Big Photographic Day … 9-30-14

Peregrine Falcon ... My new lens has not recieved rave reviews for it's in flight capabilities but if I can get more like this I'll never complain!

Peregrine Falcon … My new lens has not received rave reviews for its in flight capabilities but if I can get more like this I’ll never complain!

Yesterday I decided to see how many different species of birds I could photograph in one day in Palm Beach County.  I hadn’t done a really long day of birding in a while and I was motivated to get out and try my new lens in a real world situation.  I’ve done a couple of “Big Days” before but never one where I decided to only count species that I captured on disk .  I’ve been reading quite a bit about Photo Big Days on the ABA web site and I decided why not!

Wood Duck ... Not a species I had expected to see!

Wood Duck … Not a species I had expected to see!

I started my day bright and early out at STA 1 East just west of Wellington.  I rode my bike on a 12 mile loop and was stoked to see some really nice species including the above Wood Ducks. I had one very obliging Peregrine Falcon, of which I saw 4-5 on the day. I was happy to pick up my FOS (first of the season) Palm Warbler.   Snail Kite, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Skimmer, Black-necked Stilts and all/most of the regular waders were all also picked up at STA 1.

Peregrine Falcon ... I told you he was very obliging!

Peregrine Falcon … I told you he was very obliging!

I left STA 1 and headed further West stopping along State Road 880 where I found a flooded sod farm that contained both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer and Pectoral Sandpipers.  I also photographed an Eastern Meadowlark and a Caspian Tern near by.  I wish I had another lens to give you a feel of just how many Yellowlegs were in this field … a rough guess would be 600-700!

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

I next left for Browns Farm Road and was happy to see a couple of more nice species including my FOS Northern Harriers, Barn Owls, a Merlin, White Pelicans and coolest of all 1,000’s of Bobolinks.  The Bobolinks were constantly moving about as the Harriers and a Peregrine swooped down on them. The following pictures are just a very, very small sampling of the multiple large flocks.

Bobolinks and a Red-winged Blackbird

Bobolinks and a Red-winged Blackbird

Bobolinks ... A little closer look ... I was happy the new lens could produce a shot like this considering I've only been using it for a short time.

Bobolinks … A little closer look … I was happy the new lens could produce a shot like this considering I’ve only been using it for a short time … clicking on any image will make it much larger and sharper.

Heading back East I saw and photographed my only Bald Eagle of the day and stopped on 880 at a spot with some trees where I got Praire Warbler and Blue Gray Gnatcatcher.

My next stop was at Snook Island where I hoped to pick up a few more shorebirds.  Unfortunately it was very high tide and even though I got pictures of all of the following all were from literally a mile away.  I captured Marbled Godwit, Willets, Spotted, Western and Least Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones and the continuing Oystercatcher family.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo ... Right across the street from the Snook Island parking area.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo … Right across the street from the Snook Island parking area.

When I first got to Snook Island I saw Linda and Dave who alerted me to a Royal Poncietta tree that was a couple hundred yards from the parking lot.  The tree had hundreds of caterpillars that a group of Warblers and Cuckoos were happily dining on.  There were a couple of Magnolias and Redstarts.  A Black and White and Yellow-throated Warbler made up what I got on camera.  Linda and a few others had seen a Prothonotary, Worm-eating and Yellow Warbler before I arrived.

American Redstart

American Redstart

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

It was now about 1pm and I heard a rumble of thunder in the distance.  The forecast had called for thunderstorms in the afternoon and I was hoping they would hold off for a little longer.  I headed down to the Boynton Beach Inlet and squeaked out another 4 species including this wonderful Common Tern.

Common Tern ... The lens really proved itself at the beach!

Common Tern … The lens really proved itself at the beach!

I only spent an hour or so as the sky’s were looking pretty scary and I still wanted to hit Green Cay to pick up a few more easy species … so off I went.

Pied-billed Grebe ... Looking sharp in his breeding plumage!

Pied-billed Grebe … Looking sharp in his breeding plumage!

Purple Galinule ... Always a pleasing subject.

Purple Galinule … Always a pleasing subject.

As I was walking around the boardwalk at Green Cay I realized I hadn’t had enough water throughout the day.  I was starting to wear out really quickly and I missed some really easy species that I see almost every day including Purple Swamphen, Sora, Brown Thrasher and Painted Bunting … all of which I saw this morning.

I managed to photograph 79 species and I’m sure with better planning and staying hydrated I could have added another dozen or so.  I only saw a handful of species that I didn’t get pictures of including King Rail.  I also forgot to take a picture of a Tri-color Heron of which I saw 25 or more of at STA 1.  I saw dozens of Swamphens at the STA but didn’t bother to try getting a shot because the ones at GC have been visible every time I’ve been out there recently.

If I hadn’t pooped out I could have picked up a couple of species more at Loxahatchee and I should have stopped at Peaceful Waters on my way in from out West for a few more.  I’ll guess I’ll just have to try again sometime!!!  It was a really fun day and I’m happy with the way the lens performed.

Thanks for following and God Bless!

 

 

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About sheriffsmith

I have worked for the Broward County Sheriff's Office the last 13 years and spend most of my free time birdwatching / naturewatching and photographing the birds and nature that I encounter. I believe God has blessed us with a world that is so absolutely fascinating and wonderful and I'm doing my best to discover and show others all that he has provided us with in nature.
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2 Responses to Big Photographic Day … 9-30-14

  1. toko tommee tippee says:

    Pretty

  2. Great shots – That Yellow-billed Cuckoo is quite a find. I’ve heard that there is a lot to see lately at Snook Island.

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