Monday, April 21, 2014

Meetup Morning at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Red-winged Blackbird Singing and Displaying
This morning I joined a Meetup group organized by Mike Milica at Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge - Concord Unit. We met at 5:45 AM in the parking lot where Mike explained that the main object was trying to get male Red-winged Blackbirds displaying on the reeds or on the cattails, plus whatever else we could find to photograph. The plan was that we would all spread out since the dike trail is long enough to support us without being in each other's way.

As we started walking down the trail, the first bird that I observed was a female red-winged blackbird, which I photographed high-key so that I could completely blow out the background.

Female Red-winged Blackbird
Then I joined the group photographing a very cooperative Great Blue Heron who was standing in the water which was flowing in between the two impoundments. Everyone had a chance to obtain photographs of this bird.
Great Blue Heron
The rest of the morning was taken up trying to get the red-winged blackbirds singing and displaying what out being obstructed by objects in front of them by having sticks coming out of their head. It required a lot of patience and moving around to get the best angle.
Red-winged Blackbird In-Flight

Some of the other species that I photographed included a singing Common Grackle in great light showing off its beautiful iridescence. A pair of mute swans went through different display modes, then they mated and displayed again afterwards. Most of the ducks and geese were far away, however, a male Wood Duck swam close to the shore line and required careful placement of the camera and lens in order to get a clean photograph of this beautiful duck.

Common Grackle Show in Its Beautiful Iridescence As It Was Singing
Mute Swans Mating

Mute Swans Displaying after Mating
Wood Duck
Near the end of the meetup, Mike went over manual exposure and how to set exposure utilizing a grey card or an incident exposure meter. Interesting my Nikon D3s was two thirds of a stop on the the recommended reading while my Nikon D7100 was right on. When I am shooting this is something that I have to keep in mind. It was a great day and I met some new friends at hopefully we will get together shooting again in the near future.