Friday, October 10, 2014

The Challenges of Florida Bay

One of my favorite wide open spaces on the water is Florida Bay near the Flamingo marina. Last Sunday, I spent the better part of the morning on the bay, first time since May. A cold front had come across the area leaving slightly cooler temps and increased wind speeds as the morning wore on. The sky was mostly covered with a thin veil of clouds, sometimes allowing the sun to shine brightly. But for the most part, lighting was less than ideal. What attracts me to this area are of course, the birds. And an occasional crocodile. There use to be a beautiful mangrove tree that stood alone near the boat channel, but recently it was blown over.

Here's the catch. Negotiating low tides means having to avoid getting seriously stuck in the quicksand mud while attempting to get close enough to the birds. And the birds rarely cooperate. Here's a a scene to give you an idea of the challenges. You can see the fallen mangrove tree in the distance.

The vast area is mostly one big mud flat and this means the birds can spread out as wide and far as they want. This is not good when you are trying to maneuver a canoe through the shallow flats, attempting to get the sun behind you and the birds. Not only that, there's the busy shoreline with the visitor center and marina, as well as occasional boat zipping through the channel.

 At one point, I got rather close to a reddish egret, so much fun to watch. At first I attempted backlit shots of the bird thinking that the silhouettes of its outlandish display would be interesting in such a light. But the bird kept getting closer while moving away from the cloud covered sun. The resulting images were dull in color thanks to the poor lighting (I brought no flash). The best I could do was see if a black and white image might work better. Here's a couple examples.

The osprey were in great number and many of them appeared to be recently fledged. Here's a couple attempts at capturing these birds in flight. By the time the sun came out it was rather high, making flight shots more difficult. I always go for those banking shots, such as the first one here. Making it even more difficult to capture these birds was the increasing winds making the water more restless.

But, there is a good ending to this day, even though it did not produce great photographs for me. I was able to watch dozens of white pelicans soar high above, riding the thermals as they circled around and passed through. This is what I've been waiting for, camping season in the Everglades is around the corner.