Too Much Fun: Sunshine Skyway Dive and Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Too Much Fun: Sunshine Skyway Dive and Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls

What’s Up

I met private client Joel Eade very early on Saturday morning. I regaled him with tales of Friday afternoon. I could not have asked for a happier camper. We had a great morning with a very few birds that included a pair of tame Wilson’s Plovers, two late Marbled Godwits, a dancing Reddish Egret–Joel killed me with his best image, and of course some Laughing Gulls, Ruddy Turnstones, and Willets.

We were joined by Debby–Joel’s lovely wife of 37 years–for lunch at the Sea Porch Cafe in the historic Don Cesar Hotel on St. Pete Beach. The fish tacos and grouper sandwiches were great but the taste and presentation of the little rectangular log of Key Lime Pie were beyond the beyond. Though I regret not having photographed it, I will not soon forget it…

Galapagos 2017

If you would like to join me on the August 2017 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a lifetime, please scroll down and see the details below. Please e-mail for couples or repeat customer discount information.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks an insane 205 days in a row with a new educational (and fun) blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. Please remember that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, the original 400mm IS DO lens, and most recently, the 200-400 with Internal Extender, have been dropping steadily. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow-orange tab on the left side of the lower menu bar above.

  • Joe Subolefsky sold his Canon 500mm f/4L IS USM lens and a 1.4X TC II, both in excellent condition, for $3,899 in late May.
  • Robert Doster sold his used Canon EOS 7D body in excellent condition for $419 in early April.
  • Sandra Calderbank sold her Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera body in mint condition for $1599 in mid-April in one day.
  • Jim Keener sold a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens in mint condition for $999 in early May.
  • IPT veteran Bill Wingfield sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in excellent condition for $1498 in late April.
  • IPT veteran Carolyn Peterson sold her Canon EOS 5D Mark III in excellent condition for $1,549 in early May.
  • KW McCulloch sold his used Canon 5DMark III for $1499 in mid-May before it was even listed.
  • Paul Roscoe sold his Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II lens in mint condition for $9450 in mid-May.
  • The sale of Les Greenberg’s Canon EOS Canon 5D Mark III is pending.

New Listing

Canon EF 100-400 USM IS USM Lens (the old 1-4)

Moody McCall is offering his used Canon EF 100-400 USM IS USA lens in excellent condition for $599. The sale includes the lens hood, the front lens cap, the product box, the lens case, the rear cap, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact Moody by e-mail or by phone at 904-635-4388 (Eastern time).

I owned and used the original 100-400 with great success for close to a decade and made many memorable and sale-able images with it. artie


This image was created on my Friday afternoon Fort DeSoto scouting trip with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a 64GB Card and Reader ISO 800. Evaluative metering at about +1/3 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Expand Shutter Button AF as originally framed. This is a crop from a horizontal image. The selected AF point was right on the point where the upper wing meets the body.

AF Micro-adjustment via LensAlign/Focus Tune: +4. Tutorial coming soon.

Image #1: Brown Pelican vertical dive in front of Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Too Much Fun: Sunshine Skyway Dive

Though I was by myself on Friday afternoon at the new spot in DeSoto, I had a ton of fun as the action was again fantastic. I spent most of the time trying to photograph the diving pelicans. With a nice west wind, the challenge is to make an image before they turn their heads away on the way down… At first I was a bit bummed about the bridge in the background but then decided that it helps tell the story; it was nice of the bird to dive right between the supports… The frame before this one was excellent with no bridge and a slightly less dramatic pose.

Image Question

What do you think of having the bridge in the image?


This image was also created on my Friday afternoon Fort DeSoto scouting trip with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with a 64GB Card and Reader ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/4000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

One AF point two rows down and one to the right of the center AF point was selected: AI Servo/Expand Shutter Button AF as originally framed. This is small crop from the left and from below. The selected AF point was right on the top of the pelican’s head.

AF Micro-adjustment via LensAlign/Focus Tune: +4. Tutorial coming soon.

Image #2: Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls harassing Brown Pelican for fish

Too Much Fun: Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls

As detailed in the Astounded By 1200mm Flight and Action post here, the Laughing Gulls try to land on the pelican’s head to be in the best position to grab a few of the tiny baitfish that the pellies are scooping up. I have one spectacular image of a pelican with its bill open showing a ball of the tiny baitfish that I will share with you here soon.

Your Favorite?

Which of the two images presented here today do you like best? Be sure to let us know why. All comments welcome.

