Well hidden in the dark shadows of the Cypress Swamp, undisturbed by onlookers on a distant boardwalk, the Barred Owl seemed to sleep. Bird watchers gathered, whispered and pointed toward the quiet owl. It would take a long lens (600mm), steady hands, perfect focus and the right camera settings (ISO 2000, 1/1000th) to capture a good photograph. Since our owl stayed in place and turned in our direction eventually, I got the shot.
We haven’t seen an eaglet yet in this bald eagle nest, but we got a close up look at two good looking parents in Rookery Bay in their waterfront home. Nesting season begins in December or January in Southwest Florida, and baby eaglets develop in the nest for about 128 days. During this time, the eagle pair will be territorial to protect their young.
Another bald eagle pair can be found in North Naples, Florida in a cluster of golf courses that includes Royal Poinciana, Wilderness, Hole in the Wall and Country Club of Naples. This cluster of courses provides a wide region of Audobon friendly land filled with lakes, creeks and woods. It’s a great place to view a wide variety of bird species near dawn and dusk.
It’s March and nesting season on Sanibel Island, Florida. While the mother osprey are tending eggs or new hatchlings in the nest, the fathers can be spotted nearby on the high branch of a tree. This father osprey is manning his high branch perch, even as the branch bobs in the wind.
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.
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.
Stay tuned to this blog for some very cute Puffin photos coming soon!