The Star of the Shorebird Show. And Lugworm City! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Star of the Shorebird Show. And Lugworm City!

Image Questions

Which image features the warmest light?

Which image features the coldest light?

Which is the strongest image? Why did you make your choice?

What’s Up?

The mornings on the DeSoto IPT have continued to be fabulous. In addition to the shorebirds, wading birds, gulls, and terns, about 150 White Pelicans flew in on Tuesday at about 11am. On Wednesday and Thursday with east winds and sun in the afternoon forecasts, we opted to do a one very long photo session and take the afternoon off. Our efforts paid off in spades when the pelicans arrived en masse and provided a great variety of opportunities for all.

With the supply pipeline opening up, bird photographers are flocking to the SONY Alpha a1/200-600 G lens combo. Six new folks joined the SONY Info and Updates group in the last three days! The word is out …

Today is Friday 22 October 2021, the last day of the third DeSoto Fall IPT. We are looking forward to another great morning. The forecast southeast winds are perfect for bird photography, especially for photographing birds in flight. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare (including the the time spent on the four image optimizations.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

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Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage from qualifying purchases when you purchase from Amazon using any of the links on the blog. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

Please Remember Also

With income from IPTs now close to zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) and dozens of photographers 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.

This image was created on 19 October 2021 on the first morning of the third DeSoto Fall IPT. While seated on damp mud, I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber tripod/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera). ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that this exposure was perfect. AWB at 8:14am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Marbled Godwit landing with wings raised

The Star of the Shorebird Show

As the largest and most elegant of the commonly occurring shorebird species at DeSoto, Marbled Godwits provided a ton of action on the third Fort DeSoto Fall IPT. Now that the single Long-billed Curlew that was regular DeSoto visitor for a decade or so no longer shows up (or is likely deceased), the marbleds are indeed the stars of the show. Larger birds, in general, are easier to photograph than the smaller species in part because you can more easily get within range. I was a bit late getting on this bird as it flew in and acquired focus just as he touched down.

This image was created on 19 October 2021 on the first morning of the third DeSoto Fall IPT. While seated on damp mud, I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber tripod/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera). ISO 1000. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that this exposure was perfect. AWB at 8:16am on a sunny morning.

Tracking: Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Marbled Godwit preening

After-bath Preening

As we have seen here regularly, after a shorebird (or a gull or a tern) takes a bathe, it will usually jump into the air while flapping their wings. Almost invariably, they then head to the nearest shoreline to spend five or ten minutes preening. The behavior provides numerous incredible poses and behavioral chances.

This image was created on 19 October 2021 1 on the first morning of the third DeSoto Fall IPT. While seated on damp mud I used the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/ Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). ISO 2500. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/800 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:42pm on a sunny afternoon.

Tracking: Flexible Spot AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a larger higher-res version.

Image #3: Marbled Godwit foraging at sunset

1200mm Rarely Needed

The shorebirds at DeSoto are so ridiculously tame that you rarely need the 2X teleconverter. With east winds and clear skies forecast for every afternoon — wind against sun is very bad for bird photography, we photographed only on the first afternoon. After that, we did one very long morning session to maximize our chances.

For Image #3, I went to the extremely long focal length to create a portrait of a godwit on the far side of the main pool. The performance of the SONY 600 GM lens with the 2X TC and the a1 is simply amazing; AF performs perfectly and acquires quickly.

I created this image on 20 October 2021 on the first morning of the third DeSoto Fall IPT. While seated on damp sand I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 375mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1250. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 (wide open) in Manual mode. RawDigger showed that this image exposure was dead-solid perfect. AWB at 8:09am on clear sunny morning.

Tracking: Upper Zone/AF-C Bird/Eye Detection AF was active at the moment exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to view a hi-res version.

Image #4: Marbled Godwit with lugworm

Lugworm City!

The lugworm (Arenicola marina) is a large marine worm of the phylum Annelida. Its coiled castings are a familiar sight on a beach at low tide, but the animal itself is rarely seen except by those who, from curiosity or to use as fishing bait, dig the worm out of the sand. It is a favorite food of Marbled Godwit who will often work for minutes extracting the worms from their holes. The Black-bellied Plovers and Willets will almost always attempt to steal a just-captured lugworm from the larger godwits. They seem to be successful more than half the time. The lugworm in Image #4 was eventually stolen by a piratical back-bellied.

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. With two folks joining yesterday, we are now up to an astounding 83 lucky and blessed photographers! Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to birdsasart@verizon.net indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

6 comments to The Star of the Shorebird Show. And Lugworm City!

  • avatar John Storjohann

    Artie, I lurk here a lot, learn a lot, and hope to some day meet you. I would say image 3 is the warmest…image 2 or 4 the coolest…image 1 is by far my favorite. Composition is spot on, no distracting elements in the foreground or background, excellent use of the available DOF and I love the wing position and the angle of the head. It’s just a really strong image with beautiful light. Thank you for sharing.

  • avatar Adam

    Were you really sitting in the mud or were you on a crate? Hopefully, if it was the former you were wearing some Gortex or sitting on a plastic bag? Agree the “Mr. Peanut” or “Johnny Walker” look in image 4 is most compelling.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Always sitting in the mud for shorebirds. Lower is always better. Been using the ankle-pod technique a lot lately to get even lower with both the 600 & the 1.4X and the 200-600. No skins, no cortex — just my butt and my jeans in the mud, the wetter the mud the worse.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David J Policansky

    Image 3 warmest, image 2 coldest, image 4 my favorite. I can’t help thinking that the worm looks like a cane or walking stick for the bird.

  • avatar Paul Smith

    Typo: As the largest and most elegant of the shorebird shorebird species, Marbled Godwits …

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