There are places that birders cherish and dream of returning to, and the Joe Overstreet Landing on the eastern shore of Lake Kissimmee, Florida is one of those for me.
In spring 2008 – a disastrous year for my art show business and the beginning of the Great Recession – I visited this well-known birding spot. Driving past sod farms and cattle pastures, I was greeted by singing meadowlarks, caracaras, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, kestrels, and other birds celebrating the beautiful day.
I decided to take the airboat trip from Kissimmee Swamp Tours to see the snail kites, and I am so glad I did. These endangered raptors (although they are common in Latin America) need the native apple snail to thrive. However, habitat loss jeopardizes this food supply, which limpkins also rely upon, and the because the snail kite is only found in southern Florida, it can be difficult to find them.
However, I wasn’t so lucky this time around (January 2014), even though six of them had been seen that morning. The rain squall that came through right before we boarded the airboat may have had something to do with the no shows, but there were still some great birds, and a lovely sunset.
I had so many photographs from both trips that I decided to make a slide show out of them. It’s about four minutes long, but if you want to see what is awaiting you if you go here, it is worth the coffee break.
Tent camping is $10 a night, and since I sleep in my mini-van, I was snug as a bug in a rug. Be aware that some exits (such as exit 240) off the Florida Turnpike require you to have a SunPass, which many tourists don’t, so you may want to find an alternate route. (Grrrrr…..)
Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre
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This is the season for manatees in Florida, and I did something I’ve always wanted to do – swim with them. Actually, my son and I did this about 15 years ago, but it was later in the season and the manatees weren’t in the crystal clear springs since the weather was warmer. We encountered them in the bay, with low visibility. Now I was going in cold weather and in clear waters, and I was determined to photograph them, so I bought a Nikon CoolPix A110 at Best Buy the day before. It is waterproof to 59 feet and was the easiest to use of the three waterproof cameras they had in stock. Plus, how can you go wrong with Nikon? Read the rest of this entry »
If I hadn’t met Maria, a Jacksonville photographer, while photographing the Snowy Owl on New Year’s Eve, I would not have known about this marvelous birding spot – the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera (a.k.a. Viera Wetlands) near Melbourne, Florida. The stars of the show right now are the great blue herons which have made small rookeries on top of waterlogged palm trees.
One cluster of four nests was particularly photogenic, especially in late afternoon and early evening light. The females stayed on the nest while the males fetched the sticks and stalks. Read the rest of this entry »
They’re graceful in the sky, and rather comical looking on the ground. White pelicans draw more attention than their brown cousins, probably because they’re seen less frequently in these parts, and probably because they are so striking in large groups.
This group at the Dan Click ponds near the Viera Wetlands in Viera, Florida this morning was fun to watch. Somehow word got out that the outfall from the water treatment plant was full of yummy things to eat, and there was a sudden rush of pelicans, egrets, herons, and wood storks to the area. Read the rest of this entry »
Most of these hummers were photographed in 2011 in Arizona, New Mexico, and Big Bend National Park in Texas. I finally got around to making this collection.
I did have to do a lot of digital enhancements – my Nikon D80 doesn’t have the resolution that the D600 does, nor does it focus as quickly. I prefer to darken the background and add a digital blur when necessary to minimize hotspots and noise. Read the rest of this entry »
If it weren’t for their bright orange legs, these birds would be practically invisible when foraging among the barnacle-covered rocks. See if you can find the bird in the photograph below.
Hint – it’s in the center. These were taken at Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach, Florida, and Huguenot Memorial Park near Jacksonville.
There it is! Now for the rest of the Ruddy Turnstone Collection. Read the rest of this entry »
I made a second trip to the northeast Florida parks to see the snowy owl and other birds again this past Wednesday, this time with a friend. Ms. Snowy was further north on the beach at Little Talbot Island State Park, and perched on the dunes, but her admiring groupies with long lenses were in attendance. The wind was blowing hard and cold, but I had three shirt layers, an eared hat, thick gloves with the fingertips removed, and wind-breaking rain pants so I stayed comfy.
After the dramatic photographs of the snowy owl, the dueling bald eagles, and the fierce osprey, even the hooded merganser looks drab in comparison. Matter of fact, he will be the most colorful of the birds in this post. These were all photographed on the same day as the previously mentioned “charismatic megafauna.”
The day I spent at Little Talbot Island State Park near Jacksonville, Florida was an extremely productive one for bird photographs. In addition to the Snowy Owl and the Dueling Bald Eagles, I got the osprey to pose for me. These are photographs of three different birds on a very gray day, but their expressions and poses are stunning.
One immature bald eagle caught a fish. Its lazy cousin stole it away. Here’s the sequence: