Sunday, March 28, 2010

Green Cay Wetlands

Wow... am I busy these days; I nearly forgot about my weekly blog. I did actually get out and shoot this week as the PBC Photo Walkers met last night at John D. MacArthur Park. I haven't had time to process too many shots so I'll save that blog post until a future date.

I do have quite a few nice shots that I have taken at Green Cay Wetlands, in Boynton Beach, so I will make this quick and post some of my favorites.

Green Cay is one of my favorite places to be. It's basically 1.5 miles of elevated boardwalk through wetlands that are just full of birds and other wildlife. Once again, my friend Julianne first introduced me to this place (I miss you Julianne! It's been too long...) and her & I have gone together a few times (and we're due for another trip soon after tax season is over). Here she is posing for me...

Green Cay also has a beautiful nature center that is perfect for families and other groups. If you have young children and haven't been there, I highly recommend it (well, I recommend it even if you don't have young children).

It's really a beautiful place to go to take pictures or to just walk around.

I think it's pretty easy to see why they named it Green Cay.

Just like Wakodahatchee, the stars of this location are the birds.

My very favorite shot, and maybe my 2nd favorite bird shot of all time (last week's post was my 1st), is not my typical kind of shot. In fact, when I went out that morning with Julianne, I was initially upset that it was all foggy outside; my sunrise pictures were ruined! However, I ended up getting some really unique shots and this one remains my highest scoring challenge entry so far on DPC (6.8433) and will be my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wakodahatchee Wetlands

I first went to Wakodahatchee Wetlands just last year and was absolutely amazed that such a place existed so close by without me knowing about it for so long. It takes me slightly over 30 minutes to get there from my house but it's well worth the drive, even at 6am to get there before sunrise (when they open).

Their website says that more than 140 different species of birds have been spotted at the site and I can certainly believe that. A 3/4 mile boardwalk winds through various wetland zones, each designed for a mixture of habitat types:

•Open pond water areas to attract waterfowl and diving birds
•Emergent marsh areas for rails, moorhens, and sparrows
•Shallow shelves for herons and egrets
•Islands with shrubs and snags to serve as roosting, nesting, and basking sites
•Forested wetland areas for long-term habitat development

I would have loved to have seen my face when I first stepped out on that boardwalk and took a look around. It's truly another world, and yet right in the middle of the world that we're used to. The air is fresher, the sounds of nature are like music and at once I felt a sense of peace.  The stars of Wakodahatchee are definitely the birds, but first I'll show you other wildlife I have spotted there:

What keeps people coming back to this place is the incredible variety of birds that live there. In the next few years, my plan is to finally purchase the lens that will truly help me capture these birds but until then I'll just learn all about them and make due with my 18-200mm.


My favorite shot (so far) at Wakodahatchee is this little guy who sat on that railing for a good 20 minutes for our PBC Photo Walkers group (by the way, this was our first official meetup as a group back in August 2009). This is my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the many benefits of being part of a photo walk group is getting special access to some places that we visit. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is one of those places.

The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is a non profit, educational based care facility for injured animals. They treat over 4,400 animals every year and approximately 90% of the injuries are directly related to humans (car accidents, fishing lines, etc). Their ultimate goal is to return the animals to their natural habitats but some animals are not able to be returned to the wild and they become permanent residents of the Sanctuary.

They invited us to visit on a Sunday morning when they were closed to the public and they gave us a special tour of their facilities. The tour included access to areas that are not available to the general public. This is yet another amazing place that is within 30 minutes of my house that I had never even heard of until someone in our group recommended it (thanks Art!!).

Fun with textures
The birds were my favorite subjects...

... but visiting the bald eagle area was by far the highlight of the trip for me.


More fun with textures

This one was by far my favorite shot of the day (and perhaps all time!) and it is my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blowing Rocks Preserve

Last September, when the PBC Photo Walkers group was still pretty brand new, we visited Blowing Rocks Preserve , an incredible barrier island sanctuary located on Jupiter Island, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon. Its amazing 73 acres includes a beach, estuary (a place where freshwater and salt water meet), dunes and tropical hammock. The preserve includes an educational center, native plant nursery, boardwalk, oceanside path, and a butterfly garden (we had intended to visit the butterfly garden but the weather started to turn bad).

Unfortunately, the park does not open until 9am so our group met at Coral Cove beach, just south of Blowing Rocks, for sunrise pictures (Coral Cove will be a future blog post). That beach is actually not too far from Blowing Rocks and maybe one day I'll be motivated to park at Coral Cove and walk up the beach to Blowing Rocks so I can get there by sunrise. Of course this will be more possible when the time changes this month and sunrise happens an hour later.

What really makes this beach extremely unique in South Florida is its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline (which is the largest on the Atlantic coast). During extreme high tides and after winter storms, seas break against the rocks and force plumes of saltwater up to 50 feet skyward!

The spray of water in the picture above (which is small here but was incredibly high when some of the waves hit) came from the little hole as seen in this picture below. In this shot the water was being sucked back into the whole.

I was warned prior to this trip that I should bring protection for my camera and I honestly thought that person was somewhat exaggerating. As you can see, their advice should definitely be heeded.

Photo courtesy of Dina

The day we were there, some massive beach clean up effort was going on at beaches all around the area. This one boy scout was slacking off on his clean up duties while walking up and down the beach without a care in the world.

It was actually hard to pick my very favorite of this trip but this is the one I chose to be my Palm Beach County photo of the week on DPC.