Saturday, September 26, 2009

Biscayne Bay: finally, no storm clouds

Or at least not until after 1 pm, about the time we got off the water today. While launching near Deering Estate at 7 am this morning, we looked forward to being on the water all morning without worrying about the storms that dance all around us in the sky every time we come out here. But not today. This morning as the sun was already above the horizon, cumulus clouds that eventually would burn off roared up into the sky as the sun backlit the scene. The white ibises were flying overhead instinctively toward some daily destination. The calmness was inviting as I began to paddle north toward Chicken Key.

Before heading out to Chicken Key where eventually I would paddle to the sponge farms, I took a detour to the little island in front of the Deering Estate. The island was alive with hundreds of cormorants, many of which were juveniles, not yet adorned with those striking emerald eyes. They were flying about quite actively and would make their landings in the canopies facing the sun, which gave me a good angle for flight shots. Despite hanging out with them for some time, I didn't manage to score a good shot at a shutter speed of only 1/640. I bumped up the ISO to 640, but with a +1 compensation, the shutter speed wasn't quite adequate for these speedy birds. Most of the shots came out too blurry and besides, they were on to me as they would move away to a perch well away from me.

I left the cormorants and headed out toward Chicken Key where I would watch 4 brown pelicans swimming and diving for a short while. The air was calm, but the sun was already high above the horizon at 8-8:30 am. I wanted to head over to the sponge farms just north of the channel that runs past Chicken Key. The sponge farms are nothing more than several large wooden sticks sticking out of the water at various heights. At low tide, many our about 5-10 feet above the water surface. There are a few communities of sticks within a 1/4 mile length of bay. Each community contains about a 12-20 sticks within a small area. I thought I would hang out there thinking that the gulls would be quite active. The stick perches are perfect as most of them are at eye level, perfect for capturing gull interactions. I wasn't sure what to expect because I didn't not see one gull all morning until I finally arrived at the channel. Soon, I noticed many gulls flying about. Mostly laughing gulls, immatures and winter plumage types. I also saw a few herring gulls, mostly immatures and several royal terns.

I approached the spong farms where I watched gulls and cormorants flying about and landing and taking off from the sticks. I noticed once before that the cormorants will mostly fly away with an approaching boat getting too close. The gulls on the other hand, stick around. They do not seem to mind my presence one bit. I suppose they are so use to humans with their docks and boats and frequent hand outs. If one or two do fly off in fear, it is only a matter of seconds before they have a change of heart and come back.

I anchored near one of the sponge farms in the best lighting and background position I could find. And there I sat for probably a couple hours as the gulls entertained me. Gulls are common, no doubt about it. But the gull is a lively subject to photograph, especially when there is precious real estate to fight over. They fuss with each other constantly and make so much noise when one approaches, it alerts me to an impending photo opportunity. The interactions today were perfect as they landed toward me and the sun. This was brilliant for capturing full wing spread as they attempt to land on a stick already occupied by another gull. Despite being "lowly" gulls, they are beautiful and quite fun to watch.

After several hours on the water, I headed back toward the bird rookery island where by now, all but 2 of the cattle egrets were gone. The island was still littered with nesting cormorants, and I watched some adults coming in with nest material. A few anhingas were also spotted as their long necks stood out over the canopy. I paddled back to Deering with Vivian and we met up with our friend David. I had been picking up a few pieces of debris as I always do when out here and today, I noticed a very large white object in the mangroves. I paddled over and found it to be a large piece of styrofoam, about 4 ft by 3 ft, with a few wooden planks loosely attached by 1 ft rusty nails. It was the remains of some kind of floating platform. I managed to pull it loose from the mangroves and I thought I could haul it back. David some how got it up onto the stern of my boat and balanced it as best he could. With the large object behind me and in a slightly imbalanced boat, I paddled back to the launch site. With some help from a stranger, I carried it up onto land next to a garbage can hoping it would get picked up with the other garbage.

It was 1 pm before I was driving out of the parking area. Six hours on the water today and it was brilliant! I am a lucky person to live here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Biscayne Bay: end of summer and perigee moon tide

With the neverending storm activities crossing Florida every day, I wasn't sure if I'd get out on the water this weekend. True to form on Sunday morning, the weather radar showed orange and yellow storm activity over Miami and some of the bay. It looked like it was dissipating, so by 6:30 am, we were on the road to Matheson Hammock. The low tide was about 5:30 am, but with the perigee new moon, I didn't know what to expect on the water. What I did expect was to not launch from the usual canoe launching area, which would be completely under water before noon from the incoming tide. The tide differential was going to be almost 3 feet and the strong perigee effect would probably increase that considerably. To avoid finding my car in 2 feet of water, we launched from the canal.

