WARNING: Not for Sensetive Viewers

After capturing a beautiful proposal at White Point Gardens, I had a few extra minutes. So I decided to stay and photograph the famous Black-crowned Night Herons. I wish I hadn’t!!!
 
During each hot and humid Charleston summer, the live oaks in White Point Gardens (also known as Battery Park) become the nesting grounds for Black-crowned Night Herons. Seemingly unafraid of the public, they start acting like they own the place, making them easy to approach and photograph. Even though the park is said to be haunted, the night herons don’t seem to mind. In fact they nest in the very trees that the pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were hanged from!
 
In all my years photographing wildlife, I’ve only ever witnessed one other occasion so brutal and violent. While I was wandering around, a major disturbance began unfolding overhead. A mother decided to reject one of her chicks. Ejecting it out of the nest, pecking it to near death in the branches, and then pushing it out of the tree…the poor chick plunging to certain death below. The mother then returned to tend to it’s other chicks as if nothing had happened.
 
Why do birds reject babies? The main reason is to enhance the survival probability of her other chicks. It’s believed that the mother senses something is wrong in the development of that chick. Or they realize they don’t have the resources to raise all of their young successfully. Eliminating one mouth to feed is their only solution.
 
Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to witness such a seemingly violent act. But such are the laws of nature! Fortunately, I was able to ease the conflict in my soul by photographing a few other herons peacefully preening as the sun began to fade.
 
(Nikon Z9 + FTZII + 500mm PF)

Wildlife Workshop with Kiawah Island Photo Club

This week I had the great pleasure of working with the Kiawah Island Photo Club as their instructor during a private Wildlife Workshop that was held at the Center for Birds of Prey!

Under the care of Stephen Schabel (Director of Education), we had a fantastic time learning about these amazing hawks, falcons, kites, storks, kestrels, vultures, and owls. It was very rewarding for me, helping everyone figure out the best settings and techniques to capture these beautiful creatures. But the most amazing part was seeing the wonder and awe on the participant’s faces as they experienced these majestic birds up close and personal!

After a fun day together, we all set our cameras down and enjoyed an insightful behind-the-scenes tour of the operating rooms and rehabilitation facility.

Many thanks to Kimberly and Gordon from the Kiawah Island Photo Club, as well as Mandy, Stephen, and Katie from the Center for Birds of Prey for organizing this fabulous program!!!

Wildlife Photography Workshop at Center for Birds of Prey

This past weekend, I had the honor of leading the second annual Wildlife Photography Workshop at the Center for Birds of Prey: http://www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/visit/special_events/instructor-led-photography-workshop/.

We had an AMAZING time photographing these amazing creatures, learning new techniques, acquiring new skills to use in the field, and simply having a BLAST!!!

Many thanks to Kara, Natalie, and the rest of the team for all their hard work and preparation in pulling this event off! And a huge shout out to all the wonderful attendees!!!

If you missed it this year, I hope you’ll join me next fall for #3. 🙂

Edisto Island

Cami and I spent a week in a wonderful, secluded, log cabin on Edisto Island last week.

We were there for our annual business planning, affectionately called the “Chris & Cami Photography Summit”. But we also use the time to unplug, reconnect, and refocus.

As part of that process, I was able to take time to visit some favorite scenic spots like the beautiful avenue of oaks at Botany Bay Plantation, or sit on the porch and photograph the happy songbirds that came to the feeder for a snack. Here are a few of my favorites from those quiet times of reflection.

Our Fine Art images make great decorative pieces for the home or office, and are fantastic gifts for friends and family. Some of these images have been added to the gallery at: http://chrisandcami.zenfolio.com/fineart. Enjoy…

Center for Birds of Prey

Last weekend I had the privilege of photographing a group of children involved in an immersive learning experience at the Center for Birds of Prey.

Thank you Kara for the wonderful opportunity to see the wonder and awe in these young people’s faces as they learned about these beautiful creatures!

And a special thank you to Audrey, Meghan, and Natalie for leading the wonderful program!

Zugunruhefest at the Center for Birds of Prey

I recently had the pleasure of photographing this AMAZING event at the Center for Birds of Prey:

“Welcome to Zugunruhefest – the Southeast’s most comprehensive migration-focused birding festival. Zugunruhe (zu – gun – rue) is a German word derived from Zug (move, migration) and Unruhe (restlessness). This state of restlessness is commonly noted in migratory animals, especially birds.

As fall approaches and instincts prevail, birds are compelled by this silent call to take flight to their wintering grounds. As part of the Atlantic Flyway, the Lowcountry serves as a predictable thoroughfare for migrating raptors and shore birds during fall migration passage. Exploiting the Center’s strategic location, Zugunruhefest will afford numerous opportunities for observers, both novice and advanced, to experience fall migration from an exceptional vantage point.

In addition to onsite vendors and children’s activities, the festival will include three days filled with naturalists, ornithologists, and educators leading bird walks, flight demonstrations, informative lectures and programs, and more. The festival will culminate with a panel of avian experts in a round-table discussion and reception.
Significantly, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which provides over-arching legal protection for all migratory birds, is marking its Centennial this year, a fitting context and milestone to recognize as we celebrate the wonders of migration.”

I hope you’ll consider coming out for this incredible festival next year!!!

Costa Rica Adventure

While the country has only about 0.1% of the world’s landmass, Costa Rica contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. Around 25% of the country’s land area is in protected national parks and protected areas, the largest percentage of protected areas in the world (most of the developed world averages only 8%). Deforestation in this small, peaceful country has successfully been reduced to almost zero.
Over 840 species of birds have been identified in Costa Rica. Some of the country’s most notable avian species include the resplendent quetzal, scarlet macaw, and keel-billed toucan. Not to mention the most colorful frogs, the fastest lizard, and some of the most venomous vipers in the world! It’s no question that Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet!
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and photographing in this beautiful country 3 times. Last month was by far my most fulfilling! Teaming up with my good friend, and amazing photographer, Bill Nixon, we found and photographed some of my favorite wildlife images ever! Bill and his family live in Costa Rica, which made all the difference. His knowledge and connections helped us seek out and capture the most unbelievable images, and have the wildest experiences I could imagine!!!
We were so incredibly successful, that we decided we HAD to share these amazing locations with other photographers. These aren’t the usual “tourist traps”. We’re talking about places at the ends of long, bumpy dirt roads…where REAL adventures happen! These are places where locals will share with us some of the most amazing discoveries! We will be co-leading workshops to Costa Rica. And we invite anyone who is looking for an insane adventure, looking to fill their bucket list to the brim, and looking to photograph prize-winning images of some of the most rare and beautiful species on earth, to join us. Visit www.CRPhotoTour.com and sign up for more information…