Diving Terns, Raccoon, Chick Closeups (10/22/2021)

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zackiedawg
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Diving Terns, Raccoon, Chick Closeups (10/22/2021)
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Keeping the wildlife flowing - and my catch-up project reeling in the backlog...the following shots have a few different species than the last few posts and were all taken on June 19, 2021.

All shots were taken with the A6600 and the Sony FE 200-600mm G OSS lens, and are posted at 1800 pixels on the long side if you view them in original size:

Starting out with the return of the terns...in this case, the least terns.  These tiny, intense little birds spend nearly all their time flying over the water about 30-40 feet up, watching below like this - until they see a fish near the surface

They're often beaded with water drops even when you see them flying overhead

They drop into a sudden dive bomb, slam into the water, sometimes fully submerging - and more times than not, they seem to come out with a fish in their bill

Yes, they do miss - but they keep diving over and over again - and in general, they seem to feed pretty well

The dive and the emergence happen very quickly - here you can see the outer ring and crater in the water from the initial strike - still splashing around the edges, while in the middle the bird is already emerging from the water in a rising plume out of the middle of the crater...the whole thing happens in a second or two!

And yep...he got a fish again!

One last shot of a least tern during the flyover - studying that water below carefully and not really caring about me very much

It started out an overcast, rainy day - the yellow-crowned night herons were trying to take a daytime rest in the cypress forest nearby, but keep an eye on anyone who passes to make sure there are no threats

Poking through the forest, I came across this cute raccoon - giving me the staredown as he emerged into a small clearing between branches

As you can see, the hole in the branches and trees I was shooting through was less than a foot wide - enough that the raccoon didn't think I could really see him through all that clutter, and wasn't threatened

The juvenile yellow-crowned night herons were out in the open in the wetlands - they haven't yet learned that they're 'night' herons and supposed to be taking a nap during the day!

Lucky for us - because they're much more lovely to shoot when their eyes are open, with that great, intense orange color

We get to see into a lot of different nests around here, but glossy ibis seem to nest a little farther away from the human traffic.  A surprise then to find one this year decided to nest just 5 feet away from the boardwalk rail - allowing a very tight closeup of the cute striped chick

Meanwhile, tricolored heron chicks are relentless - they constantly follow the parents around begging for food - it gets bad when they're old enough to fly.  The blueish bird in the back is the mother, who had flown over to the rail to walk away from the screaming child - but the juvenile flew over in FRONT of the mother, sticking itself right in her path and grabbing at her bill to beg for food

Florida is well known for being a favorable spot for many invasive species, especially from tropical parts of the world.  One pesty invader has been the armored catfish from Asia - they're often avoided by predators who eat other fish.  But our hardy anhingas have decided the armor isn't going to keep them from a nice meal - and they've learned to spear the catfish, hack at them to soften the armor and drop the spikes, and then swallow

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed, encouraged, and desired!

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Justin
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