DeSoto Sucked This Past Weekend! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

DeSoto Sucked This Past Weekend!


I finished and published this blog post at 6:50am on Monday morning. Enjoy. You will be learning a lot from the individual images in the composite in the coming days. I did get to swim 3/4 mile in the dark on Sunday evening with the pool lights on.

The Streak

Today makes one hundred eight days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about four hours in all to prepare including the time spend on the image optimizations and the time spent assembling the composite image. With all of my upcoming free time (or not — I fly to Long Island and New York for ten days on Tuesday), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall 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.

All images from the weekend of November 10-13, 2017. From top to bottom, left to right. Friday afternoon: first winter Dunlin; worn juvenile Dunlin with seagrass. Saturday morning: Great Blue Heron at sunrise; Snowy Egret scratching; winter plumage Sanderling; winter Dunlin; worn juvenile Piping Plover with leaves; worn juvenile Piping Plover on clean sand beach; juvenile Brown Pelican taking flight (1200mm!). Late on Saturday: Willet at sunset. Sunday morning: Great Blue Heron swallowing pinfish; winter plumage Sandwich Tern with thread herring (greenback); Brown Pelican taking flight; feeding spree: Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, and terns.

Facing Direction Question …

With images of single bird like most of those above, do you have a preference as to whether the bird should be facing to the right or to the left?

DeSoto Sucked This Past Weekend!

Though conditions were actually pretty bad for the most part, we had dozens of great chances and everyone made more than a few good images. After my first edit I wound up with 184 keepers. So what’s my point? With very rare exception there are lots of great bird photography opportunities at Fort DeSoto at any season. The tides are looking great for the Desoto Early Winter IPT. If you would like to get in on the fun and the learning and some great bird photography, do consider joining me.

Late Friday Afternoon

Noel Heustis and I arrived at DeSoto at about 3:30pm. It was cloudy dark with a less than ideal northeast wind. We had lots of good chances with the shorebirds. I had fun using flash for the first time in forever.

Saturday Morning

Noel and I did well briefly at my favorite sunrise spot. “Late-Lee” Sommie showed up just after sunrise. The skies were clear and the wind was pretty good, first from the east and then shifting to the northeast. Things were slow at my favorite pelican flight location so we made a wiggle to another beach where there were only a few birds. But persistence paid off and we found a very cooperative young Piping Plover along with some Semipalmated Plovers, Sanderlings, and Dunlin and a single winter plumage Western Sandpiper. Along with the ever-present pelicans. Then we enjoyed a great lunch at the Neptune Grill in Gulfport while we looked at lots of images from the morning and did some Photoshop.

Saturday Afternoon

With clear skies and a strong east wind we knew that the afternoon was gonna be very tough so we did not get back to Desoto until 4:30pm. We worked on blasting highlight images –see the Willet image above — but with the strong winds they were nearly impossible because the waves would go black and the subject would be lost in them. Lee headed home.

Sunday Morning

Noel picked me up again early the next morning in a light drizzle. As we left 7-11 the rain was getting harder. As we got our gear ready, the rain stopped. It started out as 1600 ISO at f/4 dark just to get to 1/500 second. Knowing that in advance I loaned Noel my 400 DO II. For two and a half hours we enjoyed a huge feeding spree right next to shore. That provided non-stop flight photograph action with the terns and pelicans. At about 9:30 the sun poked through briefly and the action died. On the way back to the car we came across two Ospreys carrying headless fish and with a bit of patience had some good chances with them. As we headed back to Indian Lake Estates, it began to rain. Hard.

Your Favorite?

Unlike the recent Marbled Godwit image, all of the images in the composite are razor sharp. Please take a moment to let us know which of today’s images you think will turn out to be your favorite. And do let us know why.

Recent Fort DeSoto Images

From bottom left clockwise back to center: Great Egret, blasting sunrise highlights; Black Skimmer, winter plumage in pre-dawn light; Roseate Spoonbill foraging; Brown Pelican, juvenile landing; hybrid heron X egret; American Oystercatcher feeding; Royal Tern, worn juvenile; Great Blue Heron from below.

Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT. 3 1/2 days: $1599

Saturday DEC 2 (afternoon session) through the full day on Tuesday DEC 5, 2017. Meet and Greet Introduction on SAT DEC 2, 2017

With no water in Estero Lagoon, Corkscrew Swamp and Anhinga Trail total busts for many years, and Ding Darling NWR managed into oblivion, Fort DeSoto has emerged as the premier bird photography location in the state. Join me in early winter to escape the cold weather and photograph lots of tame terns, gulls, herons, egrets (including Reddish Egret), shorebirds (including and especially Marbled Godwit), Osprey, and Brown Pelican. Long-billed Curlew, Wood Stork, and Roseate Spoonbill all range somewhere between likely and possible.

Learn to get the right exposure every time, to approach free and wild (and often tame!) birds, and to design a pleasing image. And learn the location of my new Fort DeSoto hotspot along with my favorite sunset location (sky conditions permitting). To register call Jim or Jen at the office at 863-692-0906 or shoot me an e-mail.

DeSoto IPT Details

This IPT will include four 3 hour afternoon sessions, three 3 1/2 hour morning sessions, three lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. Dinners are on your own so that we can get some sleep.

Because of the narrow time frame, your $499 non-refundable deposit can be paid not by credit card. Call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906 to register. Your balance must be paid by check once you sign up. The balance check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART) should me mailed to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your balance check. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Canon lens rentals are available on a limited basis: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, and 200-400 f/4 with Internal TC.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

9 comments to DeSoto Sucked This Past Weekend!

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks to all who commented below. I agree that left-facing or right-facing does not matter.

    with love, artie

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    No preference re left or right…. The 5th image of the Sanderling walking is my favourite, for its simplicity.

  • avatar Noel Heustis

    My three favorites are:

    1) the GBH at sunrise…I love the colors and the composition
    2) the Piping Plover walking (that was the first piping plover for me and that one was so tame and calm..) – I love the pose and what I think is turtle grass next to him on the beach (correct me I’m wrong)
    3) the Brown Pelican taking flight with the water splash behind – I love the perspective and the action – but mostly the fact that I watched you get on your belly with that giant lens, handhold (using the bottom of a tripod leg for support), and only fire one or two precisely great shots…and then get back up like a boss with an air of “yeah I got that”! I think it turned out great.

    I don’t have a preference for a left facing or right facing composition. Thanks for sharing these.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Noel (and Jake below too) for picking your faves. I love them all.

      As for the pelican at 1200mm, the big lens was on a tripod 🙂 The full story is coming soon.

      with love, a

  • avatar David Peake

    While I don’t think I have a preference, It seems more natural to me to have the bird looking to the right of the frame.
    Juvenile plover is my fav.

  • avatar Jake

    Hi Artie, I like all of the above images but my favourites are:
    the black-bellied plover juv
    the great blue heron silhouette
    the standing piping plover juv
    the immature brown pelican taking off
    the sandwich tern with scaled sardine
    I am looking forward to seeing and learning from larger versions of these images soon.

  • avatar frank sheets

    I don’t think I have a preference for left or right. I do seem to like images with subjects looking over his/her left or right shoulder. Of the images shown, I think the drama of the GBH(?) silhouette will be my favorite.

  • avatar Tony Z

    I don’t think i have any preference between a left- or right-facing bird pose.

    All great photos. My favourite photo is the first Dunlin – the white reflection on the foreground water helps isolate the little island, making it the most artistic of the group! It almost wants a little more canvas.


  • avatar Adam

    Right or left? I think it depends on the viewer’s eye dominance and the photo’s composition.