Friday, June 29, 2012

Moth for lunch

As soon as the rain cleared out, the winds calmed down. Perfect conditions for Biscayne Bay. The sky was clear all morning, with the exception of the low thermal clouds on the horizon during sunrise. Once the sun cleared them, it was blue skies the remainder of the morning. Today, I would take full advantage of the calm conditions and stayed on the water 5 hours. Most of that time was spent at the rookery and there are photos from that visit. I headed back to the launch site and on the way, detoured into one of the many creeks along the western shoreline of Biscayne Bay. In the canopied creeks, I can find my favorite 8-legged subject, the golden silk spider.

There were several spiders not far from the entrance of the creek. When attempting to photograph them, the trick is to find one that is in full view and good lighting. I always use my flash when photographing the spiders because most of the time they are backlit or shadowed by the canopy. As I paddled, I searched above and within second, found my subject for the remainder of the day. The spider had a large object in her web; soon it became apparent it was a butterfly or moth.

This spider was very difficult to find a good angle and light on it. I wanted to see the spider in full and struggled to get into the best position to do that. Overall, I was able to shoot the spider as it ate its meal from two very good perspectives. The flash did the trick and made it possible for me to shoot at a low shutter speed (1/250) and high aperture (f14). the higher aperture was necessary to get the depth on the spider and the moth.

Always looking for a new or unique composition with the golden silk spider, I was lucky to have come upon this one today.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A second visit with the albino yellowcrown nightheron

Since discovering this odd bird, I wondered if I would see it again. Wondering is over; I came back to the same area and it was feeding in the grasses. This morning, the outgoing tide competed with the 10 knot easterly winds. Despite being on the water 4 hours before low tide, there was plenty of grasses revealed for the wading birds. This is not always the case with water levels greater than a foot or so. But it appears the prevailing easterly winds have swept the grasses up into the shallows, creating clumpy grass islands everywhere. This is an interesting way to find wading birds as the water levels are relatively high right up to the edge of a grass island. This makes approaching a wading bird very tricky when there is wind.

The east wind was assertive and my boat was easily blown toward the grassy areas. The waves caused the boat to rock, making photography impossible. My only chance of capturing the birds was to get close enough so that I could anchor the boat with my feet. Several yellowcrown nightherons (adults and juvys) and a few other wading bird species speckled the grassy area. It didn't take hard looking to find the albino yellowcrown, it was alone on one of the islands, furthest from the shoreline. Excellent! I might possibly be able to approach the bird. Soon, I was foot-anchored and attempting to photograph the albino bird within about 40-50 ft. Clouds were passing over the sun on occasion, but otherwise, lighting was excellent. Over time, the winds settled down and the water receded enough that I could easily ground the boat and keep it stable.

Lots of other activity was happening near by. Normally, I would go after the dancing tricolor heron that was busy catching food; but today, I wanted to stay with the white yellowcrown nightheron as long as possible. Later, I came up on a normal colored yellowcrown nightheron and to contrast it with the albino, included a few photos of it here. In addition to its white feathers, notice the albino bird does not have the white breeding plumes on its head, and it has a yellow beak rather than a black one.