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offshorebirder

Pelagic Photos

35 posts in this topic

Pelagic photography has to be one of the more difficult shutterbug pursuits. The bouncing and unstable platform, inability to use tripods, the ever-present salt spray, tricky lighting reflected off the water and other challenges, it can be extremely frustrating, yet very rewarding when things go right. Needless to say, high shutter speed is a must, since both photographer and subject are moving...

 

I'll post a sampling of my pelagic shots - would love to see other people's from their respective areas - particularly the Cape of Good Hope area, Humbolt Current in S. America and New Zealand.

 

Black-capped Petrel (an endangered species) "scrum" in pursuit of food in heavy seas. In the Gulf Stream, 90 miles from land over the Charleston Bump - an underwater seamount that deflects the Gulf Stream. June 10, 2013. Canon 7D with 300mm f4. ISO 400, f/8, 1/2000 second.

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Wilson's Storm-Petrel walking on water in the Gulf Stream off Charleston, South Carolina, USA. May 25, 2014. Canon 7D with 300mm f4. ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/1600.
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Skipjack Tuna in pursuit of prey (note the small baitfish it is tracking) in the Gulf Stream off Hatteras, North Carolina, USA. July 7, 2013. Canon 7D with 300mm f4 - unknown settings.

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Black-capped Petrel missing its mark while feeding at a cold core eddy near the Charleston Bump. June 10, 2013. Canon 7D with 300mm f4. ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/2000

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Gervais' Beaked Whale (male) off Hatteras, North Carolina. July 7, 2013.- very few photos of this species (while alive) exist. Canon 7D with 300mm f4 - unknown settings.

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Atlantic Puffin off Virginia Beach, Virginia, January 19, 2013. Canon 7D with 300mm f4 - unknown settings.

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Dovekie off Virginia Beach, Virginia. January 19, 2013. Canon 7D with 300mm f4, ISO 400, f/8, 1/2000

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Posted (edited)

I wanted to post another set of photos - that show part of an epic battle between a Cory's Shearwater and an eel in the Gulf Stream. The Cory's Shearwater kept trying to peck the eel behind the head and also tried to drag it backwards (presumably to drown it). But the eel was strong, tough, slippery, and kept trying to bite the shearwater. Eventually the battle moved out of observation range - we do not know how it ended.

It is either an American Eel or European Eel - not possible to separate the two based on photos. Both eel species live in fresh water until they move to the ocean to spawn in the Sargasso Sea. Photos taken on June 7, 2012 off Hatteras North Carolina. Canon 7D with 300mm f4 - unknown settings.

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Edited by offshorebirder
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Very cool battle you captured there @@offshorebirder We're heading your way (from FL) at the end of August to stay at The Inn at Palmetto Bluff. I was thinking of using Eric Horan and Lowcountry Photo Safaris to get out on the water for some photography. Have you heard of him?

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@@PCNW - I have indeed heard of Eric Horan - he has a good reputation. He would be your best option in the Beaufort area for boat-based photography - charter fishing captains don't know about positioning the boat w/ best lighting, where to find wildlife, best spots for 'magic hour' landscape shots, etc. If you are lucky he might be able to put you on strand-feeding Bottlenose Dolphins.

 

* If you can make the drive up from Bluffton and want to visit, I would be happy to show y'all around the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center - a vast place that is not publicly accessible (except on brief captive tours that focus more on history and other things than wildlife). I do regular shorebird surveys there and often bring people along to enjoy the spectacle. We ride the ferry over to the large island complex and I am able to drive around in 4WD vehicles to cover the various areas. The remote location and lack of disturbance makes the birds pretty tame - one can often photograph neat shorebirds, wading birds, reptiles, and other wildlife at very close range from the vehicles. I took Tom Blagden there a few weeks ago for the first time and he was blown away and eager to come back. Only downside is that Yawkey is an hour's drive north of Charleston, which is 1.5 hours north of Bluffton...

 

If you'd like to discuss off-list, my email address is offshorebirder@gmail.com

 

PS - sorry for the tardy reply

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Oh wow @@offshorebirder that is such a generous and tempting offer! Let me think about that one but this trip is more about him than me and I'm already making it about me. We're probably flying in and wont have our car so that would decide it. I'll contact you if it looks possible. Thank you so much. Patsy

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@@PCNW

 

I have nothing to add except we used to live in that neck of the woods and it was gorgeous. Plenty of photo ops abound whether you are with a guide or not.. go on over to Kiawah if you are nearby - birds a plenty. I also thought Beaufort was lovely

 

Have a grand time!

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@@offshorebirder welcome to Safaritalk - wonderful photos!

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neat images @@offshorebirder

I had to look in a dictionary to find out exactly what pelagic means. duh! :wacko:

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Superb photos! Welcome to ST.

