February 3 ~ Fort Myers Beach, FL
I found out about an incredible Florida bird sighting in the most interesting way. Normally I would find out about a rare bird sighting from one of many different birding websites or social media groups I belong to but since I was in Florida I wasn't keeping an eye on the normal websites I pay attention to. I'm also not a regular viewer of local news on tv so it was thanks to the fact that my in-laws had the local Fort Myers news on that I was informed of a semi-famous American Flamingo that had been making an appearance in the Bunche Beach Preserve area for a couple of weeks recently and on and off since the summer. I couldn't believe my luck, what are the odds that a very rare visitor to the area was there during the one week I was? I decided to make an attempt to try to find this beautiful bird.
As you can obviously tell from the photos I found the bird but I'll still tell you how it happened. I had already made a visit to Bunche Beach earlier during the week and didn't see the Flamingo but I was somewhat familiar with the location. This would turn out to be a huge help.
One afternoon while hanging out with my wife at her parents house I had a little free time so I decided to try a second visit over to Bunche Beach on the off chance I could find the Flamingo. I arrived to the beach on a completely clear afternoon and walked out onto the beach. It looked very different to me this time since it was high tide and the exposed sandy area that I had walked around on during my previous visit was now covered in water.
I stood on the tiny area of beach that was left and began searching for a Flamingo. At first I didn't see anything, the sun was incredibly bright and directly in my eyes as I was looking out into the water. At one point I saw a speck way out in the water, it looked almost entirely gray so I assumed it was either a Great Blue Heron or Great Egret. I put my telephoto lens to my eye and to my surprise there it was, the American Flamingo! From where I was standing it was roughly 250 feet from shore. Had I not previously been to the spot I would have thought I had no chance of getting a good photo. As I mentioned previously I had waded out to the sandbar so I knew I could do the same again even at high tide. I set my camera up on the monopod and started a slow approach to the Flamingo.
From the angle of my initial approach at the shoreline the Flamingo had the sun directly behind it so all of the photos were no good. I needed to get on the other side so the sun would be at my back. It took me about 15 minutes to slowly make my way around but I finally got on the good side of the light and started shooting like crazy. I had no idea if the bird would quickly leave the area or not. Thankfully the Flamingo didn't seem to mind me one bit and I spent over 30 minutes photographing it. I got to watch it rest, preen and even get knocked around a few times by some of the smaller waves. For almost the entire time I was out there it was just me and the Flamingo. It was one of the most memorable encounters of my entire trip in Florida and certainly one of the most beautiful birds I had the privilege of capturing.