Pelicans

Pelicans

The Texas City Dike has been extremely reliable for shorebirds in the past, but the last trip was somewhat disappointing. Not many terns, few sanderlings and only a brief glimpse of an Oystercatcher. There was a Yellow-crowned Night Heron that refused to face me, and not one cat.

So, I had to amuse myself with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls.

Young Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/3200 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

Young Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/3200 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

The young guy above is just taking off and the Laughing Gull will keep a close watch on his hunting. If he is successful, then perhaps the gull can steal part of his catch.

Hitchhiker on an adult Brown Pelican Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2500 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

Hitchhiker on an adult Brown Pelican

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2500 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

It is not at all unusual to see a Laughing Gull perched on the Pelican's head or back. Any escaping food will be snatched up in a second.

Brown Pelican settling on the breakers Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Brown Pelican settling on the breakers

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/5.6 ISO 1000

Close to the end of the 5-mile long dike are some rusting metal breakwaters, left in place after the structure they were to protect was washed away in Hurricane Ike. It is a favorite perching place for Pelicans.

Hey, who invited you? Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2500 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

Hey, who invited you?

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2500 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

And it can get a bit crowded at times. This youngster (note the brown head and white chest) seems surprised by the newcomer, but after a bit of stretching everyone played nicely together.

Incoming! Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

Incoming!

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

With all the birds coming and going, I had great opportunities to work on my BIF skills. Pelicans are wonderful subjects because their flight is slow, deliberate and generally predictable. When you see them start to hover in place.... look out, here comes a dive.

Diving from on high... Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

Diving from on high...

Sony A700 with 70-400mm 1/2000 sec. f/6.3 ISO 1600

OMG. I cannot tell you how long I have been trying for a shot like this. I have a LOT with the bird hitting the water, or not in focus or clipped or otherwise delete-worthy. This was so exciting to take.

After I got this shot I was ready to go home.

And other news

The borrowed Sony A700 camera I have been using this year has finally died. My fave photographer, William Maroldo,  bought it new in Dec 2007 and used it several years before he moved on to full-frame cameras. It had some issues with the front and back wheels slipping (those are used to change shutter speed and aperture) and then... the mirror started slipping and falling down. Too many things to get repaired on a discontinued camera with at least 250K actuations. That is like miles on a car; the shutter assembly can only operate so many times.

At the moment he has graciously let me use his 2nd best camera, a Sony A850 until my new camera, the Sony A77II arrives.... June 12th is the estimated ship date and boy, am I ever excited. I ordered it with a great wide-angle lens, so look for some more buildings and landscapes in the future.

Plus birds, of course.

Have you ever worn out a camera? Do you have a new camera or lens on your wish list? Or do you splurge on other toys?  Let me know in the comments.

This and That

This and That

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning