Winter Goals: Florida – Revisited

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) - Picayune Strand State Forest, FloridaNow that I am back home and spring is just around the corner, I wanted to take a moment to revisit the goals I had laid out back in late October.  That’s one thing about goals, people often set them, talk about them, but after things are finished, few of us go back and really examine our goals to see if we met our expectations or not.  With that in mind, let’s take a look and see how I did. [Read more…]

Everglades: Songbirds of Anhinga Trail – Warblers

Northern Parula (Parula americana) - Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Yesterday I looked at the flycatchers that can be seen and photographed on a regular basis at Anhinga Trail, so today we’ll look at the Wood Warblers.  These small, typically colorful birds can be extremely difficult to photograph.  Most prefer the canopy of tall trees and rarely come down to eye level.  Well, at Anhinga Trail there are no tall trees so you can get lucky and get a canopy loving species like a Northern Parula at eye level.

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Everglades: Anhinga Trail Songbirds – Flycatchers

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) - Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) - Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Anhinga Trail is known as one of the premiere locations to photograph Anhingas, herons, egrets, Wood Storks, and more.  The place is so well known that on Saturday evening I witnessed well above $100,000 worth of lenses and camera equipment pointed at a single Great Blue Heron.  It’s a popular place and I have been there so many times, I am much pickier where I point my lens these days.  On Friday morning, I decided to focus on the often ignored songbirds of Anhinga Trail.

The marsh and reeds that line the edges of the canals can be extremely productive for a number of songbirds.  On most visits, I see at least several species of warblers, a couple flycatchers, a couple blackbirds, and typically a handful of other species.  Most photographers simply ignore these birds as they look for the charismatic herons and egrets.

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Everglades: Unusual Birds

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida) - Eco Pond, Everglades National Park, Florida

It’s always fun when you find an unusual or out of place bird when birding.  I had the pleasure to do just that twice over last weekend.  Now when I am talking about unusual birds, I’m not talking about the birds themselves being weird or strange, I’m saying that their mere presence is unusual.  So this past weekend I had two pretty cool and unusual species show up in Everglades National Park.

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Back to the Glades

Guzmania bromeliads - Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve, Florida

After a couple weeks of office work and visiting family in Orlando, I am now headed back into the field for another couple weeks in the Everglades.  While most of my focus thus far has been on the eastern portion of Everglades National Park, I’ll be spending most of my time this trip working in the west, primarily in Big Cypress National Preserve and Fakahatchee State Preserve.

I’ll be working both from the roads as well as getting way off trail and doing some wading and exploring on foot.  I also have at least two canoe trips planned for the trip.  I am excited about the possibilities and am looking forward to exploring some areas that are still relatively unknown to me, particularly in Fakahatchee.

I should note that while I have now scheduled posts here on the blog through Monday, I’m not sure when I will next have Internet access and the ability to post.  I think I should be able to queue up another bunch of posts early next week, but I make no promises.  If the blog goes quiet for a few days, take a few minutes to read back through the archives and see what you have missed!

Everglades: Tropical Sunset

Florida Royal Palms (Roystonea elata) at Sunset - Royal Palm, Everglades National Park, Florida

Florida Royal Palms (Roystonea elata) at Sunset - Royal Palm, Everglades National Park, Florida

Several of my favorite palm species are found in the Everglades and one of those is the Royal Palm.  These magnificent trees are found only in tropical climates like that of South Florida.  They have been planted throughout the Miami area, but they can be found naturally in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, particularly the area preserved by Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.

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Everglades: Wood Stork

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) in Flight - Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) in Flight - Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Of all the wading birds found in the Everglades, the Wood Stork is possibly the ugliest.  These large white birds with a bald head may not be the most beautiful of the wading birds, but they are quite interesting and the most endangered.

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Everglades: Oceanblue Morning-Glory

Oceanblue Morning-Glory (Ipomoea indica) - Roadside, Everglades National Park, Florida

Oceanblue Morning-Glory (Ipomoea indica) - Roadside, Everglades National Park, Florida

The Everglades has a surprising number of beautiful wildflowers that receive very little attention from photographers.  Most visible is the Morning-Glory family with their big, typically colorful blooms.  These beautiful flowers are often seen in disturbed areas where their vines can grow quickly and take advantage of ample sunlight.  This means that roadsides are one of the easiest places to find these plants.

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Everglades: Florida Butterfly Orchid

Florida Butterfly Orchid (Encyclia tampensis) - Cypress Dome, Everglades National Park

One of my favorite things to do in Everglades National Park is to get off the road, off the trail, and go exploring by wading through the marsh.  Last Wednesday morning I headed into a cypress dome that is one of my favorite places in the park.  It had been five years since I had been in there and I was interested to see how things had fared.

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Everglades: Egret Sunrise

Great Egret (Egretta alba) at Sunrise - Dwarf Cypress Forest, Everglades National Park, Florida

Great Egret (Egretta alba) at Sunrise - Dwarf Cypress Forest, Everglades National Park, Florida

Sorry for the absence of posts the last few days.  Starting Wednesday of this week, I have been doing some private, and we have been starting early and going hard all day long.  I’ve gotten home each night exhausted and just crashed with no time to write.  I’ll be done Sunday and hopefully will have a lot to show for it next week.  In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this image from sunrise a couple mornings ago.