December Photographic Big Day

Loggerhead Shrike ... Now that is a minature horse!

Loggerhead Shrike … Now that is a miniature horse!

I’ve been trying to do a “Big Day” at least once a month and last Tues/Wed I made my monthly attempt for December.  I had read recently on the ABA blog about the differences between a normal Big Day and a Photographic Big Day and one of the things I liked was that the rules for a Photographic Big Day allow you to start at any time during the day and you then have 24 hours to see how many species you can get pictures of.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle … One of my favorite captures at STA 1 East!

With the ability to start later in mind I decided to begin at 1 Pm at Snook Island as low tide was “supposed” to be around 3.  When I got there the tide was still so high there was no point in staying so I headed down to the Boynton Beach Inlet to see what was being blown in by the strong North winds. I did manage to see some Northern Gannets and a couple of nice Magnificent Frigatebirds along with the expected Gulls and Terns.

Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird

Royal Tern

Royal Tern

I stayed at the Inlet for a couple of hours and then headed back to Snook Island.  The tide had gone out some but it was still much higher than I expected and the lack of a good sandbar significantly cut down on the expected shorebirds.  I did get a few shorebirds and a pair of Coopers Hawks kept all the Rock Doves on their toes!

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

What had started out as a nice sunny day had quickly deteriorated into a windy/cloudy mess.  I left Snook Island a little discouraged but decided to see if I could salvage the day by stopping at Green Cay Wetlands.  My beautiful wife Terri decided to join me and even with my lucky charm I had a tough time finding many of the species I expected.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Anhinga ... Actually both the GBH and this guy were both taken at Snook Island.

Anhinga … Actually both the GBH and this guy were both taken at Snook Island.

I woke up on Wednesday to perfectly sunny skies and a brisk 48 degree temperature.  I put the bike on the back of the Santa Fe and off to Stormwater Treatment Area 1 east.  The STA’s have always been good for Waterfowl and I was hoping to pick up 7-8 species of ducks along with the expected Shorebirds and Raptors.

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

Black Skimmer's

Black Skimmer’s

Why can't we all get along as well as the birds do?

Why can’t we all get along as well as the birds do?

If you noticed there were not any Duck pictures above.  STA 1 East was fantastic and even though I only found a couple of Northern Shovelers and Blue-winged Teal I still had a thoroughly enjoyable morning birding a fantastic local habitat.  I then headed back over to Green Cay to end my 24 hours.

I did pick up a couple of new species for the Big Day at Green Cay but not anything unusual and not any really great shots.  I ended the 24 hours with a total of 79 species photographed.  I have to admit this was only a half-hearted attempt and I left many, many easy birds on the table … I think 100 species is not unrealistic with the right weather and schedule … maybe January!!

Thank you so much for following and God Bless.




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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