Thursday, July 29, 2010

Make that three perfect days

I love summers in Miami! I live here and this week, I feel as if I am on vacation in Miami. Perfect tides, perfect weather and I have the time to take advantage of it all. What better way than to get out on Biscayne and photograph the waders. The negative tides this week have brought them out in great number. I had pretty good luck near Mattheson, so today I thought I would head over to Deering and see what was going on at the rookery.

I arrived at 6:15 am but the gate was not open. This is one of the reasons I do not like to launch from Deering. The park did a good job paving the road and parking area, but you can't access it until sunrise. I waited only about 15 min and soon, I was on the water. The sun was coming up over the horizon and the ibises roosting in front of the estate began their flight over the bay. The water was very low and lots of grass on the surface as I paddled north. There was no cloud cover over the sun this morning and soon, the water was on fire.

The water was as calm as can be; my boat was the only disturbance except for an occasional bait fish jump. As I headed north, I noticed that near the roosting area was a large number of white birds in the water. Ibises no doubt, the low tide gave them several areas to wade in front of the Deering estate. Several of them were on the east end of the island and about twice as many were clustered on a flat right in front of the estate. I have never seen the water so low in this area. I had two choices, go for the backlight that was flaming orange and shoot some ibis silhouettes or face the group in front of the estate with beautiful front light. I did both. the ibises near the island were quite tolerant of me. They offered some fun silhouettes but mostly they were heads down and too close too each other to make a worthwhile composition. I headed over to the other group. The birds were thick and while it was an interesting sight, not a good set up for photographing. The shoreline in the background was busy and from my perspective, I really could not distinguish the birds. Some were flying in but always facing away, so no flight shots either.

I had the rookery in mind this morning so I began to paddle north again after spending about 30 min with the ibises. Another large flat appeared and I recognized several bluish and some white birds. The white birds were juvenile snowy egrets, not yet adorned with yellow slippers. Several juvy little blue herons were present, most with the combination blue and white feathers. One or two adults were seen as well. Of course, several ibises were there too. I paddled around the flat to get into the good light and concentrated on a couple birds. For the most part, they cooperated quite well as they were very busy catching little fish, worms and who knows what else. All good stuff I'm sure.

The sun continued to shine bright and after about an hour I continued on, this time toward the sponge farms. Upon noticing a few gulls, I thought maybe they would be hanging out in number on the sticks. I got closer to chicken key and the grasses were laying heavy on much of the water. Several great white egrets were scattered around the bay, none close enough to make to photograph. I crossed the channel and while many cormorants were flying here and there, no birds appeared to be resting on the sticks. I made a left turn and headed toward the rookery island. I paddled on the edge of the channel and noticed several small snappers in the water. Later I spotted a blue crab. The bay waters look good, but no tails were seen today (except for an occasional shark). The bonefish and redfish have been few and far between, so my fishermen friends tell me. I always try to get an eye open for fish so I can give a report, but this week, nothing except for birds, lots of birds.

The rookery was still alive with fledging cattle egrets and cormorants. They hide very well from me and I never really had a chance to photograph. Several of them fly around the island, testing their wings. It's difficult to capture a shot because they fly out of the tree quickly and bank sharply and turn circles over the island. I managed one good shot. By now it was 9:30 am, and I was ready to head back. I decided as I paddled the open bay that I would come back tomorrow. The conditions are too good to be true, may as well take advantage. I'll sleep in on Sunday.

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