My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

There’s nothing better than good glass…

…except for even better glass!

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

I was able to dodge the rain at times over this past weekend to use the new 100-400 mm lens more, and all I can say is that I wish that every lens that I own worked as good as it does!

I’m sorry for posting so many photos of great blue herons again, but I found a rare heron that seems to like posing for photos.

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

Great blue heron

Great blue heron

 

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

 

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

 

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

 

Great blue heron landing

Great blue heron landing

It may only be a juvenile great blue heron, but at least it will let me approach it and shoot many photos of it as it goes about its business. As skittish as that species normally is, I’ll take any chance that I can get to test out the new lens. The same goes for this great egret. I saw it on Sunday when the light wasn’t very good…

Great egret yoga

Great egret yoga

…standing about 50 feet from the road, and it just stood there preening and stretching as I shot away. Of course it wouldn’t stretch the wing towards me out for a great photo. On Monday, when the light was a little better, I found it in the exact same spot later in the day, and it allowed me to test the new lens with the 2 X tele-converter behind it.

Great egret, 800 mm

Great egret, 800 mm

 

Great egret, 800 mm. cropped slightly

Great egret, 800 mm. cropped slightly

 

Great egret, 800 mm

Great egret, 800 mm

 

Great egret, 800 mm, cropped slightly

Great egret, 800 mm, cropped slightly

The new lens is so sharp that even though the images shot with the 2 X extender are a little softer, they’re still very good, even when I crop the images a little!

I fought poor conditions for photography most of the weekend, I wish that I had better light and a better background for these.

Bald eagles

Bald eagles

 

Bald eagle number 2

Bald eagle number 2

 

Bald eagle number 2

Bald eagle number 2

 

Bald eagle number 1

Bald eagle number 1

Staying with raptors a bit longer…

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

…I shot that one on Sunday. Then, on Monday, I found what I think was the same falcon engaged in what I think is peculiar behavior for a falcon…

Peregrine falcon pouncing

Peregrine falcon pouncing

 

Peregrine falcon pouncing

Peregrine falcon pouncing

…the falcon was walking around on the floor of one of the aeration cells that’s shut down for repairs at the Muskegon wastewater facility. Every once in a while, it would pounce as if it were trying to catch something in the slime, but it missed whatever it was after every time.

Peregrine falcon pouncing

Peregrine falcon pouncing

 

Peregrine falcon pouncing

Peregrine falcon pouncing

Finally, the falcon flew off to go back to harassing the gulls.

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

 

Peregrine falcon in flight

Peregrine falcon in flight

That new 100-400 mm lens also works very well for birds in flight. I shot this one on Saturday at home.

Cooper's hawk in flight

Cooper’s hawk in flight

Just a short time later, a red-tailed hawk, one of a pair, circled over my head, and when it got as close to me as I thought was my best chance to get close-ups, I simply pressed the shutter release, and let the 7 D shoot in high-speed mode until the buffer was filled.

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

 

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

 

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Red-tailed hawk in flight

Those there are culled from the 30 or so that I shot before the 7 D began to slow to a crawl as far as how quickly that it could write to the memory card. I’m happy to report that all the images were in sharp focus.

This one was also shot on Saturday around home.

Red clover

Red clover

This one is from Saturday also.

Bumblebee on an aster

Bumblebee on an aster

Except for the last two, I’ve chosen the images for this post based on the wow factor of the larger birds, and how well that I’m able to catch them in action with the new lens. It does as well or better on smaller birds too!

White-breasted nuthatch

White-breasted nuthatch

I’m weird, I have many better images of small birds that I shot over the weekend while I had better light, but I think that the photo of the nuthatch shows how well the new lens works when conditions are terrible for good images. Low light, a quick little bird that wouldn’t sit still for any length of time, and yet I was able to get a decent photo of the nuthatch.

I even shot a short movie of the northern shovelers feeding.

Despite the trying conditions at times, I had a great weekend! I spent too much time outside, I’m still trying to add keywords and ratings to the photos that I shot. I’m also suffering from a lack of sleep. Hopefully, the people here to repair the crack in the foundation wall of my apartment will finish before it’s my bedtime.

It was odd that I came across both a great blue heron and a great egret that were willing to stand and pose for me the way that they did, it made trying out the new lens much easier than if I had taken a shot here, and a shot there. It’s not as rare for eagles to pose, but it is odd for the falcon to stick around as close to me as it did before it finally flew off. There’s no award winners in those photos but they do show how well that the new lens does, including good images of the falcon hopping around on the ground. At the angle that I was shooting at, they wouldn’t have shown the falcon as well if I had been using either of my other birding set-ups.

Where you’ll really be able to see how sharp the new lens is, and how much detail that it captures, is in the images of the smaller birds that will be in my next post.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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20 responses

  1. If the next lot are better than these, then they are going to be very good indeed.

    October 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    • Thank you very much Tom! I’ll let you be the judge of the next batch of photos.

