Thursday, April 30, 2015

Little blue reflection, Bunche Beach Preserve

Little blue heron with prey at the water's edge

I had a lot of fun last month watching the wading birds in the tidal pools of a low tide at Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers, Florida. One of the benefits of getting low next to the water's edge is the fun reflections that develop in the still water.

Little blue heron reflected in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach

It was exciting enough when this little blue heron was working the edge of the pool, but it got even better when it started strolling across the shallows.

Little blue heron looks like its walking on water in southwest Florida

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

White ibis eating a crab, Bunche Beach Preserve

White ibis eating a crab at Bunche Beach Preserve, Florida

Continuing my run of posts on wading birds capturing prey from tidal pools, here is a white ibis preparing to swallow a crab. These were perhaps the most interesting feedings to watch, as the crabs had a chance to fight back. With a fish, the birds would very quickly go from capturing to consumption, but it would take a little while to get the crab in the right orientation to swallow it. Especially when the crab used its claws to attempt to hang on to the bill, as is evident in the image below of a different ibis.

Crab hangs on for dear life before being eaten by an ibis

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Snowy egret swallows a shrimp, Bunche Beach Preserve

Snowy egret catches a shrimp in Florida

As I commented in my previous post, it was really incredible to see how many different types of prey the wading birds were able to pull from the tidal pools. This snowy egret pulled out a good sized shrimp, then swallowed it whole.

Snowy egret swallowing a shrimp at Bunche Beach

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Tricolored heron with a small striped fish, Bunche Beach Preserve

Tricolored heron with small striped fish

I was really amazed at the volume and diversity of prey I saw the wading birds pulling from the tidal pools at Bunche Beach Preserve. Coming from a northern climate, when I see a pool of water in the sand along a beach, I tend to think that there isn't much caught inside. But down along the Gulf Coast, it seemed like there was an endless supply of fish, crabs, and shrimp for the birds to capture. This tricolored heron pulled a small striped silver fish from the pond, flipped it around to drop out the plants, and then quickly tossed it down the hatch.

Tricolored heron tossing small fish in Fort Myers, Florida

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

White ibis feeding in a tidal pool, Bunche Beach Preserve

White ibis feeding in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach Preserve, Florida

Continuing my tour through the bird species I saw in Florida last month, here's another favorite that I was excited to photograph -- the white ibis. Even though they are fairly common and have relatively plain plumage, their long bill, blue eyes, and bright facial mask really add some photographic flare. This particular ibis is feeding in a tidal pool at the Bunche Beach Preserve in Fort Myers.

View more of my photographs of white ibis and other wading birds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Juveline roseate spoonbill at Bunche Beach Preserve

Juvenile roseate spoonbill with water droplet at Bunche Beach Preserve

I saw a ton of birds during my two mornings at Bunche Beach Preserve in March, but the highlight was having a chance to photograph this young roseate spoonbill at close range. I think these birds are remarkable, and it was awesome to have it land in the pool I was watching. At the time it arrived, the morning was getting late and I was feeling content with the images I had captured while the light was really nice. I had actually already gotten up and was preparing to start my walk back to the parking lot when I heard a birding tour guide behind me excitedly tell his group "this is a real treat, a roseate spoonbill just arrived!"

Many thanks to that helpful guide for alerting me to this amazing opportunity! The spoonie landed on the far side of the tidal pool, so I returned to my spot at the near edge, laid back down, and watched through my lens as it came closer and closer. On my prior trip to Ft Myers in 2012, I had seen a small flock of roseate spoonbills at Ding Darling NWR, but unfortunately they were far away with no possibility to get closer. This experience was quite the opposite, with the bird meandering back and forth across the tidal pool coming closer and closer to me with the rising tide. I took a lot of photos of this lone bird, but how could I resist that amazing bill!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Little blue heron at Bunche Beach Preserve

Little blue heron at sunrise on Bunche Beach, Fort Myers, Florida

Well, it may have taken me over 3 months, but I've finally sat down to compose my first post of 2015. I haven't had the chance to use my camera all that much during this very cold winter in Boston, but for a few days over spring break in March I was able to return to Fort Myers, Florida. The trip was primarily to see family, but it was great to have a chance to get outside on two mornings to visit the Bunche Beach Preserve on San Carlos Bay. The density and diversity of birds I saw there was exceptional, far exceeding what I was able to photograph on my first trip there back in 2012. I have a ton of images of all kinds of waders in the tidal pools, including some great encounters with little blue herons like the one in the image above.

View more photographs of herons and egrets