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A Weekly Update from Everglades Imagery

April 10, 2005

The Experience

This was a very successful week. I spent several mornings with the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow research team and on the final morning we finally captured a sparrow. I got some great images of the scientists banding and collecting data (see images below). Besides the sparrows I also spent a lot of time working in the cypress domes throughout the park. I returned to photograph the cowhorn orchids that I discovered a couple weeks ago as well as the numerous air plants that are blooming. I have a lot of images this week so I thought I would keep this brief. I hope the captions below will tell the stories that I normally relate here.

The Photos

I have had several people request larger images in my newsletter so I have decided to give it a try this week. Enjoy.

Swallow-tailed Kite with lizard – Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park

I have located a staging area for these Swallow-tailed Kites where they gather before heading off to roost for the night. Several nights ago I counted seven birds perching in a number of snags. When I first arrived two of the birds were mating but I did not get my equipment set up in time. This particular bird is carrying a lizard in its talons. I have witnessed these birds eating while flying by simply bending their head down to their talons to feed.

Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow and Researchers – Everglades National Park

I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I was able to spend this week with one of the research teams studying the endangered Cape Sable Seaside Sparrows. The team I have been following are attempting map out the territories of the males in several study plots. Banded birds are sighted and identified by the colors of their bands and GPS coordinates are taken. This allows them to map the rather small territories and get a good idea on the size of the population. When an unbanded bird is spotted, the researchers try to capture the bird in a mist net so it can be banded. While the bird is being banded a number of measurements are taken. In the first image here, Peter is placing the aluminum band on the leg of the bird. The other leg was banded with two color bands to allow easy identification from a distance. In the second image, Peter is measuring the bird’s bill.

Moonflower – Eco Pond, Everglades National Park

These beautiful flowers are a member of the Morning-Glory family. These large white flowers are found on a vine that has covered a lot of the area around Flamingo where exotic plants have been removed. The flowers open shortly after sunset and close right around sunrise. This makes photographing them difficult because when there is enough light to take a picture they are often wilted. I was out the other morning just before sunrise and had the opportunity to photograph several flowers before they began to wilt.

Snowy Egret in flight – Eco Pond, Everglades National Park

I just love this image. The detail in the feathers, the sharpness of the eye, and the contrast of the yellow feet make it a perfect image.

Red-winged Blackbird singing – Eco Pond, Everglades National Park

I have had an image just like this in my mind for several years but have never had the chance to capture it in the field. As I was preparing to photograph Ibis, Herons, and Egrets flying in and out of Eco Pond, this bird perched on a nearby cattail and began singing for a few moments.

Bald Eagle – Everglades National Park

I have seen a number of Bald Eagles while I have been down here but very few up close. This particular bird landed in the middle of the highway for just a few seconds before another car approached. It took off and landed in a nearby cypress where it was mobbed by crows. It perched for about five minutes before it gave up on the crows and flew off until it was out of sight.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – Mrazek Pond, Everglades National Park

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are beautiful birds with long forked tails. This image does not show the tail because it is pointing directly at the camera but I thought the soft gray of the head and face and the hint of red on the shoulders was gorgeous. These birds typically winter in south Florida but this was the first bird I have seen all winter. It has been at Mrazek Pond for the past few days and I plan on staking it out to get an image of the bird in flight with the tail spread wide.