Carolina Wild Photo (the blog)

Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Coastal NC Ducks

by on Mar.06, 2015, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Before February closed out, in the midst of freezing temps and snow, I had a couple of days break with good weather. I took advantage of it by heading out to the N.C. coast on a day trip hoping to photograph some ducks. The morning was overcast, as was early afternoon, but about 2 p.m. the clouds blew away for almost 3 hours of light. The ducks weren’t coming as close as I had hoped, so I didn’t get any close-up portraits, but I did get a few passable flight shots, which was what I was after anyway.

Drake Scaup banking hard

I had to shoot these standing in salt water up to my waist. I was wearing insulated chest waders, and warm clothes, so I was plenty warm despite the cold water and wind. The only real issue with shooting in salt water is having to disassemble, rinse, clean, lubricate and reassemble the tripod afterwards. But that’s a part of the job with wildlife photography.  (continue reading…)

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Duck Portraits

by on Feb.14, 2015, under Rants, Raves & Ramblings

In the dead of winter, when you would think there is not a lot of “pretty” to be seen… or photographed… we have ducks, and geese, and swans. Of the lot, ducks are my favorites. They’re not only fun to watch, but the brightly colored drakes are a pleasure to see. Even the more “drab” brownish females have a simple beauty of their own. They don’t have to be dressed for Mardi Gras to have eye appeal.

Mallard drake
(continue reading…)

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Snow Geese at Pea Island NWR

by on Jan.22, 2015, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Snow Geese

I don’t often have the opportunity to photograph Snow Geese. The past few years they’ve been rather elusive – even harder to find than Tundra Swans, another of my favorite subjects. But luckily I found a group of Snow Geese at an accessible site on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Outer Banks just a couple of days after my previous posting from the Choptank River in Cambridge, MD. Even more remarkable, the “Snows” kept flying in for about three hours while I was there shooting, giving me ample time to get many great flight shots – an opportunity I don’t often get.
(continue reading…)

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Choptank River, Cambridge, MD

by on Jan.19, 2015, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

With the holidays over I waited for a break in the dreary, overcast, rainy weather to get in some photography. I finally got a good weather forecast, so I made a trip north to a favorite spot of mine on the Choptank River in Cambridge, Maryland. The usual cast of characters were there – Canvasbacks, Wigeons, Mallards, Scaup, and the ubiquitous Canada Geese. Didn’t find any Scoters this time, and not a Redhead in sight, but the weather was suitable.

Canvasback hen on final approach

The first day was in the upper 40’s, though a stiff breeze made it quite cold. The second day didn’t get over 35, but with virtually no wind, it felt much warmer than the first day. There were fewer “flyers” this time compared to my last trip chronicled in my “Flight School” posting, but I still managed a couple of decent “BIF” (bird in flight) shots. (continue reading…)

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Kayak Projects

by on Apr.06, 2014, under Rants, Raves & Ramblings

It looks like Spring has finally slipped past Old Man Winter. I’m glad to see it… well, as soon as the worst of the pollen season gets gone anyway. I’ve been anxious to get out and do some kayaking, especially since back in February I bought myself a new kayak (well, new to me anyway). It’s a Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 Tegris. Yeah, that’s a mouthful, I know. I’ve been quietly wishing I could afford one of them for over two years, but could not justify the expense. They’re expensive because they’re made of Tegris, a competitor to Kevlar…. and you have all heard of Kevlar. Not only are they tough, but extremely light. So far as I know it’s the lightest 12-foot kayak ever made. Without the removable “class one” seat they come with, they weight only 29 pounds. Add the seat, and they’re 35 pounds… still extremely light.

The Native Watercraft Ultimate 12 Tegris Part of what makes them so light is they’re a hybrid kayak with no deck, much like a canoe, but far more stable. When I found a used one for sale at a good price, I began comparing used prices just to be sure it was as good as I thought. That’s when I happened to learn they had just been discontinued by the manufacturer, supposedly because the cost of the Tegris material had gone way up, making the manufacturing costs skyrocket. The result was that they would end up costing more than the manufacturer thought most people would pay. So, knowing that, I decided I’d best get one before the demand for used ones drove up the price on used ones too.
(continue reading…)

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A Marathon 48 Hours of Duck Heaven – Part Three

by on Mar.28, 2014, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Brant goose As promised, this part three post is about some birds I’d never seen or photographed before. The beginning of my marathon weekend was a 9 hour drive to New Jersey, north of Atlantic City, to the Barnegat Lighthouse. Next to the lighthouse is a long jetty of huge boulders which attracts birds of the open sea not commonly seen along the shore. Because of this, Barnegat Light is popular among birders and wildlife photographers for viewing Harlequin Ducks, Black Scoters, Surf Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Scaup and others, including the Common Loon. Lucky for me, I also found another species I had not expected…. Brant geese.
(continue reading…)

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“Flight School”…. Photographing Birds In Flight

by on Mar.14, 2014, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

A flight of Scaup landing One of the photographic techniques I’ve been wanting to improve upon is photographing birds in flight, or “BIF” as they’re called by wildlife photographers. This past weekend I made another trip to Cambridge, Maryland, where I planned to concentrate on my technique with ducks (just about my favorite photo subject). I hoped to catch them one last time before they made their usual mid-March exodus to parts far north for the Spring nesting season. Once again I was blessed with sunny warmish weather, a rare freak occurrence it seems this winter, between all the frigid ice, sleet, snow and rain that has characterized the beginning of 2014.
(continue reading…)

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A Marathon 48 Hours of Duck Heaven – Part Two

by on Mar.04, 2014, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Canvasback drake As a continuation of my recent marathon weekend post, I’d like to focus individually on the two locations from the trip that produced some great photos. In this “part two” installment, I will highlight Cambridge, Massachusetts. The location is along the Choptank River in a quiet old neighborhood near the downtown. The locals began feeding ducks that stopped over on their migration, and ever since ducks have taken advantage of the free corn they have come to expect at this one magic spot. In fact, photographing ducks here is akin to “shooting ducks in a barrel”, to quote a recognizable phrase.
(continue reading…)

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A Marathon 48 Hours of Duck Heaven

by on Feb.26, 2014, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

American Wigeon drake My absolute favorite birds to photograph have to be ducks. They tend to be the most skittish subjects in the bird world, generally making the task of getting good photos of them fairly difficult. Thankfully there are a few places one can go to get reasonably close to a few species, where they will tolerate the presence of humans in their proximity, within limits of their choosing of course. And with the right equipment and quiet patience, it’s possible to get some excellent photos of these fascinating birds with relative ease, compared to hours or days in the “wilderness” trying to find them, and attempting to get close enough for photography.
(continue reading…)

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More Snow

by on Feb.13, 2014, under Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Male CardinalA week and a half after the big coastal snow the NC coast got hit again, this time with more ice and sleet than snow. Power outages and driving on more ice than snow would have made a trip to the coast a very bad idea for this round of weather. Instead I hung around home for the 5 inches we received, with some sleet on top of that, and more snow still on top of that. Though it’s been overcast and snowing, the sky has been a brighter overcast than on my coastal snow trip. That made it feasible to get some photos at home around the bird feeder.

Though there were Juncos, Goldfinch, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downies, White-throated Sparrows, Robins, Tufted Titmouses, Nuthatch and a spattering of other birds hanging around, my camera was drawn to the Cardinals. The brilliant red of the males is so photogenic with the snow. As a bird photographer acquaintance of mine put it – “Cardinals and snow go together like strawberries and creme.” Besides, with the not-so-bright light available, the photos needed all the color they could get, and the male Cardinals provided that.
(continue reading…)

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