Flying Puffins With Fish; A Long Ago Tale…/Lucky Peter/UK Puffins and Gannets IPT Announced « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Flying Puffins With Fish; A Long Ago Tale.../Lucky Peter/UK Puffins and Gannets IPT Announced


This post marks 118 straight days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H and Amazon links why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This blog post took 3 1/2 hours to create. Enjoy!


This Atlantic Puffin image was created with the hand held Canon Telephoto EF 400mm f/4.0 DO (Diffractive Optics) IS lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, with the EOS-1D Mark III now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 500 in cloudy conditions. Evaulative metering +1 2/3 stops off the grey clouds: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Scroll down for details on a used 400 DO for sale.

Flying Puffins With Fish; A Long Ago Tale…

In June 2008 I had the rare pleasure of making a Zegrahm’s Wild Britain Cruise. We got to visit many exciting seabird breeding islands in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England. On June 10 we made a relatively easy landing on the Isle of May, Scotland at about 7am. We had a choice of going right (counter-clockwise around the island), or left,(clockwise around the island). We went right. We photographed Arctic Terns, Common Eiders with chicks, and lots of stands of wildflowers. We could not find the puffin cliffs…. Eventually we ran into an excited photographer with news of puffins landing with fish. “Thataway! Just up the hill on the right. It’s only a 5 minute walk.”

It took us only 3 minutes….

The wind was fierce, at least 50 knots from right behind us with higher gusts. It was difficult getting solid footing. But the puffins were coming right at us and landing right in front of us.

Peter Harrison, author and illustrator of the classic, monumental Seabirds: An Identification Guide, was the expedition leader and a former owner of Zegrahms. I have signed copies of both the original and the updated version :).

Peter is one of the funniest guys I have ever come across. (See more below….) I have the exposure down pat, the puffins are flying in one after another, and I am thinking that I have died and gone to heaven. Then along comes Peter who says, “The tide is coming in fast. We need to leave now.” He was not kidding. And leave we did….

Lucky Peter

As I noted above, Peter Harrison is one funny guy. Despite having a killer cold/flu/sore throat (that he kindly spread to virtually everyone on the ship including me), Peter stood before the assembled crowd each night to present his programs. In one, he told of his experiences traveling the world as a young seabird artist, attempting to paint all the seabird species on the planet. At one point in the story, he winds up broke in Bluff, New Zealand. He had learned early in his adventure that hitching a ride on a fishing boat was a great way to access the seabirds. So he headed to the local bar where the fishermen hung out in search of a ride or better yet, a job.

He meets two guys and starts chatting. Turns out they each own a fishing boat and are looking for a mate. “Do you know how to work the big nets?” one asks. “Of course” says Peter lying through his teeth. “How long have you been working the big nets?” Peter responds, “For many, many years. I am a great fisherman. In fact, they call me Lucky Peter. Every boat that I have worked on winds up catching more fish than they ever have before.”

The two captains, who fish together, hire Peter on the spot. Though he has no clue how to work the nets, he is a quick study, and lo and behold, the two boats begin catching tons of fish with every drop of the big nets. This goes on for several days. The two captains are impressed. As time goes by, one captain calls the other on the radio and asks, “Can you send Peter over? I need some help.” They bring the boats together and Peter jumps ship. “What do you need me to do?” Peter asks. The captain says, “Help me pull up this net.”

They go to work and the very heavy net is obviously full of fish. As it breaks the surface, Peter sees that there is a dead man in the net, a man dressed in fisherman’s skins (rain gear). Astonished, he asks, “What happened to him?” “Bob got tangled in the ropes as he threw the net over.” Still stunned, Peter asks, “What are we gonna do with him?” The captain says, “We’ll put him in the freezer with Dave, the previous mate. And remember, we need to stand him up so he doesn’t freeze to the floor.”

