A Scissor-Tailed Misadventure

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On Black Friday morning I was up early like the rest of the world.  Except most people were waiting in long lines in crowded stores.  I was out in the middle of the swamp with a camera in my hand, photographing the sunrise!  I had a great morning at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with friends Michael Libbe, Donna Faylo, and Mike Fitzgerald.

We started the morning on Shiloh Road with a hunt for the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that has been seen there recently.  This flycatcher is common in the mid-west (think Texas) but is a rare bird in Florida.  We hiked well beyond the 15mph sign where it has been reported, and finally Michael spotted it flying overhead.  Thank goodness for the bird’s distinctive tail, or we might not have seen him at all!  He spent a little while fly-catching in front of us, hopping back and forth between the trail and the grasses across the water.  He never came close enough for our liking, but that’s what 2x teleconverters are for.  He humored us by catching and eating a bug in nice light.

To give you an idea of why he is called a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, take a look at his tail in flight.  Isn’t it pretty?

Later that day, two flycatchers were photographed together.  So it looks like this guy has a friend.  Apparently his friend is more cooperative with photographers, too!

We wrapped up the morning with a visit to the Canaveral National Seashore to photograph another rare bird, the Snow Bunting.  More on that in a later post.

Now on to the misadventure side of the story.  I got home, dutifully put up Christmas decorations, survived an attack by the Killer Duct Tape, and finally had a chance to download my images.  Except as soon as I put the CF card into the computer, the computer told me that it couldn’t read the card, and suggested that I reformat it.  Nope, that was not a good option!  I tried the card in both my camera bodies and in another computer, and they all told me that the card was toast.  Well, that wasn’t good.  So I spent several hours this afternoon trying various software image recovery programs.  This is the first time that one of my cards has died on me like this.  What happened is that the Master Boot Record on the disk was corrupted, so my cameras and computer couldn’t read the “table of contents” on the disk.  But there are smart software packages available that look at the bits and bytes on the disk and figure out where your files are, despite the lack of “table of contents.”  Some offer to let you pay up to $100 to recover your images.  I found one called PhotoRec that is free and worked perfectly well for me.  It has both Mac and Windows versions.  It found all my MINWR pictures from Black Friday, plus a bunch of Burrowing Owl pictures from this spring, the last time I used this particular memory card.  I guess all is well that ends well…and the new CF card is in the mail!

Want to learn more about nature photography at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge?

Check out my Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!

2 thoughts on “A Scissor-Tailed Misadventure

  1. Beautiful shots! Sounds like you guys had a good triip. Bad on the card though. It happened to me years ago. I sent it to a site and got my pictures back on a CD. Nice to know I can download something and fix it myself.

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