A Rare Treat

January 29, 2014  •  1 Comment

 

The Florida panhandle seldom gets as cold as the Midwest or Northeast, but a 31-degree north wind on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico makes that irrelevant.  It doesn't matter how many layers you wear, the wind and the humidity and the lack of tree cover on the beach will make you think that the thermometer is an optimist.

Moon and Venus at SunriseMoon and Venus at SunriseOld Carrabelle Beach, Florida. We were there in the pre-dawn dark to record the sunrise, so we stood still flexing our fingers and wiggling our toes to make the best of things in the pale light from a 3/4 moon with Venus a pinprick in that indescribably blue pre-dawn sky. 

And then the horizon caught fire and the cold no longer mattered.

I was there with friend and fellow photographer John Spohrer, a Florida Master Naturalist.  He'd heard birders speak of a "life bird," a species seldom seen in South Louisiana and Florida where I live and work, and he'd invited me over to attempt to find and photograph it.

Vermillion FlycatcherVermillion FlycatcherI found this vermillion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) darting out from the tips of cattails and wax myrtle branches to catch insects in midair and on the ground, occasionally hovering a few inches above the surface of a small pond near Carrabelle, Florida. The bird is a vermillion flycatcher, native to Central and South America and parts of the extreme Southwestern US.  With its distinctive black mask and plumage so red it makes cardinals look faded, I figured it would be easy to find -- if it was still there.

As it turned out, spotting the bird was harder than I expected, and approaching it was even more difficult, but John's persistence over the course of two days and a large helping of luck finally put us near enough to make acceptable images.

Yellow Rump WarblerYellow Rump WarblerNear Carrabelle Florida in January, 2014 The area's many tidal pools and pine forests are full of wildlife, even on cold winter days, so we found much more to see and photograph nearby.  A flock of yellow-rump warblers was busy catching insects in the pines and wax myrtles, and a few paused briefly for photos.

Little Blue JuvenileLittle Blue JuvenileCarrabelle Frog Pond, Carrabelle, Florida We found a young little blue heron eating shrimp and minnows in a tidal pond a few miles down the road.

And when the little blue decided to leave the muddy water and try his luck elsewhere, I was ready.

Little Blue JuvenileLittle Blue JuvenileCarabelle Frog Pond, Carrabelle, Florida I returned to Baton Rouge enriched by the experience and grateful for the opportunities to share them with good friends in one of America's most beautiful places, Florida's Forgotten Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

Tina Willman(non-registered)
Fantastic! A rare treat, indeed. Thank you for extending the invitation to share in your adventures. I look forward to those to come.
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