I wouldn’t have seen this hidden treasure if it hadn’t been for another photographer. My wife, some friends of ours, and I were driving into Ft. Clinch State Park at the north end of Amelia Island, Florida, when we noticed a woman with a huge lens on a tripod aimed at a tree.
That could mean only one thing: she was photographing a bird. I parked and exited the van, eager to know what her subject was. She had me look through her long lens. This beautiful Great Horned Owl stared back at me.
I quickly pointed my camera at this beautiful bird and carefully snapped away. I quietly thanked the woman for graciously sharing her find with me. Thanks to her, I was also able to view this superb owl resting in the fork of a live oak tree.
I remember the exact time and place I saw my first Bald Eagles. It was years ago in a state park near the shores of Lake Erie in northwest Ohio. Back then, Bald Eagles were far and few between.
I am so glad that they have been able to make a comeback thanks to the banning of pesticides like DDT and proactive conservation efforts. In fact, the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered and threatened species list in 2007.
Still, I thrill at the sight of seeing Bald Eagles. I never tire of watching and photographing them. This particular Bald Eagle brought extra-special joy. My wife and I explored a park in northeast Florida, searching for shorebirds. A passerby on the trail told us about an eagle sitting on a nest in a tall southern pine overlooking the marsh. Of course, we hustled out and quickly found the huge nest several hundred yards south of a boardwalk that ran over the marsh to a river.
We could easily see the eagle’s head sticking above the nest using binoculars. That familiar thrill returned, just like every other Bald Eagle sighting. However, the eagle’s mate was nowhere to be seen. That changed when we visited again this week.
Mother eagle kept her two chicks warm while Dad proudly sat on a limb above the nest. He moved a couple of times, and I was fortunate to get this hand-held shot with my long lens fully extended to 1,365mm. I snapped several pictures, knowing that some of the photos would be blurry.
When I downloaded the shots to my laptop, I was shocked to see this clear photo, even when I cropped it. The beautiful bird was far away and I braced my elbows on the walkway’s railing to capture the shot.
If you are interested, you can watch the eagles via a cam from the American Eagle Foundation at this link.
My wife and I showed a couple visiting us from Ohio around our favorite winter retreat, Amelia Island, Florida. We drove to Old Town Fernandina Beach, where lots of history has occurred. A small square, Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park, marks the site of a colonial massacre of Indigenous peoples and some French trappers.
We drove to the small parking area overlooking the Amelia River on a bluff. Soon, our attention was drawn away from history to the present moment. A small flock of American White Pelicans had landed along the river’s edge at the park’s base.
The beautiful birds formed a floating wedge of sorts and immediately began to forage in their unique synchronized fashion. We witnessed a ballet on the water, as the video shows.
Seeing these elusive migrators was one thing. Observing their feeding ritual was something else altogether.
These were the first arrivals. The photos were taken five seconds apart.
American White Pelicans migrate to the coastal areas of California, Central America, and the Gulf Coast States for the winter. They nest in the Midwest and western states, as well as the Canadian prairie provinces.
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