The 1D X II

If what you read today on the blog inspires you to purchase a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader please use the active link or click on the logo-link above. Doing so will be greatly appreciated. Many who used our link right off the bat already have their 1DX Mark IIs.


Tame birds and wildlife. Incredible diversity. You only live once…

GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. August 8-22, 2017 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $12,499. Limit: 13 photographers plus the leader: yours truly. Openings: 4.

Same great trip; no price increase!
This trip needs nine to run; in the unlikely event that it does not, all payments to BAA will be refunded in full.

My two-week Galapagos Photo-Cruises are without equal. The world’s best guide, a killer itinerary, a great boat (the Samba), and two great leaders with ten Galapagos cruises under their belts. Pre-trip and pre-landing location-specific gear advice. In-the-field photo instruction and guidance. Jeez, I almost forgot: fine dining at sea!

The great spots that we will visit include Tower Island (including Prince Phillips Steps and Darwin Bay), Hood Island (including Punta Suarez, the world’s only nesting site of Waved Albatross, and Gardner Bay)—each of the preceding are world class wildlife photography designations that rank right up there with Antarctica, Africa, and Midway. We will also visit Fernandina, Puerto Ayora for the tortoises, Puerto Egas—James Bay, and North Seymour for nesting Blue-footed Boobies in most years, South Plaza for Land Iguanas, Floreana for Greater Flamingoes, and Urbina Bay, all spectacular in their own right. We visit every great spot on a single trip. Plus tons more. And there will be lots of opportunities to snorkel on sunny mid-days for those like me who wish to partake.

It is extremely likely that we will visit the incredible Darwin Bay and the equally incredible Hood Island, world home of Waved Albatross twice on our voyage. The National Park Service takes its sweet time in approving such schedule changes.

We will be the first boat on each island in the morning and the last boat to leave each island every afternoon. If we are blessed with overcast skies, we will often spend 5-6 hours at the best sites. And as noted above, mid-day snorkeling is an option on most sunny days depending on location and conditions. On the 2015 trip most snorkeled with a mega-pod of dolphins. I eased off the zodiac to find hundreds of dolphins swimming just below me. Note: some of the walks are a bit difficult but can be made by anyone if half way decent shape. Great images are possible on all landings with either a hand held 70-200mm lens and a 1.4X teleconverter or an 80- or 100-400. I sometimes bring a longer lens ashore depending on the landing. In 2017 I will be bring the Canon 400mm IS DO II lens. In the past I have brought either the 300mm f/2.8L IS II or the 200-400mm f/4 L IS with Internal Extender.


Do consider joining me for this once in a lifetime trip to the Galapagos archipelago. There simply is no finer Galapagos photography trip. Learn why above.

An Amazing Value…

Do know that there are one week Galapagos trips for $8500! Thus, our trip represents a tremendous value; why go all that way and miss half of the great photographic locations?

The Logistics

August 6, 2017: We arrive in Guayaquil, Ecuador a day early to ensure that we do not miss the boat in case of a travel delay.

August 7, 2017: There will be an introductory Galapagos Photography session and a hands on exposure session at our hotel.

August 8, 2017: We fly to the archipelago and board the Samba. Heck, on the 2015 trip some people made great images at the dock in Baltra while our luggage was being loaded!

August 22, 2017: We disembark late morning and fly back to Guayaquil midday; most will overnight there.

Most will fly home on the early morning of July 23 unless they are staying on or going elsewhere (or catching a red-eye flight on the evening of the 22nd).

$12,499 includes just about everything: all transfers, guide and park fees, all food on the boat, transfers and ground transportation, your flights to the archipelago, and three nights (double occupancy) in a top notch hotel in Guayaquil. If you are good to go, a non-refundable deposit of $5,000 per person is due immediately. The second payment of $4,000 is not due until 11/1/16. The final payment of $3449 per person will be due on 2/1/17. A $200 discount will be applied to each of the balances for couples or friends who register at the same time.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Not included: your round trip airfare from your home to and from Guayaquil, beverages on the boat, phone calls, your meals in Guayaquil, personal items, and a $600/person cash tip for the crew and the guide—this works out to roughly $40/day to be shared by the 7 folks who will be waiting on us hand and foot every day for two weeks. The service is so wonderful that many folks choose to tip extra.

Please e-mail for the tentative itinerary or with questions. Please cut and paste “Galapagos 2017 Tentative Itinerary Please” into the Subject line.

