Great Egret carries twigs to its nest

Here I come, dear!


Yesterday, in the midst of packing to head out to Yosemite, I just had to squeeze in a few hours in the morning to go photograph. Anything to avoid doing the less fun things of packing, updating software, organizing the car…But it was for a great reason that I broke from my routine tasks. I had heard about this urban rookery in the heart of Santa Rosa, and now that I live up here, I just had to go and see it for myself.  It’s an amazing opportunity, with Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned night herons all building nests in about four trees. You don’t find that happening very often in a city with about 150,000 residents. I didn’t want to miss the nest-building phase, so I went. Here are a few images from my first visit.

I made these pictures using a Canon EOS 7D and the Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6, so I had the equivalent of a 160-640mm lens. In many cases I was too close when they were right overhead, with the Great egrets, they have such a large wing span; zooming in and out gave my arm a workout as I adjusted during flight to frame the bird as well as possible. Even so, this is a very slight crop from the original – I was so concerned about losing a wing that I gave a bit more space. If I were a full-time bird photographer I’ve had this ‘nailed’ but lately it’s been more landscape photography and your skills get rusty fast! Still, out of 16+ gigabytes, I will have a good collection of keepers, from what I quickly saw. And admittedly a good collection of ‘losers’ too!

Got a lot of in flight images, against a beautiful blue sky that morning. Yet I also tried to get some different images, just for fun.


Funny Bird in flight

Is this how it’s done?

Funny image of the bird in ungainly flight position perhaps. But loved the light coming through the feathers and the semi-silhouetted shape against the sky.

Great Egret lands on Eucalyptus Tree

Honey, I’m home!

I wanted to also capture the moment the bird landed on the branch – but really wish I had framed it to get the other mate in the frame a bit more than just a hint of it. I was so focused on the bird landing to get the timing with it’s mouth open squawking and wings poised, that I never even saw the mate until it was over. But that’s why you make a lot of photographs of stuff like this, hopefully you get another chance at it.

When I get back from Yosemite/Italy, end of May, I’ll go again and get photos of the chicks and feeding activity. Meanwhile, it’s on to meet the group on Wednesday in Yosemite and looking forward to capturing images of Spring in the Valley and beyond. Rumor has it the road to Glacier Point is open, an unusual opportunity for a Spring workshop!