Little Estero Lagoon June 2016

Little Estero Lagoon is a world renown birding location on Fort Myers Beach in Florida. Lately, Like Ding Darling, it has been panned by birders as diminished from its glory days with tons of birds. As my first trip, I too was disappointed with this beautiful place...until I discovered its secret cache.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 493mm 1/2500@ f9.0 iso 1600

Reddish Egret

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 479mm 1/2000 @ f9.0 iso 3200

Great Blue Heron

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1600@ f9.0 iso 1600

The lagoon most people refer to is behind and just to the south of the Windham Gardens Hotel on Estero Blvd. As always, parking is a problem but solutions do exist with a strip shopping center not too long a walk from the beach. At dawn the usual cadre of Florida wading birds can be expected...the always delightful dancer the Reddish Egret, Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets and on this occasion, a molting juvenile Little Blue Heron starting to come into its adult plumage.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron feeding

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 564mm 1/2500@ f9.0 iso 1600

Royal Tern

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC@ 840mm 1/4000@ f10 iso 1000

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 564mm 1/2500@ f9.0 iso 1600

Nesting on the beach.... a Black Skimmer Colony

The mother lode....a black skimmer colony

Black Skimmer

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 479mm 1/4000@ f10 iso 1000

Black Skimmer

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 548mm 1/1600@ f10 iso 800

Black Skimmer

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 479mm 1/1250@ f10 iso 800

Look Out Below

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 479mm 1/1250@ f10 iso 800

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 324mm 1/1600@ f10 iso 1250

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 479mm 1/4000@ f10 iso 1000

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 324mm 1/1600@ f10 iso 1250

An early morning rendezvous

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 600mm 1/800@ f6.3 iso 800

The catch

The tease

Negotiations

The exchange

The reward

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 512mm 1/640@ f6.3 iso 800

Out looking for more gifts

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 420mm 1/2500@ f7.1 iso 640

Let Me Try It With A Stick

Wow It worked!!!

Reverse Skim

Bath Time Shake

Mirror Image

High Speed Scoop

Least terns

America's smallest tern

Least terns also nest on the beach in huge colonies. Most colonies are roped off to protect the fragile habitat. As we'll see, the terns can't read and nest all over the beach in any small depression, footprint or scrape. Please respect there temporary homes when on the beach in early summer as the nests are impossible to see and the chicks are really small and camouflaged. From a respectful distance and down low it is possible to enjoy there rituals and the loving care the chicks receive from their parents.

Canon 7D Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1600@ f9.0 iso 400

Canon 7D Mkii, Canon 70-200 L IS II @ 182mm 1/4000@ f5.6 iso 800

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 210mm 1/1250@ f10 iso 800

Least Tern Chick

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC@ 840mm 1/1600@ f10 iso800

Least Tern Chick hunkered down in a scrape (nest) on the beach

Ever wonder why sections of the beaches in south Florida are roped off? They are nesting areas for critically endangered shorebirds that nest in small indentations on the sand. They are very susceptible to predators...from Fish Crows to dogs, raccoon or coyotes and just plain people stepping on these little guys. Least tern populations have dropped an estimated 88% form 1966 to 2013 basically because of our encroaching development and use of their beach habitat. Please respect the ropes and help them survive!

Feeding time Mother and chick

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC@ 840mm 1/2500@ f10 iso 1000

I'm hungry Mom

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC@ 840mm 1/2500@ f10 iso 1000

Where are you?

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC@ 840mm 1/2500@ f10 iso 1000

On the way with food for baby

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 210mm 1/1000@ f10 iso 800

Canon 7DMkii Sigma 150-600 plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1600 @ f9.0 iso 400

Last but not Least

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 353mm 1/4000@ f10 iso 800

Wilson's Plover chick

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/800@ f9 iso 3200

American Oystercatcher

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1000@ f9 iso 3200

Female Black Scoter

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/4000@ f10 iso 800

Roseate Spoonbill

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 703mm 1/1250@ f9 iso 640

Roseate Spoonbill

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1600@ f9 iso 640

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 703mm 1/1250@ f9 iso 640

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport plus 1.4x TC @ 840mm 1/1250@ f9 iso 640

Juvenile Laughing Gull

Canon 1Dx Mkii, Sigma 150-600 Sport @ 600mm 1/2500@ f7.1 iso 640

Touch to enlarge

Epilogue

A sad ending to our chicks. The two pictured here were a few of only a handful to survive TS Colin. The combination of high tide and the storm surge wiped out over 100 least tern chicks plus untold eggs and nests. Guess that's Mother Nature.

Least Tern chick
Wilson's Plover

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