Fast forward to today. I finally lost a battle with sleep this afternoon as I took my first nap of the 2014. I have been on an incredibly regular sleep schedule for my entire adventure. I sleep between 6-7 hours every night. This does not vary with the amount of riding that I do on a given day. The fact that I try not to nap has surely contributed to this near perfect circadian periodicity. I have never needed much sleep, and, even more shockingly, I have never consumed a cup of coffee in my life. I am one of those really annoying people who can bounce right out of bed on just a few hours of sleep. I know this makes most people want to punch me in the face at 7am, but they'd better be quick since I'm always wide awake by that time.
I spent last night right near Green Cay Wetlands and Nature preserve. Although it was unlikely that I would find anything new species with a return visit, I nonetheless could not stop myself from hanging out on the preserve's boardwalk for a few hours this morning. My birding brain was telling me to keep moving south as fast as possible while my photographic heart was telling me that I could easily spare a few hours. In this case the heart won out. Here are the results of that decision.
Limpkin in perfect morning light
White ibis - I loved the perch so I kept the crop loose
Tricolored heron portrait -
it landed right next to me on the boardwalk
Common gallinule chick begging for food
Learning to feed for him/herself!
Let me take just a second to say a few words about the photography I have been doing in the last few days. Shooting in Florida is great; There are lots of birds and they are very accustomed to people. Green Cay and Wakodahatcheee are great places to shoot, and I would recommend them to both beginning and advanced shooters.
Some people have asked what gear I am using for these photos. Every bird photo you see is taken with my Canon 7D and my Canon 400mm f/5.6 lens. At home I also have a Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 500mm f/4, 1.4X III Teleconverter, and Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6. Bringing the 500mm was clearly not an option. I decided that I did not want to bring my 1D since, although it takes better pictures than the 7D, it is also twice as heavy. I also chose the lighter fixed 400 versus the heavier 100-400. I figured most of my time would be spent in states with good light so I wouldn't miss the image stabilization that much. I sometimes miss the versatility of the zoom, but that's the choice I made. I shoot in RAW, and I process all images in Adobe Lightroom. I toggle between Aperture Priority and Manual depending on what the light is doing. That's enough photography talk for the moment. I will be periodically discussing aspects of bird photography since I feel that I have knowledge that others might find useful. For the record, I consider myself a much better photographer than I do birder!
As I get farther south here in Florida, it is becoming more and more urban. What this means for me is that the riding get slower and slower what with more traffic and traffic lights. I thus decided to make it as far as Ft. Lauderdale today where I would hole-up for the night. I last night put up a post on the Tropical Audubon Society webpage asking Miami birders for help in finding several Miami specialty birds. I received many nice responses. I discovered that I am staying not far from a reliable place to see Spot-breasted oriole. I am going to make a stop to look for those tomorrow morning before heading south to Miami where I will spend the next few days. I will be staying in Palmetto Bay which should give me access to a number of good birding spots.
There was one notable avian highlight today. There is a pair of Eastern screech-owls calling not 20 feet from me at the moment. They live in the nest box tacked to the tree outside my window. One of the birds emerged just after dusk so I was able to see my first Screech-owl of the year tonight. Those who read this blog daily will recall that I heard two Screech-owls while I was in South Carolina. As I am permitted to count heard birds, those were my first birds for the year. It is still really cool to have these guys buzzing about the yard as I write!