Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

October 29, 2010

Eared Grebe

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch — richditch @ 10:07 pm
Eared Grebe

Eared Grebe

I’ve got a better attitude, at least in terms of bird photography, now that the weather has improved and interesting birds are being discovered in the Phoenix metro area. We’ve dropped down to the double digits, although we’re still seeing some days with low to mid 90’s for the high (like today’s 94 degrees). But early mornings are wonderful, and sunrise is getting later so I don’t need to be in position until about 6:30 am.

This Eared Grebe has been a treat for those of us who visit the Gilbert Water Ranch. I heard from friends that it was hanging out in pond 6, where the water level is low enough that it occasionally comes close enough for good images.

I made two visits this week: Monday October 25, when it was so overcast that I couldn’t get a combination of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed that gave me satisfactory image quality; and Wednesday October 27 when this image was made under clear skies. On this day I was joined by fellow photographer James Jerome, who got terrific shots with his 800mm lens and his daring ground level technique.

I knew about the Eared Grebe at pond 6 when I arrived Monday. What I didn’t know about was a surprise Black Tern that popped into view about 30 minutes after sunrise and made repeated passes around the pond on and off for the next hour that I stayed. The tern frustrated me immensely: it is a fast flyer and an erratic one. At pond 6 you can’t get a complete view of the pond from the only good shooting position on the east side, and that meant that the tern would be hidden at times and then pop up at close range without warning.

My flight shooting skills aren’t very good; here in AZ it is difficult to find an opportunity where large slow birds have predictable regular close flights to nests so we don’t get much practice. I filled up a couple large compact flash memory cards experimenting with the tern, but I deleted almost all my shots in editing.

The tern was still around on Wednesday when the light was better, but I did even worse with my flight shots, deleting all of them. Alas, reports from today are that the tern has moved on.

I’ve got many more grebe shots to process, so I’ll probably be posting more here on this blog. And I’ll post at least one showing my friend’s ground level gear as well.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/1250th second at f/8, -1/3rd ev compensation, Gitzo tripod with RRS ball head and Wimberly sidekick.

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1 Comment »

  1. Rich, what a treat this must have been to see and photograph!

    Comment by Mia — October 30, 2010 @ 6:25 am


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