Red Shoulder Hawks

While in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida I was told by a ranger all the Hawks I might find would be Red Shoulders. He said it was pretty rare to see any other type in that area.

Coming from Connecticut I found that strange. We must have 10 – 15 different kinds of Hawks. In fact I had only seen a Red Shoulder up close this past winter.

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Red Shoulder Hawk

 

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Red Shoulder Hawk at dawn

 

We hiked through swamps, pine forests, and saw grass marshes and I must have seen Red Shoulders 2 or 3 times each day. They appear to have acclimated to most all the Florida terrain. However I don’t remember seeing any on the shore line. Ospreys are very territorial so most likely they drive them away.

Watching The Great Egret

One of the things I had hoped to accomplish on the this trip was to shoot a series of a Great Egret. The Great Blue Heron and the Great Egret are the 2 largest wading birds.

Great Egret (click to view)
Great Egret (click to view)
Great Egret (click to view)
Great Egret (click to view)

The first hike of the week found one within an hour. A good start.

When you see a Great Egret in person you know right away, really big birds. The smaller Snowy Egrets also have bright yellow feet. Of course it’s not always obvious since they stand around in water most of the day.

I have read they also hunt differently, one has his beak out straight, the other neck bent. That kind of detail is beyond me. You would need to hang out in swamps or water a little more than I care to for that expertise.

 

 

Barred Owl Family

The first morning in Corkscrew Swamp went from a very slow walk, stalking a Snowy Egret, to complete and total chaos in a split second.

In the tree tops right above us 2 very large birds were screaming and fighting. The trees blocked any photos but we could see them plowing between branches.

Barred Owl.

One bird had chased another, then landed back near us. It turned out to be a Barred Owl. For quite some time the Hawk and the Owl went back and forth through the trees and over a small swamp area.

Barred Owlet
Barred Owlet
Barred Owlet
Barred Owlet

We found 2 Owlets hiding in the trees nearby. They looked a little big for the Hawk but obviously Mom was taking no chances.

The Owls had no interest in us at all. Drawn by the noise other photographers came to the swamp edge. The Owl  family of 4 ignored us and hunted along the waters edge. The Hawks and food were important, we were just one more ‘critter’ among all the other swamp residents.

Click here for a quick review of our photo shoot week.

 

First Anhinga Photos

Before this photo trip I had never seen an Anhinga except from afar. I assumed they were Cormorants.  Seen close they are really beautiful birds.

Anhinga
Anhinga

Anhinga’s are also called Snake birds, they swim with only their neck and head above water. Piano birds is another name based on their wing feather shape and colors.

Like Cormorants they lack body oil for their feathers so they must spend time with wings held wide, drying off. They are much bigger than our local Cormorants.

Click here for a quick review of our photo shoot week.

A Different Type Of Shoot For Us – April 2015

While we do have many photo pages shot from other parts of the world anyone who follows this site will expect mostly New England based articles. Our typical short themed articles are local to our area.

After a long, and thankfully productive, winter we decided to take a photo trip south. We settled on Florida and the northern end of the region where the Everglades start.

All the locations we visited were either found on-line or suggested to us by local Florida photographers who found us wandering around and took pity on us.

With one exception we hiked on trails or state/public utility provided roads. We did find a great preserve that allowed us to drive along marshes and park anywhere. After a week on foot it was a welcome change.

I will say at first it was a little unsettling parking the rental car on a roadside dirt patch and following a flat trail through dirt and saw grass. I much preferred the places that had Rangers, a trailhead info booth, etc., however ultimately they all provided amazing scenery, wildlife, and some ravenous blood sucking bugs.

We didn’t know April was nearing the end of the dry season. This did affect our trail decision once we started. Some marshes were dry, just hard packed dirt and sharp saw grass, and the billions of hungry flies. Florida Panthers like this terrain but a search here produced bug bites, warning signs on what to do when facing panthers, and nothing more.  Oh yeah, wild pigs are a problem too.

Swamp land that did have water has shrunk to a small area. This actually helped us. The local wildlife population was in a more condensed area and easier to find. In some cases many had learned to live close to each other. Unfortunately for some the predators were also packed in close.

Day 2 we found some large Alligators in a swamp. Towards the end of the week we came across a pickup truck being loaded with them. I quickly learned how to look at the mud trails and see if the Alligators were using them too. Even for me it’s hard to miss a dinosaur track.

Over time this site and PassingByPhoto.com will share our photos and the related stories.

As always thanks for visiting.

Day Time Owls

Who knew ?

OK, really bad joke but I could not resist.

Owls are always associated with night. They hide during the day. Hunting and other activities are after dark. But not all Owls.

It seems in the Corkscrew swamp area, Florida near the start of the Everglades, the Barred Owls have evolved to be active during the day. There is more competition for food there at night and Hawks are an on going danger.

The Owl here was out in full daylight. I watched her hunt, fight with Red Shoulder Hawks to protect her young, and really just hang out.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary includes hiking trails and a boardwalk along a central lake. The preserve is 13,000 acres. During the dry season many of the residents are forced to congregate at one of the larger lakes. Great for photography, bad for the locals. Alligators swim right beside wading birds, Hawks and Owls prey on each other. In general it’s chaos for about a month.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

The shots taken here were while a pair of Red Shoulder Hawks flew over head looking for the young Owlets. Mom (above) ran them off.

 

Monochrome New England Whaler

New England Whaler
New England Whaler

Last week, as part of a challenge, I created this photo in Black and White.

Time constraints didn’t allow me to finish all my shots, however I did want to post this one.

The scene is a restored Whaling ship docked behind two period houses. The ship here is the ‘Morgan’. I believe this is the last  Whaler of its kind.

Growing up in NYC history like this was only in books. I guess that’s why this simple image fascinates me.

TPJ Photography