Thursday 6 December 2018

Florida III - Day 3

Whilst on Fort Myers beach I talked to a couple of birders who were looking at the assembled waders. They recommended Bunche beach, halfway towards Sanibel, as having a wider selection of waders and being less disturbed. So that’s where we went on the morning of our third full day, making sure to arrive early as we had also been told that parking was limited. In the dark the insects began to bite – it was Sanibel all over again! This time we were a little better prepared and so plastered ourselves with repellent, but unfortunately the mere act of getting out of the car allowed the bugs a further opportunity to riddle us with holes. Making our way to the beach we were delighted to find a massive beach with zero people on it and tons of birds as far as the eye could see. Perfect.

Waiting for the light

I hope you will forgive the photo-heavy post but there are some days where it just seems to work. The birds depicted are Grey Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher (which was an ABA tick for me - I saw it in the UK first!), Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Roseate Spoonbill and Little Blue Heron.

The next two hours were phenomenal. The tide was receding and a wide variety of waders and egrets were feeding. Needless to say almost all photography occurred at ground level using skimmer pods which proved fantastic in these conditions, and we got extremely wet, sandy, and muddy. All worth it though, or at least I think so. By about 9am the beach was a little more crowded but overall there was very little disturbance barring one photographer dressed in bright orange who really did not understand some basic rules of the road. We returned to the car filthy but happy, and after a wash in the sea and a change of clothes, headed off for another few thousand calories at Denny’s.

Getting low. And wet.

In the afternoon we headed over to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an Audubon Society reserve on the edge of a Cypress swamp and possessed of a fantastic boardwalk. I had read a lot about it but nothing prepared me for how brilliant it was. Birds everywhere, particularly warblers and woodpeckers. We slowly picked our way around the trail stopping frequently as bird waves passed through. Photography was hard work but very rewarding, and it was good to have a different mix of birds to target after several days of the same fare. We spent the rest of the day here, and on finding that our entrance ticket allowed entry the following day, decided to come back the following day as well for our final morning before needing to return to Miami and fly home.

Prairie Warbler

Pine Warbler

Carolina Wren

Black-and-White Warbler

White-eyed Vireo

Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher
Red-shouldered Hawk