2020 started out as a great year for photography. I was on a great streak with Florida rarities until March, when the coronavirus pandemic shut down most of my outings for the rest of the year. Looking back, I had as many blog posts in January and February as I did for the whole rest of the year! Like most people, I’m not sorry to put 2020 behind us. Hopefully things will start to get closer to normal sometime in 2021.
There were some good rarities that popped up in Florida early this year. They were good incentive to get out in the fields on the weekend and enjoy my camera. My favorites were the Mountain Bluebird on Trilby Road, the Hooded Oriole at Weekiwachee, and my lifer Yellow-breasted Chat from my first trip to Sweetwater Wetlands.
After several years of chasing, I found my nemesis bird in early 2020 – a beautiful Cinnamon Teal! I’ve chased this rarity many times at Merritt Island and Lake Apopka. It was almost too easy to find this one swimming with other ducks on the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. He even gave me a wing flap!
I re-discovered the Oakland Nature Preserve this year. Rich and I went there a lot when I was discovering bird photography. This year I ventured beyond the boardwalk and found that the other trails are great for quiet me-time. I enjoyed hanging out with the bluebirds, seeing my lifer Field Sparrows, and being surprised by Baltimore Orioles and a gopher tortoise.
Speaking of tortoises and turtles, 2020 was the off-year for Green Sea turtle nesting. Rich and I did make it Archie Carr once this summer. We were excited to find a nesting mother turtle returning to the sea before Hurricane Isaias. Thankfully here in Florida we were spared the worst of the tropics this year.
The birding highlight of 2020 was Fred Bassett’s visit to my parents’ backyard to band their hummingbirds. He travels all over the US to study hummingbirds, and he banded two Ruby-throated hummers that were regular visitors to my mom’s feeders. I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face as she briefly held the tiny bird before releasing it! :)
2020 was a good year to watch the skies. I photographed the SpaceX launch that returned us to American-made spaceflight, the African Dust Storm over the East Atlantic, and the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. However, my favorite space-related event did not involve a camera. During the Geminid meteor shower, Rich and I simply laid on a blanket and watched the sky dance with shooting stars.
I didn’t go to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive as much this year, as it’s overrun with cars these days. But one visit does stick out in my mind: the day that I saw my first-even baby Gray-headed Swamphen. What a cute little guy!
On the feline front, Whiskey carefully observed all birds and butterflies outside his window, and even did a guest blog post about the pandemic. Squirt spent the year begging Rich to feed him! (That’s why we work from home, right? So we can feed cats more often?) In the fall, we said a sad goodbye to my parents’ cat (and Goldy’s sister) Missy. Then we welcomed Precious into the family. In just three months she has successfully trained both my parents to spoil her completely. :)
Hopefully 2021 will bring this pandemic under control. The Beast and I want to plan some photography trips that I’m really looking forward to! In the meantime, I’ll continue to get to know the areas near home. Wishing all my readers a great 2021!!