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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Little Estero

February 28th, 2011 · 4 Comments

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Russ Burden, who led the nature photo tour of birds of Florida, told me that the main reason why we drove across the state to the Fort Myers area was to experience birds at Little Estero. The term “ester” means a marshy estuary or inlet. That’s exactly what the Little Estero Island Critical Wildlife Area is. It’s located on a Gulf of Mexico beach at the southern tip of Estero Island, just offshore from Fort Myers.

To get there and back each time we had to wade through ankle-deep water. Fortunately, we found crossings that weren’t slippery, and the water wasn’t cold. But we had wet feet all the time we were there. Since I didn’t want to use my regular shoes, we had stopped at a Wal-Mart, where I found a pair of perfectly adequate shoes for about $12.

Most of our photography came as we stood at the south end of the largest lagoon and waited for the birds of many species to fly toward us. They did and in large numbers. “Incoming!” was a common shout for us to be prepared.

This is the best place to capture birds in flight! For example:

A Snowy Egret Lands at Daybreak

A Snowy Egret Lands at Daybreak

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A Great Egret Flies by at Daybreak

A Great Egret Flies by at Daybreak

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A Brown Pelican Reflected on the Lagoon at Daybreak

A Brown Pelican Reflected on the Lagoon at Daybreak

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A Brown Pelican Flies by in the Golden Hour

A Brown Pelican Flies by in the Golden Hour

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A surprise was seeing a Bald Eagle in flight. Somehow I had assumed that they like cold weather, certainly not something that I experienced in Florida, where this February the temperature ranged from the mid 60s at night to the mid 80s during the day. This Bald Eagle soared overhead with outspread wings. In fact, I captured 54 images of this flight of this majestic bird, and in not one of them did the eagle flap its wings in the slightest.

A Bald Eagle Soars

A Bald Eagle Soars

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We saw all sorts of different birds. The Brown Pelicans and Snowy Egrets turned out to be two of my favorites, but for different reasons. I think all of us shared this preference. The Brown Pelicans are just so unusual and interesting to watch even when they are just sitting still. Snowy Egrets are so chipper and cute that we all loved them.

Three Brown Pelicans at Rest

Three Brown Pelicans at Rest

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This little Snowy Egret at left is the most aggressive bird that I have ever seen, but only to other Snowy Egrets. This was its territory! It continually chased other Snowies away.

One Snowy Egret Chases Off Another

One Snowy Egret Chases Off Another

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Another bird that I was delighted to see was a Night-Heron. Ever since I saw a Black-crowned Night-Heron at the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge last July, I have wanted to see more. And at Little Estero I did, except that it was a different Night-Heron, one that I had never even heard of before, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. We don’t have any in the West except along a narrow migration route. In some of the states were it exists the Yellow-crowned Night Heron is threatened and in others it is endangered.

A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at the Estero Lagoon

A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at the Estero Lagoon

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Many people think that the Reddish Egret is one of our most beautiful birds. Too many. We almost wiped them out in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when we sought their beautiful feathers. While their numbers have recovered in the past century, they are threatened, and only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs exist, most of them in Texas.

A Reddish Egret Catches a Fish for Dinner

A Reddish Egret Catches a Fish for Dinner

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Late one afternoon we left the lagoon to walk a few hundred yards to the Gulf Coast shore, when another photographer told us that he had just seen American Oystercatchers. Oystercatchers feed on a variety of marine invertebrates, including this clam that we saw it open and eat:

An American Oystercatcher Opens a Clam for Breakfast

An American Oystercatcher Opens a Clam for Breakfast

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I keep mentioning “we” to refer to our group of photographers. And one foggy morning at Little Estero I took a moment to capture them hard at work.

Our Group: Barbara, Cal, Russ, and Cheryl Plus One Aggressive Snowy Egret

Our Group: Barbara, Cal, Russ, and Cheryl Plus One Aggressive Snowy Egret

Click on the picture above to enlarge

We all worked hard from before sunrise to after sunset every day. Photography works both our left and our right brains. The combination of its technical and artistic requirements fully engage me. And with all that I learned from Russ and the opportunity to capture images of beautiful birds, seldom have I ever had such fun.

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Posted in: Florida, Photography

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ralph Gutierrez // Mar 4, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Beautiful pictures of Florida birds. Have you ever been to Merritt Island and the bird sanctuary there? Great place for birding. Also in Englewood at the Audubon Bird Sanctuary. I shoot with a Nikon D200 and a Nikor 18mm to 200mm lens for all my bird pictures. Nice work David.

  • 2 David Mendosa // Mar 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Dear Ralph,

    Not yet. But it’s on my priority list!

    David

  • 3 Lucille // Mar 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    David,
    Please tell me the name of the town pictured where you bought the Pearls. I think the store facade said “Hurdies”

  • 4 David Mendosa // Mar 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Dear Lucille,

    The store is Hurdles Jewelry. Appropriately that store, where I bought the pearls, is on Pearl Street in Boulder. 1402 Pearl Street.

    David

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