Meet YLP’s bird man
If you see a fellow on one of YLP’s trails carrying a camera and looking up into the trees, there’s a good chance it’s Robert Groos. And chances are he can tell you in detail what has caught his attention. Stop and listen, and you’ll learn something you didn’t know about our wonderful mountain home.
So why does he do it? “There’s the obvious aspect of exercise being outside. I like nature but there’s a challenge involved in the photography and that really drives me.”
Groos and his wife, Patty, live in a home on the side of Revis Mountain with one of those gorgeous views of distant hills. He’s out and about frequently, taking photos of birds outside his window as well as on distant hiking trails.
” I go for the smaller birds because number one they’re hard to see, they’re hard to find…. and they’re hard to photograph because they’re moving so fast and that is a real prime drive to my interest. Just like anybody who does sports — you want to get better at what you do.”
Groos speaks in a soft, steady tone that bespeaks his background starting as a former college professor with a Ph.D. in French who later spent most of his career in computer technology and sales. He says he’s self-taught in photography.
His equipment, of course, is professional as well — Canon 5D and 7D SLRs, with a Canon 100-400mm telephoto among his lenses.
Many people in YLP take pictures of birds and animals, and many of them are quite good. What makes Groos’ work stand out is its almost portrait quality — extremely sharp and almost of story-telling quality. An avian moment in time, chasing an insect or guarding a nest.
On the coffee table in the middle of their home’s central great room, the Grooses keep three professionally bound books of Robert’s photos — one titled “Birds of Deer Canyon Preserve,” from where the couple formerly had lived in New Mexico, and others on their trips to Egypt and Peru.
Starting today, you’ll get to enjoy many of Robert’s photos and learn about the scores of bird species that inhabit YLP. He begins a periodic blog on yosemitelakespark.org with some of his photos, focusing each time on a different bird or topic. We hope you enjoy it!
YLP on the wing
Hello. My name is Robert. I’m a bird photographer here in YLP. In this blog, I will introduce you to some of my avian friends, who also are your neighbors here in the park.
You will frequently see me walking Blue Heron Lake Trail with a really big camera in my hands. Say “hello” and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have about our birds.
Today I showcase a bird that I consider to be the voice of YLP: The Acorn Woodpecker. Oak woodlands, such as we have here in YLP, is where they live year-around. If you spend time outdoors, you can’t miss hearing their raucous calls throughout the day.
In spite of the name, Acorn Woodpeckers feed primarily on insects. During winter months, when insects are less prevalent, they rely upon communal acorn granaries that clan members have assiduously stocked throughout the year. Many of our utility poles have hundreds of holes drilled into them for this purpose.
The Acorn Woodpecker is a gregarious bird, performing aerial acrobatics as it flies openly from tree to tree, utility pole to utility pole. Pause a moment, look closely at its lovely clown face, and try not to smile.