Green Jay Heaven Part I « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Green Jay Heaven Part I

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This displaying Green Jay was photographed with the Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f//5.6. One of the nice things about visiting in April and May is seeing the amazing courtship displays of this species. They bob up and down, fluff up their feathers, and make other-wordly sounds.

I am not sure when I first met Roel Ramirez but it was close to ten years ago.  I believe that he had just started out in bird photography and joined me on a SW Florida BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour.  He mentioned that he had a ranch in Roma, Texas and was developing it for bird photography.   He invited me out right off the bat but it took me a year or three to get to the Rio Grande Valley.  As it turns out, his place is a haven for many of the Rio Grande Valley specialty bird species.  I doubt if there is a better place on the planet to photograph Green Jay as his morning photo blind is usually overrun with them. In addition you will fins Long-billed Thrasher, Bronzed Cowbird, Plain Chachalaca, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-crested (Mexican) Titmouse, Olive Sparrow, Pyrrhruloxia, Audubon’s Oriole, and White-tipped Dove.  You are also likely to see Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Vermilion Flycatcher (difficult to photograph at best…), Hooded Oriole, and  Mourning and White-winged Doves.  During winter and early spring, there are lots of sparrows around including White-crowned, Lark, Chipping, and Clay-colored.  Most of the species mentioned above can be photographed easily from one of several on sun-angle photo blinds that Roel designed and constructed.  In addition, Roel has both morning and afternoon hawk blinds where Harris’s Hawk is to be expected ad Crested Caracara a shy bonus.

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This adult Harris's Hawk was photographed with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X II TC, and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/8. Fill flash at -2 1/2 stops. We wire beef liver to the perch tree to attract the raptors.

From my first very visit to this one, I have worked with Roel to improve photographic conditions at the ranch whether it be in designing set-ups or suggesting major changes.  Roel is a fine gentleman, a great friend, and as sweet a man as you could ever hope to meet.  We have done well with long mornings sessions as it has been cloudy bright each day till about noon.   Afternoons have been difficult at best with fairly bright sun and the wind, very strong at times, from the southeast.  I had a brief conversation and it appears that Roel may once again offer public entry for the purpose of photography.  If he decides to go ahead I will announce rates and contact information here.  Oh, did I forget to mention that the afternoons are blast-furnace hot?  (It is much cooler from December through early April.   Why come in late April for early May?  Can you say Painted Bunting. 

Roel: Chris and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making us feel like visiting royalty!

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Our hearts raced whenever these guys appeared on the set. This male Painted Bunting image was created with the Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens, the 1.4X II TC, and the EOS-1D MIII. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/8. Fill flash at -2 1/3 stops.

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