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Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Off to the swamp–part 2

After our rescue of the turtle and lunch, we were back in the boats to head for the Big Water area on Friday.  The boat I was in brought up the rear for this portion of the journey. 

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That meant that most of the wildlife encountered was gone by the time our third boat drove by.  Sad smile  We had to settle for enjoying the cypress scenery along the way.  I found the warped reflections from the wake of our boat interesting though.

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This great egret was perched far enough away that it wasn’t bothered by our passage.  I liked the swirling branches of the big tree. 

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Of course, there were quite a few alligators out sunning themselves.  They really don’t move if they’re on the shore, but gators closer to the water trail roll off and swim away at a boats approach.  I lost count of how many we saw.

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                  We all had a good chuckle at the exuberance of this turtle catching the sun’s rays.  Laughing out loud

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As we made our way along the trail, we lost sight of the two boats ahead of us.  Eventually the path got smaller and smaller, and we could no longer go forward because of fallen trees over the water.  We had no idea where the other boats were as there were no telltale bubbles in the water ahead of us, and we certainly hadn’t passed them along the way.  When this happens, thoughts of being lost in this vast swampland swirl around in your head.  We decided to turn around and just head back by ourselves.  Normally each boat would have a radio, but alas, we didn’t.  It certainly added a sense of adventure to this outing. 

Trying to take a positive outlook on our situation, I noted that we were now in the lead and were seeing lots more birds since the other two boats hadn’t already chased them off.

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As we rounded a curve, we saw a belted kingfisher make a catch.  Yahoo!  One of the things on my bucket list has been to get a decent photo of a belted kingfisher.  These birds are usually so skittish that it’s hard to capture a good shot of them.  They fly off at your approach.

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This guy was so intent upon consuming this fish that he fairly ignored us.  What a National Geographic moment for me!  I asked Bruce to try to get a little closer for this unique opportunity.  While this photo could be sharper, I was thrilled to document how the bird went through contortions to slap the fish dead on the branch so it could get it down its throat.  For you birdy types out there, if you look closely you can even see that the nictitating membrane has covered the kingfisher’s eyes as he gets ready to whack it on the branch.   That membrane covers birds eyes kind of like a set of goggles to protect their eyes.

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Sated for the moment, this male took a moment to digest a bit before flying off.  Eat your heart out Karen of RV Travels of Karen and Al!  (We’ve both been on a quest to get a good photo of this bird)  Rolling on the floor laughing

After that thrill for me, I heard the approaching drone of the other two boats.  I don’t know how we lost them, but I’m sure glad we did!  We all made it back safe and sound to the docking area at Stephen Foster State Park.  What a marvelous time I had on this field trip into the wilds of the swamp.  It was truly a memorable day.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

40 comments:

  1. What a cool day and fabulous pictures. I wonder if the turtles big stretch feels as good as when we do it?

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  2. As I always say, the makings of a great photo are being at the right place at the right time. It was truly your lucky day. Great shot!!!

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  3. Congratulations on catching the elusive kingfisher. They are such beauties.

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  4. I am so amazed...what a wonderful day! Timing is everything and it was your time! Way to go Judy. The rest of us will just have to hang in there and keep trying.

    I love the sunning turtle....


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  5. Wow, glad that picture finally was yours, Priceless! So proud of you getting out there so quickly. Great accomplishment! Tom & Lynn

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  6. The male kingfisher you photographed is a magnificent looking bird. Congrats on getting him to pose.

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  7. Great pictures of the kingfisher. I had no idea they slapped the fish dead on a branch before eating. Just never thought about it, I guess. Interesting! My favorite, though, has to be that sunning turtle. Boy, does that ever tell a story we can relate to.

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  8. Congratulations on the fantastic picture. To me, the log that the happy turtle is sunning on looks like a turtle's head. I had to look twice. We can count on you for the best!

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  9. I rarely have envy but this did it. Your pictures always entice me to learn more. But these of the Kingfisher are the greatest.
    The sun bathing turtle is quite good too.
    Thank you

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  10. All I can say is don't fall out of that boat!

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  11. Congrats on those excellent kingfisher photos. The turtle is adorable.

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  12. Wow! I want one too! All I saw today was a gorgeous yellow-rumped warbler. He was in his spring plumage already.
    What lens are you using now? I remember you got a new camera, but not the size of the lens.
    Sally

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  13. That last photo of the kingfisher is one of the best I've seen. Isn't it fun to achieve such a goal? I love it!

