Interesting Couple of Wildlife Days

We have been out and about with our cameras the last couple days and have found some interesting wildlife pictures. I want to start with a picture of my favorite blue jay. I raised this little one as a volunteer with the Ark Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation and when I see “Topaz” on a walk I am thrilled. The bird does not usually stay still long enough for photos, but I got one yesterday.

Today I saw a snake on our driveway, which was a North American racer. I suspect I was able to get pictures since it was chilly.

When I came home today after a walk on the Palencia boardwalk, I heard a scattering of birds in the backyard. I checked to see a red-shouldered hawk hanging out.

While kayaking on the Guana River yesterday, Regis captured this image of me attempting to photograph wildlife while a brown pelican flew right by.

While at Fort Matanzas National Monument we saw this beautiful reddish egret. It was hanging around the fishermen for good reason. It snagged some bait.

While at the Matanzas inlet, we saw the dolphins circling to gather fish. The brown pelicans flew to where the dolphins where circling.

Sanderlings Fighting

We recently came upon some sanderlings fighting at Fort Matanzas National Monument. For such little birds, it was interesting to see such brutal fighting.

Pelican Landing

I wanted to share the grace and beauty of a pelican landing. Regis took the pictures.

Oh wait, no, that was not a landing. That is what pilots call a touch and go.

Wicked Waves

This has been a rough month for the coast in northeast Florida. Early in the month we had a nor’easter that coincided with a high tide. After the nor’easter, we have had relentless wind from the northeast that continues to batter the coast. We have some videos and pictures. If you like watching the ocean in a wicked state, watch them. Our last blog post showed some pictures during the high tide early this month that coincided with a nor’easter. The pictures in this post show the regular high tide, which is 1.5 feet less than the peak earlier this month.

St. Augustine Beach Pier during a regular high tide.
Anastasia State Park at high tide on November 24, 2021.
South Ponte Vedra beach after the nor’easter came through.
South Ponte Vedra Beach after the nor’easter came through.

New Camera and Lens

I recently got a mirrorless Canon R5 and yesterday got my 100-500 lens to go with it. Today, I tried them out and I am excited about the possibilities. I am happy with my images today and love the lighter camera and lens. There is no going back! I’m keeping my Canon 5D Mark IV body and lenses as backup and when I want to carry a landscape and long lens and not have to swap. The new lens is tack sharp. I’m providing images from my first photo ops with the new setup.

But first, for those who follow these posts regularly, you may remember that I saved a rat/mouse recently during the incredible high tide and nor’easter. It was a hispud cotton rat, native to the area and I successfully released it today.

Eastern bluebird
Red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird
Carolina chickadee
Brown-headed nuthatch
Red-winged blackbird
Pine warbler
Common ground dove
Cowbird
Cowbird
Mourning dove
Red-bellied woodpecker
Least sandpiper
Willet

Corn Snake

We have had high tides lately accompanied by bad weather. This has had a significant impact on the wildlife. Yesterday I went to our local boardwalk over the marsh to capture some pictures of the amazing high tide and found a small rat/mouse nearly dead in the wrack on the boardwalk. I saw another one in the wrack floating on the water. I could not help that little guy, but I picked up the one on the boardwalk and put it in my pocket. There is a wonderful family on my street that was willing to take that little guy in until it recovered and was safe to release it.

Today, the tide was higher than yesterday. It was not supposed to be higher by much but it seemed much higher today. It may be a result of the relentless winds. The winds can stop the tide from making its way up river and stop the water. It has no place to go and spreads out. This was the most water we have seen since we moved into this house nearly 3 years ago.

I went back out to the boardwalk today to capture some pictures. I waited until the rain relented and it was a little after the highest of the tide. Lots of birds were feeding in the wrack off the boardwalk and I hated to disturb them as I made my way across the boardwalk. I eventually came upon this corn snake trying to warm up in the sand of one of the little islands. I think it has had a rough couple days and did not move even when I worked my way around it to go forward. I did my best to not disturb it. It was an incredibly beautiful snake.

Following are some pictures of the high water. It may be most meaningful to locals who know that it does not usually look like this.

Favorite Clapper Rail

Clapper rail.

I was at the Palencia Boardwalk again this morning for sunrise pictures. I love being at the marsh at sunrise. The flat landscape makes the sky appear more dramatic and sometimes the colors can be unbelievable. As the sun comes up, the birds start to move around and it is restful to be among nature and the wildlife. By the time the sun rises and the landscape shots are not as colorful, I can switch over to my long lens for wildlife pictures. There is a particular spot along the boardwalk where I regularly see a clapper rail and it allows me to take pictures of it. It usually hangs out in the grasses, so I struggle to get a shot while focusing on the bird instead of the grass and not getting a piece of grass in front of its eye. I’m naming the bird Kokomo for no particular reason other than it is becoming so familiar it needs a name.

Sunrise over the saltwater marsh. Today was a purple day.

By the time the sun was up, the sky was completely overcast, and everything was washed out and gray. I found this little blue heron standing in the water and attempted a high key photo by brightening the colors and getting a predominately white, instead of gray, background.

Little blue heron.

Here are some ruddy turnstones and least sandpipers feeding on the pier.

Recent Awards

Regis and I did well in the most recent Florida Camera Council Print Competition and won yellow awards for the following pictures.

Linda: Don’t think about it.
Regis: Morning on the Marsh.
Regis: Sunrise on the Marsh
Linda: Owl Eyes

I’m thrilled that Regis did well with the marsh pictures. I feel that folks often do not appreciate the beauty of the marsh and I love to see when people do.

Bluebirds, etc.

We regularly have bluebirds, but we have had more of them recently. We have also had more brown-headed nuthatches than usual. I regularly bird on our street and I am seeing more variety and numbers of birds than recently. The seasons are changing and the birds show it. Yesterday, I saw 95 wood storks at two of our local ponds.

Regis has gotten some particularly nice pictures in the backyard lately of the bluebirds, nuthatches, and pine warblers that are regularly showing up to eat the bark butter bits in the feeders.

Regis noticed some brown-headed and nuthatches having a tussle over a hole in a dead branch. The picture below shows two nuthatches near the hole.

Brown-headed nuthatches.
Eastern bluebird.
Brown-headed nuthatch. They sound like squeaky toys.
Male pine warbler.
Female pine warbler.
Brown-headed nuthatch.
Yellow-rumped warbler.
Eastern bluebird.

Sunrises that Don’t Work Out

Sunrise over the Tolomato River.

I have been wanting to get some sunrise pictures from the Palencia Boardwalk where the trees do not block the view. Yesterday, I set the alarm and woke up in the dark but it did not seem promising. I went back to bed and shortly after it was clear that is was, in fact, promising but was too far to go to my regular spot for a sunrise picture. Regis took the above picture from our house with a cell phone.

I tried today at the Boardwalk and it was the most boring sunrise in whenever. But, I got some pictures of a clapper rail that seems to hang out in one location and a marsh wren. Marsh wrens hide in the grasses and flit around and are very difficult to photograph. I also saw some deer today.

Clapper rail.
Marsh wren.
White-tailed deer.