Thursday, November 14, 2013
Flamingos sited in Everglades City
One of my images of a flock of flamingos is being exhibited at the Museum of the Everglades through the month of November. Here is a iphone shot of the exhibit that includes the flamingo image hanging on the wall.
The Friends of the Museum put on an artist reception for me on Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised by the turn out. Interestingly, the photo above includes three people that are very intimate with the Everglades; John Kalafarski (park ranger and tour guide) on the right, and Bill Leonard standing next to him. That's my friend Jimmy on the far left, he is an experienced Everglades fishermen. One can only imagine what Bill and John were discussing, but Bill has been paddling in the Everglades for decades (which is an understatement). He helped to build the chickees back when the Wilderness Waterway was new to the park.
Back to the flamingos. One of the best parts of the opening were the questions I received about the images because that gave me permission to talk about the Everglades and Biscayne Bay. My favorite question was "Where did you get that shot of the flamingos?". Someone even asked if I took it somewhere in Miami. Not exactly in Miami.
If was a typical month-of-June day, and it began in Flamingo, Everglades National Park.
At the Flamingo marina I met a friend, Bob Quirk(one of the swamp ape volunteers that recently cleared out some overgrown paddle routes in the park) that would paddle with me back into the area where he had seen the birds earlier that month. In the pre-dawn hour, I drove my car about 1 mile through a pot-hole infested dirt road that led us into the deep, mosquito-infested forest. Before getting out of my concealed, air-conditioned sanctuary, I put a frozen Camelbak bladder into a small backpack and put that on, then I put my bug jacket on over my wide brimmed hat and long sleeve cotton shirt. I velcroed my pant leg openings around my wool socks and put on a pair of thick cotton gloves. Instead of wearing my light weight polyester camp pants that would not provide sufficient protection, I wore heavier canvas pants for this day.
Completely sealed and protected from harm, I stepped out of my car to be immediately greeted with the loudest most incessant high pitched sound I have ever heard. It was a mosquito festival and I was crashing their party. Once I got over that shock and realized that they were only buzzing and could not penetrate my barrier, I went about my business of getting the boat with camera gear into the water.
We had a 3-mile paddle before arriving at the area the flamingos were seen. Once in that area, the morning sun was out and the temperature was steadily rising. I never removed my bug jacket, but it was not so bad with the frozen Camelbak to keep me cool. It did not take long before I was able to drink from it.
The birds were not in the spot Bob had seen them. The space was empty of pink color, but I was kind of happy because it did not provide good lighting. We continued to paddle and just when my heart began to sink with disappointment, I spotted a large pinkish aberration several hundred yards away that stood out significantly against the greens and browns of the mangrove shoreline. There they were, 16 of them, and they were in perfect light. I approached them very quietly and staked out my boat at a distance of about 100 feet or so from the birds. It was perfection. The large birds were feeding along the grass and mud and so much interaction between them was observed. It was mesmerizing to watch them.
Long story short, I stayed with them for a good 3 hours. The sun blazed hot, but I never felt an ounce of discomfort. It was one of my best experiences in the Everglades.