Turtles, Alligators, Small Birds, Wood Ducks and Wading birds were all on view today. The smaller birds were hyperactive and I quit trying to photograph them with the shorter 70-200 f4 lens and spent a few hours watching them. The Alligators I saw a few of my usual friends on the trail but I did see two new ones. One was about 10 feet the other appeared to be about 11 foot maybe a bit over. The smaller one was quite interested in watching me watch it and when I went down to the waters edge it decided to come a bit (still about 75 meters away) closer. Just the reaction I was hoping for because that told me it was hunting but not a reaction that told me that it has been fed by a damned idiot. Remember a fed gator is a dead gator. Then I caught a reflection of something in the water. About this time the gator I had been watching disappeared under the water. Well I might be brave and sometimes foolish but stupid is not something you can call me. I went back a safe distance from the water (incase I was on the menu) and watched the reflection . I knew from my time in the woods that it was either a gator or a MASSIVE turtle. When I saw a mom wood duck and her young go by and the reflection started moving towards it I knew what it was. The larger gator ambushed the family of ducks and well at over 100 yards 200 mm lens was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too short so rather than frustrate myself I was just observing. I am 99.999% sure that 100% of the ducks lived and the gator went away hungry.
I did get to spend a bit of time with a new (to me) small alligator.
After the photographer left I moved around the boardwalk just a bit to gauge its skittishness. After determining its comfort zone I got down on the boardwalk and did some closer up shots.
You may ask how I know this one is a new one to me. Well the color pattern is not one I have seen before on one of this size and also at this location the small ones hang out in a small area that is unique to them. I know at location X there should be two that are this size and the color patter on them is like this. There are a few that are agressive and snappy with other wildlife in the location others could care less if the sky falls down on them.
I had to see my turtle tree .
Then it was time to stroll down the boardwalk and see what else I could see .
I am unsure what these little guys are other than some kind of shroom but they caught my eye and I wished I had brought the 100mm macro lens but I did not so I went with this composition. I did see several warblers and sat down and waited for one to land where I wanted them to so I could get a nice image with a clean background. They had other plans so I just watched them flit around.
This is a test shot for late fall or early winter when I can catch the light when it is better. Late afternoon and a lower angle I think will provide the seperation that I want in the forground and background.
The monotone nature of this grabbed my attention and the dragonfly stayed put while I grabbed a few shots. Then it was time to go deeper into the woods. I saw a Great Horned Owl and well no way was I going to attempt a shot that I would have to delete when I got home so I just watched it watch me for a few moments. Before it flew away I told it I will get a good shot with it close enough to be at least a good shot if not a great shot. A few hundred meters later I saw the first of several Barred Owls . This included two fledglings . One of them I managed to get a shot of that while not great it is ok and thank goodness I had enough pixels to crop into and I mean it is a fairly severe crop .
Before this one flew away I informed it that I would be getting a better shot of it. If you haven't figured it out I have a goal of capturing a shot of both species of owls and not just an ok shot a good shot. Hey if I am going to make a goal I am shooting for the moon or maybe Mars.
It was a perfect day to take a walk in the woods and sweat . It was a balmy 35c (95F) but the humidity is only about 50% so quite low for this time of the year. I have nailed down where a few species of birds hang out so I can focus on those areas to get a shot and I am closing in on the best spots to find the owls and for owls there is a ton of them at this park.
Truthfully I should have taken the tripod as I would have gotten a few more shots of the owl that were sharp but my back wouldn't have tolerated the extra few pounds on this day. I might look into the cost of a collar for the 70-200 f4 and if it is low cost I might get one and start using the monopod a bit more . While the weight is not significant I do not want to put the extra stress on the lens mount (either camera side or lens side) while I am walking , It is something for me to ponder and see if I can come up with a solution.