.4x TC). Natural light. But, as always, predators lurk in the dark water below waiting for larger nestlings to oust smaller, weaker ones, or for birds of any age to simpl...

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