Saturday, September 29, 2012

Florida Bay at full moon low tide

Took advantage of the beautiful weather and made the drive to Flamingo this morning. Low tide was not scheduled until almost noon, meaning it would be an outgoing all morning. This is a good thing and a bad thing for someone attempting to photograph wading birds on the bay. It's a good thing because there were thousands of birds, including dozens of snowy egrets and dozens of skimmers. But, it was a bad thing as I could not get close enough to 99% of them. I can get rather close to the birds a few hours before low tide, but the problem is that if I stay too long, I am stuck and surrounded by exposed mud & grass flats for hundreds of feet. I would have to drag my boat a couple hundred feet (while sinking to my knees in mud) before I could get back in the boat and drift to deeper water (which, by the way, only exists in the channel coming out of Flamingo marina). So there is that. The other reason is that the lighting in the morning is such that I have to paddle around to the outside of the endless mudflat. This can be very difficult in 1-2 in of water that is thick with grass.

There was another reason today that I could not get close to birds. Every time I attempted to drift toward a group of snowy egrets or roseate spoonbills, the water would begin boiling with bait fish darting away from my boat. The birds were alerted and that's all it took for them to fly off. The one time that I managed to get rather close to several little blue herons and snowy egrets (in the best light), a low flying helicopter came right over us, and off the birds went.

Nevertheless, I managed to capture some shorebirds (willet, royal tern, long-billed dowitcher), one juvy snowy egret and some ibises hanging near the mangrove shoreline.  It was beautiful to be out there and one of the best scenes was at Snake Bight where birds covered the flats in such great number that you could not see any separation among them. Amazing sight, but like oil separating from water, the birds always put great distance between them and me any time I attempted to get close.

For this area, the best conditions would be to get out on an incoming and in the afternoon so that the sun is behind me and the shoreline.  One of these days, one of these days...

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