Saturday, 27 June 2015

Way down upon the Suwannee River

The Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge is just north of Cedar Key so that was our destination today. Everything we'd read promised birds and reptiles and it did not disappoint!

Almost as soon as we got off the beaten track we spotted this Florida Softshell on the track.

Florida Softshell, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500

It allowed us to get fairly close without appearing to be too perturbed.

Florida Softshell, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 77.5mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/100
Florida Softshell, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 180mm, ISO 400, f/8, 1/160

Next stop was a short boardwalk into a pond where there were herons and egrets galore.

Little Blue Heron + Snowy Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/16, 1/320

There were 4 species of heron/egret,

Little Blue Heron, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250
American Great Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250
American Great Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 400, f/8, 1/3200
Snowy Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250
Snowy Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1000
Snowy Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/320
Tricolored Heron, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/10, 1/1000
Tricolored Heron, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250
Tricolored Heron, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/10, 1/1000

a solo Roseate Spoonbill having around with the egrets, 

Roseate Spoonbill + Snowy Egret, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/10, 1/4000
Roseate Spoonbill, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/1250

 and a few Turkey Vultures overhead.

Turkey Vulture, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/6400
Turkey Vulture, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/4000

There was also a 'bunch' of juvenile alligators hanging out on the mudflats. The alligators in the water were eating dragon flies!

Alligator, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 400, f/11, 1/400

Next stop was a small fire dam where we found Suwannee Scooters. These, mostly aquatic, turtles have brightly coloured yellow and black faces and necks.

Suwannee Scooter, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 800, f/11, 1/1600
Suwannee Scooter, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 800, f/11, 1/4000

but turn black as they get older - it took us a while to work out that this one was the same species.

Suwannee Scooter, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (x2 adaptor), ISO 800, f/11, 1/640

They do get out onto land though - as we found out a little further down the road.

Suwannee Scooter, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/320

We also found another roadside reptile - this time a Gopher Tortoise.

Gopher Tortoise, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8, ISO 800, f/8, 1/250

We made a couple of stops at lookouts over estuarine inlets hoping for more birds but the only things we found were fiddler crabs inhabiting the mud and the roads.

Fiddler Crab, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (2x adaptor), ISO 800, f/22, 1/500
Fiddler Crab, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (2x adaptor), ISO 800, f/22, 1/800

As we drove along a narrow track with rough thick vegetation, we spotted a Turkey Vulture on the road. We tried to approach it slowly but it flew into the trees. Fortunately, there was a gap in the roadside vegetation allowing us this view form the car window.

Turkey Vulture, Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida
Pentax K-3, Sigma 300mm f/2.8 (2x adaptor), ISO 800, f/11, 1/1600

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