Day 140/365 Nature Walk and a Treat...

by Russell Smith May. 19, 2019 243 views

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.

Somewhere around 18-24 inches long. I was at 94 mm here because I was being polite to another photographer.

Somewhere around 18-24 inches long. I was at 94 mm here because I was being polite to another photographer.

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.

I was at 200mm because I wanted to crop out some of the scum and weeds in the water.

I was at 200mm because I wanted to crop out some of the scum and weeds in the water.

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 .

I got your six is what this shot reminds me of .

I got your six is what this shot reminds me of .

This is closer to what I have in my minds eye for the black and white that I want to create.

This is closer to what I have in my minds eye for the black and white that I want to create.

The shadow annoys me a bit but I love the framing of this shot.

The shadow annoys me a bit but I love the framing of this shot.

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.

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There are 31 comments , add yours!
Jolien Dekens 6 months ago

Beautiful series! The most exciting thing I get to see when I go for a walk is a squirrel or hare laughing Must be really exciting to be able to shoot alligators and big owls like that!

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jolien Dekens 6 months ago

Thank you . Honestly I take alligators for granted but they are exciting the owls however I am super stoked about.

6 months ago Edited
Pete 6 months ago

Great set, love the owl

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Pete 6 months ago

I appreciate it .

6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski 6 months ago

So many to my faves! I don't think I'd be brave enough to get that close to gators, but I love seeing photos like #2. What a great find with the owl too. I've yet to see one in person. Thanks for sharing!

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Bethany Plonski 6 months ago

I have seen more owls here in the Moncks Corner area that I have seen in the wild the rest of my life. I know of 6-8 separate great horned owls and 8-10 or more Bared Owls. I have heard a few Screech Owls but have not seen them. Honestly I am a bit baffled by their numbers but quite delighted. I need to make a note my mom has a Barred Owl pair that nest outside of her house may be a cheap way to get a few shots and see my mom at the same time.

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Russell Smith 6 months ago

With a 70-300 or something similar you could have gotten a similar framing and been even further away. This one honestly was less than two feet long and I had a part of the boardwalk inbetween it (Just out of the frame on the left side) and I was 2-3 feet above it too so close but not that close.

6 months ago Edited
Bethany Plonski Replied to Russell Smith 6 months ago

That's amazing about the owls. I hear barred owls in my yard often, but only in the wee hours of the night. And good to know about the lens for the gators. I have a 70-300 and may have a chance to see some alligators this summer, so I'll have to see if I can talk myself into being brave. smile Thank you!

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Bethany Plonski 6 months ago

Caution is a great thing especially with ones that are 4-5 foot or larger. Even the large ones can move insanely fast for a short distance.

6 months ago Edited
Andi Saw 6 months ago

Supercool walk and set my dear ! blue heart

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Andi Saw 6 months ago

Thank you.

6 months ago Edited
Shane Coleman 6 months ago

Nice variety!

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Shane Coleman 6 months ago

THank you I do have a question how often do you use a tripod or monopod when you go out and shoot. Also you posting shots have helped me plan a shot .

6 months ago Edited
Shane Coleman Replied to Russell Smith 6 months ago

If I have a “planned” shoot, then I usually use a DIY ground pod or a tripod. In other words, if I say I’m going to “x” location, shooting out of a blind or not, and shooting “y” subject, then the ground pod and/or tripod is coming with me. 

When I am hiking/scouting/driving around then sometimes I’ll carry the camera and leave the tripod attached to my pack... mainly because having a “quick draw” is critical. In some circumstances, I’ll carry the camera attached to the tripod. I did this a lot during the winter when I had to deal with low light and slow shutter speeds. It’s really situational. I hope this makes sense. 

I’m really using a ground pod more often than a tripod. You can buy them but they are very expensive for what they are. Many people just make their own because of this. I made one myself, with a little YouTube inspiration. I use the same ball head from my tripod. I’ll post some pics on photoblog tomorrow for you since there’s no way to post a pic in the comments. I’ve seen them made out of a lot of different types of material.

6 months ago Edited
Shane Coleman Replied to Russell Smith 6 months ago

Russell, I just posted pics of the ground pod... hope this gives you ideas. 😉

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Shane Coleman 6 months ago

Makes complete sense and I will check out the ground pod .

6 months ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 6 months ago

Love the series and narrative! A great walk you had 😊

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Lynn F Medley 6 months ago

Thank you honestly for a day like this or the real purpose that I went the narrative was the main thing the photos were secondary.

6 months ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 6 months ago

I love all this set great shots Russ

6 months ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 6 months ago

#10WOW

6 months ago Edited
Pete Fitzgetald 6 months ago

#2Awesone snap!

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Pete Fitzgetald 6 months ago

I think I have visted this location enough that I can start planning out how I want my shots and then wait for those shots. I dont know if that makes sense or not.

6 months ago Edited
Camellia Staab 6 months ago

Very nice series.

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Camellia Staab 6 months ago

Thank you

6 months ago Edited
Heike 6 months ago

Who the hell is feeting alligators ?
Oh and btw - great photos of them !

6 months ago Edited
Heike Replied to Heike 6 months ago

'Feeting'...is wrong, I knew it in that moment I pressed the send button. (But it's a funny mistake...hehehesmile)

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Heike 6 months ago

I would like to blame tourists but over 50% of the time it tends to be some well meaning idiotic local and feeting is really what it should be called because when one has been fed it will demand food causing your feet to start beating the pavement :P

6 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 6 months ago

I love this kind of nature photos. It seems you had a wonderful day here. smile

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Antonio Gil 6 months ago

It is great to get out into nature and observe it .

6 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 6 months ago

Quite a walk you had. And  very rewarding. You have nice shots here,very nice work. Thanks for sharing,wish we have some wildlife like that here

6 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Berckmans Peter 6 months ago

Thank you :)

6 months ago Edited
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