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BirdSpotter Photo Contest: Week 11 Winner!

January 29, 2013

Congratulations to Cissy Beasley of Beeville, TX, our winner for the eleventh week of the BirdSpotter Photo Contest sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill! The theme for the week was “natural foods”– Cissy caught this fantastic moment of a juvenile male Vermilion Flycatcher about to swallow a dragon fly.

Cissy Beasley caught this Vermilion Flycatcher about to swallow a big dragonfly.

Cissy Beasley caught this Vermilion Flycatcher about to swallow a big dragonfly.

Here’s Cissy’s story about this shot:

As a proponent of nature and its inhabitants first, and a photographer second, I approach my picture-taking as though I am a guest in a beautiful place. I am, after all, in their space, and I deeply respect that.

So it was on a weekend in December, 2012 that I visited a large stock tank on family ranch land in deep South Texas, scanning for photo opportunities. I noted dozens of dragonflies bouncing all across the water’s surface, as well as the vigorous pursuit of those winged fairies by the quick flycatchers and phoebes that also inhabit the area. I observed the behavior of one juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher in particular, who seemed to favor a snag at the water’s edge as his dining spot.

The next morning, I situated my portable blind in close proximity to the snag, and waited. It took awhile for the bird to decide that this strange new thing nearby wasn’t a threat; with that, he commenced his diving and catching and soon, to my delight, he arrived at his spot with a dragonfly that was almost as large as he, firmly grasped in his beak. I admired his ambition!

In all the hours of watching flycatchers, I’ve learned that they enjoy tossing their food around before eating it – so, I knew I was in for an animated show. This little fellow did not disappoint! I aimed the camera and started firing away as he maneuvered the dragonfly in all directions – up, down, in his beak, out of his beak, and finally – down the hatch.

I’ve visited that spot since then, and there is my little buddy, growing into his red suit and looking handsome. I don’t need the blind any longer. I can sit openly close by and my trusting little friend gives me a great show, every time. I’ve learned that when you’re a courteous and respectful guest, hosts appreciate it and you get invited back!

Cissy also sent us a photo of the same Vermilion Flycatcher swallowing the large meal – down the hatch it goes!

The "after" shot - down the hatch!

The “after” shot – down the hatch!

The twelfth week of our BirdSpotter Photo Contest will be open for submissions and voting this Wednesday, January30th! This week’s theme is “birds and water,” so show us your photos of birds splashing around in birdbaths, weathering the rain, or enjoying a natural body of water. Only one photo can be submitted per person but you can vote for as many photos as you like.  This week’s contest starts today Wednesday, January 30th and runs through Sunday, February 3rd.

  1. January 29, 2013 2:15 pm

    Wow, absolutely wonderful writing Cissy to accompany a spectacular image! Great words for every nature photographer to remember.

    • February 7, 2013 1:29 pm

      Thank you, Phyllis – I appreciate your kind words and your agreement with the need to tread lightly in the delicate world of nature. Again, much appreciated!

  2. Leslie Ackel permalink
    January 29, 2013 3:57 pm

    This is such an exciting shot. It summons quite a reaction!

  3. Pat Hogue permalink
    January 29, 2013 4:03 pm

    I love this story just about as much as I love the photo. Thanks for sharing the photo, your philosophy and for sharing a bit of you!

    • February 7, 2013 1:30 pm

      My sincere pleasure, I feel blessed to be a guest in their world and share these images with others!

  4. Holly permalink
    January 30, 2013 11:37 pm

    What a GREAT SHOT!
    What kind of camera do you use that allows such clear and accurate photos?

    • February 7, 2013 1:31 pm

      Thank you, Holly – for this shot, I used a Nikon D600, with a Nikon 300mm f/2.8 mounted on a 1.7x teleconverter. It’s delivered many wonderful shots for me to love and share!

  5. January 31, 2013 2:50 pm

    Great information and photo! Thanks!

  6. February 2, 2013 1:22 pm

    I had to see the explanation and more detail to believe it. The dragonfly looks so intact in the first picture that looked fake. Great capture!

    • February 7, 2013 1:36 pm

      David – I probably took 25-30 shots during this interaction and you are correct, the dragonfly (a female Variegated Meadowhawk) did look intact all the way through the action, until the very end. As I studied the shots, it was never readily apparent to me how the insect died, and maybe it didn’t until it was swallowed. I also have shots of an adult Vermilion Flycatcher eating a bee, and it was pretty clear that the bee stung the bird’s throat, as the bird spit the bee back out! I think these flycatchers must eat their prey, whether alive or dead. I am also learning to see references to shots looking unreal as compliments – so thank you so much!

  7. Jim Masur permalink
    February 4, 2013 12:57 pm

    Action shots are great but food action shots are awesome

    • February 7, 2013 1:36 pm

      Agreed! These types of shots are (pardon the expression) my bread and butter!

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