If Saturday was SuperSaturday, then I would have to say that Sunday was StupendousSunday.
I thought I was in photography heaven.
When Andy said he was taking us to a rookery, I immediately thought of this:
Which is a fairly typical example of a great blue heron rookery up where I live.
You know, a stand of dead trees in the middle of a beaver pond, which naturally attracts herons because of the protection afforded by the water.
Beautiful, but meh.
I see this all the time up north.
However, the rookery he had in mind was sooooooooooooo different!
It was surrounded by a protective body of water all right, but there were no groves of dead trees.
And the protection supplied by the water was amplified by. . .
. . .ALLIGATORS!
GREAT BIG ALLIGATORS, with LOTS OF TEETH!
Hundreds of them!
Which, of course, proved to be The Star of the (Final) Day of Wild Wings 2022.
At least, to me. 🙂
Everywhere you looked, there was an alligator either resting in, thrashing about, or slinking through the water!
And the “rookery” was just as everywhere as the alligators were!
Just about any tree attracted birds of all descriptions, either resting or nesting.
Rare and not-so-rare, colorful and otherwise — preening, cleaning, screaming, or just sitting still.
I can’t think of a hawk desperate enough or an eagle brave enough to risk clashing with an alligator simply to swoop down on a nest and dine on somebody else’s eggs or young ‘uns.
Although there was the ever-present danger of an egg or maybe a fledgling falling into the dangerous waters below. . .
. . .we saw none of that.
What we did see was simply amazing!
When Andy pulled into the parking lot of what looked to me like a typical Florida tourist trap, I was confused.
I mean, during the entire week we had made every effort to avoid such places like the plague.
And this place looked very tourist-y, to the point that you were greeted by a huge plastic alligator head with its terrible, toothy jaws opened wide enough for even adults to walk straight through (so you could get that frightful picture to show Aunt Edith and Cousin Ned once you got home).
But this place was different. It allowed early entry to photographers, so even though the golden hours were just beginning, we got to go in —
— long before it got too hot when the place would be crowded with tourists with their strollers, cell phones, and children asking “are we done yet?” and “can we go to McDonald’s?”
Anyway, I learned a lot of stuff.
Like, I didn’t know alligators make roaring sounds.
I thought it was thunder. . .
. . .but it was (mostly) male alligators in the midst of breeding season, warning others to stay away from their women.
Andy told us to bring our tripods, which I did.
But, do you think I remembered the Swiss Arca plates? Not a chance! 😦 This was a valuable lesson learned, reinforced by the punishment of lugging a useless tripod around with me the whole time.
(My THREE plates, one for each lens, are now each affixed to the appropriate lens collars regardless of when or whether I need might need them!)
I saw Arthur Morris, the legendary expert I had inadvertently insulted when I accepted his business card but not his business.
He pretty much ignored me.
But that’s okay, I really didn’t care. Too much to see and too much to learn!
But I did meet another photographer (from Jersey) while we were both intent on capturing a couple of baby tricolored herons.
“Did you see that Arthur Morris is here?” He was pretty excited. “I got my picture taken with him, right by his tripod!” (whose crowning glory was the Sony Alpha 1 digital mirrorless camera — “The One,” according to Arthur’s blog).
“Yeah, I saw him, but he doesn’t like me much,” I replied.
“Why, did you buy the wrong camera?” my new friend joked.
I had to laugh. “No, I bought the wrong expert.” (Andy uses an older Nikon that doesn’t even have IBIS —
— but with which he produces award-winning images IN-CAMERA that I would favor over Arthur’s nice and sharp but very photoshopped versions any day of the week!)
And if you don’t believe me about the award-winning photos produced in-camera, just look here:
Where you will see images like this:
and don’t forget this! coming up this fall:
Hoping to attend every single photo trip that Andy sponsors! but I have some health issues to take care of first, not the least of which is getting rid of whatever-it-is I caught in the plane.
But I digress.
Wild Wings Florida 2022 ended with me totally convinced I should move there. . .until I remembered that the cockroaches are this big <<holding hands out wide>>
Here are some more shots, some good and some not-so-good, that I took on that wonderful Last Day of Wild Wings Florida 2022: