Carolina Birds

Things have been quite busy for the last few months, and I've only had a couple of opportunities to get out and do some nature shooting. It's been several months since I added any images to my site, so wanted to at least put up a small collection of photos. There hasn't been opportunity to travel very far, so these are birds I've found at a couple of locations in North and South Carolina. And for the record, all shots were taken with the Canon EOS-1D digital SLR (I often get questions on this).

A couple of the shots were taken at Lake Mattamuskeet. I recently learned about this location, on the east coast of North Carolina, which is famous for large numbers of Tundra Swans that come down between November and February. We were able to get out there in mid January, and while it was beautifully clear, it was also quite cold and windy. One of the main problems I encountered was my 'shutter finger' stiffening up, making it difficult to press the shutter. But we were glad we went, and I came back with a few images of these impressive birds. For more information, click here: Lake Mattamuskeet NWR.

The rest of the images were taken near the end of March, when we were able to get away for a quick week-end down to Kiawah Island (near Charleston, SC). We were able to get to the Audubon Swamp Garden, which is part of the Magnolia Plantation. The weather on Saturday morning was just perfect - clear, cool, and invigorating. There were a fair number of Great Egrets roosting on one side of the swamp area, and I felt like I was at a slightly smaller 'Venice Rookery.' A trip here is highly recommended.

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White Ibis in Tree

Image # 01296

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS and 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/2000 second

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This is definitely one of my favorite shots. We found this bird somewhat high up in a tree, and he stayed there while I maneuvered around to get the sun behind me. I took a number of shots in both horizontal and vertical format, with a variety of poses, and it was hard to choose which one to include here.


 

Blue-winged Teal in 'Duckweed' Pond

Image # 01308

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1250 second

Evaluative Metering at -1/3

Gitzo 1329/Arca Swiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This was the first time I had an opportunity to see and photograph these beautiful ducks. I just loved the 'soupy' growth of duckweed through which they were swimming.


 

Tundra Swan in Flight

Image # 01131

Lake Mattamuskeet

Swan Quarter, NC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/2500 second

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

I had a great time shooting these elegant swans, as they flew back and forth on Lake Mattamuskeet. I was able to shoot them individually, and sometimes in groups of 2 or 3 birds at a time. These were taken fairly late morning, so the light was unfortunately pretty harsh, but I was quite happy to come back with some decent shots.


 

Tundra Swan Trio

Image # 01156

Lake Mattamuskeet

Swan Quarter, NC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/3200

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This is the last of the Tundra Swans I'll be including here. This group landed in the water a few seconds after this shot was taken, and I like the way each swan is in a different stage of preparation for their landing.


 

Black Crowned Night Heron

Image # 01317

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS and 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/11, 1/640 second

Evaluative Metering at -1/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick


Definitely another of my favorites, this bird cooperated as I got into a better shooting position. We first spotted him from the far side of the pond where he was sitting, with the sun behind him. We gradually worked our way around to get better light, and I was able to get several shots (again both horizontal and vertical) before he finally got spooked and took off.
 

Snowy Egret on Tree Branch

Image # 01333

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/1, 1/400 second

Evaluative Metering at -1/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

A fair number of great and snowy egrets were roosting, and as is often the case, it was very difficult to get any clear shots because of the dense tree branches in their typical habitat. This one did give me a brief opportunity with a relatively clear (and surprisingly colorful!) background.


 

Little Blue Heron in 'Field of Green'

Image # 01330

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/11, 1/400 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

This is one of my wife's favorite shots because of the contrast of the bird's bright blues and the green background, and I have to agree with her. I also have a vertical shot taken right before this, but I seem to prefer this one.


 

Great Egret Preening

Image # 01284

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/8, 1/2500 second

Evaluative Metering at -2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

One of the 'cleaner' shots I was able to get, because of the typically cluttered habitat in which these birds tend to roost. It's just wonderful watching these beautiful birds display and interact (although I'm typically too busy concentrating on trying to get the shot!).


 

Common Moorhen in 'Field of Green'

Image # 01304

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS and 2x II Teleconverter

ISO 200, f/8, 1/800 second

Evaluative Metering at 0

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

I have a few shots of this bird as it worked its way through the weeds, poking its head up from time to time, and giving me an opportunity to shoot.


 

Mourning Dove

Image # 01283

Audubon Swamp Garden

Charleston, SC

Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/3200 second

Evaluative Metering at 0, 550EX/BB at -1 2/3

Gitzo 1329/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick

A pretty 'common' bird, but when he perched against the bright blue sky, I had to snap a few shots.