Holiday time in Florida. Since we don't get snow for a great white Christmas, I decided to post my own version of what a white Christmas in Florida looks like.
To start, we've got beaches, miles and miles of beautiful white beaches canopied by puffy white clouds hosting a different sunset every night.
And then we've got barrier islands, they're tranquil places like this one - to ponder life, to give thanks, to meditate, do some soul searching, or just listen to the seas magical appeal.
Then of course one of my favorite white birds is the dazzling great egret, who graces us with their presence all year round.
So here it is, the remote beach with striking pine trees sucking up the sand and saltwater, a mild surf, the setting sun and my pristinely white great egret heading home.
Special thanks to the Everglades Wonder Gardens for a great evening exhibition this past Friday. What a dedicated and caring group of people. Just before the start, I grabbed the camera and took a few frames of their famous Flamingos.
Through the dedication of the staff, these wonderful birds survived Hurricane Irma in September although the gardens themselves were not so fortunate.
Facing the devastation of the grounds gardens, trees, and structures, the leadership and community of this iconic location put blood, sweat and tears into a rebuild of a lifetime. What they have accomplished is amazing and I am thrilled to be exhibiting there.
If you or anyone you know are visiting southwest Florida this winter and spring, The Everglades Wonder Gardens is a must see location. Old Florida is the new Florida.
It's really fascinating that we have come to understand that pelicans have distinct and varying personalities. Depending upon where they like to hang out is a pretty good indicator of whether the pelican is a social bird or one that prefers the quiet, solitude surroundings of hidden gulf shore marshes.
On both the Atlantic and Gulf shores of Florida, pelicans congregate on docks, bridges, piers, marinas in hopes of stealing a meal or being fed by a fisherman or restaurant patron. Some are used to human interaction and others stay far away as possible. Of course for those that know me, you know I'm particularly fond of, and always seeking out the elusive and wilder side of nature. It's portraying birds in nature who are behaving naturally, not influenced by human interaction. And as I write this, I wonder how long I'll be able to witness this rare behavior before all of Florida's unspoiled land is disturbed.
Enjoy this shy brown pelican who is preening in peace, tucked up in its mangrove home. A home I hope it has for a lifetime.
Have a great weekend everyone. Happy December.
Historic Everglades, north of Big Cypress Preserve.
The historic areas of the Everglades are some of my favorite places to explore. The terrain changes from prairie to marsh and so much more depending on the direction I choose to head. And, I never know what special wildlife I might encounter. Since the release of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee my bird sightings have lessened over the years. I still spend vast amounts of time in this struggling ecosystem documenting the diversity and changes I have seen from year to year. I also join with not for profit organizations and showcase my exhibits of this extraordinary world of wildlife with great hope to provide education, awareness and support for over a million acres that have been adversely impacted by human activity.
As I was slinking through the open countryside of a wet prairie in search of the endangered Crested Caracara, this triumphant youngster was doing his best to stay hidden. He picked the right tree to blend in, and he kept his movements to a minimum as he waited for dinner. He had a flying insect tease him a few times but it managed to escape his attempts.
The Everglades was once a pristine wetland literally covered with birds. It now supports 90% fewer nesting birds than it did in the 1930's.
Join me in support of The Everglades restoration.
Follow me on Instagram for my widespread outreach to conserve wildlife in the wild. Behind my camera I wait for a world of unspoiled moments and beauty to shed light on issues we can tackle to ensure the survival of our natural lands and the wildlife that inhabit it. Thanks! Marc
Florida Osceola Turkey
Wild and living free. Backlit early morning image. This Tom flew down from his roost just yards from where I was walking. I had just enough time to click off a few shots before I was spotted. I thought for sure the sound of the shutter would spook him but it didn't. I eased away and watched a second Tom join him before the two headed into the sun for a little early morning foraging.
To everyone celebrating Thanksgiving...have a peaceful and wonderful holiday weekend!
Repost: NatGeo | Editor's Spotlight
Top Shot: Light Show | Photograph by Marc Harris (@harriswildlife)
“From a recent trip to one of my favorite places to shoot. The town of Pine Island, Florida,” writes Your Shot photographer Marc Harris. “Upon arrival very early, I noticed a small thunderhead forming and grabbed my gear to scurry to an opening in hopes of getting a few shots. I had just enough time to set up, compose, choose settings and get off the first 15 sec exposure started. The thunderhead dissipated almost as quickly as it formed.”
Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen, 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors from thousands of recent uploads. Our community votes for their favorite photo from the selection, and the Top Shot is showcased on the @natgeoyourshot Instagram account. #YourShotPhotographer
Ready, set, go.
This dead tree is a favorite resting spot for this girl. She stops here often as a halfway spot to chill and sometimes dry off after a busy day at work.
On her spied route there's a forested area just west that's full of all kinds of snakes, small mammals and watering holes. One of her stomping grounds. I see her and her mate coming and going all times of the day. Most importantly, her humongous nest is due-east and sits high above a saltwater marsh area that provides an abundance of fresh fish. So this girl is one lucky eagle to have unspoiled, remote access, and a hidden home, the best of two worlds.
Her nest is in such dense mangroves and palmettos that it's a tricky trek in and out. Lots of zig-zagging maneuvers that leave me feeling like a pin-ball. It's awesome to check in from time to time but this pair and their offspring really lead a private life and I like to respect that.
So today's post is in honor of respect to all wildlife.
Let them live wild, free and unharmed.
I thought I'd start out the new week with one of the most abundant raptors we have living and doing well in southwest Florida. Look at this sweet expression, those powerful talons...what a bird!
Conservation status: The Osprey was seriously endangered by pesticides in the mid 1900's, until DDT and other similar pesticides were banned in 1972. This fish-eating raptor has made a good comeback in many parts of North America. -
I was walking through a Florida pine wood forest and could hear this Red-shouldered hawk calling back and forth with its mate. Although common in the Southeastern United States, its always great to find a mating pair territory. Not far into my sloshy trek I found a small hawk nest that had been displaced, hanging from a pine tree branch, undoubtedly from one or more of the many storms that ravaged Florida this year.
With a hunch that the fallen nest might have been theirs, maybe I'll be watching a rebuild quite soon or discover a new nest amidst this forest canopy.
The forest raptor. Sky dancer!
It's Friday (for me) and the weekend is just getting started. So, I'll keep this short and sweet.
Bald Eagle. One of a mating wild pair in Southwest Florida.
As this fella turned his head from side to side I caught this moment with his eyes closed and tongue out. He was obviously unconcerned with my presence. Or, giving me the hint to move on. Whichever, his performance was stellar! Thanks dude!
Have a great weekend everyone!! Copyright MarcHarris/MarcHarrisWildlife
Supporting nature, wildlife education and conservation for the good of mankind and our universe.
When not feeding, great blue herons love to preen. They find comfort in preening. They love to make themselves obvious and stake a claim at a nest or display site to attract attention (especially during courtship). It kind of like Advertising. This guy is practicing for the big ad campaign he plans to launch this mating season.
He knows he's got the goods and wares, he just has to outdo his competitors and "up" his desirability. He's not wasting valuable time nor is he a gambler. He's prepping his display to lure and conquer. Simple, well thought out plan.
It's going to take a savvy female to overwhelm and gain access to this Great Blue when he's ready.
Warning: this upcoming campaign may be "R" rated.
Copyright MarcHarris/MarcHarrisWildlife. All rights reserved.
All photography shot in the wild in natural habitats. No baiting, intrusion or tactics involved.