Sunrise in Birdland

A morning shoot at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

So, my buddy Aidan Finn was right (AGAIN) about when to get the best shots, so I got down to Pea Island a half hour before dawn one Saturday. A cloudless sunrise on the South Pond made for some of the best waterbird shooting I've ever done. Just me, the camera and the Canon Cannon, the 800mm, and some truly cool shots. Seriously, some of these pictures are almost uncropped full frame on this perfectly lit morning. I hope you enjoy them and if life takes you to the Outer Banks, leave time for a trip to Pea Island. And by the way, let me warn you that I created the "when you click on them" larger versions of the pictures bigger than usual because, well, I had the pixels and the pictures came out so well... so if you have a slow link they may take a moment.

Tundra Swan
Tundra Swan
When you start taking pictures of the big white gooselike things at Pea Island, you eventually get to the "what bird is this anyway?" question, and believe it or not, it's a toughie, as Tundra Swans and Trumpeter Swans are really, really similar-looking and in fact the first bunch of pictures that I took of them weren't all that helpful, ID-wise. See the little yellow dot by the eye? That's the key. (And, of course, a look at the range of the Trumpeter Swan sorta locked it up. Tundra swans actually LIVE on the water in the winter, sleeping on the cold water, which I guess is why this was the second bird I saw at sunrise. (The first was a Great Blue Heron wading out in search of breakfast.)
Mark Minasi