Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quality over quantity on Biscayne Bay

It was going to be a beautiful day according to the forecast, with expectations of moderate winds out of the northwest, lots of sun and a high tide at about 8 am on Biscayne Bay. This is my second visit to the bay within a 2 week period and both visits were during high tides. So once again, I would not be seeing wading birds. Our launch site this morning was Blackpoint, where I have not visited in months. Of all the launch sites on the bay, this area is the least productive for me as far as photographing birds are concerned. That and the high tide was enough to keep my expectations low.

I brought the 70-400mm and the 180mm macro figuring I might spend time in the creeks and use the macro and of course I have the telephoto zoom in case of bird photo opps. With the high sun this morning (I was not on the water until 8 am), I thought I could capture some high key shots of the low flying cormorants over the water at the very least. I tried that kind of shot on a whim and really like how it turned out. I set the meter at about +1 and rendered the water and sky completely white. The black cormorant flies low enough that its reflection on the water clearly showed up. Since then, I've attempted more of these types of shots and find it difficult to get those birds to cooperate. Today, the cormorants were around, many hanging out near the jetty on some branches sticking out of the water. But, they scare easily out here and I wasn't in the mood to chase them all over the bay today.

I paddled out of the creek into the open lagoon located north of the jetty that separates us from the parade of powerboats leaving Blackpoint marina and no doubt heading toward Boca Chica or Elliott Key. I paddled over to the jetty where a group of cormorants were resting. I was exposed to the winds and since I was in deep enough water to not be able to use the stake out pole, I decided to change directions. I noticed a white speck in the mangroves across the lagoon about 1/3 mile away so I headed toward it. Whatever bird it was, it was simply perched, but it was in nice light. I approached it and realized it was a morph version of the great blue heron. These birds are rare and my understanding is they only exist in south Florida. I have photos of one from Chokoloskee Bay and one from Flamingo, but this is the first for Biscayne Bay. The bird stood perfectly still not doing anything special as I framed some verticals shots and a few other wide shots. The bird was a small stark white figure on a wall of mangroves, a very beautiful scene.

I left the bird, or I should say it left me and so I paddled around blackpoint and headed north up the shoreline toward another lagoon that led to some short creeks that meander through the thick mangrove forest of Biscayne National Park. A few cormorants could be seen fishing and flying against the bright sun. I spotted a couple ospreys and one little blue heron that flew nervously along the shoreline as I paddled near by. I didn't think I'd be photographing anything, so I put away the camera. I paddled around the lagoon and headed back toward Blackpoint after awhile. There were no clouds in the sky, but the temperature was comfortable, never getting too hot today.

Once back in blackpoint lagoon, I spotted my friends Vivian and David fishing. Vivian had already caught one good sized trout and was after another. I paddled leisurely around while watching brown pelicans diving. I watched schools of mullet popping out of the water, seemingly getting away from some predator. It was getting close to noon and Vivian and I were starting to head back to the launch site. All of a sudden, she got on to some trout and started catching them. About that time, I watched a royal tern diving for food very close to me. I decided to stake out and see what I could capture. The sun was too high for optimal lighting but I thought I might have luck with some banking shots and maybe some backlit shots against those white feathers splayed out. What fun this turned out to be after all! Just when I thought I was going back to land with only a meager shot of a white heron, this royal tern put on a great show. What a challenge it gave as it flew across my plane of sight and then maneuver into its diving position and in a split second, dive head first toward the water at lightening speed. The wind made it a bit more challenging, but I managed some sharp photos of this dynamic bird.

Once again, Biscayne Bay offered a fine morning on the water. Soon, my summer days on Biscayne Bay will be many. I look forward to those halcyon mornings, soaking up the hot sun and watching those storm clouds fill the sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment