Been Away Too Long! Venice Rookery Update, Rita Matthews « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Been Away Too Long! Venice Rookery Update, Rita Matthews

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This Great Egret was photographed with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400. 1/2000 sec. at f/8 set manually using my brilliant white in bright sun exposure for ISO 400. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger, sharper version.

Wow!  Have I been busy.  Saw “A Chorus Line” in West Palm Beach, attended the BPN South Florida Get-Together last Sunday, drove to Sarasota, photographed in Sarasota Bay on Ron Mayberry’s boat with Lou Newman and Denise Ippolito, presented  “A Bird Photographer’s Story for almost 200 folks at Sarasota Audubon, and headed to Fort Myers for the Southwest Florida President’s Week IPT. 

The group is great and Tim Grey is amazing; he is doing a 3-hour Photoshop session for the group on a windy, rainy Friday afternoon as I type.

For the past few years photographic opportunities at the Venice Rookery have been fewer and fewer, and this year is the worst ever by far.  There were two great blue nests with small chicks that were pretty much un-photographable and one nest with eggs that was somewhat photogenic.  There were several pairs of Great Egrets building nests.  If you have a choice of locations on a visit this year skipping the Venice Rookery might be a good plan.  We did, however have a few good chances.  Both of the Great Egret images here were created at the rookery on the first morning of the IPT.

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Great Egret flash blur. Canon 400mm f/4IS DO lens handheld with the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 400: +2 stops off the white sky: 1/40 sec. at f/4 set manually. Manual flash at 1:1 with Better Beamer.
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Rita Matthews smiling at Fort Myers Beach on the SW FLA IPT.

I first met Rita Matthews on last year’s Post NANPA Bosque IPT.  She is a good friend of BIRDS AS ART special friend Isobel Wayrick.   At 88 years young, Rita is the senior IPT participant.  Rita, has PHDs in biochemistry and biology.  Among the many accomplishments in her long and amazing career are the development of a patented medication for treating hemophelia and–during a stint in Antarctica in the 1970s–the development of a substance used to cool the heart during surgery; she developed the latter by blasting holes in 10 feet of ice with dynamite, trapping the cold-adapted fish using kitchen scraps as bait, and studying their “antifreeze.”  She is quite an amazing lady.   And always smiling and appreciative.

8 comments to Been Away Too Long! Venice Rookery Update, Rita Matthews

  • I was at the Venice Rookery yesterday, there were 3 VERY visable nests with Anhinga chicks, many large Great Blue Heron chicks and other mating/nesting pairs as well as Great and Snowy Egrets, at least 2 Black crowned night heron pairs, warblers, ducks, cormorants, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, just to name a few! And a Great Horned Owl nest on the tower above the police station with at least one adorable fluffy chick!!! I think it was just bad timing in February this year, but March looks good!

  • avatar Bets

    Artie, have you been back to the rookery in the past month? I’ll be in Florida (Ft. Myers) next week but will only have one day for birding – should I keep the Venice Rookery on my itinerary? Thanks for your beautiful, beautiful pictures and words!

  • Hi Artie,

    great shot, as always. I especially like the motion blue!

    Why are the photo opportunities worse there every year? Are the number of breeding pairs declining? Is the place a protected area?


    BTW: I got Alan’s songbird e-book. Just started reading it. Awesome stuff and incredible pictures! Highly recommended to every bird photographer!

    • Hey Markus,

      There are no specific issues other than the extreme cold this year and the fact that rookeries are born, live, and eventually die. Nobody to blame but nature. The place is relatively protected but the birds react to very small changes in micro-habitat.

  • Welcome back. Sorry to hear such news about the Rookery, what is the issue there? Is it fixable?

    • There are no specific issues other than the extreme cold and the fact that rookeries are born, live, and eventually die. Nobody to blame but nature.

      Glad that you enjoyed Alan’s CD book: I agree that it is great.