Self-Care to Spoonbills

My wife and I may be getting closer to moving day, but I still try to find time to bird, to photograph birds, and to learn about photography (and everything else). I also still try to find time to write. Even in the midst of a move, and maybe especially in the midst of a move, it’s important for me to find time to do the things I love. Doing the things we love helps sustain us and keep us going. It’s called self-care.

Juvenile Green Heron
Juvenile Green Heron

Telephoto Technique

Speaking of learning, I just watched an Optic 2021 webinar on telephoto technique featuring wildlife photographer, George Lepp. I’ve read his column in Outdoor Photographer for years. That’s where I also discovered Melissa Groo. I’m always interested in learning more about technique and how to avoid “user error.” More bad photos/missed photo opportunities are caused by user error than anything else. It’s usually not the gear.

One of things that George mentioned in his talk was shutter speed. You’ll recall that Melissa, whom I cited in “A Few Good Bird Photography Tips,” asked bird photographers to consider using 1/1600-1/3200 sec (or faster) for birds in flight. Well, George suggested starting @ 1/3000 sec. That took me by surprise. I’m usually at around 1/1600 sec. Maybe that explains my low keeper rate. I take more BIF shots than anything else.


Here’s a recent shot of a juvenile White Ibis. I took it at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia Beach, VA with my 500mm prime and extender. I took it @ 1/2000 sec. Even though the bird wasn’t in flight, it was busy moving around and foraging. All this talk about shutter speed has made me consider using faster speeds for everything. With these new full-frame cameras with their high ISO capabilities, that’s not a problem.

Juvenile White Ibis
Juvenile White Ibis

The Spoonbills

The morning I took it, I was chasing the Roseate Spoonbills that had made an appearance at Back Bay. Spoonbills are members of the Ibis family. I almost never chase and am not a twitcher, but that morning I had to go. Who doesn’t chase pink wading birds with spatulate bills?

Immature Roseate Spoonbill
Immature Roseate Spoonbill

After I got home, I posted the above photo and posed this question on Facebook: “How on earth do birds with bills like this preen?! I received this response from Tricia in Florida (where the birds breed): “They have a row of ridges along the back end of their bill.” I replied, “Interesting, and makes perfect sense.”

Quip, Question, Quote(s)

“Once you discover the world of birds, you find there’s always more to learn and explore.” NYC Audubon

“Bird photography can be an enormously gratifying endeavor. It invites you to be out in nature, fully present and tuned in to your wild subject. You enter kind of a meditative state, where everything else falls away. At the same time, it’s arguably the most challenging type of photography.” Melissa Groo, for the National Wildlife Federation

4 thoughts on “Self-Care to Spoonbills

  1. The spoonbill I think has lost its way some how . We have one here in Saline Michigan. The bird watcher’s here are all excited to see this very beautiful bird. I think it has been here for a little over 2 weeks. I hope it finds its way back home before are cold weather sets it !


    1. Monica, I’m not sure that’s all that unusual. Here in the East, some spoonbills have shown up even further north, e.g. near Syracuse, NY. Thanks for reading, and very cool that one has shown up there.


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