Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summers on Biscayne Bay - Deering Estate

Deering Estate area of the bay has proven to be an interesting spot for photographing in the summer. It is quite beautiful for sunrise shots from the launch area. Here, you will find very large limestone rocks sticking out of the low tide water, providing a nice foreground display with chicken Key off in the distance near the rising sun. At low tide, I've spotted several great white egrets wading near by and once, I hung out with a very busy snowy egret next to the People's Dock. The bird didn't mind me being only 10-15 ft away in the very shallow water. I stayed on with the bird for over an hour while it displayed several dances and wing fanning behaviors as it fished for crustaceans, worms and other marine edibles. Early in the morning with an incoming or outgoing tide, this area is often busy with sharks and you'll spot the telltale dorsal fin moving swiftly in the shallow waters. Cormorants are almost always in the area feeding, resting in trees, or flying by.

For the past two years in August, I have come across a very large flock of cormorants swimming in the water near Chicken Key. Not sure what the behavior is, but none seemed to be feeding, they were simply swimming and staring in unison with their heads tilted upward. Even more interesting is that the herring gulls took a keen interest in the flock and on several occasions would swoop down toward the cormorants. The gulls seem to be after something in the water, but why they were doing this near the cormorants is a mystery to me. I suppose birds hang out where there is a food source or for protection.

There are a couple islands near the estate house and often you can find many birds roosting. Two years ago I found several fledgling green herons among a few adults living among the mangroves. Cormorants roost in relatively large number and I'll spot some brown pelicans doing the same sometimes. Ibises are relatively common here with an occasional tricolor heron or great white egret. At low tide, ibises, yellowcrown nightherons and others wade near the shoreline just north of the Deering Estate house. Chicken Key is not too far, about 1/2 mile from shore. At lowest of tides there is a large flat on the southeast side of the island where several wading birds feed.

Overall, this is a fair spot to photograph, but for me, it is mostly the area I paddle across before reaching the bird rookery. On a good day, I may be delayed getting to the rookery because of various opportunities that pop up along the way, especially at low tide. For photographing birds, it's livelier than Blackpoint, but not as lively as Matheson Hammock or the rookery.

No comments:

Post a Comment