Tag Archives: wildlife

Reddish Egret, New To Me

These shots were taken at Sanibel Island, Florida. Specifically at the Ding nature preserve. My impression of Sanibel came from years ago at a resort. I thought the entire area was like that. Actually more than half of the entire Island is preserved as a refuge.

What I enjoyed was no hiking required. This was the only place we could use a car. Really, drive along and pull over on the side. It was encouraged. I complied. At this point of the trip I was getting tired.

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

Lighting was an adventure. Blinding sun was the order of the day. All the inlets were shallow, dead calm, and bright glares.

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

The Reddish Egret lives along the shore line and shallow flats in the most southern part of the US. Just southern Florida through Texas. Rarely south of Texas so they have a small habitat.

The are tall birds, almost 3 feet high and can be mistaken for a Great Blue Heron at a distance. They also dance on the water similar to Snowy Egrets. This stirs up the mud, and small fish. Its great fun to watch.

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

When the sun hits them just right they may be the most striking of all the wading birds. At the least as pretty as a Blue Heron.

Wood Stork, Strange Bird

Tall, wrinkled bald head, big nose. Doesn’t sound very flattering.  Overall I don’t think the Wood Stork is much to look at.

Wood Stork
Wood Stork

However, when they fly a stork is as graceful as an Egret. Long, slow wing strokes pushed them faster than would seem right.

Wood Stork
Wood Stork

Wood Storks had been endangered but in 2014 they were upgraded to a threatened species. They are the only stork that breeds in North America with small colonies in Florida, Georgia, and now South Carolina.

I only found 2 storks in the Corkscrew swamp. The ones seen were pretty aggressive. That may have been due to the limited water during the dry season or just a disposition to match their looks.

I’m betting if you’re that ugly your attitude isn’t great.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled

Even a guy raised in NYC knows better than to continue down this path. I didn’t know how many Alligators used it, and I didn’t care.

We were well into the trip by the time I shot the image above and I had seen my share of large reptiles.

Alligator In Swamp
Alligator In Swamp

Several times while hiking I found short paths down to streams. If they looked like the one below I just kept going straight. Here I thought it must have been a pretty big tail to leave that mark.

Alligator Tracks In Our Path
Alligator Tracks In Our Path

My experience with Alligators had been limited to a few on a golf course, but they really are out there I found out. Of course they make for a great picture and story.

They weren’t just in swamps or back woods areas. We were shooting landscape scenes and plants around clear lakes. The photo below was taken with a short focal length portrait lens.

Alligator
Alligator

While this guy didn’t seem more than mildly interested in what I was doing we moved on. Looking at the under water shadow I knew he was fairly big.

But again, makes a good story.

Perfect At Hiding

Owls can blend into their surroundings better than most animals. A small Screech Owl can be invisible.

The only reason we found this little guy was another photographer, a local person, gave us detailed landmarks along a trail. Even then we missed him several times.

 

Screech Owl
Screech Owl
Screech Owl
Screech Owl

The Barred Owl in the Everglades region is perfectly fine with hunting in the daylight. This poor guy couldn’t keep his eyes open.

 

Willets On The Beach

Until recently I had no idea what a Willet was. Everything smaller than an Egret was a ‘piper’ to me. I really missed out not paying attention.

Willet
Willet

One thing that struck me was they had no fear of waves, or knew how to handle them. Consider their size, 17 inches, a small wave was like a tsunami to them.

Willet
Willet

Unlike a Plover or Piper that frantically runs back and forth following waves a Willet casually strolls along.

I found if a stood still at the waters edge a Willet would completely ignore me, walk past, and continue looking for treasures.

 

Wildlife Sunset Photography

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.

However…

Sunset with Pelican
Sunset with Pelican

Several evenings while we were in Florida we closed the day at the Gopher Tortoise preserve. A beautiful beach included.

White Ibis At Sunset
White Ibis At Sunset

 

Willet At Sunset
Willet At Sunset
Willet At Sunset
Willet At Sunset

I was able to shoot unbelievable sunsets, some of my favorites birds, and with no hiking or bugs. Not bad.

 

 

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.

IMG_9694-2
Red Shoulder Hawk

 

IMG_9711-1
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.