Carolina Wild Photo (the blog)

Estero Lagoon at Fort Myers Beach, Florida

by on Apr.10, 2019, under Locations

A lone Osprey at Estero Lagoon The glowing reports from other photographers about Estero Lagoon tempted me to include this unique location on my list of stops during my 9-day photography trip to Florida in early March, 2019. But, it seems Fort Myers Beach does not see fit to provide any public access paths to the beach for its visitors near the lagoon. So, unless you rent a room or condo next to the lagoon, you must deal with a rather circuitous, roundabout route to reach this highly touted location.

Thankfully, one of the articles I read pointed out this problem, and gave advice on how to overcome the issue. From that advice and my own experience, I prepared a map and detailed information to make it easier for others to find their way. You can find the map and info in my Estero Lagoon article at CarolinaWildPhoto.com. Traffic and toll roads, however, were issues no one warned me about for any of the Florida locations I visited, including Estero Lagoon. (continue reading…)

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J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR

by on Apr.06, 2019, under Locations

A fearless Snowy Egret at Ding Darling NWR The fabled “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge was in my sights as we left Titusville, Florida on the morning of Day Six of our 9-day photographic expedition across Florida in March, 2019. Having spent a day and a half at Merritt Island NWR with some modicum of success, I was excited to be on my way to what it seemed was the Mecca of bird photography in Florida, if I was to believe everything I’d read about Ding Darling NWR.

Soon though, the tedious stop and go of continual toll booths around Orlando began to wear on the upbeat spirit I’d started the day with. Eventually that passed, as did Tampa, and we reached Fort Myers about 3:00 pm. With daylight to spare, we skipped checking into the motel and headed straight for Sanibel and the refuge. We paid the $6 toll to get onto the island at Sanibel, and arrived at the wildlife drive at 4:00 pm. With my national parks lifetime pass in hand I skipped the modest fee at the entrance booth and drove along the smoothly paved, two lane wide, one-way drive with plenty of time and daylight left to scout out this bird world wonder. After creeping along for the first 2 miles of the 4-mile long drive we had yet to find a single bird….. clearly not a good sign.
(continue reading…)

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Big Talbot, Little Talbot and Merrit Island NWR

by on Mar.31, 2019, under Locations

My previous post chronicled Day Two of my 9-day photo expedition to Florida, the bird rookery at St. Augustine Alligator Farm. Today, Day Three, we headed to Big Talbot and Little Talbot State Park areas just south of Amelia Island, outside Jacksonville.

White Pelicans, Black Point Wildlife Drive, Merritt Island NWR
(continue reading…)

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St. Augustine Alligator Farm Bird Rookery

by on Mar.23, 2019, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

If you read my previous post, “The Florida Bird Haven Myth”, you already know how disappointed I was with the lack of quantity and diversity of birds on my 9-day adventure across Florida. The full day spent at the bird rookery at St. Augustine’s Alligator Farm hardly lived up to my expectations, based on the reports and stories I read in preparation for the trip.

Roseate Spoonbills at St. Augustine Alligator Farm bird rookery
(continue reading…)

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The Florida Bird Haven Myth

by on Mar.16, 2019, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Willets in flight at Ding Darling NWR.
It’s the middle of March, 2019, and I just got back from a 9-day trip to sunny Florida to photograph birds that I had never seen in person before. I’d been thinking about such a trip for years, encouraged by the photos and stories I’d heard and read from other photographers. I was excited about finally getting a chance to see and photograph Roseate Spoonbills, and Wood Storks, and Reddish Egrets, and other interesting species. Yeah, so many birds you can’t take it all in – birds, birds everywhere you turn, right there just feet away – so close you have to use short lenses….. Yeah, right! (continue reading…)

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It’s A Wild Horses Autumn

by on Oct.25, 2018, under Locations

I seem to be logging a lot of wild horse time this Autumn. Just two weeks after the wife and I spent two days with the wild horses at Beaufort and Shackleford, I had the opportunity to join three other photographers for two more days with Seavisions Charters. For the other photographers… two from New York and one from Massachusetts, it was a first time visit with the wild horses.

A family group at Rachel Carson Reserve.
(continue reading…)

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Wild Horses After The Storm

by on Oct.07, 2018, under Locations

The wife and I headed to Beaufort this first week of October to try for some new wild horse photos, now that it’s been a month since Hurricane Florence pounded the coast and inundated eastern North Carolina. The wild horses of Beaufort and Shackleford Banks seem to have weathered the storm with grace, as they have for hundreds of years along the Outer Banks.

These wild horses run along the ocean beach where great dunes stood only a month before, now completely flattened.
(continue reading…)

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Surprises at the Bird Feeders

by on May.06, 2018, under Rants, Raves & Ramblings

This has been an eventful and surprising week at the feeders and bird bath so far this Spring. It started with a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. For the past several years we usually saw one at the feeder once or twice in the Spring, stopping here on its migration from Mexico or Central America up to the Northeast and Canada. But this year we’ve not only had two male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks an once, but also three females at the same time. And not for a day, but for nearly a week now.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

(continue reading…)

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Wind, Sea and Wild Horses

by on Apr.22, 2018, under Locations

A wooly yearling nuzzles his look-alike father at Rachel Carson Reserve, BeaufortIt’s late April, and finally winter has reluctantly released its grip, allowing some Spring-like weather to filter into the Carolinas. Though the temps were up a bit and the sun was out, a 20 to 30 mph wind relentlessly buffeted the coast for the entire three days of our trip to Beaufort and Shackleford Banks for some wild horse photography.

That didn’t stop the wife and I from our mission to get photos, but it did make the private charter boat rides across Back Sound as rough as what we get in the winter months around Beaufort and Shackleford Banks. (continue reading…)

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Seeking Color and Fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains

by on Oct.06, 2017, under Locations, Rants, Raves & Ramblings

Occasional areas of color continue to be spotty We’ve made two more trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains since the last post hoping to find more Fall color, but it was as yet a bit too early, even at the highest elevations. The photo at right is one of the best representations of color from these two most recent trips, in the 3rd and 4th weeks of September. The near ridge shows a good bit of color, while the more distant ridges had little or none. I’m not sure how this works. Perhaps it’s merely elevation differences, though there is no way to tell how the ridge elevations differ in this view. (continue reading…)

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