I headed out to the bay via the marina channel only to be confronted by a very large dark storm cloud that was beginning to produce lightening and thunder. The rolling clouds that completely covered the Miami skyline continued heading out across the bay. I decided to paddle back to the canal and stay close to the launch site until I knew what this storm would do. The easterly winds picked up and as I headed back to the canal, I passed a kayak fishermen who continued on into the bay. He was attracted to the cloud scene and I don't blame him, it was amazingly beautiful.

Back at the canal I crossed under the bridge and noted that the water line was about 1 foot from the edge where people often fish, the highest I have ever seen. The incoming water was rushing me through the canal and would continue throughout the morning. Near the launch site is a large truck sized garbage bin where several black vultures were dining. From the dead fish smell emanating from the bin, I guessed that these birds were having some feast. Many of them were flying to and from the slash pine trees and with a bit of wind, they would perch on the bendable branches precariously. I thought they would be fun to photograph in silhouette form so I anchored near the edge of the shoreline and hung out with them as several went back and forth from the garbage to the tree. Not long after I started, it began to sprinkle, enough that I put away the camera.

It wasn't raining hard and the storm that displayed lightening earlier never amounted to much and splayed out over various parts of the sky, still dark, but not threatening. After some time, it pretty much stopped raining. I paddled down the canal to the opening of the creek that leads out to the bay eventually. The water was so high that the normally wide creek was tight. I soon noticed that the tiny mangrove crabs were at eye level with me as they attempted to keep themselves above the waterline. These mangrove crabs are fascinating, a very strange looking creature that lurks around the mangrove roots. They are extremely shy and as soon as you spot one, it quickly scuttles the opposite side of the root so that all that is showing are its tiny feet and maybe a protruding eye or two.

I continued on and thought I would find my golden silk orb weaver and maybe a crab or snail to photograph. This would not be a bird day, although I did happen upon a green heron who saw me before I saw it. The spider was in her usual spot and today, I was closer to her with the high water level. I had my anchor set up too, but this would not be an easy day for photographing in the creek. The water was rushing through and made it very difficult to set up. It didn't help matters either that the no-see-ums were thrill seeking and pretty much did what they pleased. They weren't so bad that I needed to get my bug dope out, but they did give me the itchys for awhile.

I headed out to the bay to see what I could see and check out the storm situation. It could get ugly, but then again, it might not. The nastiest looking storm was off shore but it seemed far enough to not be a problem. Boats were heading out on their usual course not minding the storms that danced all around. At the mouth of the creek, schools of bait fish were flying out of the water in the hundreds as they get chased by something large. In the meantime, Vivian was snapping up snappers left and right. Seems they head into the creeks and face the incoming water as the bait fish are pulled toward them.

Bird activity was minimal today, a few ibises were looking out over the bay from high slash pines and one brown pelican flew by following the shoreline and occasionally diving as it headed north. The gulls were flying en mass, but that's typical this time of year. Instead of heading back through the creek, we decided to paddle through the marina. We passed our usual launch site which by now was completely underwater. I paddled over to it and continued over to the road where we normally park our car to load our boats. We passed the very busy marina where 6 boats were at the docks ready to head out, having waited for the boats that were already in the channel. I got back to the bridge where a few hours earlier the water was still below the edge. Now, the concrete was covered in about 1 foot of water, a 2 foot difference.

When the water is so high, photographing is futile from my canoe. High water means strong tides and the current makes it difficult to stay in one spot. Not only that, there are no wading birds to speak of. At low tide, I have the entire area near the mouth of the creek filled with wading birds. Today, that same area was covered in about 3-4 feet of water. The moon is a powerful presence. I see it's power everytime I come to this bay.

It's officially the end of summer. Fall is here and soon, my attention and time will turn to the Everglades. I expect to get out to Biscayne a couple more times over the next month or two.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Biscayne: Blackpoint for a change

I forgot to set the alarm. Good thing I am a natural early riser. We still made it to the launch site at Blackpoint by 7:45. The sun was higher than my preference for launching, but the sky was covered in a thin veil of clouds so it wasn't too hot or bright. We caught the middle of an outgoing tide so I didn't expect to see any wading birds. Never really do, except maybe along the jetty. I thought I'd meander into the creeks located about 1/2 mile north of Blackpoint and not much else.

