Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dune Road - Quality over Quantity

This afternoon I was off from work and was able to take advantage of the clear blue skies and go to Dune Road with my wife to see if any good birds were around.  While the road was clear and free of snow - there was a massive puddle just east of Tiana which prevented us from going further to check on the inlet (though the ocean was quite rough) and other areas east.  It didn't matter though - everything I wanted to see (except a Snipe perhaps) was adjacent to the road in a narrow strip.  An American Bittern openly fishing, a Black-Crowned Night Heron looking, well, cold, and a Northern Harrier actively hunting, taking advantage of the blustery winds.

Additionally, a Sharp-shinned hawk was spotted near the Quogue bridge but I couldn't catch up to it as it flew north in lazy pursuit of some pigeons.  Lastly, there was a semi-palmated plover feeding on some mud flats - but otherwise it was very quite (save for standard ducks/GBH's/gulls).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Palm Beach County in January

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck - Wakodahatchee
The last week in January I was able to take another trip down to Jupiter Florida, in Palm Beach County to visit with my wife's parents and to get away from the miserably cold and bitter Long Island winter (even if it was just for a few days). I had two goals for this trip - I wanted to go to Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay Wetlands (both located in Delray Beach) and I wanted to take some sunrise images utilizing a slow shutter speed at the beach. I knew of two locations that feature rocks along the shoreline that hopefully would create an interesting focal point and certainly would be a unique shot as it's very "un-florida".

 My wife and I picked monday morning to go to Wakodahatchee and Green Cay because there would be less people than on the weekend. While we didn't get there exactly at sunrise (I hit the snooze a few times!) it was close enough and we were treated with nice soft light and a few clouds that offered the occasional diffused light shot. From our previous trip to these wetlands, I knew I wanted to go to Wako first because it's significantly smaller and the birds are significantly closer - and there are active rookeries. Green Cay, in my opinion is nicer and more scenic, but you have to work a little harder for the shots and there's a little more luck involved. I figured I could get through Wako quickly, getting the shots I wanted then head over to the Cay (just a few blocks away) and still utilize the early morning light. I was hoping to add a couple new species to my ever-growing "photographed-species" list (I don't count birds that I simply see), namely the Wood Stork and the Roseate Spoonbill.

 These birds have both been seen (fairly regularly) at these locations and in Palm Beach County in general, but every time I go down there I somehow manage to miss them. Wako quickly produced a Wood Stork (which my wife initially spotted) and Green Cay gave me several more - but no Roseate's and no other new species either. In fact, I missed out on some good birds I'd seen the last time at these locations, including the least bittern (last visit yielded 3) and I only had quick glances at 2 Purple Gallinules (last visit they were quite prevalent) and I missed out on the Egyptian Goose which I had photographed flying by last time. But, for all those birds that I "missed" I made up for with quality images, including of the Pied-billed Grebe, one of my favorite species. This diminutive Grebe is very difficult to get near in New York - if you can even find it (I only see a handful each year), but down in Florida they seem to be everywhere and gave me some really nice poses. I would have liked one with a nice big fish in its tiny bill - but that will have to wait. So, enough rambling. Enjoy the photos.

White Ibis - Green Cay

Tri-Colored Heron - Wakodahatchee

Tri-Colored Heron - Green Cay

Cattle Egret - Wakodahatchee

Great Blue Heron - Wakodahatchee

Limpkin - Green Cay

Brown Pelican - John D. McCarthur State Park

Oh, and did I forget to mention the baby gators at Green Cay??

Baby Gator trying to stay awake

And back to nap time

 Lastly - there's this beautiful Red-Shouldered Hawk seen at Wakodahatchee Wetlands

If you frequent Florida - or just want to learn more about the flora and fauna there, check out the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida