Black-backed Woodpecker photographed January 18th at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston. This was a life bird for me.
And here’s some video:
Over the past few year I have become increasingly interested in recording video of birds and other wildlife using any number of my Canon digital SLR bodies. The quality of the footage can often be remarkable and in many cases I find it more compelling then still photography.
The first test video I posted to YouTube in 2009 was of Harbor Seals off the coast of Massachusetts. It’s nothing special in my opinion but does show what you can do with a modest priced camera like a Canon 7D. I’m now using a Canon Mark IV and Canon 1DX.
As I’ve continued down the path of trying to improve the quality of the video footage I have also worked very hard at capturing “good” audio. However living in the Northeast this is not easy to do, in fact there are times when it is almost impossible. You are constantly fighting any number of man made sounds that “pollute” the video you are trying to record. A quick list would include: cars, planes, motorcycles, lawnmowers, leaf-blowers, snow blowers and yes even dogs barking. They all can turn what might have been a great video clip in to one that is simply average. If you do not believe me go to Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Concord, Massachusetts in late May or early June and try to record “clean” video/audio of singing Red-winged Blackbirds or Marsh Wrens. Here’s a hint, once the planes from nearby Hanscom Air Field start flying you will have limited success.
Okay so how are we going to get to the title of this blog post. The short answer is I bought a GoPro Hero 3 Black just over a year ago then a second Hero 3+ Black earlier this year. Then this past summer my plan was to try and record video from Plymouth Beach of some of the large flocks of migrating shorebirds. I know the beach well and have photographed shorebirds there for many years and if you hit it just right you can have thousands of birds feeding in the flats as the tide is coming in or out. Sounds easy right? Just get out there and place the GoPro in the right location, hit record and presto! Well as it turns out it is in fact NOT easy even when you have these large flocks of shorebirds. For starters they do not like the GoPro, it makes them uneasy when they are close to it and tend to jump away. So after some failed attempts I discovered I needed to cover the GoPro in seaweed so it would blend in to the beach. The results at times were striking and shows the viewer these birds at eye-level as they feed, interact and moved about. Even with the GoPro in the waterproof housing the audio sounds okay, not great but good enough.
The bottom line for me at this time is I am hooked on GoPro cameras and planning new ways to record video of birds and other wildlife using this incredible tool. To see three clips from Plymouth Beach I’ve posted to YouTube click on any of the photos in this blog post or check out these links:
GoPro Plymouth Beach 1 (along the shore)
GoPro Plymouth Beach 2 (feeding on the flats)
GoPro Plymouth Beach 3 (low tide feeding)
Hope you enjoyed this post and remember please help to protect wildlife and wild places.
Shawn P. Carey
On Saturday November 15, 2014 myself (Shawn Carey) and Eric Smith hosted our annual Nature Photographers Photosharing Session with help from Ray MacDonald and Jim Grady at Mass Audubon Bluehills Trailside Museum in Milton as a benefit for Norman Smith and his Snowy Owl Project. All proceeds benefited the Snowy Owl Project.
If you would like to help Norman and the Snowy Owl Project please go the the Mass Audubon web site and click on the link to donate.
Another year has passed, Spring has arrived and with that the Barn Swallows are back at Mass Audubon Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (DWWS) for a second year. They are once again nesting in both observation blinds and offering great views and photos.
Other birds of interest that can be seen from either observation blind are Wood Ducks, many Tree Swallows, Williow Flycatcher, Yellow Warblers and two Muskrats just to name a few. However the real highlight (at least for me) has been photographing the Barn Swallows over the past two weeks. While some days are better then others for photographing them you would be hard pressed to depart DWWS and not have a few “keepers” when you return home. To view some of my photos from the past two weeks click on this link or any of the photos.
The other interesting sighting in the past week has been a Long-tailed Weasel that has raised three babies in the East or Morning blind. I first noticed her about a week ago and then this past Sunday morning May 25th while sitting in the blind with two friends (and fellow photographers) the mother Weasel stuck her head out of the hole she has been using and then proceeded to pull one of the babies out of the hole. Shen then dragged it out of the blind and off to a new location. She repeated two more times with her remaining babies. I was able to get some video (not much and not very good) of the first extraction. Click here to see video of Long-tailed Weasel.
Other birds of interested that can be found near the entry building and feeders are several Wild Turkey, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds and in the fields Bobolinks can be seen buzzing about trying to attract a mate. For the next few weeks DWWS would be a good place to visit for some good photos and viewing and for any photographers I would suggest bringing a bean-bag for use in the blinds and some bug spray. While it’s not to bad right now for misquitos it is only going to get worse.
Take care, hope to see you at DWWS and remember please help to protect wildlife and wild places.
Shawn P. Carey