Wildlife photography is what I do. Maybe I’m in a rut, maybe it’s a specialty. Whatever it is most all my photos involve animals.
I have friends, photographers, that feel the same way about sunsets. They live on the shore and beautiful sunsets happen often. I love their work, unfortunately I rarely get to an area open enough to even practice a shot like that.
Several evenings while we were in Florida we closed the day at the Gopher Tortoise preserve. A beautiful beach included.
I was able to shoot unbelievable sunsets, some of my favorites birds, and with no hiking or bugs. Not bad.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We found 2 Owlets hiding in the trees nearby. They looked a little big for the Hawk but obviously Mom was taking no chances.
Red Shoulder Hawk
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.