This was such a wonderful place I returned to it after leaving Denali. A lot of time has been spent observing the residents. This Northern Harrier has a female chick who has fledged. Four times I’ve seen the adult fly around with something in its talons and heard calling between her and the chick. Then the chick would fly up and catch the food in mid air as the adult dropped it. I’ve seen and photographed falcons doing this (2016 OR coast) but didn’t know hawks would do it. I was never able to capture the action, not surprising since the adult’s territory covers a large area and they are usually high up and away when it happens. Binoculars made seeing it possible.
The beavers have been industrious as usual, but they don’t keep regular hours, I have to watch for them. One afternoon I was able to capture one eating off a branch it cut down and dragged into the water. Every once in a while it would stop to either scratch or groom. Great fun to watch and every time I look at this image I grin.
Did manage to see a cow moose relatively close and as she was moving away I realized she had a calf with her, but it was even further away.
I’ll miss this place but have some very good memories to take with me!
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When I was at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico last November I met a nice couple (from NM) with ties to the Lake Panasoffkee area (about 25 miles from my home). I suggested they get in touch if/when they came down later in the winter.
They did and since Bob is an avid photographer he suggested we rent a boat and go out on the river to see what we could find. Great idea! Fortunately he is familiar with the river and outboard motors and was willing to navigate. As we started out there were osprey working on a nest. We started out on a small inlet into Lake Panasoffkee and headed west towards the Withlacoochee River via Princess Lake.
We saw quite a few birds, but getting sharp images was a challenge since the boat was in motion 99% of
the time, either because we were going forward or drifting in the current. It called for fast shutter speeds and a steady hand (no tripod). I got many more blurred images than sharp ones but it was a good day over all. We saw only a couple of other boats, fishermen.
There was a good variety of wading birds and many Red Shouldered Hawks.
Red Shouldered Hawk
Some of the birds were very skittish, others much less disturbed as we went by or slowed to watch them.
Black Crowned Night Heron
Black Crowned Night Herons are very difficult to capture so we were very pleased this one didn’t take off immediately when we slowed and circled near it.
We also ventured into a couple of sloughs looking for birds, didn’t see any
other than a few ibis in among the cypress but the waters were very still and we took advantage of that to get some nice reflections.
We were rather surprised that the only osprey we saw were right at the start, none along the river or small lake and we only saw 3 gators. I suppose the gators were there but staying down in the water nice and warm since it was rather chilly.
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One of the events offered by the festival organizers was a few hours out with a falconer which I signed up for. It was very interesting, Matt was happy to talk about his birds and answer questions. He flew the birds with an eye to making it possible for us photographers to get lots of great images. The first bird flown was a Peregrine Falcon.
After that we moved to another site where there were some bushes for the birds to fly from and to. He brought out an Aplomado Falcon, once more common in NM and making a small comeback.
Then he brought out the Harris Hawk, a large bird that will hunt in family groups in the Southwest. It was a great way to spend a morning!
Thursday morning I was up before sunrise and out at the crane ponds (along with a lot of other folks) to see and capture the cranes fly out. As always once the sun was up a bit the images got better and better. A good way to start the day for sure!
This morning I was up early again and when I saw a few clouds in the east I headed into the refuge to a place I expected some cranes to be. The idea was to photograph some as they flew in front of the sunlit clouds heading to the feeding grounds. There was a strong cold wind but I was able to use the truck as a windbreak for the time needed.
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