Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lakeland, FL - 09 Jan 2009

Friday morning arrived in Lakeland with clear skies and temps in the mid 50’s. After a quick breakfast and coffee I grabbed the scope and cameras and headed across the street to the pond. An Anhinga was sunning itself on a stump near shore, but took off for the trees just as I arrived.

Out in the middle of the pond the Great Egret, Tricolored Heron and Snowy Egret were busy feeding as a group. I attempted to digiscope them from about 30 yds. away, but the early morning light was too harsh and enough moisture prevented me from getting consistent exposures. Still, I did attempt to take digiscoped flight shots of the Snowy Egret as it flew from one stump to the next. Pre-focusing with a half-depressed shutter speed I attempted to snap a frame as it lunged from its perch to open water. Results were shaky (again due to distance).

As I watched them I heard the loud ‘chatt’ of several Palm Warblers nearby. I managed a fair image of one feeding along the shoreline in the early morning shade.

Remaining motionless along the shoreline I managed to follow the Great Egret as it moved slowly in my direction, and I took advantage of flight shots when they presented themselves. I then noticed a rather still Little Blue Heron off toward the far end, but it was too far to digiscope.
As I walked back past the clubhouse I spotted a Palm Warbler on the edge of the deck, and captured a frame or two as it hopped along the edge.

After lunch, Robin and I headed over to the Lakeland Cancer Center, which has several large ponds and a good assortment of local fauna. As we arrived I spotted a pair of Sandhill Cranes sunning themselves in the grass. As I digiscoped them I heard the ‘keer-keer’ of Red-shouldered Hawks off in the distance, and spotted an immature bird atop a snag about 100 yds. away. I made my way under the large trees to scope it, and spotted an Alligator sunning itself on the far shore of the large pond. A Belted Kingfisher flew by a couple times, and a pair of Palm Warblers hopped along the dry shoreline of quickly-shrinking pond nearby.

After a few minutes the young hawk flew toward me and landed directly overhead in the top of the large tree. I managed to slowly move directly under it and digiscope several frames through a break in the branches. The harsh mid-day sun did not present the best lighting, but I did ok. As I digiscoped the young bird one of its parents appeared across the pond and flew to the same roost used by the younger bird. I snapped a few frames w/ the D300 as it settled onto the snag, and attempted a few more digiscoped images from a distance.

I finally decided to walk around the pond to get closer, and snuck through the trees to capture a few frames of the bird from directly below. I managed to leave the area w/o spooking it!
Returning to the car I spotted an Eastern Phoebe resting in the shade of a tree next to the car, and took the opportunity to grab a few pics.

Returning to the house I went back to the pond and found a dozen White Ibis preening and resting about 100 feet out. The Little Blue Heron and Snowy Egret were still present, so I managed a couple of digiscoped images before noticing the Tricolored Heron fishing nearby along the shoreline. A couple quick digiscoped images of them and I returned to the house.

After dinner we set the scope up on the porch to watch the full moon. This weekend the moon would be 30% larger than normal due to its proximity to the earth (closest in 50 years). So I ended my day with a digiscoped image of the ‘cold-hearted orb’.

1 comment:

dAwN said...

Fantastic shots..it was nice going along with you on this birding journey.
I still am a novice with digascoping and have allot to learn!
i will be attending a few courses at the spacecoast bird festival..hopefully that will help.

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