Sunday, August 14, 2011

You can't always get what you want

I've learned to never have expectations when I go out in my boat to photograph birds. Many times, I find unexpected awesome opportunities, but sometimes; I return with only a pittance of photos to show for it. Files of photo trips are precious possessions and it feels like a loss when you end up with an empty file. But, it is not a complete lost day because there is always something to bring home with you. Little experiences add up and collectively become your growing history as a photographer. And with that growth comes knowledge that goes back out into the field.

I spent an entire weekend again on Chokoloskee Island while the first kayak fishing derby was taking place at Chokoloskee Island Park. Although I promised to take some photos of the fishermen as they launched, I wasn't going to follow them around waiting for someone to catch a fish. Rather, I wanted to hang with the birds, hopefully some terns fighting on the pilings (see previous post) or maybe some herons or ibises feeding on the oyster flats.

The birds did not deliver much. After photographing the fishermen in the pre-dawn and seeing them off, I was in the canoe by 7 am heading toward the area where I expected to see many birds taking advantage of the outgoing tide. Low was around 9:30 am and so there would be many oyster flats revealed on the bay. Only a few birds here and there, I began to paddle into the some remote lagoons and tidal rivers that flow into and out of the gulf. By 7:30 or so, rumblings in the western sky were becoming louder. Dark clouds formed on the horizon and with that, it is never a smart idea to continue paddling toward them. In the meantime, the morning sun beautified the mangroves and their reflections. I made a lame attempt to get close to a yellowcrown night heron before it flew off. But it became obvious that I would not be getting many photos of birds today.

I headed back to the bay and hung with a few roseates and juvenile laughing gulls. Soon, the sky became more engulfed with the encroaching storms, which by now were producing lots of thunder and lightning. I paddled across the open waters of the bay; as I have so many times before, attempting to outpaddle the storm. Of course, in between strong paddle strokes, I must stop to turn the boat toward the storm, steady it and wait for it to stop moving to shoot some images of the clouds.

I could see the fishermen heading toward the marina and by the time I arrived, most of them were on ground watching the storm and hoping it would pass soon. Many were one or two fish away from a slam, so everyone was eager to get back on the water. The storm skirted the bay to the north and after about 30 minutes, everyone was heading back on the water. A rainbow greeted us as we did.

By now, the tide had risen and no waders could be seen. The storm had increased the wind somewhat, which would have been great had it been an easterly wind. The terns were starting to arrive at the pilings, but unfortunately they were all facing west. The heat was the clincher, I decided to get off the water and let the birds go. So it goes sometimes here in paradise.


  1. Looks like a good day to me :)

  2. So frustrating but a great account of your morning Connie. There's always another day that you'll have to go out on the water again. What a hardship :)