Finally had my first birding outing of 2013 with Lita. We spent the weekend on Sanibel, a place we both love not only because we met there but because it's so full of nature and wildlife. It's a dream locale for photographers, nature lovers and of course, birders. And we are all three! ;-) We had a great weekend which included a couple of really magical moments gifted to us by the universe as well as lots of great birdy sightings. We ended up seeing about 33 different species of birds and Lita added 7 or so to her life list and I added 4. We also ended up with dozens of bites that welted up on our face, hands, chest and legs thanks to a constant attack by no-see-ums, little biting bugs that, you guessed it, you can't see. However, they were so thick we could see them plain as day! They even attacked our scalps. I have itchy hair now. ;-(
And, I have tons of pictures to process. I promised myself I would keep up with the processing this year. Um, yea, right...I can already see how that is going to be a challenge!
Alrighty then! On with the highlights from the weekend in Sanibel:
On Saturday, we arrived in time for a quick drive through Ding Darling before having lunch at The Greenhouse Grill. I was able to add two birds to my life list while at Ding Darling, a Dunlin and a Red Knot. Later in the afternoon we hit Bowman Beach for a bit of shelling and then headed to Captiva to capture the sunset. There was no sunrise that morning at my lake due to rain so I was very happy to at least have a decent sunset.
A sweet Dunlin. They are so cute!
One of our magical moments was watching a Bald Eagle snatch a fish from the ocean and fly right over us! It was the highlight of day one but unfortunately both Lita and I had no time to adjust our manual settings and we just pointed and shot and none of our pictures turned out (I think we were shooting seashells or waves or some such thing). I managed to salvage one enough that I could add in some clouds I shot earlier along with some texture so that I could at least have a shot to remember the moment by. Not that I would forget...it was a one in a million chance sighting there!
Bald Eagle with Catch
On Sunday we got up before sunrise and headed to Ding Darling, unaware that what lay ahead would be misery in the form of no-see-ums. It was completely overcast so once again, no sunrise. That makes three days this month that I didn't see a sunrise. Hopefully the rest of the month will shine on! At Ding Darling we met other birders who were kind enough to let us use a roll-on eucalyptus bug deterrent which didn't work at all. We also met a nice photographer named Tom Brennan who gave us some no-see-um spray which didn't help either. Lita immediately welted up...it took my body about 12 hours before the allergic reaction set in. Even as I'm typing this I'm in a state of itchy misery. But, the real question is, was it worth it? And the answer is a resounding YES! The highlight of our day included interacting with a Yellow-throated Warbler and this amazing private performance we received from a Stand of Tree Swallows:
We actually had to sneak into Ding Darling because it was 30 minutes late in opening. There was a line of cars waiting to get in but we were walking so we squeezed around the gate. We later went back and paid our $1.00 to the attendant who said the back of her alarm clock fell open and the battery came out. She felt terribly bad about it and we in turn, felt bad for her!
After the morning at Ding Darling, we head to our favorite breakfast cafe, Over Easy for a delicious and filling meal. Of course I had eggs benedict with a side of not only bacon but also sausage! Piggy plate alert!
And, the Over Easy cafe has the best coffee. It was just what we needed to push through the rest of the day which included a hike along Baily Tract which is where we saw the Stand of Tree Swallows (I just love using collective nouns!) and a teenage gator. After a couple of hours there we headed back to Island Cow for a delicious dessert before heading off the island and back to the west coast.
Eggs Benedict, my favorite breakfast
A Stand of Tree Swallows
And, also from last week my sunrise collage:
I continued drawing my giraffes for The Year of the Giraffe class with Carla Sonheim. I also did one in pastel. This is our last week for the drawing portion. I hope to add a few more pages to my giraffe sketchbook before the end of the month.
Next up...a week with Phoebe! I can hardly wait for our adventure! See you all soon!