Miami, Florida Area Wildlife : Spring 2008

Great Egret: Florida Everglades
Great Egret: Florida Everglades

I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for good wildlife photography, but for some reason I’ve never really tried it myself. On occasion, though, I stumble upon animals while I’m hiking or searching for good landscape compositions. This is exactly what happened last spring while I was in Miami (and the everglades). I wasn’t there as a photographer, primarily, I was spending some time with my family, but I can’t help picking up my camera when I’m in a new and interesting place.

The first animals that I noticed were the lizards. The anoles (aka American chameleons, frequently and mistakenly called ‘skinks’) were everywhere, which I thought was wonderful since I had kept a few of them as (exotic!) pets as a child in Montana. But as I took a walk into town from my hotel and crossed a bridge over a canal, I was surprised to see several large iguanas… probably 5 feet long or more. But I hadn’t carried my camera on the walk, which is a sure fire way to insure that you run into something interesting. I discovered later that several reptile species such as iguanas (and including pythons and boas) that were imported as pets have escaped or been released into the wild in Florida and thrive there.  Later that day, I ran across a basilisk, and was able to raise my camera to my eye before it ran away.

About a week later, I spent a couple of hours in the everglades, where I saw several alligators, but also saw an attractive egret, which is at the top of the page. The shot was taken from the side of a moving swamp speeder: the type with the massive fan on the back that’s seen on the opening of the old cartoon Wally Gator.  The alligators, although pretty easy to find, were not so easy to photograph with the f5.6 zoom lens that I had decided to carry. The day was cloudy, and as it got later, it was almost impossible to get a sharp image unless the boat had slowed almost to a stop and the subject was stationary. This was the case with the egret, although it moved its head just enough to cause some blurring on the beak.

The only nice thing about the clouds were that they cast some interesting reflections on the still surface of the water. In fact, my favorite photo from the everglades trip primarily features reflected clouds and some lily pads. If I’d had a chance to take a couple more shots and get a little closer to the water, I think that I could have made it into something beautiful; as it is, it’s just an interesting idea.

Wild Basilisk, Miami Florida
Wild Basilisk, Miami Florida
Cloud Reflection: Everglades
Cloud Reflection: Everglades
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