bird tracks in the sand

Someone was here before us.


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.

a photograph of a mangrove branch bathed in the golden afternoon light.

A mangrove branch bathed in that great, golden afternoon light.

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.

the big, dead, tree that stands as a sentinel at the entrance to the canal.

The Sentinel


the canal that leads out to the intracoastal waterway.

Looking back toward the canal I just crossed.


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.
yellow crowned night heron photograph.

The first guest, a yellow crowned night heron.


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.
photograph of Koko the osprey hanging out in a tree

Koko, the osprey working on keeping me at a distance.


a photograph of Koko the osprey flying away.

Koko, the osprey, says see ya later.

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.

a photograph of a big piece of driftwood along the water's edge.

The huge tree that looks like the skeleton of the hull of a ship to me.


a photograph of a unique piece of weathered wood.

Here's one of my crazy, angular shots.


Glenn, an avid photographer, and friend of ours came walking along then. He started shooting that wild looking piece of dead wood too.
a photograph of our avid photographer friend Glenn

Glenn taking photos looking south along the intracoastal.


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.
a photograph I shot of a little blue heron checking us out.

The little blue heron checking us out.


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?
a photo of a dead tree branch that looks like a bird's head.

Doesn't it look like the head and neck of a heron?


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 photograph of a yellow crowned night heron busily searching among the moss covered rocks for dinner.

A yellow crowned night heron stalking its prey.


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!
a photograph of a little blue heron that flew on shore just behind us.

The little blue heron that was very interested in us.


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 photograph of an osprey perched on a branch by the intracoastal.

Koko on the other side of the intracoastal waiting for us to leave.


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?
a photograph of the ibis flying in for a landing on the sentinel tree.

The ibis come in for a landing.


a photograph of an ibis "hopscotching" to another branch.

The ibis version of hopscotch.


a photograph of one of the brave ibis posing for the humans.

One of the brave birds that posed for the humans.


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.
a photo of Glenn shooting and Marcella walking toward him.

Glenn shoots me, while Marcella walks over.


a photo of Marcella pointing things out to Glenn.

Marcella spots something to show Glenn.


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.
a photograph looking west from the water's edge showing more golden light.

One more look at that beautiful, golden light.

It was a really, good time while it lasted though. Until next time, happy shooting.

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