Reddish Egrets at Sunset Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

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BIRDS AS ART BULLETIN #7: January 5, 2000

Y2K GREETINGS & SW FLA BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE

Hello Bird Photographers,

First off, I would like to wish you and yours and all of our subscribers a wonderful and healthy 2000; we here at BIRDS AS ART sincerely hope that each and every one of you has the opportunity to produce many stunning images in the coming year. Personally, I feel truly blessed in that I get to do the what I love best to do, and what I do best, on a daily basis. In addition, 1999 was a hugely successful year at here at BIRDS AS ART. A special thanks goes to all those who joined us in 1999 on an IPT. Another wonderful happening last year was the birth of my first grandchild, Samuel Henry Egensteiner, to my son-in-law Erik and the Executive Director and Business Manager of BIRDS AS ART, my older daughter Jennifer Morris. It is a pleasure seeing Sammy in my home office each day (that I am home).

I spent a busman's holiday on Sanibel for ten days during the holidays. Ding Darling was poor overall. The first few days, with cold north winds were dismal, with few birds at all on the refuge. As the weather got nicer, there were a few decent mornings with some spoonbills at the Cross Dike, and a few small feeding sprees in the second pool close to the road. Unfortunately, the water level in the Tower Pool is being kept too high to allow for good photography. This is hard to understand, as extensive work was done on the water control systems this past summer. My understanding is that when the water level was lowered many weeks ago, the photography in the Tower Pool was excellent. Then it rained and the water level has not lowered again...... Even more frustrating is the fact that the wonderful dead tree on the main road by the cross dike was apparently removed when the water control valves were being worked on. This tree was home to a pair of cooperative Pileated Woodpeckers last year and at least one pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers. In addition, Tom Vezo got to photograph two Red-shouldered Hawks copulating atop the tall snag two years ago. How sad. And possibly needless........

The action at the fishing pier was generally good with lots of tame pelicans and a variety of ridiculously cooperative herons and egrets present on most afternoons. On most days, the action there is best in late afternoon when the successful fisherman begin to clean their catches. On days when the fishing has been poor, photography has suffered. Though Sanibel and Captiva are connected as a single island by a substantial sandbar, opportunities at Blind Pass were good to excellent, with lots of tame Royal and Sandwich Terns and Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls. A Great White Heron appeared nearly every morning about three hundreds yards onto Captiva Island. Yours truly got to photograph this white color morph of Great Blue Heron (rare on Sanibel) threat displaying against a regular GBH. It was spectacular, with the white bird chasing the gray one down the beach with her wings outstretched and lowered. I used the Canon 100-400 mm Image Stabilizer lens which allowed me to zoom in and out and include either both birds or a single bird.

I visited Estero Lagoon only once and it was superb as usual, with lots of feeding birds including White Ibis, Snowy and Great Egrets, the reliable white phase Reddish Egrets (there are at least two present again this year), Whimbrel, Oystercatcher, winter plumage Red Knots, and many other shorebird, wading bird, gull, and tern species present among others. Several other photographers stated that Estero had been phenomenal for several days. But best of all was getting to meet Tim Fitzharris for the first time. He is a very nice man. I also met his beautiful wife, Joy, and their 2 1/2 year old son, Jessie. I told Tim that his early work influenced the development of my style more than that of any other photographer. I saw the wonderful clean backgrounds that he produced while working from a floating blind, and said "I want to do that." Vivid in my memory are Great Blue Heron with lettuce and Tim's amazing White-winged Scoter images. We spent the better part of two mornings together, mostly griping about the things that bug us about being in the business--you'd have thought that we just hate our jobs if you were listening in. We spent the second morning at Venice, where the photography has been excellent for several weeks.

Directions to all of the above mentioned sites can be found in the Hotspots section of my Amphoto book, "The Art of Bird Photography." (You can order a signed copy off of my web site.) If you do make it to FLA in the next few months, you should leave happy.

Best and Great Picture Making,

Artie

P.S. A new tour schedule will follow quite soon.

Listing of Archived Bulletins



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