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Whooping Crane

Aransas NWR, Texas, USA. 9 February 2017
EOS 7D mk II with EF 500mmf4 II & x1.4TC.

Shortly after the start of my DLSR bird photography era, in November 2007, following a business trip to Houston, I had the opportunity for a few days birding afterwards. I chose the Rio Grande Valley as my top priority, and after some deliberation ruled out the long drive back towards the Whooping Crane area at Rockport. It wasn't until ten years later that I got another, possibly last, opportunity to combine a winter business trip to the Houston area with some birding afterwards. So this time, driving along the Texas coast from Houston to Rockport made a lot of sense.

Having booked this trip well in advance, we arrived at Rockport a couple of days earlier. To our dismay our first morning dawned very misty, as we understood it had been for several days. But remarkably, the following day started with brilliant sun and no sign of mist. So we boarded the early morning boat trip on the "Skimmer" offered by Captain Tommy with some anticipation.

Initially our views of Whooping Crane were very distant but soon the Captain homed in on an almost adult bird feeding by chance very close to the water's edge. Here, with the sun behind us, the light on this bird was superb and I was able to use my new 500mm f4 lens, on a tripod, to its full advantage. At times the bird was too close to fit in the field of view! Of course I took numerous shots, but this close up of the bird having caught a Blue Crab (its favourite food) is probably the pick of the bunch.

Sadly this area was hit by Hurricane Harvey in October 2017, and the hotel we stayed in remains closed (as of March 2018). Fortunately (and more importantly!) it sounds like the Aransas NWR and the Whooping Cranes, that would not have been in the area as early as October, did not suffer too badly.

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