Mint Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS & 400mm f/4 IS DO Lenses for Sale

Friend and multiple IPT veteran Larry Master is offering a mint condition Mint Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS Lens for sale for $8750. This great lens, my favorite for 3 years, the Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens, sells new at B&H for $13,218.00. Yesterday they were offering one in mint condition for a ridiculous $10,249.90; it sold overnight. Go figure. Larry’s lens will save you a ton of dough and you will have a great lens with lots of reach. Larry is selling the lens as he purchased the 600 II on my advice.

The sale includes a Lenscoat, an Aquatech soft lens cap that fits like a glove, a Kirk Enterprises LP30 plate (not recommended by me), the lens trunk and leather cover, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears.

Larry is also offering a Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO lens, used perhaps twice since it was purchased new, in absolute mint condition for $4799. It retails new for $6,499 at B&H.

The sale includes the fabric lens case, all original materials, a LensCoat, and insured shipping by UPS Ground to US addresses only. Personal checks only; your new lens will be shipped only after your check clears. I owned and used a 400 DO for years; at 4.28 pounds it is a great lens for folks wishing to gain extra reach without excessively heavy gear…. I used it often with both TCs and made sharp images.

Interested folks may contact Larry on his cell phone at 518-645-1545 or via e-mail.


I hope that you can join us on this great trip. The vertical puffin image was created by David Tipling. The rest–almost all from the UK, are mine :).

UK Puffins and Gannets IPT July 2-9, 2014. 5 full days of puffins and two half-days of gannet boat photography: $4,999 USD. Limit 10 + the 2 leaders.

Desperately needed: 1 female roommate.

Fly to Edinburgh (say “ED-in-BUR-row”), Scotland on a red eye flight on July 1st arriving on the early morning of July 2 or certainly before 10am. UK folks who plan on driving please contact me via e-mail immediately.

There are direct flights to Edinburgh from both Philadelphia and Toronto. If you learn of any others please advise via e-mail so that I may share with all the interested folks. Fly home mid-morning on July 9. UK locals and our many European friends are of course welcome.

With the needed 5 deposits in hand, this trip is a go; you can buy your flights now :).

What’s included:

5 full DAYS on the best UK puffin boat; trips to 2 different islands–all dependent on decent weather, i.e, no major storms. Seabirds including scads of Atlantic Puffin both in flight and perched, Razorbill, Great Cormorant, Shag, and others likely. The trip is times to maximize the opportunities for photographing the puffins bringing fish back to the nests. All boat fares and landing fees are included. The boat leaves at 9:30am. We have two hours on the first island. We are then picked up and head to the 2nd island for a 2+ hour session. The weather is typically cloudy bright.

One late-afternoon (2 July) and one early morning (probably 8 July) trip on a gannet photography boat where the birds are fed and dive very close to the boat. Both are dependent on good weather but we do have some flexibility. Boat fares and the cost of the fish are covered. Each will consist of a one hour outbound ride, two hours of diving Northern Gannet photography (with 6 boxes of fish) and the one hour return trip.

The tentative, weather-dependent itinerary:

July 2: airport pick-up no later than 10am UK time. Lunch on your dime. Drive to hotel. Afternoon gannet boat trip/time TBD.
July 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7: Full Day Puffin Boat trips as noted above.
July 8: early morning Gannet Boat trip. Afternoon: Small group Image review and Photoshop sessions. Pack for the trip home.
July 9: early morning departure for Edinburgh Airport (EDI).

The itinerary is subject to change to ensure the best possible photographic opportunities.

A super-telephoto lens is not required on this trip. The 300mm f/2.8s are ideal. I will be bringing one along with my 200-400mm with Internal Extender, my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II, and a shorter zoom lenses. Plus three 1.4X and two 2X TCs, a Gitzo 3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod, and my Mongoose M3.6. I may go tripod-less on the puffin trips at times…. Or not…. All photography on the gannet boat will be hand held. It is likely that the 70-200s will be ideal for the gannets.

