Readers’ wildlife photos

October 30, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today we have photos from Bill Dickens, taken in Florida. Bill’s narrative and IDs are indented, and you can enlarge the photographs by clicking on them.

My home backs onto the Thousand Island Conservation Area on Florida’s Space Coast. (I’m close enough to the space center that launches shake my house.)

General guide to Florida archipelago naming:   Actual # of islands = Name / 10.  So the Thousand Island Conservation Area consists of around 100 islands in the brackish waters of the Banana River Lagoon.

It’s teaming with wildlife. The water boils with schools of fish and on most trips I see dolphins hunting. There is the occasional alligator although salt water is not their preferred habitat. There has been a sole crocodile which has moved north with the warmer temperatures (I have not seen this myself.) The main bird species are Pelican, Cormorant, Anhinga, Blue Heron, Osprey, Great Egret, and Wood Stork.

I love going out on the water and I try to get out a couple of times a week. It’s rare to see anyone else out on the 338-acre zone. Like a lot of Florida wildlife, the birds are not particularly disturbed by boats and will allow you to get quite close. The dolphins will often rush over as soon as they see my kayak or dinghy, sometimes swimming under the kayak or riding in the dinghy’s wake. It’s a complete joy interacting with them.

Eastern Brown Pelican [Pelecanus occentalis] – the name doesn’t reflect the colors and feather patterns:

Eastern Brown Pelican – they will sometimes dive down right in front of my boat to catch fish:

Eastern Brown Pelican – I sometime feel like I’m on the Jurassic Coast when they’re flying in a diagonal line down the beach:

Osprey [Pandion haliaetus]:

Osprey with catch:

Anhinga [Anhinga anhinga]:

Anhinga drying its wings in the last of the sunlight:

Kayaking through the Mangroves:

Sunset on the lagoon – it’s rare to see anyone else out on the water:

Great Egret [Ardea alba] on my lawn:

17 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. The lighting plays a great role in highlighting all the elements – wonderful.

    The pelican, for instance – gorgeous! Never saw a more beautiful pelican.

    1. I have an idea they’re more colorful at some times of the year. But I haven’t been observing them enough to have this worked out yet.

    1. I’m using a Canon 1Dx-II which is pretty much impervious to everything. I’m a former hockey photographer and the ice rink was perhaps a harsher environment. Took a puck hit to the lens shade once.
      In the other hand everything metal on the house exterior is in a constant state of corrosion. I bypass the zinc/galvanized sections in Home Depot and pay for stainless.

    1. It is! Much of Florida is quite heavily developed but this pocket is a natural wonder. I’ve never lived anywhere with such an intensity of wildlife. The space center helps as it excludes humans from a huge area.
      I think it’s a paradise for the wildlife too. When I’m sitting out in my kayak at sunset, no one for miles in any direction, and the birds are drying off, bellies full of fish, in the beautiful light and warm evening temperatures, I’d think they must be feel contented and happy. They’re leading a good life. That makes me happy.

  2. Beautiful photos. I particularly like Osprey, and they are so great to watch.

    I always want to add that “Kayaking through the mangroves” really OUGHT to be some kind of euphemism.

  3. Beautiful photos. You have a little slice of heaven down there. I was hoping to see some frolicking dolphins. Perhaps in your next batch of RWPs. wink, wink.

    1. I have videos of dolphins but I’m not sure if it’s possible to submit those. Dolphins are in a constant state of excited motion so still shots are challenging. I also think it’s their motion itself that’s most remarkable. But photos/videos really don’t capture the thrill of having such a large creature pass one foot under my kayak!

  4. The last time I went kayaking at Thousand Islands I watched a dolphin for I don’t recall how long tossing a small fish into the air with its snout. The Banana river is also the home to manatees.

    1. I’m pleased you got to see that. My most remarkable dolphin hunting I’ve seen was 3 weeks ago. I saw a school of fish, hundreds, jumping out of the water in an arc. Then 10m behind two dolphins chasing them also arcing out of the water. I was too amazed to even think about grabbing my camera.
      The first day after moving into my new home there there was a manatee right at the seawall in the backyard. Generally though they stay away from human habitation and if with boat gets close to one they’ll swim off immediately.

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