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  14. Just love your caption for the turtle..."Catching Rays." It truly looks like it's stretching all its feet out to catch those rays.

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  15. Great pics. The first one of the warped reflections was simply disorientating, the turtle was gorgeous and that final picture of the kingfisher was a cracker!

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  16. Judy I am absolutely jealous of your Kingfisher photo! I have tried for years to get a decent photo of one but have never even come close to what you achieved.

    John and Ellen
    connectedtothevinephotography.blogspot.com

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  17. Wow, did you ever get some great Kingfisher photos! I am definitely eating my heart out, but glad for you....at least one of us got one. I guess I need to watch for a bird that's feeding and maybe I'll have some better luck. What a great trip you went on. I can't believe they sent you off with no radio on the boat. I've learned that lesson the hard way. Glad you made it back safely!

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  18. I can see why you wanted a photo of that little guy. Wonderful photo! Congratulations!

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  19. Congratulations! You and Karen are not the only person trying to capture a photo of the beautiful kingfisher. We tried and tried to catch a photo of one in Big Cypress. Just as you get your camera in line...zoom off they go. Your photos are fantastic. Maybe someday....

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  20. Judy you inspire me to learn about the birds and have been a great motivator. All of your photography is always wonderful but the pictures of the kingfisher whacking the fish is over the top.

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  21. That is one stretched out turtle! And congrats on your excellent Kingfisher photos. I recall that you've mentioned wanting to get some for quite a while.

    Mark

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  22. You'll be proud of my Jr. Bird Girl knowledge, teach...I recognized that bird as a Kingfisher before you mentioned it...See??? I AM learning something as one of your loyal lurkers!!

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  23. Congratulations on a beautiful picture of that kingfisher...absolutely beautiful!!!

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  24. Great 2 part tour of the swamp. You sure did get to see a lot.

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  25. WOW Judy that is a great series of Kingfisher photos. I can hardly even see them before they zoom off chattering at me. I've about given up on a photograph.

    Love that header picture....Praise to the Sun he seems to be saying. Ahhhhhhh this feel SOO good. Hope you don't mind if I borrow it for my desktop. I just love it!

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  26. Since it was National Backyard Feeder count weekend, I guess you can add that to your count as the whole country is your personal big backyard!!! Congratulations!!!

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  27. You've spent so much time in the swamp you're now ready for a guest appearance on the TV show "Swamp People"!

    SUper pictures of the Kingfisher! Glad to see you've knocked another bird off your photography list. :c)

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  28. Fabulous post. Thanks - I've been lurking on your blog for a long time. It's always a treat.

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  29. Losing those boats for a while turned out to be so fortuitous ... great catch ... for you as well as for the Belted Kingfisher.

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  30. So glad you are enjoying yourself again! great pictures... love the turtle, and the alligator, and the cypress, and... and, all of them! very informative . Love reading your blog, Judy!

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  31. wow... your pictures are always amazing but the Kingfisher? and look at that turtle! never have I seen such... awfully cute guys... I've petted a few turtle heads... so cute the way they stretch out their necks and blink ... ha

    poor little fish.. what a way to die... slammed against a tree to get flattened enough to slide down a throat! man.

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  32. Gators look scary, I wouldn't want to get lost in a place with so many of them!.... as of your kingfisher's picture, it could be in a birding magazine! congrats!

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  33. Include us on the envy list, finishers are hard to get.

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    Replies
    1. Darn autocorrect, meant to say kingfishers :-)

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  34. awesome photos of the kingfisher, Judy. You ought to send them into Birds and Blooms! and enter a few contests with them. They are wonderful!

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  35. Congrats Judy! I'm also jealous of your shot of the Kingfisher and HAPPY for you at the same time! I

    I just received a new to me lens and I'm very excited, though also overwhelmed with the learning curve that goes with it. It's a 100-400mm. I'm also relearning my camera after 4 years of it being locked up in the closet due to lack of interest/time on my part, but your photos and the swamp have surly inspired me to get it out and start again. Thank god it was one of the things I decided to keep when we sold all our things to hit the road.

    I now understand why you were so bored while you were staying with us! The trips and outing all of you volunteers get to take makes volunteering for a wildlife refuge look far more exciting than managing a campground!

    Hello to Emma!

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