At my semi-regular solo lunch at the pizza place below my office ($5 spaghetti & meatballs!…Tuesdays only), I was reading the latest Audubon Magazine—the Bird Photography Awards issue. Some amazing photos were chosen as top winners; The one that stood out to me was an incredible shot of a flying Peregrine Falcon with a living, and quite shocked, shorebird clutched tightly in its talons.
But then I read a sidebar that said the Top 100 images were in a slideshow online. I had entered five or so images last fall but had almost forgotten about my entry until a copy of the magazine showed up in our mailbox. You see, Audubon cleverly put a $25 fee on all entries, which included a 1-year subscription/membership in Audubon. Very clever.
So now I navigated to their website to see the slideshow of the Top 100. Of course I scanned the tiny thumbnails and within seconds spotted one of my photos! It is the image above of a Tricolored Heron taken down in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I hadn’t received an email from Audubon so I was shocked to see my image. It was chosen from over 8,000 images! It really made my day. Here is a link to the Audubon 2010 Top 100: http://audubonmagazine.org/features1101/photoawards-top100.html
I made the image on a sweltering hot April day at a ranch right on the U.S.-Mexico border at Krenmueller Farms, or as I call it, “Grandma Trudy’s Place” ….She and her husband own the several-thousand-acre spread which includes a ‘resaca,’ an old isolated river bend (oxbow lake) of the Rio Grande.
Yes, I stuck the branch in the muck as there weren’t many decent perches for the herons to use. And within minutes of crawling back in to the blind (which was probably 120 degrees inside), birds started fighting over the perch. First a Great-tailed Grackle used it, then a Ringed Kingfisher, and then a Black-crowned Night-Heron set up shop. Finally this breeding-plumaged Tricolored Heron flew in and displaced the much smaller Black-crowned.
I was using Ryan Marshik’s Canon 500mm f4 which helped turn the spring green cattail leaves in the background into a beautiful dreamy green blur. This image also won 1st Place in the Bird Division of the Valley Land Fund Texas Shootout in 2006.
Canon 10D, Canon 500mm f4, I believe it was f5.6, tripod, pop-up blind.