For our anniversary, Rich and I headed to Snowy Plover Paradise (a.k.a. the Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area). There are only around 220 nesting pairs of Snowy Plovers in Florida. So it was great to see several pairs running around the beach. We found a nest, and then another, and then we found some tiny fuzzball babies!!
I’ve only seen a handful of Snowy Plovers before, on the rare morning at the Fort De Soto North Beach. They are beautiful white birds. Their breeding plumage includes dark marks that are very striking…
Thanks to my Beast lens and teleconverter, I could sit far enough away to not bother the birds, but close enough to get fun pictures. At one point, the plover left her nest to stretch her legs, and I could see her egg. It makes you appreciate how vulnerable these nests are, just small indents in the sand. I’m glad they rope off the nests to protect the birds. I was also surprised at how big the egg was.
Then I spotted the babies! They were like small cottonballs on toothpick legs. They ran so quickly!! It surprised me how hard they were to find. White dots running on white sand in bright sun…yeah, once I spotted them, they were hard to focus on, too! But it was worth the effort. They babies are so cute!!
I sat quietly on the sand. I spent half of my time chuckling and half of my time focusing. With time, the babies made their way closer to me. That’s when the shutter button went into overdrive! :)
The babies leave the nest a few hours after they are born. They can feed and take care of themselves. So there wasn’t a whole lots of mom/baby interaction to photograph. The parents just wandered around, trying to keep the babies in sight!
I did a little happy dance when one of the adults picked up an eggshell. It’s good protein!
On my last visit with these beautiful birds, I was photographing babies down by the edge of the water. Another beachgoer walked towards me. She didn’t seem to notice the tiny white fuzzballs in the sand. But she did make them edge towards me, closer and closer, until I had too much lens! It was a perfect end to a wonderful visit.
Want to learn more about nature photography at Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area?
Check out my Little Estero Critical Wildlife Area 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!
Love the snowy plover chicks! I got to see them in person!