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22 comments to Too Much Fun: Sunshine Skyway Dive and Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls

  • avatar Kathleen Graff

    I think both images are outstanding. I love the colors of the birds feathers–many shades of brown and creamy whites. The bridge behind the first diving bird (who is as straight as a board) doesn’t bother me at all. I think that adds some interest to the image. The second image is really interesting–it’s like a short story.

  • avatar Ron Gates

    OK…I’ve waited a number of days to comment on the diving shot. Personally, I don’t need to see the bridge in the background to know that the bird is diving. I can tell by the fact it’s pointed down. I agree with Artie’s comment below that if the bird was turned 90 degrees counter clockwise it would not look as if it were flying level; it wouldn’t look the same. I doubt I’d ever see this image published primarily because of the bridge in the background. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good shot but I don’t think it’s publishable.

    While I’m at it. The recent post of the out of focus bird that was half of a planned shot of a double exposure. Again, this is a personal opinion. I like many of the blurred shots Artie posts but this one strikes me as half of a shot. I think I would have deleted it. I wonder how many people would have liked this shot if it had been posted by anyone else other than Artie.

    Artie, I look forward to meeting you in the southern ocean.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Ron,

      As far as the image not being published, I disagree but only 100%. The image with the bridge would likely be more publish-able than one without the bridge.

      As far as your comment wondering about folks liking the de-focused image because it was mine, I disagree strongly as well. I find your comment insulting to the folks who liked the image; I am pretty sure that everyone is smart enough to judge each image for its content. I am fine if someone does not an image of mine, but please do give the rest of the gang here a bit more credit and let them be free to like what they like.

      See you on the ship, artie

  • avatar Mike Sorsky

    Sorry Art, obviously I need to become a more thorough reader before asking a not so intelligent question.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No worries. Your question was a fine one. I do not expect that folks will read all the comments before leaving one.


      ps: the funny thing is, I am starting to like the feet thinking that they add a bit to the story…

  • avatar Mike Sorsky

    My favorite is #1. To me, it is a striking shot of the pelican in full power diving mode.

    My only question on #2 (Klepto-parasitic Laughing Gulls harassing Brown Pelican for fish) is, why did you leave the 2 feet showing in the upper left portion of the photo? I would have taken them out…still a very nice shot for sure.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Mike and welcome. See my comment about the feet to Frank Sheets below 🙂


  • avatar Bill Clausen

    I did not notice the bridge in the background until you mentioned it!!

  • avatar James Saxon

    The first one is my favorite. As stated in the post it helps tell the story and is not distracting. Love the pelican in the dive. That is extremely hard for me to get, I seem to clip the wings or bill.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks James. No worry on the clipped wings–I did that 100s of times on the past few afternoons; they are not all in the middle of the frame where we want them 🙂

  • avatar Warren Robb

    The first image is my favorite; with the bird centered, the bridge background is a plus by adding perspective.

  • avatar David Peake

    I like the bridge too.

  • avatar Frank Sheets

    I would probably consider taking the bridge out, but it is the only thing in the photo that tells the viewer that the Pelican is in a dive. If you were to rotate the image counter clockwise 90 degrees, you would have a photo of a Pelican passing by, but a nice one. So, to know that the Pelican is in a dive, the bridge has to stay. I would be interested in seeing the next 3 or 4 exposures, assuming you were shooting a burst, with the birds wings starting to fold. I think it would be a better diving shot. I am curious why you didn’t take the feet out in the top left of the second photo?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Frank, You need to get out more to watch the pelicans. If the lead image were rotated 90 degrees it would not look anything at all like a pelican “flying by.”

      later and love, artie

      • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        PS to Frank: I left the feet to see who would be the first to ask about them 🙂 a

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    A clean background would have been nice, but the bridge doesn’t distract from the sharp Brown Pelican. It gives deep and tells the viewer a story. The vertical lines are work well together!

    Sorry I’ve missed a few post. I do have a comment for the zebra blur…

    Sunshine and Smiles, J

  • avatar Jack Goodman

    Artie, what shutter speed did you use for the image of the pelican?


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Jack for the heads-up; not sure how I missed that. 1/4000 sec. at f/6.3.


  • I’m with the others, the first image is my favorite. I like the bridge in the frame. It adds perspective and adds to the pelican’s vertical dive pose. As you said, the bird was kind enough to plunge right between the two bridge columns.

  • avatar Stu

    I agree with the previous two posts. And I have no problem with keeping the bridge.

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    As David, the first with the bridge….. brilliant!

  • avatar David Policansky

    So much fun. I like the bridge in the first image–my favorite–and like the whole image for its action and simplicity and composition. The second image is more complex and doesn’t have the immediate impact for me that the first one does.