Saturday, January 9, 2010

2009 Year In Review II

The air boat above was photographed at San Carlos Bay: Bunche Beach Preserve in July 2009.

All four opportunities to get into the field led me to San Carlos Bay: Bunche Beach Preserve. The adult male wading birds in particular were at the tail end of showing their breeding colors. All visits to the beach were made in mid afternoon to as late as sunset. I recall at least one occasion when the sand gnats were particularly bad. It was at these times that I had good opportunities to practice attempting to get a better photograph of BIFs (birds in flight). The Reddish Egret put on a great feeding show under less than ideal lighting conditions on the last visit of the month. At a low tide, I was very surprised to see an airboat make its way over the flats and into the West channel. Needless to say, it spooked virtually every bird from my immediate area.

The Snail Kite above was photographed at Harnes Marsh Preserve in August 2009.

I again made numerous trips to Bunche Beach Preserve, three afternoon visits and two in the morning. All were productive for observation of prolific bird activity and photography. Harnes Marsh Preserve was visited for the first time late in the month. I made my first observations of the Snail Kite and Limpkin on this visit to Harnes Marsh. My visit to Bunche Beach on the 23rd offered a territorial battle between two Black-bellied Plovers that lasted a little over three minutes as detailed in the 20 shots I took of them.

The Tricolored Heron above was photographed at Harnes Marsh Preserve in September 2009.

Four more trips to Harnes Marsh Preserve were made including one where I would walk around the preserve in its entirety. The experiences were greatly enjoyable even considering the warmer conditions. I observed the Sandhill Crane for the first time at the Northern edge of the preserve on the 18th.

The Semipalmated Plover juvenile above was photographed at Little Estero Lagoon in October 2009.

With accommodating weather on a pair of days off from work, I was able to visit Little Estero Lagoon (Critical Wildlife Area) and then Sanibel Lighthouse and Bunche Beach Preserve later in the month. It was my hope to see raptor migration that was not to be this year. I coincidentally met up with a troop of wildlife enthusiasts at Bunche Beach that were participating in Ding Darling Days 2009. My visit to Bunche Beach was directly after I had gone from the lighthouse to DDNWR Wildlife Drive only to find them closed as they are to the general public every Friday. I knew that, but had forgotten.

The Tricolored Heron above was photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in November 2009.

It was at this time that I was reminded of one of four photo entries made to Audubon magazine earlier in the summer for their inaugural photo contest which I had forgotten about. I was contacted by Steve Freligh, affiliated with Nature's Best Photography, who notified me that I was considered as a finalist in the amateur category. I made a quick trip across a vast expanse of Florida early in the month while experiencing the East and Panhandle regions of the Great Florida Birding Trail. I passed through 12 "clusters" and 31 venues on the trip. A tremendous highlight was visiting the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Later in the month I made my sixth trip to Harnes Marsh Preserve where I would again document another species of bird I hadn't photographed before. I also observed here on this occasion what appeared to be a territorial battle between two Great Blue Herons where a drowning seemed assured.

The Marbled Godwit above was photographed at San Carlos Bay: Bunche Beach Preserve in December 2009.

A trip to Lovers Key State Park was made after much too long a period of time. The erosion at the beach was extremely obvious and I was told that it may be a couple more years before replenishment. The wind was from the South with an opportunity to observe some great action at New Pass as usual. Three afternoon visits to Bunche Beach were made with one other in the morning. I also made a visit to Little Estero Lagoon. At the latter two venues, I had the experience of being in the water at close range to Bottlenose Dolphins. These experiences were a little unnerving as a result of not keeping an eye on them at all times. I was contacted by Audubon to advise me of publication of an image with honorable mention of a Little Blue Heron taken at Bunche Beach Preserve in November 2008.

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