7 nights lodging in an older but excellent hotel just a few minutes from the puffin boat dock with about a 70 minute ride to the gannet boat. Double occupancy will be the rule though we might be able to offer a single supplement at an exorbitant price. See the hotel info here.

All breakfasts and dinner (at the hotel) from dinner on July 2 through dinner on July 8. And breakfast on our get-away day unless we need to leave earlier than they serve to make our flights home…

Airport pick-up until 10am on July 2–this should not be a problem as there are lots of red-eye flights from the US to Edinburgh.

All ground transportation. Airport return on the early morning of July 9. We may be getting up very early on July 9th.

Two great leaders; Denise Ippolito and yours truly will provide personalized and small group in-the-field instruction. As usual, the closer you stay to us and the more questions that you ask the more you will learn. We will of course point out the best situations. You will learn to see these great situations for yourself, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, to work in Manual mode, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. You will learn the basics of photographing birds in flight and how the relationship between light direction and wind direction impacts the photography of both birds in flight and perched puffins. And tons more.

We will be conducting informal, small group image review and Photoshop sessions after dinner. All are invited to bring their laptops. Image critiques of your five best images will be done after the trip upon request.

Early morning castle photography right near the hotel is an option for the early risers. In the event of inclement weather or stormy seas there is the possibility of bird photography along the coast. Early evening bird photography along the coast is also optional.

Not included: all lunches–for the most part we will need to pack lunches for the puffin trips, or you may opt to skip lunch. Your round trip airfare from home to Scotland. Booze, wine, and any other beverages other than coffee and tea at breakfast.

A non-refundable deposit of $2,000 USD is required to hold your spot so please check on flights and your schedule before committing. The balance will be due on 15 May so you may wish to pay the whole thing at once. Overseas folks may e-mail for wire transfer info. Our $15 wire transfer fee will be added to your balance.

Trip insurance is highly recommended as your deposit (less a $200 cancellation fee) will not be refunded unless the trip fills completely. I, and my family, use Travel Insurance Services.

After letting us know via e-mail that you will be coming, please send your deposit check made out to “Arthur Morris” to us as follows:

Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
PO Box 7245 (US mail) or 4041 Granada Drive (if by courier).
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

My friend David Tipling, with multiple BBC honored images and the author of dozens of photo illustrated books, helped with the planning and arrangements for this trip.

If you have any questions, please contact me via e-mail.


All images created on Lake Blue Cypress. Copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Lake Blue Cypress Osprey Heaven Full-Day In-the-Field Hand Holding Workshops via Customized Pontoon Boat

Two 3+ hour shooting sessions on a beautiful cypress lake teeming with Osprey; Barred Owl almost guaranteed. Red-shouldered Hawk and Pileated Woodpecker likely. Be sure to follow the link to Jim’s gallery below.

2 great leaders: Captain Jim Neiger and Arthur Morris.

Available dates: April 8, 9, 11 & 12, 2014.

Here are the Full Day rates:

1 photographer: $650.
2 photographers: $500 each.
3 photographers: $450 each.
4 photographers: $400.

Each full day booking includes a delicious healthy lunch at my home. Overnight lodging at my home is available cheap on a limited basis for folks who would like to do more than one day. Please inquire via e-mail.

So far one photographer signed up for Saturday, April 12; join us and enjoy a $150 savings.

One or two photographers may hire the boat on a private basis by paying the full day rate for 4: $1600.

Because of the late date payment in full by personal check is due now. Please e-mail for additional details of info.

Check out Jim Neiger’s Osprey Heaven/Lake Blue Cypress Gallery here and you will be amazed as to the quality of the flight and action images and the possibilities.

Here’s what BPN member David Salem had to say about a day on the lake with Jim Neiger in Pane 1 here:
We met our friend Jim Neiger on his boat at Lake Blue Cypress and had a blast shooting hundreds of Osprey and many other species including some great shots of Barred owls. I highly suggest booking a trip with Jim on the lake as he knows the lake real well and the birds even better. It was a trip that I will never forget with literally hundreds of Osprey flying around starting their nesting season. A sight to see!! I will be posting some pics from the lake soon.


On Saturday, March 29th, it is only me. I hope that you can make it. The weather for Saturday is looking fine. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshops

Saturday March 29 and Saturday April 4, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 4:00pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6. Small groups are likely: $399. Both: $749.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Gatorland is so good right now that I am going back the next two Saturdays (March 29 & April 4). The Snowy and Cattle Egrets are in way early and there are many in full breeding plumage. Here’s the story: last week there were about two dozen photographers at Gatorland on Saturday past. Aside from two decent photographers–I can tell by where you are pointing your lens…, nobody had a clue as to how to make a good image…. Yesterday it was even worse; pretty much no one had a clue. Most folks just stand in one spot and point and shoot. Without regard for light angle or background. Join me on this, the 3rd Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop and you will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. A big part of the above is that you will learn how and why you must work in Manual mode 90% of the time at Gatorland. That is exactly what Jim Weerts learned on Saturday past.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time. Last Saturday all 3 folks had a great time and learned a ton. And the weather for this coming Saturday is looking good.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. Ask for me if you have any questions.

Last Saturday’s Gatorland Kudos

Via e-mail from multiple IPT veteran Peter Hawrylyshyn:

Artie, Just wanted to say thanks. I really enjoyed the Saturday IPT at Gatorland. It was a great one-day refresher course on composition, lighting/sun angles, exposure settings, birds in flight, and fill-flash, … I also learnt a lot watching your workflow and new processing tips over lunch. I thought you’d post that great Black-crowned Night-Heron that you found for us on your blog. I guessed wrong. Peter

Note. I will be devoting a whole post to that bird soon; have not had time to process them yet….


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. πŸ™‚

9 comments to Flying Puffins With Fish; A Long Ago Tale…/Lucky Peter/UK Puffins and Gannets IPT Announced

  • Peter Harrison

    Just wanted to say how much we enjoyed reading your informative blog and the story on “Lucky English Pete.” I was impressed that you remembered so much of the story and, kid you not, we did actually freeze the poor bugger onto plastic bags, laid him out onto the floor, and then stood him up, wedging him upright with the help of frozen fish bags. This is a true story, as all of my stories are.
    Your puffin shots are simply outstanding, the best I’ve ever seen. My research notes tell me that 47 fish is the current record for the number of fish a puffin can hold in its bill at any one time.

    Hey Peter, Thanks for visiting. It was great to learn that you and Shirley are doing well. Please let me know about the planned trip that will include the Whiskered Auklets… I would love to photograph that species before they put me in the box. artie

  • David Policansky

    I love that story. Long ago I was doing research on starry flounders and needed some from the Santa Cruz, CA area, and so I found a fisherman who was willing to take me out on his boat to get some. He was no ordinary fisherman; he funded the music department at UC Santa Cruz, where his wife was on the faculty, to buy pianos. I made his taking me out worth his while because I was able to find his trammel net in the fog for him by spotting the flag that marked one of the ends. And what a wonderful image.

  • Wow, what an impressive puffin in flight shot. I’ve been to Machias Seal Island a few times to photograph puffins so I know how fifficult it is to catch them in the air. I don’t have anything remotely close to this caliber.

    With all due respect, Machias is a waste for puffin photography…. Too little time, too restrictive. Consider joining us in the UK!


  • Nice post Artie, that Puffin pic is awesome!!

  • Sarah Mayhew

    Love the Puffin images. Wish I could afford that trip!

  • Gary Axten

    Over here we say Ed-in-bruh πŸ™‚

    Sadly I can’t afford your course but if you’re in the area you are welcome to pop in for a cuppa!

  • John Haedo

    Cool story, no matter what.

  • But…was the captain joking πŸ™‚


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I just got off the phone with Peter. Turns out that the basic story was true, but the part about the first dead mate was Peter’s humorous embellishment. artie