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Early Morning Drink

Early Morning Drink
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-06-21
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f2.8 IF-ED VR, Optex 77mm Circular Polariser
Exposure: f/6.7, 1/30 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-07-19 18:09
Viewed: 3761
Points: 18
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
The Royal Spoonbill is a large white waterbird with a black spatulate (spoon-shaped) bill, facial skin, legs and feet. During breeding season it has a nuchal crest, which can be up to 20 cm long on the male birds. Breeding adults can also have a creamy-yellow wash across the lower neck and upper breast. Out of breeding season, the nuchal crests are reduced, the plumage is less brilliant, often appearing dirty. I think we’re out of breeding season here.

These birds are found throughout eastern and northern mainland Australia. It can on occasion also be seen in Tasmania, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It is found typically in shallow freshwater and saltwater wetlands, intertidal mud flats and wet grasslands. It will also use artificial wetlands such as sewage lagoons, saltfields, dams and reservoirs.

They feed mainly on fish in freshwater and on shrimps, and other crustaceans in tidal flats. The structure of its bill limits it to feeding in water that is less than 40 cm deep where it can sweep the water with its bill. The spatulate bill has many vibration detectors, called papillae, on the inside of the spoon. These allow the bird to prey items even in murky water and by day or night. Once food is caught, it lifts its bill up and lets the items slide down its throat.

Spoonbills form monogamous pairs for the duration of the breeding season, and nest in colonies alongside many other waterbirds. A solid bowl-shaped nest is built of sticks and twigs, lined with leaves and water plants. The nest sites may be reused year after year. Both sexes incubate the eggs and feed the young. The young will forage alongside their parents for some time before the family group disperses.

Much of this from: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder/display.cfm?id=192
ID from: Simpson K. and Day N. (2004), Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell.

This shot was taken at the Esplanade in Cairns, an amazing stretch of easily observed tidal zone with a large array of different birds and other marine animals to be seen. The birds were certainly the central characters for this shot (along with their reflection) but I also wanted to capture part of the essence of these tidal mud flats. The birds are standing on mud, which at higher tide would be under water. They are drinking from a fresh water stream, which too will be gone or moved after the next high tide. Across from where they are drinking is a higher vegetated area. You can see the extent of the tide with this area. During high tide, this vegetated area is actually an island. It serves as a nesting ground for a lot of different birds. I’ll put up more shots of this area, and other birds over time. I shot this at 200 mm (my max for now). I cropped to a point where I could still show the meandering of the stream somewhat, with the birds. I wouldn’t feel comfortable cropping much more in any case. The birds would start to loose too much definition.

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
Shot in Raw - NEF files adjusted for exposure and shadow (maximums)
Adjusted levels
Adjusted curves
Dodged with overlay layer (5% opacity black brush)
Reduced noise selectively on all but the birds, then did it again (less) with the birds, so the water saw the reduction twice
Added a saturation layer +20 to master
Added a layer for sharpening and “over-sharpened” with USM
Modified sharpening with a layer mask (30% opacity black brush)
Saved as a tiff
For this post, cropped, sharpened edges, framed, and saved as a jpeg

rcrick, gracious, angybone, Ken52, pierrefonds has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi John, Nice image mate love the reflection in the water, lower left looks a little hot, but that could be because its a bit of a overcast day.... as always great notes....Cheers Rick

Hello John,
A very pleasant composition, where you make well use of the principle of three!
Good diagonal composition, and I like tol see the diverse attention of the birds!
Pablo -

Hello John,
Really sharp with good exposure and focus on your excellent photo!
True colour with much details to enjoy!
thanks for sharing

Wonderful composition - my first was hear no evil/speak no evil/see no evil...but here it would be "don't see water, see water, drink water"

There's a lot of cool stuff going on in this shot - - - I like the reflection of the one closest to us.

Thanks for sharing this scene with us. Very nice!

  • Great 
  • Ken52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
  • [2007-07-20 6:52]

Hi John,
It's the exposure/light that I like most about this one. Very good sharpness and clarity. Nice reflections in water.
Have good weekend.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-07-21 20:47]

Hello John

A very good look at these birds and you have supplied 3 different poses for us to see.The bills show very well.Well focused,and good sharpness.TFS


Hi John,
Very good composition and DOF,
Thank you

Hi John,

A good POV of the royal spoonbill birds, the photo has a good composition, DOF and nice colors. Thanks for sharing.


very good look at these birds ... with 3 different poses... thanks for sharing

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