A four hour walk around the Refuge and you never know what you might see, so of course I took my camera. I don’t often seek out the small birds, but that was my focus at the start of the walk but I was waylaid and held mesmerized for a time by a juvenile blue-eyed White Ibis in the canal alongside Lee Road.
I hoped to see the beautiful Painted Bunting that I knew was spotted recently near the visitor center. It turns out that I was looking in the wrong location and it wasn’t until someone pointed out the area that I was able to see it. Not surprising, I did not get a good photo of it.
I pressed on and found the Pileated Woodpecker along the boardwalk. Another challenge presented itself with lighting and trying to avoid getting just a silhouette. After the boardwalk I rebuilt my self esteem by photographing a few flowers. Decidedly, flowers are the most photo friendly subjects.
As sure as small birds can be difficult, so too are the Sandhill Cranes. I heard their call and braced myself for the shot while they quickly made the turn and flew well north of my location. Satisfied that it wasn’t meant to be, I turned and headed further south when suddenly a pair taunted and soared past me to the east. I just cannot catch a clear photos of the Cranes. On the other hand, the Great Blue Heron posed nicely for me and I was happy once again.
As I walked along the paths of the impoundments I couldn’t help but notice the stunning scenery around me and I also noticed that the Florida Ted-bellied Cooters were taking advantage of the warm, sunny day. The little Pied-billed Grebe made another appearance today, too. I hadn’t seen one in a while, so that was a nice treat. About then, I noticed a bird sitting high atop a snag in a clearing and I couldn’t help but wonder what species it was. It looked suspiciously like a hawk, but it was too small. I managed a halfway decent shot under a straining camera lens that really needed to be more robust for the distance and when it came into focus I realized it was an American Kestrel.
A Snowy Egret was picture perfect and didn’t mind at all that I took plenty of photos. More scenery and an Eastern Phoebe appeared – always a favorite. At first glance I thought the tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatcher was a Northern Parula, but I quickly corrected myself. And then I was entertained by the stunning Purple Gallinule. I saw plenty of them today, including a couple of juveniles.
The Cooters weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the sunshine today because I also saw a few alligators, babies too. The Little Blue Heron also made for a beautiful subject today, don’t you agree?
While I may not have been successful on some level today, I feel pretty good about the photos I did get. If it were easy to photograph wildlife, I may not be interested at all.
Until next time, I hope you continue to enjoy my story and photos.