This past Saturday afternoon was really just perfect for being outside. Not too hot, and not too cold. We’re talking about nice South Florida weather here. Apparently the birds thought so too. They were busy.
The tide was low, and the light was right for hauling my Canon 100-400mm f4.5L lens, and Canon 5D Mark II body out for a few hours of shooting.
When stepping down onto the sand, I come across the canal and out to the water’s edge, I am always drawn to the shapes created by the big, dead, tree that stands as a sentinel at the entrance to the canal from the intracoastal. During high tide just a small part of the tree is visible, but at mid and low tides it serves as an ideal perch for all kinds of shore birds.
My first guest was a yellow crowned night heron busily hunting nearby. Hunting for them consists of pretty much just standing around waiting for their prey to swim by. They eat mostly aquatic invertebrates and some fish, crabs and crayfish. I have no idea why they are called nocturnal, I’ve seen them looking for food from morning until evening. This particular heron let me get very close before flying off.
I continued walking along listening to the sounds of the herons up ahead, they make a funny, growling kind of sound. I was surprised by the warning call of an osprey directly ahead of me. The osprey I usually visit and photograph, I named her Koko, was hanging out in a tree I’ve not seen her in before. She was a little difficult to pick out surrounded by the foliage. I moved in as close as I dared, and stopped when she gave me the warning call. I even switched my Canon 5D Mark II to video mode and shot a few videos of her, before she took off. I got too close for her comfort.
Walking along the water’s edge I came across these incredibly shaped pieces of driftwood that litter the shoreline. One piece in particular is about 7 feet high and maybe 15 feet wide, it looks like the skeleton of an old ship’s hull to me, but it’s really just the roots of a large tree that fell over a long, long time ago. The driftwood looked so cool, that I shot it from crazy angles, backlit, from below, and with the water’s edge blurred behind the branch shapes.
Glenn, an avid photographer, and friend of ours came walking along then. He started shooting that wild looking piece of dead wood too.
Just a bit further down, by the barnacle covered sea wall, which stands at the furthest point one can walk to, we spied a little blue heron checking us out while scouting around for a meal. This heron really showed the blue color he’s named for, and the purplish color in his neck and head was really showcased by the low afternoon light. Sometimes these birds run when they’re hunting, with those legs, it’s funny, don’t tell them I said that though.
We came across this dead branch, coming out sideways, and shooting up and out toward the water. Check it out. I thought the whitish part of the trunk looked a bit like a heron’s head as he stalks his prey. Ya think? Too much imagination, huh?
On the way back we caught the yellow crowned night heron busily searching among the moss covered rocks for dinner. He got some too.
A little blue heron flew on shore just behind us, and as you can see he was obviously on patrol, because he was too darned interested in what we were doing. Here’s a fun fact about these guys, the male usually chooses the nesting territory before he goes about courting a female. I sure hope he’s good at decorating!
My pal, Koko the osprey, was not overly pleased about the fact that we had the nerve to hang around near her trees, she had to retreat to the opposite side of the intracoastal to wait us out. She did just that – we weren’t gone 20 minutes before she flew right back to her favorite spot.
A couple of ibis flew in for a landing on the big branch outside of the canal. They were quite brave while we shot away and totally invaded their space. We were really close. I guess they’re not just brave during hurricanes. These birds are the last to take shelter before a hurricane, and the first to come back when the storm has passed. It makes me want to ask them, what are you thinking?
I think Glenn enjoyed himself shooting in our own little wildlife refuge. He got some great shots. He needs to have a blog to show them off. Marcella came down to the seawall to see what she could see, too.
It really was a beautiful walk along the intracoastal, but once the sun started to go down, those creepy little sand flies, also known as no-see-ums came out chomping away with their nasty little teeth. The bites from the female hurt and itch, that sent us packing. Next time, insect repellent will be in my camera bag.
It was a really, good time while it lasted though. Until next time, happy shooting.