Once out of the muddy creek that leads us out into the open bay, the calm water was glaring with the sun already high in the sky. I paddled a bit and noticed a tricolor heron flying toward the jetty and landing in an open area. The jetty offers some opportunties for morning photos, it is perfectly located to catch the morning sun. If there isn't any manmade debris laying about, you can capture some brilliant shots of a wading bird among the black and red mangroves. A few limestone rocks line the jetty and they sometimes provide the bird a place to stand over the water. I got out the camera and began to paddle toward the bird. There was no current (slack tide) to speak of and once I was about 80 feet from the bird, I anchored calmly and pretty much stayed right there. The bird fished along the edge of the jetty within a 30-ft range, back and forth. Sometimes it would be lit up among the bright green mangrove leaves, at another point it would stalk its prey along the black mangrove roots that rose feet above the bird. I sat on the bottom of the canoe today to get as low as possible and that seemed to work quite well.

I stayed with with the bird for 30 minutes or so, until it decided to fly off. I didn't seem to be bothering it as my boat sat still, but a parade of powerboaters pass through channel on the other side of the jetty. Some are louder than others, with their obnoxious raggaeton music over the engine noise. The bird, rightly so, was not amused and left the scene. So I turned and paddled to the east toward Blackpoint where Vivian and our friend David were fishing. I paddled past them and continued along the shoreline toward the lagoon that leads into some creeks. Other than a few comorants and gulls, there was not animal activity that I could see. I noticed a very large blue crab in the clear shallow water and as my boat passed it within 5 feet, it raised its large claws toward me in defense. Beautiful crab!

I wandered through the creeks with a strong outgoing current and didn't see any spiders or crabs to photograph. I simply enjoyed the paddle and kept my cameras in the pelican case. The sky was still veiled with clouds, this would have been a good day to use the macro lens with the flash. I headed back to Blackpoint and wandered over to another area to another creek closer to the launch site. There I found my favorite spider, the large female golden silk orb weaver. I got out the macro and the flash and started to photograph her with the strong sun light above. By now, storm clouds were forming to the west and soon, I would need to paddle back.

For photographing, Blackpoint is not my first choice, but it is the only site we launch from that is within the national park boundaries. Except for the powerboats in the channel heading out to Eliott Key, this is one of the most pristine areas on the bay. The cove that sits behind Blackpoint is a popular kayak fishing area. When I am here, I think how things might have been if not for several relentless people who fought hard for the Biscayne Bay refuge and eventually the national park. Blackpoint was once considered the future location for the head of a bridge that would lead out to Eliott Key. That and a refinery were being considered for this location. Now, Biscayne Bay in its entirety is the largest marine park in the country and it shoulders right up to the city of Miami. How lucky we are to be here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Biscayne Bay: Spiders and losing my paddle

Another morning on Biscayne Bay this Labor Day weekend and what could be better. Instead of Blackpoint, I headed to my originally planned destination, Matheson Hammock. As usual, storm clouds covered the eastern horizon as the sky above the city was clear. For the first time in I can't remember, I saw stars in the sky, clear as crystal. But those notorious summer storm clouds lay over the eastern horizon as the rising sun attempted to shine over them. I arrived at Matheson at 7 am, near low tide. Once again, low tide did not look like low tide. I finally realized why that might be. With the great amount of rain Miami had been inundated with in the past several days, the canals were opened for draining right into the bay. Hence, low tide looked like high tide as I loaded the canoe and headed out onto the bay in near dark.

There was enough sunlight to give the water a nice shade of blue and some oranges and reds cast around the low lying storm clouds. A calm morning, the winds did not pick up until later this morning as a storm came blowing through around 11 am. By then, I had loaded up the car and started the drive home as the storm settled over the bay intensely.

