2015 Field School Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay

Posted by Shawn, March 24th, 2015

Hello everyone, I am happy to announce that Eric Smith and I will one again be teaching on Cape Cod for Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay 2015 Field School. Eric and I have been leading this Digital Wildlife Photography class for the annual Field School at MAS Wellfleet Bay for many years now. It always sells out so if you are interested I suggest you contact Melissa Lowe at MAS Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary as soon as possible.
Dates: July 24 – 26, 2015

Spadefoot Toad

Spadefoot Toad photographed at Mass Audubon Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

Other upcoming lectures, workshop and events are:

Birding in the Land of the Midnight Sun (Iceland)
Essex County Ornithological Club
Date: Friday September 11, 2015
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Peabody Essex Museum, Salem

Atlantic Puffin

Atlantic Puffin

Winter Ducks

Posted by Shawn, March 9th, 2015

For those of us that live in Massachusetts or New England winter really started on January 27. That was the first real heavy snow and for all of February and even into the first week of March is has been COLD and more snow then we know what to do with. This has put a real damper on photographing in some areas that in past winters I would have visited. With that in mind I made it a point to try for some of the winter ducks at places we do have access to like Town Brook Park (Jenney Pond) in Plymouth, Green Harbor in Marshfield and finally Wells, Maine. All provided some very good photography for ducks and some for loons and grebes.

Bufflehead

Bufflehead (male) Canon 600mm f4.0 IS + 1.4x, Gitzo tripod 1/3200 @f8, ISO 3200

The key to photographing ducks is to get as low as possible to the water to get that birds-eye view. However with all the snow and ice that is easier said then done. So dress warm, get low, bring a seat cushion and make sure you have a spare battery. Then when you get yourself into place more often than not the ducks will swim away.  But don’t fear if you stay put and are patient it’s only a matter of time before many of the ducks will begin to move close enough to allow for some good photo ops. Here’s some photos I had from the end of January up to the first week of March or click on the photos in this blog post, enjoy.

Common Loon

Common Loon

Take care and remember to help protect wildlife and wild places.

Shawn P. Carey
Migration Productions

Black-backed Woodpecker

Posted by Shawn, January 23rd, 2015

Black-backed Woodpecker photographed January 18th at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston. This was a life bird for me.

blkbk

And here’s some video:

To read more, visit these articles at Mass Audubon and Jamaica Plain News.

GoPro, Plymouth Beach and Shorebirds

Posted by Shawn, November 20th, 2014

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.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Plymouth Beach, click to view GoPro video 1.

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.

Semipalmated Plover

Semipalmated Plover, Plymouth Beach, click to view GoPro video 2.

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)

Sanderling

Sanderling, Plymouth Beach, click to view GoPro video 3.

Hope you enjoyed this post and remember please help to protect wildlife and wild places.

Shawn P. Carey
Migration Productions