It’s been a great year for photography, and as I write my New Year’s Eve post, I want to share my favorite experiences from 2012.
2012 was a year of hard work. I put in so many hours of overtime this year (New Year’s resolution for 2013: don’t do that!) So I really valued my mornings out with the camera in hand.
In January I had one unforgettable morning of photography at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It was one of those cold mornings when I was the only one out on Wading Bird Way. The marsh was covered in fog, so I didn’t get sunrise shots, but the sky was a beautiful pink and made a beautiful backdrop for the birds flying in towards me. That morning I saw Black-bellied Whistling Ducks (a.k.a. “Tree Ducks”) swimming in water — yes, actually swimming — and one gave me a nice shot with a great reflection. It was just a beautiful morning to be outside, despite the freezing weather.
In the early spring I made two trips to Viera Wetlands and finally had the opportunity to photograph nesting Great Blue Herons. These are such graceful birds and they are quite pretty with their nesting rituals. I recall at least an hour spent also watching one particular Anhinga nest, lovely and isolated at eye level on a solitary palm. Their breeding plumage made these common birds quite beautiful.
In March I made it over to Fort De Soto and photographed the baby Great-Horned Owl. This had been a goal of mine ever since my dad’s first visit to Circle B, when he got to photograph the baby owls there. For several years later I searched for the nest and always struck out. But I finally got my baby…and isn’t he a cutie?
I love to photograph the baby Sandhill Cranes at Circle B in the spring. They are so cute, all light and fuzzy. They trot behind their parents all over the marsh. Their endurance is amazing. While I love the close encounters on the trail, I had wanted to photograph the babies with Mom on the nest. Finally this year luck was on my side, and the baby was born on my off-Friday. The light was terrible and the background was, well, marshy, but I got my baby on the nest! I nicknamed this guy “Magellan” because he was the first to circumnavigate Mom. His baby brother, the one that had been born just hours before, wasn’t quite as adventurous. At least not on that particular morning!
April brought me the unbelievable opportunity to photograph a fallout at Fort De Soto. Actually a post-fallout, since I didn’t get away from work until almost a week after the birds arrived. But it was still so awesome, and I had a great day. I also learned something: the next time a fallout is reported, do whatever you can to get there the next day!
Some days are just unbelievable with photography. On the same night that I came back from the Fort De Soto fallout, I stopped by Lake Morton and found my first-ever swan cygnet. I met a sweet friend that day and we watched together over the baby swan’s first night. Two days later I went back for another opportunity. Baby birds are definitely my favorite subjects!
In 2012 I made my first visit to Blue Cypress Lake and found that it was just as awesome as all my friends said! Hundreds of Ospreys nest there and the photography is AMAZING. It was very special to share it with my dad for his birthday.
In the late spring Rich started hockey on Tuesday afternoons, and I found that I could squeeze in some after-work photography at a local osprey nest. I spent some fun hours at that nest, watching as Mama put Baby to bed. Occasionally I’d get lucky and get to witness dinnertime also.
With the summer comes shorebird nesting season, and I eagerly anticipated visits to the Least Tern and Black Skimmer colonies. Luck was not with these birds this year, though. Both colonies were wiped out by tropical storms not long after I was there. I hope the birds come back to the same spots next year to try again. It’s so much fun to observe the babies and watch the little family rituals of feeding and chick-care.
One of my goals for 2012 was to make a trip to photograph Burrowing Owls. Work kept me busy and I didn’t think I’d get a chance to do it, and then we managed to get in a few hours at Brian Piccolo Park after all. The birds were just incredible. Those tiny little faces are so expressive! I can’t wait to go back.
Of course I can’t forget to write about Father Goose, the brave goose at Lake Morton who valiantly defends the Muscovy duck babies from predators. I enjoyed a hot, sticky summer morning at the lake watching this adorable family.
We made an early fall visit to Fort De Soto, where Rich kindly brought me breakfast on the beach and I got to photograph migrating terns. My favorite from the trip was this sunset image of a Great Blue Heron. The beach was crowded that night and I wasn’t sure if I’d get any bird pictures. Then I spotted this guy sitting by himself… :)
As work got busier I found myself having trouble finding content for my blog. Then I started to experiment with post-processing and filters and Photoshop. This was my favorite digital creation of the winter.
In November I made my first trip to Orlando Wetlands Park. It’s a fun place for landscape photography, as well as birds. With some good friends I got to see my first Vermillion Flycatcher.
We made a Thanksgiving trip to Callaway Gardens to enjoy the Fantasy in Lights display. I got to play with my macro lens and do some flower stuff, as well as some fall landscape photography.
I can’t wait to get back out in 2013! Baby bird season is almost upon us and it’s my favorite time of year. I want to get back to Gatorland this year, now that I have my Beast. I want to spend some quality time with the Burrowing Owls near my house. I want to do sunrise and sunset at Merritt Island and Fort De Soto. There’s an owl nest at Kapok Park that I want to see. Maybe we’ll do a Southwest Florida trip to go to Little Estero, the Venice Rookery, and Ding Darling. That’s not far from more Burrowing Owls, either! I’d love to get to Fort Zachary Taylor for spring migration. Maybe we’ll even manage to do the train trip to photograph Atlantic Puffins. As long as I get to enjoy nature with a camera in hand, 2013 will be a good year! :)