Tuesday, May 3, 2011


I have already written a post about an egret nest that we saw the first day of our visit to the St. Augustine's Alligator farm. http://jpweddingphotograpy.blogspot.com/2011/04/egrets-nesting-and-newborns-feeding.html .If you missed it, this link will take you to it. I was told by one of the farm's staff that they were about 7-10 days old.  As you can see, they are still white downy looking but are the size of a medium chicken.

When we arrived the second day and I started looking around at the hundreds of nests in the rookery, I spotted something going on in one of the nests far up and towards the back of the rookery. Using my longest lens, the 70- 200, I could see an exciting sight, but just barely. I called Phyllis over and excitingly told her that I thought I saw another nest with chicks. Phyllis was shooting with the 80-400 lens and would be able to get a closer view. What we saw as we took turns looking through the lens was a parent egret with at least two chicks. What made it really exciting was that the chicks were not there the day before. That meant that they were less than twenty-four hours hours old! Phyllis very kindly switched lenses with me and I started photographing them.

I had mentioned in the other posting that there were inherent problems when shooting parents and chicks in the nest; the parents' shadows being cast on the chicks creating exposure problems; trying to get a picture with all the chicks looking somewhat in the same direction; branches and leaves in the way. Those problems were present in a nest much closer to me. This nest was higher in the trees and farther away. Even with the 400 mm lens, it would take some cropping in post production for the readers to really see the chicks. Not that it is hard to crop, it's not. But as you crop, you start degrading the image so making a good quality original image is even more important. I think these images are really good, I hope you all do, too.

I am not going to write too much more so you can just look at these images and hopefully enjoy them. The last image is to remind you what size these amazing birds grow to and how graceful they become.
In the first few images, only one then two chicks are visible. After a few minutes, the parent can be seen with its head down in the nest working at something after which, another chick pops up into sight, I am not sure if she was feeding this smaller chick or actually helping it out of the egg. It could have been born as I was taking these images.

If you look at the chicks' bills, you can see residue from the birthing process; another bit of evidence to how old they were.

   In this image, you can see the face of one chick very clearly and the back of another. The parent can be 
   seen working on something.

               Now two chicks are plainly visible and you can see the residue on their bills.
                             The parent continues working on something, possibly a third egg.
    If you look very carefully under the downy feathers of the second chick and to the left of the parent's  
    bill, a third eye appears hidden in the shadows.
                       The parent backs off and the head of the third chick is clearly visible.
        Then it happens, the third chick's head pops up suffering from a really bad case of egg head!!!

   This chick seemed the strongest; always with its head up and looking around at the world.
   When looking at these tiny really cute chicks, it is hard to believe that there is a great chance that the  
   two oldest will likely kill the third and weakest chick while the parents stand by. I guess you trust in  
   nature to know best but if that's true, why the three eggs in the first place? A cruel survival lesson for  
   the so young, possibly?? Still sad!!

     I wanted the last image to remind you what the chicks will grow into; a very large, beautiful creature;  
     a wonderfully graceful bird that you have now seen from its very beginning.


alejandro guzman said...

gorgeous mate..



Excellent piece of work....
and the Chicks looking so Cute...:D

fantacy in practicality said...

chicks were lovely, can guess the patience required to catch the moments. i find your work brilliant each time i visit your blog.

Alpana Jaiswal said...

I have seen egrets and never ever gave a second thought to them..thank u for this very interesting information,and the descriptive pictures,Jim.That is what makes your place more interesting..get to know a lot along with the visuals.

Rimly said...

The miracle of birth so aptly captured by you Jim. Breathtaking! Thank you for sharing this miracle.

Alfandi said...

great photos of the baby chicks..not an easy task to look for them..and to be able to photograph them..

Ann said...

Jim--these are amazing! Thanks for sharing the photos and all the info!

Abhisek Panda said...

Patience...that's what makes your photographs so breathtaking Jim.Loved all of them :D

The Invisible Art

Jewell said...

Awww..they are so adorable!!!!!

Debra said...

Exotic creatures caught in the act of everyday living. Striking and vivid photos Jim. “Taking flight” does show how they grow to become such majestic birds.

Roy Durham said...

hey Jim great photos and love the story john Audubon is turn green with envy. i know the point of the copyright image but do you have to put right in the middle of the subject. but i like your blog and post just wish there was a better way to protect your work so i could see all the details. thank you and god bless.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Oh those little birds are adorable! I love the feathers on their heads! More like feather-tufts :D Marvelous photos.

cath said...

what wonderful photos and I appreciate the effort that went into capturing these awesome shots!
(@jonesbabie on Twitter)

Aaron said...

What a great oppurtunity for you to be there while a chick was being born. It is so amazing that you had the photographers "luck" of a nice clear shot of the nest.

I love the images and the final one is just a breathtaking image. Looking forward to watching this family grow.

JIM said...

Thank you everyone I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Roy the reason I have to put my copyright there is to make it difficult for the people who steal images on the net. I know it might be hard to believe but it happens much to often. I have lowered the opacity to make it easier to see the image
Thanks for your interest