Fledglings

Fledgling #1
~This shot illustrates the similar fledging process that I have witnessed in the past few seasons. The baby owlet would back itself out of the cavity then proceeded to climb up to the high point. It then waited for the adults’s guidance, took off and landed on the oak tree behind the nest.
All 4 babies have fledged successfully as of 4/17/16
1Dx, 100-400mmII, 1/160, f/20, ISO3200, HH.
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Fledgling #2
~Owlet #2 climbed up and joined one of the adults. It was full of curiosity. The adult took off into the oak tree. Shortly after, another baby peeked out of the cavity, I was lucky enough to capture both of them together with nice eye contact. Shortly after, the owlet #2 took off and flew towards the oak tree while another one was stretching out and looking back.
All 4 babies have fledged successfully as of 4/17/16
1Dx, 100-400mmII, 1/160, f/20, ISO3200, HH.
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Fledgling #4
~Owlet #3 fledged some time in the early part of the morning while I was sleeping. Shortly after sunset, the adult was calling for the last baby, landed on top of the nest encouraging the as baby to come out of the cavity. When it finally did, the adult returned with a prey trying to feed the baby but it was already on the top of the nest looking towards the oak tree. Seconds after the adult left, the baby took off towards the oak tree.
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Eastern Screech Owls with Canon 5DSR

This pair of Eastern Screech Owls has returned to nest in my friend’s property 8-9 years in a row.  Once the babies have reached about 3 weeks old, I returned back to Florida to spend some time photographing and capturing their behaviors.  I spent total of 10 evenings documenting and capturing their behaviors.  Each night, my friend and I spent about 1.5 hours with them and leave them alone for the remaining of the night.  4 owlets have fledged successfully.  I was able to witness and document the fledgling process on camera.

Each year, I love learning something new about the species that I photograph. The pair picked the natural palm this season with starlings nesting right below it. The cavity is so small that the adult had to squeeze through it to get inside the nest. Before witnessing this behavior, I actually thought they would use the momentum from the talons push from gripping on the outside of the nest but instead, the adults use the momentum from incoming landing to squeeze through the tiny hole with both talons in the air. Next, I will post a shot of the adult coming out of the cavity. 5dsR + 100-400 II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HH. ‪#‎canon‬ ‪#‎canonusa‬ ‪#‎canonmalaysia‬ ‪#‎owls‬

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Cricket for Dinner
~Adult returned once again with cricket for the owlets. It did a head turn before proceeding to feed it to the baby.
5DSR + 100-400II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HH.
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Delivery
~The next night, I decided to photograph from the opposite end of where I usually stand. I was struggling with the position of my flash a bit but it worked to my advantage when I saw this image from the back of my camera. The light just barely hit side of the nest and lit up the adult perfectly. I caught this adult as it was taking a slight banking before lifting up and delivering the prey. Standing on the special made ladder with limited space for movement, I was so happy when I captured this in the frame. It was shot handheld.
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First Sign of Life
~This evening, the oldest baby if all made his/her way all the way up, sticking its head out and got fed by both parents at the cavity. It was full of curiosity, paying attention to movements and sounds. I was distance away by the side of the nest and captured this moment.
5DSR, 100-400II, 1/50, f/18, ISO2000, HH_TLP0562-copy

Diver
~Due to the size of the cavity, the mommy had to squeeze her way out of it. 3/4 of her body would be all stretched out so she would be tall and long. That’s when she would give herself a downward push and dropping in altitude before her wings would open and lift herself up in the air. The shot was captured right after the downward push as she started to leave the nest. Those wings were just getting ready to stretch open. As the babies are older, this behavior would occur less frequently due to the need of her to feed the babies inside the nest. The babies now are taking turn being fed at the cavity.
5DSR, 100-400mm II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HH.
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Bullet
~Mommy shooting out of the cavity like a bullet. She went hunting once again.
5DSR, 100-400mm II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HH

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Delivery
~Since this pair of owls are nesting in the urban neighborhood, majority of the prey for the owlets consist of what you can find around the area. The no.1 source of protein came from lizards/geckos. At this stage, the owlets would only come up to the cavity infrequently. The pair often return to their favorite perch with the prey, making its call, almost like letting the owlets the prey is ready, fly towards the cavity and delivering it to the owlets.
In this image, the babies were not at the cavity at the time of delivery, the adult hovered in the area for a split second and landed on the palm.
5DSR, 100-400mm II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HH.
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Dorsal View
~This image illustrates how big their wings are for an owl that small of a size. This is not an angle that we normally get to see so I thought I would share this image. The adult came in with a lizard with the tail hanging in the air. This pair has raised probably about 30+ babies in the last 8 years according to my friend. They average about 3-4 babies each season. This year, all 4 fledglings left the nest successfully.
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Underwing View
~Previous post showed the dorsal view. In this post, it illustrates the incoming flight pose viewing from below, moment before the landing. The adult was delivering a lizard from the hunt.
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Incoming
~Adult coming back to the nest. I went wide hoping to capture a different flight pose. I have been wanting to get a shot of this these wing positions for quite a while. This pair has raised 4 more owlets that have fledged successfully.
5DSR, 100-400mm II, 1/160, f/16, ISO1600, HHTLP_0164-copy