Today, I brought both the 70-400mm and the 180mm macro lens, each attached to a camera. First, I would hang out with whatever wading birds I could find. The sun took some time to finally shine over the clouds and by the time it did, I had honed in on a couple of tricolor herons near the launch site. I chased the skittish birds until finally, they seemed to settle into an area near the mangrove playground a few hundred yards south of the launch site. Soon, the sun provided a warm light and the reflections over the calm waters that were speckled with mangrove seedlings provided a classic Biscayne Bay scene. The tricolors allowed me some time but soon flew off probably because of the noise coming from the now busy marina channel about a 1/2 mile north.

Soon, I found a green heron on a mangrove surrounded by the water. I got very close, within 15 feet as it stood on one of the roots preening and staring, preening and staring. I stayed with the bird a good 30-40 minutes capturing several poses, trying to capture it with a clean background. That is almost impossible in this setting. Green herons hide within the mangrove roots, but sometimes they present themselves on a lone root that strays away from the many. After some time, it took a turn and hid on the other side of the tree, away from my view. I was able to photograph the bird well enough and felt satistified as I looked around a found no other birds to photograph.

I paddled about as the storm clouds to the east continued to look lively. Still calm, the winds were mildly coming from the northeast. I shot some scenes at 70 mm and decided to put away the telephoto and use the macro lens. I found a spiny backed orb weaver in its web over the water between a couple mangroves and thought I'd give it a try. I tried to find a good light and an interesting perspective by leaning in and getting below it. The wind started rustling and it became very difficult to focus on the tiny creature. I was able to get a shot with a nice clean background and decided to move on. I had two strikes against me, the wind and no tripod. Nevertheless, there would be other opportunities on the bay, I was certain of that.

I headed into the creek hoping the insects would not be too unfriendly. I had noticed a goldensilk orb weaver in the creek on some other days I had paddled there, but it had been several weeks since. I paddled to the spot where I was certain I had seen it and sure enough, several weeks later, there it was. She was beautiful and with a tall sitting position, I would get my camera lens within a foot of her. The current was a bit strong, a new moon incoming tide with an easterly wind to boot. I had not set up my anchor system and the stake out pole was useless in the deep creek water. So I manuevered using a bit of paddling and a bit of holding onto a mangrove branch. I attempted to be very careful not to move the branches the spider's web was attached to. Once, I was trying to line up for a photo while the spider moved toward its prey, a hungry spider this morning. As soon as I touched the branch, it disturbed the web and the spider quickly ran back to it original spot where it stayed the remainder of my time with it.

Without the external flash, I thought I would experiment with some frontlighting. I set the camera at ISO200, not wanting any more noise than that setting would make. I opened the aperture wide to 3.5 knowing that this was not ideal for such a large creature. But, these settings provided me a shutter speed of 1/200. I know that I can do quite well at speeds between 1/100 and 1/400 (less than ideal) in my canoe with Sony's effective stabilization. So I went for it and took several shots from various angles. I would shoot, and look at the photo zoomed in to determine whether the focus was sharp enough or not. 1 time out of 5 was about the rate I was able to get some fairly decent shots. Then, I took out the external flash and set up the exposure with a fill flash at -2 (the lowest it goes on the a100.) The settings allowed me a faster shutter speed at 1/500 and a slightly higher depth of field at f5.6. This might work. I stayed with the spider waiting for her to move in on a prey or give me some kind of movement. She accomodated somewhat as I continued to manuever my boat back and forth.

I had to occasionally pick up my paddle and work my boat around and the get back to shooting the spider. I would get the spider in a good light and background, start focusing and shoot as quickly as possible as my boat moved the spider out of focus. I kept this up several times. After a few photo attempts, I would grab my paddle and work my boat back to position. Except one time, the paddle was not there. Oh my God, I'm sitting in a canoe without a paddle! The realization that I had absentmindedly let go of the paddle without taking care to put it in place was a bit unnerving. Oh, I had a spare, a cheap retractable metal and plastic job that I bought at Outdoor World for $20. But my ZRE 10-oz carbon fiber, $250 paddle was floating somewhere up the creek, for who knows how long! At least, I hoped it was floating. I put away the camera and lens and proceeded to paddle up the creek to find the paddle. Several hundred feet away, after a couple sharp turns in the creek, I spotted it, face down, floating into the mangroves. Thankfully, the paddle floats, so all's well that ends well!
Now, back to the spider. Time was running out, I could hear the thunder behind me to the east. I put away the gear and paddled back out to the bay. The winds had picked up nicely. The sky was becoming darker as a 4-member family (dad, mom and 2 kids) paddled ignorantly toward it in a double kayak. Back at the launch site, 2 double canoes each with 3 people headed out onto the bay, in time to catch the storm coming up quickly.

