Since the planning stage of the Birds of Florida 2017 Workshop, I knew it would be fun, but when I met with my participants and actually started the workshop, it turned out to be a bird photographer’s dream. This report is intended to give you an inside look of what it’s like to “be there” with us.
Day 2 (first full day in the field): We gathered at the wetland at first light and worked our way around to see and photograph typical wetland birds including many herons/egrets, anhinga, ibises and spoonbills. Of course, in Florida, where there’s water, there’s also alligators. We had a great time teaching/learning techniques to shoot silhouettes using Manual mode.
Silhouette of Anhinga drying wings Silhouette of Red-wing Blackbird calling Alligator floating on a calm morning A few of our participants voiced their concerns to me about the possible absence of birds in the area. (Earlier, they heard from some local photographers that there had been a drought in this area of Florida so they couldn’t find any birds). I reassured them that we will make our own luck. For the afternoon, we proceeded to the next location, and sure enough, we found some birds right away – and not just some birds, there were plenty of birds, including one species we didn’t expect to see: Avocets!
Not bad for "no birds" :)
This video clip was taken by one of our participants. Thanks Jennifer! :)
Tricolored Heron doing the strut Black-necked Stilt Reddish Egret dancing Avocets At the end of the shooting day, we were treated with a beautiful Florida sunset. We switched to wide-angle lens to capture the landscape view.
Day 3: After stopping to get breakfast and coffee, we headed to a new shooting location. Again, we arrived at first light and were treated to a glorious sunrise. Although the main attraction here was supposed to be a Spoonbills Galore, well there were dozens of Spoonbills there, but we had a rather unusually pleasant encounter with the Limpkins. Limpkin is a common bird only in the state of Florida, there, it feeds almost exclusively on apple snails.
One of the participants in our group, Susan, managed to find a comfortable seat to photograph a Limpkin wading in the water. As the Limpkin worked on finding a meal (apparently, there were a lot of mussels there), it kept moving closer and closer to where Susan was sitting. While everyone in the group was able to get full-frame shots of this “rock star” Limpkin, it was Susan who had the best experience with the foraging Limpkin that seemed to be having a “mussel buffet” – catch, remove shell, eat, repeat!
When we decided that we had enough shots of the Limpkin, we turned our attention to a flock of Barn Swallows zig-zagging around us. This proved to be a BIF (birds in flight) challenge. Everyone had a go at it.
The afternoon session turned out to be a raptor-fest, when we encountered many species within a short period of time: Bald Eagle, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, American Kestrel.
Day 4, 5, 6: More exploring into other locations
Overall, the bird list photographed included 52 species (plus many more that were not photographed):
Little Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Below are some of the photo highlights from Days 4, 5, 6:
Bald Eagle swooping in front of the camera Crested Caracara in-flight close-up Snail Kite looking angry! Red-shouldered Hawk going after a prey Green Heron "bad hair day" Anhinga spear-fishing Glossy Ibis in flight Purple Gallinule Juvenile Little Blue Heron Red-shouldered Hawk babies in the nest Osprey on nest Bald Eagle nest Great Egret & chicks - feeding time Limpkin & chick Sandhill Cranes Big Alligator on the move 7-foot Alligator crossing a walking trail