Another weekend, another visit to Archie Carr with Rich to check on the nesting sea turtles. The Green Sea turtles are having a “high” year and are on track to exceed their nesting numbers from 2017. This kind of chance to photograph them only comes every two years, so carpe diem! The early morning walks are such a joy.
We arrived well before sunrise and started walking down the beach. We were on the lookout for turtles but I had to stop and photograph the sunrise colors. No two sunrises are ever alike, and each one is special.
A huge burst of sand revealed a nesting green turtle. It always surprises me how much sand those turtles can throw as they cover their eggs! The green turtles usually nest high up in the dunes. This particular turtle chose a spot in the middle of the beach, which gave me a chance to approach from a respectful distance and photograph her in the nest hole. Then she started to make her way down the beach…
The sun was just rising as the turtle pulled herself towards the waves. These scenes are tricky to photograph with such dynamic range in the scene, so I bracketed the images and applied HDR in post processing. My favorite place to photograph the turtles is as they approach the water, where the waves have swept all the footprints clean and you see the distinct track of the nesting turtle.
It was such a beautiful sunrise! I quickly ran around and tried for a different vantage point to better show the tracks. In this last image, you can just barely see the shell of the turtle as she submerges herself in the water. Two seconds later she was swimming away, happy to have completed her arduous night task!
It’s hot outside! We’re getting to the point in summer where there are fewer birds and fewer photographers. The trick is to get out early and enjoy the early mornings. I headed to Lake Apopka in mid-July and my first bird was an Osprey that had grabbed himself a fish for breakfast. He accidentally grabbed a stick with his fish. I told him he’s too late for this year’s nesting season and a little early for next year’s!
Plenty of Least Bitterns were also fishing that morning. This one hopped to a low stick very close to the road. He was fun to watch as he moved his tail in circles and stalked his prey. That long neck gets longer as he spots his target and waits to pounce!
The Black-necked Stilts are growing up quickly. A family with two adults and three babies was hanging out on the road. They eyed me warily as I got out of the car and down to eye-level. I wonder if the tiny Common Gallinule chicks think the stilts are giants with those long longs!
A handful of Bank Swallows have been consistently reported at the wildlife drive this summer. On my last visit, I thought I had seen one. This time, I was absolutely certain. He hung out on the power line with a bunch of Barn Swallows.
After being on the lookout for Fulvous Whistling-Duck babies for several years, I finally found some! Three families with babies, no less. Tiny babies, juveniles, and almost-fully-grown. All of them were splashing around, diving underwater, and then flapping their wings. It was such fun to watch them.
My last bird of the day is getting ready to migrate. A small flock of about 10 Swallow-tailed Kites flew over the sod fields in the late morning. They ride the thermals and grab bugs in mid-air as they prepare for their long flight back to Brazil for the winter. While their numbers were small compared to 2017, they were still a joy to watch.
The first of fall Belted Kingfishers have already been spotted on the wildlife drive. So have the first warblers. It’s time to brave the heat and get out there!
Wow. This is my 2000th post on catandturtle.net! I started blogging regularly in 2008(ish) to document my cats, our Garden Craze, and the birds in my backyard. Little did I know how much I would come to love nature photography.
To celebrate my 2000th post, I picked 12 of my favorite posts from over the years. I look forward to the next 2000 posts!