      October 4, 2016 at 11:58 pm

  2. Great photos of all the birds but my favourites are the red tailed hawk in flight. They are so clear and detailed especially the feathers, tucked in feet, watchful eyes and sharp beak – wonderful shots. Love the video too, apparently,(Wikipedia!) northern shovelers eat amongst other things pond weed, algae etc wish they were here to clean our pond of all the weed!

    October 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    • Thank you very much Marianne! I’m glad that you liked the hawk photos. Yes, northern shovelers are filter feeders that eat many of the smaller plant life in water than do the other ducks. I didn’t capture it well in the video that I shot, but they will form large swirling rafts that stir up the water to bring food to themselves. By spring, they will be more used to having humans nearby, and hopefully I can shoot a better video then.

      October 5, 2016 at 12:03 am

  3. That lens, and with the 2X no less! Those photos of the Peregrine Falcon, and the two hawks are the best I’ve ever seen. That’s without saying anything yet about your photographer’s skills and dedication.Jerry, you certainly do great work with whatever equipment you have.

    October 4, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    • Thank you very much Hien! I was surprised that a zoom lens performed that well with the extender behind it, it must be that Canon has built a superior lens with the use of tele-converters in mind.

      October 5, 2016 at 12:06 am

  4. Nice of the egret to pose not only once, but twice in the same spot! I wish one of them would fly up here and pose for awhile. I’ve never seen one.
    Great shots of the heron and eagles too. I saw an eagle perching in a tree just over my head one day and of course all I had with me was a cell phone camera.
    From what I’ve seen so far this lens is a real winner. You couldn’t ask for greater detail and sharpness, especially in the shots of the falcon. Those are my favorites!

    October 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    • Thank you very much Allen! It was unusual for both the egret and heron to pose for me, especially the egret on two days. The egrets don’t breed around here, I don’t know why, but a good number of them move slowly through the area every spring and fall.

      At least you’ve seen an eagle and could tell it from a vulture. Eagles don’t seem to be bothered by us, it’s as if they know that they are protected.

      I was afraid that the falcon was going to be a brown blur in those photos, I was more than delighted to see that the falcon was sharp and stood out against the background. That’s my ultimate goal, to be able to photograph the things that I see wildlife doing, and do so well enough that I don’t have to say “That brown blob that you see in my photos is a falcon hopping around on the ground trying to catch something”.

      October 5, 2016 at 12:14 am

  5. Beautiful photos, Jerry! Hard to pick a favorite. I noticed the Peregrine is banded. Very impressive series of shots!

    October 4, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    • Thank you very much Lavinia! On my computer, I could read the number 40 on the blue band on the falcon, if I knew where to submit that information to, I would, and maybe they would send me the particulars about that individual bird.

      October 5, 2016 at 12:16 am

  6. Great shots Jerry! I loved the reflected light on the heron’s breast and the way all the feathers of the birds you’ve photographed are in such perfect detail. The clover is stunning!

    October 4, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! That new lens is everything that I hoped it would be and more, now I can truly photograph the beauty of nature for all to see.

      October 5, 2016 at 12:18 am

  7. I’ve had that lens with extender for 10 years and am amazed with the sharpness I get. Great shots as always

    October 4, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Michael! The 100-400 mm I just purchased is the version two model. I’m loving it!

      October 5, 2016 at 12:20 am

  8. You can never post too many Great Blue Herons for me, carry on please!

    October 5, 2016 at 5:04 am

    • Thank you very much Susan! However, I put so many heron photos in the last two posts that I had no room for squirrels, that will change in the next one.

      October 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

  9. You could post heron photos all day long, and I would happily check them out. Love the shot from behind with his wings all spread out.

    But, I think my favorite shots are those of the falcon. With those talons extended, it looks like a hunting machine. What fun to watch it make several unsuccessful attempts at dinner.

    Glad you love that new lens – isn’t it great when you agonize over a purchase, and it all works out?

    October 5, 2016 at 8:55 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! If I had posted all great blue heron photos I wouldn’t have had room for the falcon. 😉

      I’d love to catch the falcon making an airborne attack, now that I have the proper equipment I may get one sooner than I think.

      Yes, the new lens is everything that I ever wanted, it’s fast, easy to handle, and it’s the second sharpest lens that I own.

      October 5, 2016 at 10:25 am

  10. Well, I think I’d have to agree with you about a good glass, Jerry. Most people may say, “Nothing better than a good glass of wine,” but I think photography is far more interesting and satisfying! Loved all the shots but my favourites are the pouncing peregrine falcons and the undersides of the hawks. I really think the beauty of birds of prey is under-rated sometimes. To me their patterns are simply stunning and your incredible action shots showcase them at their best. I could watch them in the sky for hours, if my neck and eyes didn’t get so sore. They are such amazing hunting creations. 🙂

    October 16, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    • Thank you very much Jane! I agree, the beauty of raptors is often under-rated. I can’t believe how much better this new lens is than the other lenses that I already had, when they’re supposed to be good ones.

      October 17, 2016 at 2:46 am