Sunday, April 8, 2012

The story of an Owl, Osprey, Peacock and a Tortoise

No, this isn't a blog about a race.  It's about our adventures at Kapok Park and Moccasin Lake Park in Clearwater, Fl.  First off, let me tell you that yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day, slight wind, mid 70's.  You couldn't ask for a better day to go out Owling. 

We arrived at Kapok Park around 11am Saturday morning.  I wasn't really sure what to expect, the park is in the middle of a residential area in Clearwater.  Don't let that disuade you from going, it's a wonderful park with lots of winding pathways and boardwalks.  We saw lots of different birds including this Osprey.


While I do enjoy watching all the birds at the park, we were there to find the Great Horned Owl family.  It's a mating pair with 2 offspring. We found that the regulars at the park are all very nice people, if you ask them where to look, they will give you a general area and even aid in the search.  I found the male adult owl fairly quick with a little guidance.  He was by himself across the creek from the rest of the family. 

After searching for a bit , we found the other owls all perched in their tree.  Here's a photo of the two offspring owls.


Getting good photos of these amazing birds was difficult.  They are high in the tree against a very bright sun.  These were taken at a +2 Exposure Compensation on my camera.  I had to add in some fill light in Photoshop as well. 

I was really happy that we decided to go yesterday, if we had waited a few weeks, I think the babies would have been fully fledged.  That would have meant that they would have been on their own and probably would have left the area. 

Here's a family portrait of Mom and the two babies.


This was taken while laying on my back looking straight up into the canopy and the sun. 

Here's another portrait of just one of the babies by himself.


Our next stop is Moccasin Lake Park, it's a closed in park that requires an entry fee, it's $3.00 per person , which seems to be a fair price. 

The park itself has a small nature center where you can learn about some of the animals and repiles you may encounter on the trail.  I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see a real Moccasin during our visit. 

We did however, see a Gopher Tortoise, infact it headbutted me.  They do this during mating season to demonstrate they the Alpha Male.  We were told that they might be a bit aggressive (they wander the park freely), if we stand still you might get headbutted but it won't hurt and it didn't.  It was actually a pretty cool experience.  I had no idea they would headbutt one another in the wild. 



While all of this was going on we were visited by a male Peacock.  What an amazing display he gave us with his brightly colored plumage. 




All in all it was a great day.  If I had to pick one park over the other it would be Kapok, nothing beats photographing and observing Owls in the wild. 

Thanks again for reading my blog, if you would like to see mroe of my work you can head over to www.rorymadstudios.com

Warm regards,
Michael

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Circle B Bar Reserve, Part II

This is one of my favorite places to go photograph wildlife.  You never know what you're going to see when you get there.  Today, I was on a mission though.  I have been heading out to Circle B for quite a while now in search of the elusive Barred Owl (it's always been elusive for me although others have photographed them there.).   The fledgling has left its nest to start its life away from Mom and Dad.  I didn't get a chance to photograph the little fellow before he left.  I did however get to photograph Mom or Dad earlier today and what a thrill that was. 



I love owls so any chance to I get to photograph one, I'm in hog heaven.  As I waited for Mom or Dad to show up at the nest, several other Photographers wandered by, all of them confirmed that they baby had left this past Friday.  I have to say that this news sucked, I had found their nesting spot and yet agan, they have eluded me.  Most of the other Photographers were heading up the trail towards Marsh Rabbit Run, since I had just come from there I decided to head the opposite direction, maybe I would get lucky.  

As I arrived at the clearing where the bench overlooking Lake Hancock is I heard a faint hoot, then another and then an even more faint answer.  Ok, I have a shot at this, I just need to be quiet as I walk so I can listen for more hoots.   As I approached the boardwalk area, I heard a really loud hoot and I knew I was in the right place.  As I crossed the boardwalk I heard a commotion coming across the trail toward Shady Oaks, then I heard the flap of wings and as I looked up , I saw the talons of a Barred Owl bearing down on me.  Whatever had flushed the owl out of its perch had done so in my direction.  My day had come, I was going to finally get the shots I wanted of this elusive bird.  I think I spent the next 45 minutes working my way around the trees on the lake trying to find a good angle.

The fist shot below was taken with a Nikon D300 using a Nikon 70-200mm F2.8 VR1 lens, the second shot was taken with the same setup using a 2x Kenko teleconverter.   As you can see the lighting conditions were very harsh, there was some direct sunlight behind the own as well as greenish light reflecting off all the leaves, it really made this a lot more of a challenge than I had orginally thought it would be.










All in all, I am pretty happy with my first Barred Owl photos and can't wait to go back when I get my Nikon D800 and take another crack and finding them. 

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog , if you like what you see in my blog please don't hesitate to leave a comment or head over to my site at www.rorymadstudios.com

Warm regards,
Michael

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My name is Michael White and I'm a Fine Art Photographer based out of the Tampa Bay area.   I enjoy photographing various landscapes and wild life that can be found in the US.  I am also the creator of a new process called High Key HDR. 
 
You can find my website at www.carsinhdr.com and I can also be followed on Twitter at @rorymadstudios .