Friday, March 27, 2009

Lake Hope Heron update

I first mentioned the Great Blue Heron colony at Lake Hope a little over a month ago when the Great Backyard Bird Count was in full swing. At that time we located lots of nests far off in the sycamore trees, but no actual birds. Well, we've been back several times since then and have seen a handful of herons.

Unfortunately my meager 80-200mm zoom lens cannot even begin to approach acceptable pictures of these birds and nests that are so far off in the distance. Even when using a tripod, it's hard to get the camera to focus on the birds instead of one of the many branches that is between the camera and the birds. Instead, I just have to modify the photo to give you the general idea of "here are the nests, and, oh yeah, that's a heron."

Mr. (or Mrs.) skinny legs hangs out on the nest.

Our most recent visit to the colony/rookery/heronry was this past Sunday, right in the middle of the day (2:00, maybe), and I was actually surprised to find any herons around. I think there were 5 or 6 there, one of which was surely sitting on eggs because I could only see a head sticking out of the nest. There was also a grouping of them just kind of "standing around" at the top of a tree, but not really on a nest. It almost felt as if they were standing guard, but of what?

I messed with this picture quite a bit to try to show some of the coloring of the bird's underside.

Subsequent manipulation led to this interesting rendition.

Not sure how many more times we'll make it out there before the trees leaf out, but if we go again and see some activity, I'll let you know!

PHOEBE NEST UPDATE: Things at the nest have been pretty quiet lately. She seems to stop in only a few times a day, and very briefly at that. It would seem that nest construction is complete, but again, we still have no idea if she's started laying or not.


The Early Birder said...

Heather, I have experienced the same problem with a similar lens. You need to switch to manual focus but even then it may not be easy to get crisp pics from far away. My other option is to digi-scope because the scope is much more powerful than the camera.

Kelly said...

...I have the same problem when I'm shooting the herons at our heronry. I have a 70-200mm with an extender. I use a monopod and then crop the heck out of the photo to zoom in. But I think your photos are great, and I really like the artsy silhouette rendition...very cool!

Kallen305 said...

Heather, I have the same problem with my camera and it frustrates me to no end.

Great Heron pictures no the less and thanks for the Phoebe update.

Kathiesbirds said...

Your photographic manipulation led to an interesting art piece!

Heather said...

Frank - I tried manual focusing on the herons once, but I found it quite difficult. I've thought about digiscoping, but I'm not ready to spend the money on the equipment right now.

Kelly - I recently learned that my long lens won't accept the Nikon teleconverters, which really bummed me out. Some day I guess I'll save up for a really long lens!

Kallen - I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one having this issue, and that I'm not alone in my frustration!

Kathie - Thanks! I think I'm learning that even the photos that I think are stinkers might be salvageable in some other way.