I published a Day Poem this morning, based on this experience. I love watching Black Skimmers at work…and I certainly enjoy trying to catch them in action. I have my “birds in flight and action modifications” to Program mode programed into the focus hold button on the Sony’s lens, right under my thumb, so all I have to do is press the button to shift modes when I see a BIF opportunity. The Sony Rx10iv’s tracking auto focus makes Skimmers easier than ever before…but it is still a challenge. This Black Skimmer was working the ponds off the short Gator Creek loop at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville, Florida, USA. Sony Rx10iv as above, 600mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos and assembled in FrameMagic.
And here is the poem.
Black Skimmers cut the water
the way the lady at the fabric
store cuts cloth…not scissoring
at all, but holding the blades
stationary and sliding, parting
the cloth effortlessly, easily,
as though it were an act of will
instead of muscle…of course water
(unlike cloth) is self healing and
no sooner has the Skimmers bill
parted the waters than the seam
seals, leaving hardly a ripple
behind the bird. I love to watch
them, and to try to catch them
in the act with my camera. Such
grace, such skill, more an act
of will than it is an act of muscle.
As I probably say every year after my Florida trip to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, the Florida Sandhill Cranes appear, behavior-wise, to be a different species than the western Sandhills I encounter in New Mexico. You can not get close to a western Sandhill. Florida Sandhills, on the other hand, are not bothered at all by human presence. They might amble away from you if you approach them, but if you stand still, they are just as likely to approach. These were part of a flock that was feeding on the berms and over the fence on the other side of the tree-line at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera, Florida (USA). I like the graceful juxtaposition of the heads. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 400mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
This Red-shouldered Hawk was sitting so still, close to Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, USA, that I almost did not see it. I was about to drive off, after checking a small pond where waders sometimes congregate, when I spotted it…sitting right there! It even let me slide the car forward to put it against a better background (after taking a first burst of shots just in case, of course). Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The Florida Scrub Jay is listed on both the both State and Federal Threatened Species List, due to a decline in both populations and habitat. It is the only bird endemic to Florida. The Helen and Allen Cruikshank Sanctuary in Rockledge Florida, USA was established to protect a little corner of Scrub Jay habitat in suburban Florida and the population of Florida Scrub Jays that uses the sanctuary seems to be doing well. The birds are gregarious and trusting, and either by habit or by training (people will feed them though it is against the law to do so) they are likely to come to visit you when you come to visit them. This year, perhaps because I look at bit like one of the feeding culprits, or at least have similar hat, 6 different birds (one at a time) flew up and sat on my head. It is an odd sensation, to say the least. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
When the Roseate Spoonbills come in close…well there is nothing quite like it. This year the pinks are particularly intense…the brine shrimp hatches must be good. This is along Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, USA…in a stretch of ditch maybe 200 yards long where there were several hundred Egrets and Herons and Ibis feeding on the same hatch…along with a dozen or more Roseate Spoonbills. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Painted Bunting at the Visitor Center at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Florida, USA. I had only a few moments to check the feeders at the Visitor Center for a male Painted Bunting…always a target bird during the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival…not because it is all that uncommon in Florida, but because it is so beautiful. The most reliable spot is the Visitor Center, and the males are the hardest to see there. I was blessed to have this male come several times in the 15 minutes I had before I had to head back to the Eastern Florida State College where the festival is headquartered to give a workshop. There is never enough light under the trees where the feeders hang, but I got this shot with Multi-frame Noise Reduction on the Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Otherwise, program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. It is my ambition to find, someday, a male Painted Bunting in good light 🙂
Chain of Lakes Park, Titusville, Florida, USA. On my visit to Orlando Wetlands the other day, I was disappointed to not to see a Limpkin. The ponds where I have found them the past 3 years have been dredged and they have evidently moved elsewhere. I mentioned that in one of my class-room presentations at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival here in Titusville and my volunteer moderator laughed and said they were all right behind the college (Florida State College Titusville where our festival is headquartered) at Chain of Lakes Park which surrounds the campus on three sides. I made an effort to find them afternoon before last but could not find my way into the park anywhere near where they were telling me to look, so yesterday I went to the Space Coast Audubon booth and asked for better directions. It turns out the birds are literally a 5 minute walk from the auditorium where the show is held, just beyond the edge of the campus grounds. There were 20 or more Limpkins, along the edge of the little canal there, on the grassy area between the water and the paved path, and perched in the trees on the other side. The most I have ever seen together in the past was 2. It was quite a sight. And of course Limpkins are very interesting, very ancient, and highly specialized birds, with a very limited range in the US, so it is always a treat to see them. By preference they feed on Apple Snails, though they appeared to be feeding on mussels in the canal. There is also an introduced snail that they have adopted, as the Apple Snail is declining across its range. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
I will admit to having a fondness for Purple Gallinules. I don’t get to see them often…only when I come to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida, and then only in any numbers if I get out to Orlando Wetlands Scenic Park in Christmas. Then I see a lot! They are such unlikely birds, with such a wild combination of colors and highlights…and the colors change depending on the angle of the light. And then there are those feet, or those toes actually. And of course, the way they walk across the pond weed and floating mats of plants. Altogether a fascinating bird. And I have not even mentioned their voice. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
It is not often, in my experience, that you see a Wilson’s Snipe right out in the open, feeding. This one was on the back side of the Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida, on the first day of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. It appears to sucking up a little wormy thing through the tube of water formed by its beak. Late afternoon on a rainy day. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
Friend of man. The Collared Redstart seems to like spending time around humans (probably because we attract a lot of bugs?). This one was working the grounds of Savegre Mountain Hotel, Reserve, and Spa around my cabin on our last full day in Costa Rica. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.