My visit with the Least Terns from my last post was so wonderful that I resolved to get up early the following morning and go back. I didn’t sleep well that night. Knowing that I had to get up early for another long drive, I kept waking up and thinking that it was time to go. 11:30 went by, then 12:15, then 12:45. Knowing that you have to get up at 3:30 certainly can keep you awake! At least I relaxed into a longer sleep. Then I hardly knew what time it was. The room was bright, the sun shone down on my face, and the clock said 9:30 – three hours past sunrise! I was so annoyed with myself for sleeping through my alarm and missing the morning on the beach. Then the alarm went off and I realized it was all a dream. It was really just 3:30, and time to get on the road!
Rich heard my story later that day and just chuckled at me. He said, “now I know what a nature photographer’s worst nightmare is! Sleeping through sunrise!”
As it turned out, it was a marvelous sunrise. When I arrived at the beach, there were plenty of clouds on the horizon.
It was low tide, so I crept farther down the beach than usual, looking for rocks covered by the ebb and flow of the tide. I wasn’t alone. A Snowy Egret flew in and joined me on the rocks. He was so intent on pulling fish from the ocean that he didn’t care if I was there. The waves splashed me as I knelt down and photographed the white bird against the glow of the rising sun.
The sun took its time making an appearance behind the clouds. But when it did, it cast the world in a bright shimmering golden light. That moment was worth the 2 hours of driving from Orlando!
I had a date to keep with my baby terns, so I didn’t linger long. As I turned to leave the beach, the sun was already behind another bank of clouds. What a great start to the morning!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Marineland Beach?
Check out my Marineland Beach 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!