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Bathing

~As the owlets getting ready to leave the nest, I decided to stay up as long as I could to witness the fledging process. A few days ago, I learned that from another photographer friends who witnessed and photographed the the family of screech owls taking baths, my friend Mark decided to make a small pond for the birds nearby. Last night, the pair of Screech Owl continued to feed the babies and did not appear to be encouraging them to leave the nest. After hours have gone by, the feeding did not slow down. I started to browse on Facebook while patiently waiting for the brave one to take its first flight. That was when I suddenly saw an adult landing on the perch that was setup on the edge of the pond. I slowly got off my chair, backed away and got as low as I could. It was around 1.30am when the first adult owl came down and the male joined her shortly after for just a brief moment. They came down total of 5 times that evening. The only light source that I had for that evening was the flood light. I quickly dialed up my ISO, get the closest exposure I could and clicking away. Of the 5 times that they came down, I only was able to catch the female bathing. I decided to put together all the frames of the bathing sequence and make it a slideshow. Here is the link to the gif file: http://troylimphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/BathingSO1000.gif
Staying up all night for those moments made it all worth it. This pair of owls have taught me so much about the Eastern Screech Owl species and they are still my favorite owl in the state of Florida.
1Dx, 100-400II, 1/100, f/5, ISO32000, HH

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Fledgling
~This shot illustrates the similar fledging process that I have witnessed in the past few seasons. The baby owlet would back itself out of the cavity then proceeded to climb up to the high point. It then waited for the adults’s guidance, took off and landed on the oak tree behind the nest.
All 4 babies have fledged successfully as of 4/17/16
1Dx, 100-400mmII, 1/160, f/20, ISO3200, HH.
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Fledgling #2

~Owlet #2 climbed up and joined one of the adults. It was full of curiosity. The adult took off into the oak tree. Shortly after, another baby peeked out of the cavity, I was lucky enough to capture both of them together with nice eye contact. Shortly after, the owlet #2 took off and flew towards the oak tree while another one was stretching out and looking back.
All 4 babies have fledged successfully as of 4/17/16
1Dx, 100-400mmII, 1/160, f/20, ISO3200, HH.

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Fledgling #4
~Owlet #3 fledged some time in the early part of the morning while I was sleeping. Shortly after sunset, the adult was calling for the last baby, landed on top of the nest encouraging the as baby to come out of the cavity. When it finally did, the adult returned with a prey trying to feed the baby but it was already on the top of the nest looking towards the oak tree. Seconds after the adult left, the baby took off towards the oak tree.
All 4 babies have fledged successfully as of 4/17/16
1Dx, 100-400mmII, 1/160, f/20, ISO3200, HH.

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Bird Photography in Southwest Florida

It is that time of the year where the birds are in breeding plumage and busy with the nesting season.  I went out and photographed for about 5 days recently and this is what I was able to capture.  These are photographed around Bradenton all the way to Venice, Florida.

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Elegance

After a short break, it felt great to finally to go out with my gear and do some photography.  The first stop I made was the Venice Rookery.  It was cold, windy and cloudy most of the evening.  I was lucky enough to have some break where everything came together.  I managed to captured the following images on the first visit at the rookery.  Both images shot with 7DII + 200-400mm @ 1/1600, f/8, ISO500.

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The Celery Fields, Sarasota Florida

It has been a very dry spring in Sarasota Florida area.  The water level at the ponds around the Celery fields has been going down, making it a great feeding area for many birds.

I decided to stop by the pond a few times when I was home.  There were dowitchers, yellow legs, herons, ibis, spoonbills, stilts, sandhill cranes and many other species around.  Stilts and Dowitchers were two species that I have not photographed a lot in the past.

For more information about this place, please visit http://www.sarasotaaudubon.org/capital-campaign/the-celery-fields/

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Burrowing Owls

Family Portrait
Burrowing Owls, Cape Coral Florida
It has been two years since I photographed the burrowing owls. I decided to take a trip down yesterday morning to visit the nest sites. This nest was very active, the pair is busy raising 4 babies. It looks like they will be ready to fledge in the near future.

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There are 4 owls in this image.  The adult (left) with 3 babies.  One was hidden in the back, another one was taking a nap with its head tilted to its left and one was giving the photographers the stare.  Enjoy!

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Red Morph Eastern Screech Owl

The owlets from the first nest have fledged successfully. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I did not have the chance to photograph them peeking out of the cavity.
I made a goal to capture them in flight this season. Last night, we moved on to photographing the second pair. This is the Red Morph pair that have been nesting at my friend’s property for the last 8 years. Instead of getting the incoming shots, I decided to focus on the flying away shot. After figuring out their feeding pattern, we setup the camera and triggered it remotely. I managed to capture some frames last evening of this pair flying by to hunt for prey.

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Owl Season is here…

It is good to be back, it is great to be out there holding a camera once again.  After 10 months break, I went out this evening to capture some images of the nesting Eastern Screen Owls.  I went out without any expectations, just hoping to get some decent images and some practice.  It was just like riding a bike once again.

During this delivery, the male Eastern Screech Owl flew in out of nowhere, different than the usual routine where he would perch for several seconds before delivering the catch into the cavity. The subsequent frames showed that it was carrying a caterpillar. In another week, the female will join in hunting and taking turn to feed the owlets. I hope to be able to be back again when the babies are old enough to be peeking through the nest cavity.

Shot taken with 7D Mark2, with its crop factor, I was able to shoot with a shorter zoom lens.  The AF system continues to impress me with its ability to focus in the low light condition.

Update: 4/8/2015 The babies have fledged successfully.  Even though I was not there to witness it, I hope they will survive and start raising their own family once day.

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The adult came back with a gecko. The nictitating membrane (from Latin nictare, to blink) is drawn across the eye for protection during landing.

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