January 21 ~ Sebastian, FL
One of the wonderful things about Florida is the variety of wildlife that can be found at the smallest local parks. My wife wanted to visit LK Hardee Park in Sebastian to take advantage of the exercise stations they have at the park. I tagged along to see what I could find to photograph there. Just after we parked I immediately saw a small flock of White Ibis searching for grubs and insects in the grass at the park. I had not even exited the car and there were already birds to photograph.
White Ibis are generally not scared of people so I figured I would be able to approach pretty close to them. I noticed they were headed in a general direction so I got ahead of them and waited. They worked their way right towards me and I started shooting away. I noticed through the lens that a few of them kept catching and trying to eat some very large worms. Ibis will use their very long curved bill to probe the soft ground and look for anything living in there to eat. It was somewhat amusing to see them with worms wrapped all around their bill.
After some time with the White Ibis I turned my attention to resident Gray Squirrels. Just like the Ibis they are very friendly with the people at this park so I had a blast photographing them. The local squirrels at this park have such personality and were happy to give me plenty of fun and inquisitive poses.
A bit later in the day I met up with more family for a leisurely pontoon boat right around the Indian River, Sebastian River and Sebastian Inlet. We had rented the boat and had 4 hours to cruise around and enjoy the sights of Sebastian from the water. It was a gorgeous day with perfect conditions to be on the water. We started out heading up the Sebastian River a bit in search of Manatee. I was lucky enough to spot my first ever Manatee but it did not provide me with any opportunities for photos. After our cruise up the river a bit we turned around and headed towards the Sebastian Inlet.
The sky was very interesting with a strange mix of soft sun and clouds as you can see in the above photo. As we entered the Sebastian Inlet we were surrounded with Brown Pelicans flying all around. There were also Common and Royal Terns in the air as well, a very busy place. I was able to capture a nice photo of one of the Brown Pelicans as it banked right in front of the boat. It doesn't matter how many times I see them, their wingspan is always rather impressive. After some time floating in the inlet we all decide to make a stop at one of the many islands dotting the Indian River.
Just as we beached the boat I saw a couple of White Ibis feeding in the shallows just a few feet off the island. I hopped off the boat, laid in the sand along the shoreline and got some wonderful photos of the Ibis as they probed the shallows searching for food. One of them walked really close to me and allowed me to get a gorgeous close up portrait showing off its brilliant blue eye in the evening sun. My family and I all hung out on the island for a short while before we had to wrap up the evening and return the boat. It was such a fun and relaxing outing and I highly recommend you try it out if you are ever in the area.
After the boat ride I figured the day of photography was over but I was mistaken. Just after dark I was walking along with my wife to go visit my mother and I saw an incredible full moon just over the horizon. I quickly ran back to our cottage, grabbed my gear and went to the river. I started with a few telephoto photos using the 500mm and concentrated on capturing the moonlight reflecting on the water. I finished up the session trying some long exposures to soften the water and show off the beautiful scene in front of me. It was a perfect ending to a great day of photography all around Sebastian Florida.