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Royal Spoonbill

Image # 1D2_01747

Surat Bay, New Zealand


Canon 600L/f4 IS with 1.4x II Teleconverter

ISO 800, f/8, 1/400 second

Manual Exposure

Gitzo 1325/ArcaSwiss B1/Wimberley Sidekick


We made a last minute decision to leave Stuart Island a day early, to allow us to spend some time in the "Catlins" area. In looking for a place to stay, I came across the Nugget Lodge, owned by Kath & Noel Widdowson. The material indicated that Kath was a professional photographer, so I immediately called her up. Unfortunately, they were already booked, and we had to stay elsewhere. Once we got to the area, however, I stopped by her lodge, and she was gracious enough to spend a good half-hour with me, sharing with me her involvement in various conservations projects (especially working with Penguins). On her recommendation we went out to Surat Bay before dawn the next morning, as she indicated we'd have a good chance to see some Royal Spoonbills there.

She was right on the money, and we found a number of spoonbills feeding in the mud flats (fortunately it was low tide). Unfortunately, the skies were completely overcast, making conditions quite poor for shooting. These birds are mostly white, and the area was mostly muddy, so this limited these images quite a bit. To make things more challenging, I tried some fill-flash to light the birds up a bit, but this really freaked them out. One flash, and they removed themselves immediately beyond shooting range. I came back later, tried again, left my flash off this time, and was able to get a number of shots. At least the wind helped out a bit, giving the Spoonbill an interesting 'hair-do.'