Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vernal equinox or summer solstice?

Spotted towhee perched in wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore

I'm not sure what happened to winter, but it seems like spring has decided to follow suit. On this first day after the vernal equinox, it sure feels an awful lot like summer. The windows are open and we're expecting high temperatures in the low 80s over the next few days in the Boston area. While I might have liked to have a bit more snow for my first winter back in the Northeast, I'm not going to complain about these unseasonably warm temps. It's a nice treat to bring my shorts out of the closet in March, and the warm morning air does make me feel a bit like this happy spotted towhee that I photographed singing among the wildflowers of Point Reyes National Seashore last summer.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Black skimmers at Bunche Beach

Black skimmers

The three bird species that I most wanted to photograph on my trip to Florida were roseate spoonbills, black skimmers, and wood storks. Before my trip I had heard about the large flocks of skimmers that roost on the beaches around Fort Myers and Sanibel, and I was definitely hoping to be able to find them. I'm fascinated by these beautiful and interesting birds, and I had seen them only a few times in northern California (and always at quite a distance). For my first morning of the trip, I headed to Bunche Beach in Fort Myers, and a large flock of skimmers was hanging out on a sand bar out on the tidal flats. They were mostly quiet, with a few going through a morning routine of preening at the edge of the water, but anytime some new birds would approach to land, a loud ruckus broke out. Here in this shot, a skimmer that is out of the frame approached too close to this particular bird's stretch of beach, which gave me a great chance to capture the beauty of its beak.

As for the wood storks, I had a chance to see a pair at Ding Darling NWR, but the conditions only allowed for documentary photographs of them. Unexpectedly, my best look at wood storks came as we were driving back to the airport before I flew out. There were a few of them right along the road, and it was really cool to briefly see them up close as we drove by.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roseate spoonbills at sunrise, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge

During my short trip to Florida in February, I had one morning scheduled to be in Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for sunrise. Unfortunately, the weather was not on my side as it was overcast with showers likely throughout the day. For a brief moment though, as I watched this group of roseate spoonbills, the rising sun crossed through a break in the clouds and their bright pink plumage was lit up by the golden light.

Spoonies at sunrise

Spoonbills were one of the species I most wanted to photograph on my trip, and I'm glad that I had the chance to watch them as they went through their morning preening routine. Even in the plain overcast light that dominated the morning, their gorgeous pink colors really stood out. I only wish I would have been able to photograph them at closer range -- but there's always next time!

Roseate spoonbills

This post is part of the World Bird Wednesday blog meme -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tricolored heron and white ibis, Bunche Beach

A tricolored heron and a white ibis wade through a tidal pool

I had the chance to spend a few days in Florida over a long weekend to visit my grandparents, and I went out each morning at sunrise to do some photography. Florida is an incredible place for birds, and in the first 5 minutes of the drive from the airport after I arrived, I had seen three new species in the ditches along the roads (anhinga, little blue heron, and white ibis) -- amazing! The tricolored heron was another new bird for me, and I was able to photograph this one, along with the white ibis, feeding in a tidal pool at Bunche Beach. There are interesting birds everywhere there, and I can imagine that a few days of dedicated photography could seriously increase a bird photographer's portfolio! I'm already looking forward to the next time I'm able to wander the beaches and mangroves in Florida again!

Submitted to the World Bird Wednesday blog meme -- follow the link to check out this week's posts!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dinner for a dunlin, Parker River NWR

A dunlin pulls a small clam from the sand at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

A dunlin pulls a small clam from the sand and washes it off before swallowing it whole for dinner. An extremely low tide at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge last fall exposed a large area of feeding grounds for the shorebirds, and there seemed to be a never ending supply of these clams to eat. The density of prey species in the sand is amazing when you consider how frequently shorebirds pull them up, and how often the birds scour the area.

View more photos of dunlin.