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Posted (edited)

Here is a photo of a Sooty Tern - a highly pelagic tern species that essentially only comes ashore to nest.

 

The photo was taken in the Gulf Stream 90 kilometers southeast of Charleston, South Carolina - as a squall line of July thunderstorms was approaching. This Sooty Tern and some shearwaters were doing their best to dodge the worst of the weather.

 

Canon 7D + 300mm f/4 IS lens. F/9, ISO 400, 1/1250 sec. I should have shot it f/8 ISO320 but was pressed for time.

 

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Edited by offshorebirder
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Here is a high-res photo of two Cory's Shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) over the Gulf Stream southeast of Charleston, South Carolina. They are feeding over a school of Skipjack Tuna in pursuit of baitfish - one bird is taking off and one is wrestling with a baitfish of some kind.

 

Cory's Shearwaters breed on small islands in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, and spend the nonbreeding season in areas of the eastern and western North Atlantic, as well as the eastern and western South Atlantic.

 

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Posted (edited)

Parasitic Jaegers (Stercorarius parasiticus), also known as the Arctic skuas, are predatory seabirds that are somewhere between a hawk and a gull. They breed in the Arctic tundra - lemmings are their primary food source, with eggs and young birds also being high on the list. They spend the nonbreeding season at sea, pursuing terns, tropicbirds, and other small to medium seabirds until they disgorge their meal in a sort of aerial extortion / predation. Jaegers also readily pursue and eat baitfish driven to the surface by predators, and also small birds they encounter - woe be to the small passerine migrating offshore if a Jaeger finds it miles from cover! Or the injured Phalarope...

This is an "intermediate morph" Parasitic Jaeger in the Gulf Stream off Charleston, South Carolina. It is somewhere between a pure dark morph and a pure light morh - perhaps a bit more towards the dark side of the scale.

 

Canon 7D, 300 mm f/4 IS lens, F/9, ISO 320, 1/1250 sec.

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Edited by offshorebirder
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Posted (edited)

Here is a Pomarine Jaeger - Parasitic Jaeger's slightly larger relative. This was an immature bird (perched and in flight) in the Gulf Stream off Charleston, South Carolina.

 

Canon 7D, 300 mm f/4 IS lens, f/4.5, ISO 200, 1/2500 sec.

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Canon 7D, 300 mm f/4 IS lens, f/5, ISO 200, 1/2000 sec.

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Edited by offshorebirder
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Posted (edited)

The Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) is a highly endangered seabird - only 2,000-3,000 nesting pairs are thought to exist. They come to shore only to breed in burrows in steep mountainsides and cliffs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and possibly Cuba. The Jamaica Petrel, an all-dark subspecies (some taxonomists argue a distinct species) of P. hasitata that once nested in the mountains of Jamaica, is now extinct.

 

Terrestrial threats to Black-capped Petrels include feral cats, invasive Mongoose, and deforestation by impoverished people ignoring protected area boundaries. Pelagic threats include increasing deepwater oil exploration and drilling in the straits of Florida and potentially in the southeast Atlantic.

 

This Black-capped Petrel was cruising over the Gulf Stream above a deep water canyon just north of the "Charleston Bump".

 

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Edited by offshorebirder
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Puffins

Farne Islands. UK

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Puffin with a beak full of sand eels

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Guillemot, with a sand eel

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Some very nice photos @Soukous.

 

Question for you:   do they have Razorbills in the Farne Islands, or just Guillemots and Puffins?

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17 minutes ago, offshorebirder said:

Some very nice photos @Soukous.

 

Question for you:   do they have Razorbills in the Farne Islands, or just Guillemots and Puffins?

 

@offshorebirder Yup, razorbills, 3 kinds of tern, eiders, kittiwakes, Yellow legged Gull, Herring Gull, Black headed Gull, Cormorants, Shags as well as puffins and guillemots

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Posted (edited)

Neat - thanks @Soukous.    I would be in heaven there I am sure.

Edited by offshorebirder

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One of many seen of a trans Atlantic crossing from Cape Verde to The Amazon.

Flying Fish 2014-01-16

 

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Next Monday I am off on a pelagic trip in to Liverpool Bay, the area off the coast of North Wales and North West England, organised by a friend. Birds are the most likely photographic subjects but if we are lucky we might just come across a pod of Dolphins. In the 5 years since I first went on one we have managed just one sighting but it was a superb and intimate experience to view them at close quarters and from a small boat,35088551943_ca903da906_b.jpgBottlenose Dolphin by Dave Williams, on Flickr

 

Hopefully, next week I will have more to share!

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@Dave Williams - it wouldn't by chance be a Scilly Isles pelagic organized by Bob Flood would it?

 

 

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@offshorebirder   No, the Scilly Isles are off the South Western coast of England. Would love to do one though, they get some great birds down there.

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