This morning my neighbor called me to come outside and see a mother duck with eight ducklings in tow. Careful not to stress the mother, we kept our distance, but I took photos with a 400mm lens of the new family.
Some people call the lovely Anhinga a “snake bird” because it swims completely underwater to spear a fish and then tosses it up in the air to swallow the fish head first. When the anhinga first surfaces from its underwater swim, the long bill, head and neck are the first parts to emerge.
I think that “snake bird” is a bit unfair and rather unpleasant, not being a fan of snakes, and being an admirer of the Anhinga and the way it dries out its wings after a swim. They are also pretty tame around people, and don’t mind if you walk right past. A bird that doesn’t fly away fast upon spotting a human? That’s a photographer’s best friend!
I was pleased to capture this image of a male anhinga swimming where you can see his feathers underwater.
This Great American Egret in his breeding plumage reminded me of a young woman in her wedding dress. Leaning over the delicate feathers with its slender neck, the egret examines and arranges the cascade of white finery.
The craziest thing happened while Susie and I were birdwatching at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. The scene was perfectly serene at Lettuce Lakes. Roseate Spoonbills, Great American Egrets, Anhingas, Ibis and turtles were everywhere, quietly feeding. The only question was which bird to follow with the camera. If anything disrupted the serenity, it might be an alligator, but most of these birds ignore the gators.
Suddenly a brown animal emerged from underwater, got his footing and ran into the brush. On cue, every bird — perhaps 30 large wading birds — took flight. There was massive splashing and wing flapping. What happened? A bobcat! He scared the living daylights out of all these birds. My friend Susie was lucky enough to see it.
At first we suspected the rare Florida Panther which has been sighted in this Sanctuary, but the Corkscrew Docents told us that the panther is mainly nocturnal, not a big swimmer and lastly is identified by a long tail. Susie’s description of the culprit led us to the conclusion of bobcat.
While the Roseate Spoonbills didn’t return to Lettuce Lakes for the afternoon, I was successful in making this image of their retreat to the trees above.
The beautiful pink Roseate Spoonbill has been hard to find this year (2018), so I was super excited to find five of them at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, feeding and happily ignoring a handful of nature enthusiasts. In this image, two of them walked up on the bank to survey the scene. In the next moment they were back in the shallow water, sweeping the ground for food.
Don’t pack up your picnic too soon as the sun sets. Sometimes the most vibrant colors paint the sky a few minutes after sunset. In April, the sun is setting here in Naples as late as 8pm.
The Palm Warbler is a small yet brilliant bird. It flits around in a manic manner, and it is very challenging to photograph. Shortly after dawn, I had some luck with a 600mm lens and a tripod tracking this tiny golden beauty.