First Spring Trip to check out tour shooting sites
Yesterday, March 18th, 2017, I made my first trip to check out the sites I use for my April and May Louisiana Bird Photography Tours. I visited Lake Martin, Jefferson Island, and the Wading Bird Rookery located in Klondike Louisiana. Leaving home at 4:30am I was able to visit each of these locations and check out the conditions. Due to the length of the day and the over 300 miles I covered, limited time was spent at each location.
While the purpose of the trip was to prepare for my upcoming tours, anyone planning a photo shoot will benefit from the article. Anyone planning such a trip is welcome to contact me via email and I'll be happy to help you plan to maximize your photo experience.
The first stop was Lake Martin. As usual I started the morning prior to sunrise to photograph a landscape. I used my full frame D810 with a 24mm tilt-shift lens to create a panoramic image. While photographing that I noticed a Pileated Woodpecker on a cypress tree in the Lake about 50 feet away. Using a 300mm f/4 lens I stopped down enough to capture a sharp image of the tree while waiting for the Woodpecker to be in a good pose. Capturing that image I completed shooting the panoramic image.
As has been the case for the past 10 years, the wading bird rookery is too far for effective photography. However, there is still many good subjects to be found there. Particularly small migratory birds and Owls.
One highlight of Lake Martin has been the boardwalk extending out over the lake. In the past I've photographed Owls, Prothonotary Warblers, and other small birds on this boardwalk. With the floods in August the boardwalk was destroyed. I'm happy to report it has now been repaired.
After the morning landscape photographs I drove up and down the road checking for other subjects, it was a quiet morning for this activity.
Finally I spent some time using my D800 which was converted to infrared to photograph the large oak trees on the grounds of the visitors center.
Typically during my photo tours we spend a late afternoon at Lake Martin photographing owls or migratory birds followed by a sunset at one of the two good locations.
I next drove to Jefferson Island to check out the rookery. Often there is no activity there until early April.This year I found Roseate Spoonbills engaging in their courtship rituals. The smaller island, which we prefer for photography due to the proximity of the birds, had about a dozen Roseate Spoonbills. The larger islands had many more. I spent a short period there in the early afternoon and then departed to check out the Klondike Rookery.
I later returned after visiting Klondike. I spent about an hour and thirty minutes in good light and was able to obtain some very nice images. The smaller number of birds worked in my favor as it wasn't difficult to isolate the birds. Later in the spring, when there are many more birds, getting a clean shot is much more of a challenge.
I've been using Klondike as a backup site for about 10 years. It's a very small Rookery and it's quite a trip from Lafayette. So it's not one of my preferred locations. But we have gotten some nice photographs from there and if there's a problem at one of the other shooting locations it has been a good option.
Several years ago they paved the road to the Rookery which has lead to an increase in traffic. Last year while there were birds int he Rookery, the grass along the road was so tall it was impossible to get good shooting postions and so while I visited the Rookery, we did not visit during any of the tours.
This year there has been several side roads built along the road, along with both new businesses and housing, further increasing traffic along the road. There was not evidence of any birds at the site and I'm afraid this Rookery is not an option any longer.
I have a tentative plan to visit Miller's Lake and the Henderson Swamp area over the next several weeks with Kim of "The Atchafalaya Experience". Both of these locations require a boat to photograph the birds. At Miller's Lake we hope to clear pathways into some of our favorite locations and check out the conditions there. Hopefully I'll be posting a post after that trip.