Yellow Crowned Night Heron

This tall and tranquil bird stood still for quite some time at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as I set up my tripod to make this photograph. He/she is a classy bird, seeming confident, or should I say, comfortable in his feathers.

#nightheron, #yellowcrownednightheron, #heron, #bird, #florida, #naples, #Corkscrew, #birdphotography
Stepping out to look for a bite to eat, this Yellow Crowned Night Heron looks striking in his vivid feathers.

Anhinga Chicks

On January 9, 2018 the first of three anhinga chicks emerged from their eggs at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.   The Sanctuary is not a zoo where humans take care of the animals. It’s a boardwalk through a cypress swamp teeming with birds and alligators, ferns and cypress, frogs and snakes — where nature lovers can walk and watch during the day. I visited the site on February 11, 2018 to discover the one month old anhinga chicks so grown up!

#anhinga, #chicks, #baby, #conrkscrew, #swamp, #florida, #birds
Having just emerged from their nest but not able to fly, three young anhingas await their next meal.
#anhinga, #baby, #onemonthold, #bird, #florida, #corkscrew
Stretching out its wings and its neck, this young anhinga shows us its new black feathers. It stands about a foot tall from beak to tail, at the age of one month.
#anhinga, #adult, #black, #neck, #mother, #bird, #florida, #corkscrew
Could this be the anhinga mother? This female landed on the branch below the chicks. You can see all the black feathers on her wings and tail. She stretches her neck around backwards to check her tail feathers.

The Anhinga is frequently seen drying out its feathers like this in the sun after swimming underwater to hunt for fish. Because of its long neck, it is often called the snake bird. The male birds are all black with some white streaks, while the females have a brown neck and belly and all black feathers. Anhingas are very common in Southwest Florida, and they are not generally afraid of people. You can walk right past one without scaring it away. Having a good look at the young, however, is pretty special.

Let’s Do Sunset

It’s fun to meet a friend for sunset on the beach. It’s always a great time to relax, sip some wine and have a good conversation. Of course, this works if you live on the West Coast of Anywhere — Florida, California, Hawaii or any location in the world.

But sunset is extra special when the sun paints the clouds vivid shades of orange, pink, peach, mauve, and grey. It’s even nicer when the beach is quiet and a small egret walks along the sparkling shore.

#sunset, #egret, #clouds, #waterscape, #reflection, #gulf, #florida, #naples
Brilliant sunset on a quiet Naples beach, shared with a snowy egret.

Making new (bird) friends

Early this morning, a naturalist introduced me to an American Kestrel , and I was able to make some photos of him for the first time. He is a large bird of prey, about 12″ tall. Look at those spots!

#bird, #wildlife, #florida, #audobon, #photography
My 600mm Tamron lens mounted on my Nikon D800 helped me get a better look at him high up in the tree.
#kestrel, #bird, #wildlife, #photography, #birdphotography, #florida, #birdofprey, #spots
One more look before we go. American kestrel with head turned.

Standing tall

The Great Blue Heron is my favorite bird to watch in Florida. I love the dusty blue color, the impressive size (4 feet tall perhaps), and its graceful movement. The heron typically stands still like a statue in shallow water, then  slowly takes long, deliberate steps and snatches underwater prey super quickly. He will often fly if a person approaches him, so getting a good photograph can be a challenge.

I sat quietly in the grass while observing this Great Blue Heron recently. He stalked through the water  and grabbed a fish. Then he kept taking giant steps until he paused on the shore. As he stood tall to look around with those brilliant eyes, I made this photograph.

#heron, #blueheron, #greatblueheron, #eye, #breedingplumage, #standing, #wildlife, #birds, #florida
Framed between to palms, this Great Blue Heron displays his breeding plumage.

Meet the Avocet

I met an avocet for the first time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These birds sometimes live on the south east shores of the United States, but they are more common on East Texas coast and in California. I was captivated by the unique thin beak  curving up. The bird is about 16″ tall and slender with delicate legs and beak. If you find it feeding in the wild, you will see it wading along the shore and in marshes, sweeping for little insects and other edible creatures.

#avocet, #bird, #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird
The avocet’s delicate beak sweeps the sand for tiny bits of food.

While American avocets display a rust colored neck during breeding season, this one was purely grey and white.

#bird #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird, #beak
The graceful avocet at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has an unusual beak that curves upward.

Have you seen this bird? Where?

Iceland’s Arctic Terns

Vigur Island in the north of Iceland is a dynamic place to observe Arctic Terns and Puffins nesting. Talk about isolation? Only one farmer lives on the island with his family and his own electric generator. In the summer he hosts small groups of visitors coming from nearby Islafjordur.

We were among those lucky visitors last week, and we spent all our time meeting the great challenge of photographing these quick birds in flight. Both the arctic terns and puffins would catch some small fish in the sea, and then swoop onto the thick grass to feed their tiny chicks. Since the arctic terns have a way of attacking the heads of nearby humans, my husband held two yard sticks over our heads with little blue flags on the end, to deter any incoming attacks. He was successful, and so was I — getting a few action photos of these beautiful birds.

#birds, #wildlife, #arctictern, #chick, #sea, #iceland, #nesting, #july, #vigur, #island
With wings backlit by the sun, the adult Arctic Tern lands to feed its young, while another adult tern looks on. This rocky promontory provided a clear view of the birds.

While traveling, we learned an amazing fact about the Arctic Tern. It is the longest migrating creature on Earth — traveling from nesting grounds here by the Arctic Circle 44,100 miles to the north Antarctic every year — in search of endless summer. I had to hear that fact more than once before I believed it. That’s a long distance to cover with just those two wings!

Here is a close-up of an Arctic Tern chick. The chicks had no fear of us, and luckily no instinct yet to attack our heads.

#arctictern, #tern, #bird, #chick, #baby, #iceland, #vigur, #nesting, #wildlife, #birdphotography
Arctic Tern chick on Vigur Island. Better eat lots of fish to get ready for the journey south!

Stay tuned to this blog for some very cute Puffin photos coming soon!