Greater Shearwater

Image of <i>Puffinus gravis</i>


In the Gulf Stream off of Hatteras, North Carolina. This series of photos of pelagic birds was taken on a special two-day photographic trip run by Brian Patteson and his able assistants. This is the first time he has run such a trip, and it was an interesting experience. He ran the trip with just eight people (maximum 12), giving everyone plenty of room around the railing. Having two days and plenty of excellent looks was a great way to learn pelagic birds.I found the conditions for photography to be very challenging--boat pitching and birds moving quickly. I could almost never use the autofocus on my Canon 30D when birds were in flight, having to resort to manual, tracking by eye as best I could. (However in this case, with the bird sitting on the water, autofocus worked fine. Participants with professional digital SLR's, such as the Canon ID series, did better with the birds in flight.) The digital was my salvation here--I took over 750 images over the two days and came out with about 10-20 decent ones of a few species. Most cooperative were the Greater Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm-petrels, which followed the chum right up to the boat on occasion. Other species proved more wary. We had a beautiful White-tailed Tropicbird fly over the boat, but the weather was too rough at that point for me to aim the camera effectively.Still, it was an excellent experience, and I hope to do such a trip again. Thanks, Brian!Check out Lana Hays's photos from this trip--she's the one with the professional SLR!Puffinus_gravisPCCA20070623-3641A1

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