UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel at DVinfo.net

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Old October 3rd, 2012, 09:34 AM   #1
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UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

South Florida isn't known for spectacular or colorful scenery but we do have bird activity most of the time. Heron rookeries are a good example. Either breeding is going on, or the birds use them as convenient places to rest. This specific one is in the Town of Delray, and is a secondary sewage treatment facility. Birds love it. So do people, especially the local "condo commandos" who use the raised boardwalk as their jogging trail. As a result, shooting video can be very shaky. This visit was on a bad weather day, and they were largely at home.

The Cattle Egret is one of nature's biggest success stories. Native to Africa, where it follows the herds of ungulates, eating insects, it was first seen in Surinam around 1948, then in Brazil not long after. No one knows if a boat was involved, or if these strong flyers made it across the Atlantic in a storm. These few (maybe only 2?) birds found a welcome home, lots of food, and plenty of cattle. They were seen in Alabama, in the southern US, in the early 1950's, then in the northeast. Now they are everywhere, and unlike other "exotics", they bother no one.

I was fortunate in being able to find an alligator doing the water-dance thing. This shot was actually taken in the Everglades, not Wakodahatchee. Only the big males do it. I do not know what the wavelength is, but it has to be really low.
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Old October 3rd, 2012, 11:06 AM   #2
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hi Steve,

So nice to see these (for me) exotic birds, and the alligator doing the water dance was really cool.
Must be awesome to see them in the wild.
Thank you for teaching me something new.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 06:13 AM   #3
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Steve, I really like the fight shoot of the pink bird… smooth…

And you got some nice sequences with the parents feeding the chicks. Well done. It’s basically only one shot that I would have preferred differently, that’s the quick pan on the alligator, I think a cut would have been better from the moving head till the “dancing water”. I also would have liked some more alligator shots :) …

Well done Steve!

Last edited by Markus Nord; October 4th, 2012 at 08:08 AM.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 08:04 AM   #4
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Marcus,
I felt so fortunate in actually getting to pan to the dancing water that I didn't even think about a cut. The problem with the pan is that it was too fast. I slowed it down, but not enough, and doing more would have made it even jerkier. You're right, a cut would have eliminated the issue. Thanks.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 03:48 PM   #5
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

I see, you have a rich variation of wildlife in your neighborhood.
I am impressed to see all the bird-shots you have managed to do in few weeks.
The film is really good.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 07:40 AM   #6
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Another enjoyable film - fascinating footage of the birds and crocodiles at close quarters - my only comment is I would have liked a slightly longer intro to show me where I was, but maybe that was because I was watching at 6 in the morning!
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Old October 5th, 2012, 08:30 AM   #7
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hey Paul,
Thanks for the comment. The short intro was a purposeful decision. As I said, this place is a sewage treatment facility and it is in a residential neighborhood. A longer pan shows houses, fencing and telephone wires...sort of ruins the ambience.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hi Steve,

This was a very educational video and I learned a lot! I don't know much about birds, so it was neat to get cliff notes on each of the ones you profiled.

When I saw the crocodile shot, I thought, "is that really footage he shot?" Weren't you afraid? How far away were you and what type of lens were you using?

Loved the crossfade from the birdseye to the static environment shot.

My only critique would be the clarity of the voiceover. What did you use to record?

Toni
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Old October 5th, 2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hi Toni,

Yes, I really shot that alligator from about 50 feet. Don't recall the amount of zoom. I was safely on a boardwalk, and was lucky that the small children there too with their parents were quiet for the time of the booming. Not very glamorous, I know, but even on level ground, being 50 feet away is quite safe. I wouldn't recommend swimming, however.

I really apologize for the voice over. There was some sort of mike issue and by the time I realized it, it was too late to try to fix. Better next time.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 11:37 AM   #10
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hi Steve. It’s great to have a rookery nearby because you can always count on getting some interesting behaviour. You have. I know what you mean about boardwalks. I have a favorite spot for rails that is a boardwalk looping out into a salt marsh. The joggers start shaking the camera when they are still over 100 yards away. The “power walkers” are even worse. The pity is none of them even notice the birds. I have been close to male alligators giving that mating call in a small aluminum boat. You can feel the low frequency coming up through the hull. Have you noticed that a significant amount of the spray is actually atomized? At a low angle and with the sun behind you can see rainbows in the spray. I’d like to see that on video and I think you will have a much better chance to get it than me. I hope you will and will someday share it with us!
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Old October 5th, 2012, 03:49 PM   #11
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Mike,

I didn't know that. It would make spectacular video. The problem is that the only spots I have ever seen this, you face east and the gators are up against thick foliage. I'll watch out, though. Thanks.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #12
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Steve,

I really enjoyed this video. What kind of zoom were you using, to get such amazing shots of the birds and alligator? I enjoyed the variety of wildlife, and behaviors. It seems surreal you are seeing such a broad spectrum of bird behavior now, as further north we are heading into winter.

The alligator was especially appealing to me. Years ago I joined a film crew to create a film for a visitor center in SC. I was the audio person, and spent many mornings starting before dark to record just one alligator, and not nearly as good as the one you got.

Something that might be interesting, if you can get one, is to put a hydrophone in the water when recording the alligators. When I was in Tanzania over 20 years ago a colleague and I used one to record the underwater sounds of hippos, which are different than what you hear above the water. If you speed up the low frequency recordings, it would be neat to hear what they sound like.

Thanks for sharing such a lively variety of exotic creatures.


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Old October 6th, 2012, 06:59 AM   #13
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Hi Ruth,

It's interesting what people think is exotic. To me these are neighborhood critters. I make two trips a year to your state to see what I think of as remarkable, one to the Blue Ridge in the spring for migrants, one in December to the coastal plain for waterfowl. By the way, if you haven't taken advantage of filming the Snow Goose and swan spectacular in December around Lake Mattamuskeet, you would enjoy it.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 03:56 PM   #14
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

That was cool Steve. Great shots. Nice fade at the end with the birds eye view. Interesting how the gators protect the birds. One of these days I'm going to try to film birds, but I'll need a better telephoto.
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Old October 7th, 2012, 03:14 AM   #15
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Re: UWOL 24- The Rookery- Steve Siegel

Nice little video Steve; this is the second time that I have seen familiar African birds in the UWOL 24 competition.
Its funny but I have actually seen African Crocodiles sitting under a tree full of nesting Cattle Egrets in Kenya; waiting for juveniles to fall into the water after early flight accidents. It looks like those birds wont get any relief over there with the Alligators in such close proximity.
As everyone else has mentioned the water dancing was quite a coup, and added some real 'production value' to your piece.
You mentioned that it was in a residential neighborhood; in that case you did well to hide this as judging by the footage in the video it could have been in the deep wilds (from the audiences perspective). Nicely played!
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