I attribute this quote to the great blue heron on the left in this photo. The heron seems rather oblivious to the enormous alligator chomping on a fish right in front of him.
In fact there is a thick assembly of birds here in what remains of Lettuce Lakes in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as a result of the current drought in south Florida. This small lake is the only wet spot in the entire swamp, and the tension between these birds is evident. The white egrets are continually squawking at one other to move over and yield territory. See the two on the right with outstretched wings?
In this image, I can count 7 great white egrets, two great blue heron, a wood stork, a roseate spoonbill and two snowy egrets — one of which is sitting on the alligator’s long tail. There were many more birds in the tree and nearby in the lake. Crowding the lake and fishing aggressively, these birds are a dramatic illustration of the strain on the food supply caused by the drought.
Tomorrow I am off to Shark Valley in the Everglades again to capture some more wildlife. Stay tuned to this blog space!
On a morning walk in Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, you never know what lies ahead. One time, a Florida Panther jumped onto this stretch of boardwalk. Other days a Burmese python was sighted just below in the swamp. Most likely, you will see a dozen or more species of birds and some alligators. I was not disappointed as I entered the cypress forest.
Standard advice when shooting wildlife: focus on the eye. Not always possible, such as when the subject is moving, and the photographer is panning. On this day in the Florida Everglades, I had enough time to focus on the great blue heron’s eye while hand holding my Nikon D800 with a 200mm lens.
If this sounds like a good title of a children’s book, you think like I do. I would like to write a sequel to “Goodnight Moon,” and use my photos of pelicans getting ready to say “good night.”
This close up photograph shows a pelican landing to join many others settling in for the night on a rookery island near Naples, Florida. They can rest and refresh themselves here, safe from raccoons and other land-based prey. This image was taken just minutes before sunset.
Most of us consider it obvious that the sun sets every night. It comes with life on a rotating planet. But how many of us realize what an extraordinary gift it is to witness the sunset? On the west coast of Florida, the foreground is pretty special too.
Recently in the Florida Everglades, I shot a series of images of this blue heron as it took off and landed. I was pleased to see this magnificent bird with its wings outstretched. In order to freeze motion of wildlife, I usually increase the ISO on my camera making the sensor more sensitive to light. That way, I can still get a good exposure with a very fast shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second. In this case, I increased the ISO to 2000, anticipating the bird’s flight. (I was just explaining this formula to my daughter who will be traveling to Africa to enjoy a safari in a few days.)
I also made a conscious choice for the f stop setting. A lens is usually at its sharpest in the mid-range (f/7.1 here), and the depth of field is forgiving — keeping the bird in focus for the split second between the time I focus and the shutter releases. Had I opened the lens aperture wide (to counter balance the fast shutter speed), it would have been very difficult to keep the flying bird in focus. You can see, the image is successful, as long as you don’t mind a little grain, resulting from the high ISO. I will share some of the other photos in the series in subsequent blog posts.
This rookery island is a favorite nighttime resting place for these large birds — the pelicans, ibis, egrets and cormorants. At sunset large flocks swarm in from every direction and birds land on every available branch, squawking at one another to move over and make room. It is a peaceful and unique sight to witness by boat. This location is south of Naples in the Gordon River estuary.
This great egret wading near a mangrove tree makes a serene scene. When you take a careful look, can you see the circular bands of light reflecting up on the egret?
My favorite part of this image is the composition, in which the strong vertical lines complement the horizontal lines. In addition, the generous amount of negative space adds to the simplicity and the serenity of the image. The color palette is also simple and natural.
I was an early bird this morning, driving an hour from Naples to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge to photograph the American White Pelicans. These giant snowbirds only live here in Florida from October to April each year. I enjoyed watching them in the early morning sun. Nearby white ibis, great egrets, anhinga and sandpipers waded and fed in low tide.