Artist-In-Residence, Everglades National Park — Part 3

Big Crocodile!

Odds and Ends….. and of course more birds!

For many photographers we have our off days… go out shooting and come back with not a thing we really like. Unfortunately I felt my last week was a little like that. (okay, there a few photos I like)

But I did see a few cool things along my travels. First, not sure if many of you know that down here in the glades is one of the few places you will find Gators and Crocodiles sharing the waters. There is a small group that hang out down in Flamingo (the southern point of the Everglades). This one in particular was a big boy who came by to give us a show… but notice he is missing part of his lower jaw and has no teeth…. I guess he didn’t have a good dental plan.

He was letting a smaller Croc know who was boss as he was swimming by.

Now this BIG CROCODILE hangs out at Nine Mile Pond. This was as close as I was going to get in my kayak… since he was bigger then my kayak!  By the way, he has ALL HIS TEETH! Check out the pearly whites on him. He also looks to eat very well.

Very Big Crocodile!

So on Valentines Day I noticed 2 Opsrey chit chatting in a tree together and then all the sudden one flew away, came back around and landed on the back of the other. Now I believe that Osprey are done mating for the season since there are chics in many of the nests. But the one flew off again and came back in and landed on the other again…. any ideas?… I have just never seen this before.

Osprey

Osprey

So out canoeing the other day in Nobel Hammock, which is all winding mangroves… I remember why I like my kayak so much. But I was out with one my neighbors/ranger and we came up on this Green Heron who was stalking lunch and he just wasn’t budging as he was blocking our path.  So we waited for awhile for the sun to come along and light him up! At this point we wanted to move on… I got within 2 feet of this bird before he did move… I honestly believe I could of reached out and touched it… AMAZING! Thanks again Levi, for your patience while I was shooting! (hopefully I spelled your name right)

***Oh, and by the way I finally saw my first Cottonmouth Moccasin (one of the poisonous ones) swimming in the water. Levi was excited… me, not so much.

Green Heron

I have only seen White Pelicans far out in Florida Bay, or out in Everglades City. But a few decided to make a stop further up in the park into Mrazek Pond. While the others finally took off, one stayed behind to feed.

White Pelican

**So here are the ones I did like… ENJOY! (excuse the dust on the pics…the camera has gotten very dusty down here)

Dwarf Cypress

Cypress Dome

Alligator

Alligator on a very early and very cold 48 degree morning. I thought I left NJ behind.

Snowy Egret

Anhinga Trail after a storm

Artist-in-Residence, Everglades National Park — Part 2

Roseate Spoonbill

Birds, Alligators, Crocodiles…OH MY!!!!

The one thing I cannot get enough of in the Everglades is the Wildlife… especially the birds! In the past five years while visiting the glades, I have noticed the amount of birds that come and go… all controlled by what is going on in the environment. The Everglades has probably the largest concentration of wading birds on the continent. But if you can imagine that back in the early part of the 20th century, it was described by John Muir, the founder of Sierra Club, that the skies were blackened with flocks of birds… and sad to say that 93% of the bird population is now gone.

But in my second week here, I have enjoyed seeing a few birds up close. For years I have been trying to photograph the Roseate Spoonbill, with no luck… in one day, bingo! I had no idea their eyes were red as well. These are three different ones that I came across.

Roseate Spoonbill and Egret

Roseate Spoonbill

Now my favorite bird down here is the Wood Stork. They are actually on the endangered species list. But in the past few years they have been making a come back at the glades! This one I came across on Shark Valley… he allowed me to get within 10 feet of him. A face only a mother would love! (This is an immature one, his bill is yellowish and he feathers are a dingy grey)

Immature Wood Stork

And there is just something about a Wood Stork sitting on a bald cypress…. haunting!  Perfect together!

Wood Stork on Cyress

Another elusive bird is the American Bittern. This one is trying to hide himself in the reeds by stretching his neck… but notice how is eyes are still focused on me!  Amazing!

American Bittern

Enjoy some of my bird portraits that are enclosed!!!!

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Egret

Egret

Tri Color Heron

Cormorant

Purple Gallinule (also known as the "Swamp Hen")

ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE, EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK — PART 1

Watch for SNAKES!!! … and I am not talking Burmes Pythons either!

There is something to be said about “ignorance is bliss”….in the previous years visiting the everglades I had never given much thought about snakes… boy was that stupid. There are 4 poisonous snakes out here in the glades and the one to be most worried about is the Cotton Mouth Moccasin… especially since they may hold their ground and attack. And the best place to find them is right off the road where the terrain changes, which by the way is usually where I am standing and photographing. I have never spent so much time looking down when all I want to do is look up and around. But in my first week of my residency, I am happy to report I have not seen any snakes!

I have though seen my first alligator hole, up close and personal…. no gator in it at the time… and by the way, avoid these as well. I was actually on a Slough Slog. We get off road and walk right into a Cypress Dome. The Everglades sits on limestone and there are large holes in the stone where water can get deep and this allows Cypress to grow quite large… from a distance they look like islands. (and this is where gators and snakes like to hang out)

This is the DRY Season….right?
So February is to be one the driest months in the winter season… someone forgot to give that message to Mother Nature. Apparently it had not rained in the past two months… but it has rained on and off for the past 4 days and when it is dead grey out, it is not the most ideal for shooting, but good for a bike ride.

Here at the Everglades they have volunteers that come in and live here for the 4 month season, Dec-April. They are mostly retirees coming from the north, either with their campers or staying in the adjacent apartments right in the everglades. Really nice people… I am being fed well. (so much for the idea of loosing a few pounds this month) But my point of bringing this up is that these volunteers do many of the tours in the park… and my neighbor, Barb, took me for a private tour in the Pines and way off road into one of the parks Restoration Project areas. Here we spotted BLACK BEAR tracks. Strange as it may be, there are apparently about 5+ black bears that live out here. We think there may have also been some panther tracks… not sure though.

The LIGHT changes so quickly!
What I have noticed with the rainy weather this past week, is that the light changes so quickly and you can wait for an hour to get the light back. So you may be sitting in one spot, the clouds will roll in and off down the road it will be sunny! But you can’t move… once you do, the light will come back and the darn clouds will have moved down the road with you.  Me and Murphy’s Law… such a relationship we have!

It is breathtaking out here… and a little overwhelming… to much to photograph… and time is flying by quickly!

*A LITTLE KNOWN FACT…  There are 8 Ecosystems in the Everglades within only 8 feet of elevation. That’s impressive!

Slash Pines

Alligator passing near a Great Blue Heron creating ripples.

Kayaking in Nine Mile Pond

Endangered Wood Stork

Green Heron