After visiting the Black Skimmer colony with my dad on Father’s Day, we decided to head to Fort De Soto to explore. It was mid-day, and we knew we’d see more people than birds. Still, it’s hard to be half an hour away from Bird Photography Paradise and not at least stop by! I’m glad we did, because we had a great time. I think I got some decent pictures, too.
We started on North Beach, where we hiked the length of the beach. I had the Beast attached to my Black Rapid strap, and I found it surprisingly comfortable to carry that way! We got lots of comments about our cameras from the people enjoying the beach. Photographers are practically the only ones on the beach at 7am, but by 10am we’re certainly outnumbered, and I guess we do look a little out of place!
Snowy Egrets are common birds in Florida, but this one was so pretty against the ocean waves. I loved watching him walk through the surf. His feet are so long and his toenails are huge! I kneeled to photograph him, but the waves kept breaking right behind his head. So I settled back in the sand to get a better angle. My dad thought my pose was funny enough to merit a picture…and since it was Father’s Day, I will humor him and post it on the blog!
After North Beach we headed to the Gulf Pier. I told Dyeyo we’d see dolphins, and I’m not sure he believed me at first. Then we started seeing them all over the place! They can be hard to photograph, as they don’t exactly give you a warning signal before they surface. A couple of them were generous enough to come up several times in a row, giving us time to focus and hit the shutter button.
I borrowed my dad’s 100-400 lens to troubleshoot some camera lock-up problems he’s been having. I lent him my 70-200 plus teleconverter to use instead. We verified that his problem was definitely his lens, which refused to lock focus more than about 25% of the time. I think my real Father’s Day gift to him was 20 minutes with a lens that was actually working for him! His is on its way back to Canon for repair…
The Snowy Egrets on the pier are such lazy birds. They don’t have to hunt for food at all. They just steal fish from the fisherman. One nice fisherman noticed me focusing on this bird and threw him a fish so that I’d get the shot. Thanks! :)
Perhaps our best find of the day came as we were leaving the pier. We noticed a Loggerhead Shrike posing on a powerline, and then we saw that he had a juvenile with him. The juvie was fussing for food like crazy. You’d think these baby birds were starving with the way that some of them carry on! I was still testing my dad’s lens, so I locked focus and fired off a ton of frames. I was the one surprised when I saw this one on my computer when I got home!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Fort De Soto?
Check out my Fort De Soto 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!