Grebes are not easy birds to photograph. They're shy little things that usually avoid human presence. This Pied-billed Grebe was busy with a fresh catch which is probably the only reason it stuck around. The grebe would swim around with the fish, toss it back into the water, dive to retrieve it, and then do it again. This happened a few times until it finally cut the fishes head off. Once the fish was decapitated, the grebe happily swallowed its catch. I'd say it gives new meaning to playing with your food. Fortunately for you, I've narrowed the 60 shot sequence down to these select ten.
This post in my favorites series is all about firsts. Each of these photos represents a first for me in some fashion.
This juvenile Bald Eagle is the only eagle I've ever photographed in the wild. I've taken photos of Bald Eagles at a rehab center, but never in the wild before or since this shot, or shots, since I managed to get three or four as it flew overhead. I noticed something out of the corner of my eye and quickly snapped some photos without making camera adjustments. The exposure was way off and I had to correct it as much as I could in post-processing. Despite that, this is a personal achievement since Bald Eagles don't appear regularly around here.
I know there are Wood Ducks in Kentucky, but like many birds, I don't see them. This is another opportunity I had while vacationing in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I could hear the duck in the trees and finally located him perched on this dead limb which is one of the things I like about the photo. Surprisingly, he stayed there long enough for me to get my first Wood Duck shots. If I stare at it, it looks more like a decoy than a real duck.
I had never seen a Green Heron, much less photographed one, until this shot. I remember being very surprised and fumbling with my gear trying to get some photos. The heron picked a great place to perch for my first shots. For a while after this, I saw Green Herons several times and was able to get many shots as you've seen from my posts. Then, as quickly as I started seeing them, they vanished. I can only assume they go elsewhere for the winter.
This was probably my most exciting "first" for heron photos. I had lots of portrait shots and even fishing shots, but this was the first time I had caught a fish being flipped in mid-air. I didn't know it until I downloaded the photos. I've since come to terms with this being just like thousands of other heron photos out there, but it was a big deal to me at the time. I can't help but think the fish was making a last second plea for help in a very tiny voice.
Continuing with my series of favorite photos from the past year, here is the next group of shots that made my list.
This young Barn Swallow sat on the ground and waited as the adults brought food. They didn't stop to feed the little one, though. They would fly over and feed in flight and continue on. The whole process happened very quickly and I missed most of the feedings because of it. I did get one sequence, though, including this drop off shot.
I have a lot of moon photos, but none that have another subject with the moon. I was taking shots of the moon early one evening while it was still quite light and was literally looking through the viewfinder when I noticed the jet enter the frame. I had just enough time to get one photo. My step-father saw this after I posted it and asked me if I would send him a high-res version. He had a large print made and framed which now hangs in their home. He even asked me to sign the back and include a quote, so I wrote, "Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good".
While we were visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains earlier this year, I had the opportunity to photograph a large number of Canada Goose goslings. In many places that might not be a big deal, but I've never seen goslings here at home. We have lots of adult geese, though. I like this particular photo because of the grass hanging out of his bill and the dew drops on the grass blades. This little guy has kind of a clueless look about him.
Gulls are fairly common in many places, but I normally only see them here during the winter. This gull was flying just above the frozen lake. If you look near the bottom of the photo, you can see a white patch which is actually a dead fish just under the ice. Several birds, including a heron, investigated this fish trying to get at it. I like how the gull's head is framed by his wings as he looks at the fish and the way the wing tips flair out.
What's left of the wild fruit and robin holdouts will soon be gone for the winter. I haven't seen robins in the yard for weeks, but I saw large flocks of them at the lake recently, including this one. I don't know if they were migrating through or just taking advantage of some remaining food source. Either way, it means the cold is here. And I like it.
If you didn't see the first post in this series last week, I'm going back through my photos from the past year and picking out some of my personal favorites. The choices aren't based on technical correctness or popularity, just my own liking.
This is one of my favorite squirrel photos primarily because the little tree rat is in its natural environment rather than sitting at a feeder where they are usually found. Like the blue jay shot from last week, this has the branch bokeh stuff going on and the squirrel appears to be checking things out before moving in to raid the goods. Tree rats are like furry little ninjas, after all.
I have yet to get many woodpecker photos that I really like, but this is one of those "I got lucky" shots that has become my favorite. This female Red-bellied Woodpecker visited the big platform feeder and grabbed a sunflower seed. She was kind enough to pause so I could trip the shutter.
Of the snake photos I've taken, which isn't many, this is among the top two or three I really like. To me, the outstretched tongue exemplifies what snakes are all about and Mother Luck helped me get this. Even though this was just a little garter snake in my backyard, it still has that classic mean snake look. Snakes just look mad even when they smile.
This is one of my favorite waterfowl photos, period. This is a situation where burst mode was my friend. The rest is just the right place at the right time and paying attention. I have nothing else that comes close to the bubble formed by this Mute Swan. It definitely made the shot.