Mystery Egret … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Mystery Egret ...

Stuff

I miss DeSoto already 🙂 If you are interested in an early winter DeSoto IPT sometime between mid-November and mid-December, shoot me an e-mail with your date preferences. I will check the tide tables and do my best to accomomdate folks’ preferences.

I fly to Long Island tomorrow to visit younger daughter Alissa and her family and to see my two sisters. And Billy Joel at the Garden on Saturday evening 🙂

Great IPT News

An amazing nine or ten folks — I need to check carefully — have already committed to the new, expanded UK Puffins and Gannets 2018 IPT with the Bempton Cliffs pre-trip. And all have signed up for the pre-trip. There is just one slot left so if you are interested in joining us, please do not tarry. You can learn more about this great trip here.

The Streak

Today marks sixty-four days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about 45 minutes to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com

Booking.Com came through for me once again with both my DeSoto IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

mystery-egret-_P3A2836--Fort-DeSoto-Park,-FL

This image was created on the 2017 Fort DeSoto Fall IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 420mm), and my favorite mystery heron photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Av mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: zero.

Upper Large Zone/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The AF system activated a cluster of three AF points on the bird’s chin right on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

Image #1: Mystery egret …

Mystery Egret …

When I first saw this bird it struck me as an unusually light or bleached young (hatch-year) Reddish Egret. But the yellow lores threw me for a loop. It was well smaller than a Great Egret, pretty much right for Reddish Egret. After some pondering I started thinking that it might be a Reddish Egret X Great Egret hybrid; that would explain the yellow lores. The bird had mostly all black legs; the legs of young Reddish Egrets are gray. A leucistic (partial albino) dark morph Reddish Egret might make sense, again but for the yellow lores.

I sent the images to Julian Hough who knows a thing or two about birds –heck, it’s genetic — he’s a Brit, and he reminded me that white morph Reddish Egret might be in the mix somewhere. I had totally forgotten about the white morphs …

egret--_P3A2567--Fort-DeSoto-Park,-FL

This image was also created on the 2017 Fort DeSoto Fall IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and my favorite mystery heron photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -2.

Upper Large Zone/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The AF system activated a cluster of three AF points on the bird’s chin right on the same plane as the bird’s eye.

Image #2: Mystery egret/head and neck

More on the mystery bird …

We did see the mystery bird in the shallow surf. At no time did it exhibit the the drunken sailor fishing dance behavior that is characteristic of Reddish Egret. There is no sign of any of the neck plumes seen on all adult Reddish Egrets but that would make sense for young birds. A genetically screwed up Great Egret makes sense but for the small size. If you have any ideas, or know someone who might, please leave a comment.

This Just In …

I just got an e-mail from Rosemary Harris who said that photos of this same bird were sent to the e Cornell Lab of Ornithology last year and that they called it a Great Blue Heron X Great Egret hybrid. They even gave it a Latin name: Ardea herodias x alba. The patterning on the neck does suggest that there is some GBH in the mix but I am curious as to why the bird was well smaller than a Great Egret that is in turn, well smaller than a great blue … That said, I do not know much about hybridism in birds, especially in the heron family. I have written the folks at the Lab.

mystery-egret-_P3A2900--Fort-DeSoto-Park,-FL

This image was created on the 2017 Fort DeSoto Fall IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm), and my favorite heron eyeball photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: zero.

Upper Large Zone/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The AF system activated four AF points that painted the bird’s eye and lores to perfection!

Image #3: Mystery egret/head portrait …

Large Zone AF

I continue to preach the benefits of Large Zone AF for tight horizontal head portraits (like Image #3) and for vertical head and neck portraits of long-necked birds (as in Image #2). If you are currently using any other AF Area selection mode you will find it much easier to create perfect image designs in these situations simply by choosing Large Zone … In Image #2 note that I was able to place the bird’s neck well back in the frame while maintaining sharp focus on the eye. With image #3 note that I was able to place the bird’s head well back in the frame while keeping the eye well above the horizontal centerline.

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s featured images is your favorite? Why?

DPP4-mystery-headshot

DPP 4 Screen Capture

DPP 4 Screen Capture

Note the activated cluster of AF points illuminated in red. Could you ask for anything better?

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