Another spectacular morning on the bay behind me, I headed home with the storm looming behind. These are perfect days on the bay, halcyon days of summer. Soon, they will be over, and my time will be mostly spent in the Everglades. Everglades, Biscayne Bay, you got to love it.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Laboring on Biscayne Bay

With yesterday's constant rains, the odds of having a clear-skied morning on the bay were practically zero. Mornings are usually better than afternoons and evenings, so I was hoping for a window of opportunity before any storms came rolling in. Low tide at about a full moon was to be about 5:30 am, perfect for Matheson Hammock.

As we drove east, it was still dark at 6 am, but the rain had stopped. But soon, the rain started again. We decided to drive over to the Deering launch instead of paying the 5 bucks to get into Matheson. The plan was to go to Deering tomorrow anyway, so we would just reverse the order. Old Cutler Rd was dark and long, and the passing cars were many. Where were all these people going at such a time? Leftovers from Saturday night maybe? We arrived at the launch, as did a couple paddle boarders and a hobie kayak fishermen. The sky was almost completely black with a few holes puncturing the horizon and shedding some morning light. And there were the ibises, right on cue, but only a small single flock this time.

The winds were calm and I couldn't help but notice that low tide looked nothing like low tide at all. Once out in the openness of the bay, I noticed the small mangrove island in front of the Deering Estate. It was covered in white, birds that is. Birds roost on this island and today, I was on the water early enough to see them. Usually by now, they have flown off somewhere, but I guess the cloudy darkness made them sleep in a bit later.

I got out my flash and beamer and thought I might be able to anchor somewhere in the relatively calm waters (easterly winds about 5-10 knots I suppose) and capture one or two flying overhead. I like the shadow effect of the combined flash and slow shutter speed, but one must be still to get sharp focus on the head. I wasn't necessarily confident of my prospects but if I managed a good shot, it would be an accomplishment. Soon, the white flock was mostly in the air, coming toward me and over the mangrove shoreline. They were ibises and close enough that I heard the loud swooshing noises of their flapping wings. I tried a few shots but without success. It was too dark for focusing. I continued on in front of the Estate and by now, almost all the birds had flown away. There were about 2 dozen ibises feeding in the grasses near the Deering Estate and I paddled over and hung out with them for awhile. In the meantime, stormy clouds were covering the eastern horizon over Chicken Key. I took out the wide angle and captured some of the 3-dimensional display.

After about 30 minute or so on the water, the winds started to kick up. I paddled over to the mangrove island where several comorants could be heard and occasionally seen flying in circles. I spotted an anhinga or two and one in particular was in clear sites. I captured the graceful female anhinga as she stretched and yawned. With the flash, I captured a few more shots of the cormorants. But these shots were not easy to get. The wind was forceful and the water was a good 4 feet deep. I had not prepared my anchor system and had only my stake out pole to anchor the boat. It wasn't adequate and while trying to get a shot, the current would drive my boat toward the mangroves at full force. Enough of that, this would be no more photo taking today.

I put away all the gear and decided to paddle into the wind and get some practice. The east by northeast wind was coming at me easily at 15-20 knots. Some wave water actually made it over the bow of the Vagabond and it reminded me of our trip to Camp Lonesome last winter. We crossed several large bays in head winds stronger than these and with 300lb of cargo, my boat kept me dry completely. I stroked forward 3 at a time on the left, 3 on the right, short quick stabs in the water. This style, as I kneel leaning forward about 45 degrees on the downstroke gives my boat enough momentum to slice through the water sharply. This is a good feeling to have as we approach our next camping season in the Everglades.

The daily storms are getting old and I am begging for clear skies on the water. Maybe tomorrow. Today progressed into a sunny day and the mass of storm clouds moved further off shore into the Atlantic. Tomorrow, we will go to Blackpoint for some good reasons, but not the best area for photographing wading birds.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Biscayne Bay: summer comes to a screeching halt

An early morning Sunday on Biscayne Bay was perfect, the day before I begin a new semester. Juggling work and photography from a canoe has been challenging and naturally I would prefer to spend my time in the canoe. With work consuming most of it, I will find trinkets of time to get on the bay. And as always, a fantastic camping season in the Everglades will begin soon.

