Tuesday 4 December 2018

Florida III - Day 2

Fighting the time difference we got up early and trudged down Estero Boulevard in the half-light. We were rewarded by a near perfect sunrise as we headed towards some waders feeding on the shoreline. There is something so special about this early light but in Florida it is so brief, and also in my eagerness to use it I end up making all sorts of rookie mistakes. Gradually the levels increased and soon I was clipping the whites before I realised what was going on. We worked our way steadily up the beach, resisting the urge to drown shell foragers who without a care flushed our subjects repeatedly. As in walked past us knowing they would put up the birds and then blithely said "sorry about that". They could have walked around us, it would have taken mere seconds to do so. 


Sanderlings were probably the dominant species, but there were also Willet, Grey Plover and a Snowy Egret following the shell enthusiasts. Because of the constant disturbance and overall lack of numbers, we reached Little Estero Lagoon again quite quickly. I spend a bit of time photographing Double-crested Cormorant on some posts, and then we were rewarded by an Osprey returning to land with a fish right in front of us - clear background, decent perch, excellent!


After another enormous breakfast during which Mick consumed enough calories for a family of five we drove up to Cape Coral to check out Burrowing Owls. We found only one, and in a non-photographable position. We made notes on areas with lots of stakes in the ground that are used to mark the positions of borrows and decided to come back in the evening when it was cooler as possibly the birds were avoiding the heat of the day underground. 

Next on the agenda was Florida Scrub Jay, a bird I have wanted to see for ages but never found on my previous visits. I had a number of sites lined up from eBird, so we drove north to the first of these at Tucker's Grade. Unfortunately this site was hosting an annual Hog hunt and was filled with camo-clad and heavily armed people driving around on enormous swamp buggies. As an alternative we continued to Tippecanoe Environmental Park, just off the 776 at Port Charlotte. This was mercifully empty but also quite large and with a confusing maze of paths. We chose a random one and struck out. At one point Mick went off ahead of me after a Woodpecker he had seen come in to perch, whereas I got distracted by calls that turned out to be Blue Jays. I retraced my steps but could find no trace of Mick. Assuming he had been eaten by Alligators I returned to searching for the Scrub Jays and finally found a distant one. I gambled on a few paths before finding one that got me close and luckily found not one but two birds right in front of me, one of which I managed a quick record shot of. It took ages to find the car again, but once I did there was still no sign of my travelling companion. Eventually he returned having walked a massive circle whilst seeing no Scrub Jays....

Last stop of the day back at Cape Coral but by the time we found any Owls in the open we had lost the light.


  1. Oscar Sherer State Park is pretty good for Scrub Jays for your next trip. As for Ding being very mediocre these days you could carry on up to Blind Pass between Sanibel and Captiva, that’s usually quite good.

    Excellent photos as usual.

    1. Thanks Mike. I'm sure to visit Florida again as Mick is already pestering.... I'll look it up as I would like to take some proper ones of that Jay.