Tuesday 7 April 2015

A weekend in Florida - part 2

Day 2
An advantage of staying local mean an extra hour and a half in bed, which I gratefully took. Nonetheless, I was up before the dawn and off to Little Estero Lagoon, only a mile or so away on foot. I wanted to start at the eastern end so that I could walk the whole length of it with the sun behind me, and in contrast to the previous day, it looked like it was going to be fabulous. Although there wasn't the magical sunrise I had been hoping for, after a while the light was simply fantastic. Now I know why Arthur Morris has such an amazing back catalogue. OK, so there might be an element of skill in there too, but with such incredible light and such cooperative subjects, I honestly believe it wouldn't be possible to take anything other than a decent photo. So if you hate the ones that follow, all I can do is apologise.

The beach was busier than I was hoping, mainly shell collectors who appeared not to notice me lying on the beach, and were more than content to flush every single bird I was photographing, but I was in a good mood and let it lie. These, afterall, are my countrymen, and in any event the birds soon settled only a short distance away. Grey Plover, Wilson's Plover, Sanderling, more Herons and Egrets. Fantastic, and I ended up spending a good few hours there before returning for a great breakfast at a local grill. Wet and covered in sand I probably didn't look the greatest, but my dumb and contented smile probably let me in. Lots of coffee, lots of fresh orange juice.

I had a quick shower back at my hotel before checking out, and with the light quite harsh drove up to Cape Coral, mostly in a large traffic jam. Once finally there, I drove around the streets using my previously marked-up map looking for Burrowing Owl nests. They're usually marked by PVC posts sticking out of the ground and a wooden t-bar (for perching). Admittedly it wasn't the greatest time of day for it, but I managed to find two occupied burrows in different parts of the town. The harsh light meant that their eyes are really shaded but what can you do? Basically every place I went to I would have wanted to have been there at dawn, or at sunset, but on a two day trip that's a little challenging.

After doing as much as I felt I could with the Owls without staying until the late afternoon, I went a little further north to Placida, another location that seemed very promising. Specifically I went to the little pensinsula adjacent to the Boca Grande causeway. In actual fact it wasn't that great, or at least it didn't have all the Pelicans I was expecting. So instead I went birding for a little while, picking up a stonking male Hooded Warbler, before finding a fabulous Green Heron fishing from a mooring line. Getting a decent angle was tough, but I got there in the end after the bird swapped perches.It was able to extend fully vertically from the rope to the surface of the water, hanging there like a bat, quite incredible to witness!

When the sun finally went down I grabbed a few slow-exposure Osprey shots and then had a wonderful seafood dinner at the nearby Fisheries restaurant, complete with a couple of ice-cold and alcohol-free beers. Life is good. And then I hit the road up to Orlando, punctuated by another restful sleep on the back seat, ready for my early morning flight back home. Via NYC, so more photos to come! In summary, if you're stupid enough, Florida makes a pretty damn fun weekend away!

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