We launched from Deering on Sunday morning and were on the glassy water by 7 am as the sun rose behind thick clouds muting the entire scene over the bay. The shadowy flocks of white ibises flew over the launch area heading in an easterly direction, as they do every morning like clockwork. You can count on so little these days, but the ibis's flight schedule is perfect. The air is thick with humidity, even more so with no wind apparent. I paddled north toward the rookery feeling a layer of sweat that could not evaporate. The water was crystal clear and reflected a metallic gray as the clouds covered much of the sky. The horizon and water blended as one, disrupted by an occasional powerboat speeding off far, far away.

I saw a large flock of egrets, snowy or cattle fly along the mangrove canopy and the white feathers punctuated the glowing green mangroves, capturing the sun as it began peeking out between the clouds. There was plenty of opportunity to shine today as the clouds dissipated. A large dark mass was hovering just southwest of us, but we did not get rained on today.

As I paddled north across the bay bordered by Chicken Key, I saw the usual fish popping, cormorants flying fast over the water's surface and several gulls (laughing types I think) flying overhead. This is exactly the time of year that I witness hundreds of cormorants congregating in the water. As the sun rose higher, I noticed dozens of birds flying behind Chicken Key, wondering if thy were the cormorants.

Instead of paddling directly to the rookery, I head out toward the bay and watch for cormorants. I like the high key effect, shooting in the direction of the sun to capture the bird and its reflection on the water. Along the channel are several mangrove mini-islands where some great white egrets and the less common great white herons were waiting for the outgoing tide to become low. Cormorants speckled the mangroves, possibly young fledglings born in the nearby rookery island.

Soon, I begin to see several cormorants flying in an easterly direction out toward the horizon. Dozens of them flew a common route. I paddled somewhere in the middle of their flight path to watch and photograph them. They seemed to all be heading toward a distant point on the water, but I could not see it well enough to estimate how far I would need to paddle to reach them. A lone kayaker was heading in a southerly direction right toward the birds and the paddler seems to be right in the midst of the cormorant activity from my perspective. Where there are hoards of cormorants there are gulls. Dozens of them were flying about and diving for an occasional snack.

The cormorants were too far away, I could not make out their tiny silhouettes on the water, so I headed to the rookery. It was blazing with noise but I could not see as many birds today. I noticed one cormorant flying in with a branch and frequently watched an adult egret fly out of and into the island. There were many young birds flitting around the mangroves, and some were testing their young wings in circles around the canopy. It would not be easy to capture much activity, so I paddled back out to the bay where a large group of cormorants in the water were resting near the sponge farm sticks. The sponge farms consist of nothing more than wooden beams sticking out of the water. At three different locations about 100 or so feet from the shoreline, 8-12 beams of varying height and decrepitness are situated closely together spanning an area of about 200 sq ft. Here, gulls and cormorants perch and occasionally fight each other for a measly spot on a beam. I approached the scene with the sun at about 10 o'clock from me and captured the stark scene, nothing but wooden poles and a bird perched on each.

Gulls are fairly use to humans and it takes a deliberate act to scare them off. In fact, the gull is the consummate opportunist and often times one will fly over my boat looking for bait or leftovers of some sort. I thought I'd hang out with these guys for awhile as the cormorants shied away one by one. I noticed one royal tern among the group but the gulls I watched today were laughing gulls. Many looked like the immature types and some looked like the winter plumage types. When it comes to gulls and other small shorebirds, identification is a bleak process for me.

I head back to the rookery and paddle over the extension of the rookery on the other side of the channel. There was nothing to photograph, most of the birds had left. I paddled back toward Deering as the western sky looked to be forming some storm clouds. I still had time so I paddled into the little channel where we launched a couple weekend ago. I had seen some golden silk spiders stringing their web across the water in the narrow channel. Sure enough, I spotted three of them. I got out the external flash; now the sun was almost directly above, frontlighting these behemoth 8-legged animals. I tried to capture them from directly below to get a fresh angle for a photograph. I anchored but there was a current giving me a challenge as I tried to focus on the spider and capture a sharp image. After some time, I paddled out to the bay and headed back to the launch. By now, the storm clouds were beginning to mass over the area and it was time to get off the water.

Summers on Biscayne Bay are golden. I have one more long weekend ahead and plan to stay away from the holiday weekend rush and get on the bay a couple of mornings. The tropics, you got to love it.