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Monday, 19 April 2010 21:47

Florida 2010 – VIII – Little Estero Lagoon


Morning hunt, Great Egret (Ardea alba), Little Estero Lagoon



If you ever happen to plan a birding trip to Florida and will search for the best spots on internet, one of the most often name found will certainly be Little Estero Lagoon. As the name says, it is quite small lagoon at the coast of the Gulf of Mexico close to Fort Myers. There is a lot of great birding spots around Fort Myers (Sanibel Island or Cape Coral Burrowing Owls to name the most famous) so you might wonder why this small “pond” should be amongst the best places, especially when it is located right next to the Fort Myers suburb and the area around is very busy as the passers by hurry up to the neighbouring Fort Myers beach all the time.


Welcome, Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea), Little Estero Lagoon



1D3_1128PSWell, what makes Little Estero Lagoon so attractive to photographers is very easy access, comfortable photographing and of course the variety and tameness of the birds. Thanks to the very gentle banks around the lagoon you can take a flop almost everywhere, the lagoon is located on the beach and so lying in the sand and watching the beautiful birds in the viewfinder was one of the best photography I have ever experienced! In my case the joy from watching birds was a little spoiled by the fact, that the time I visited Little Estero lagoon was one of the coldest winters ever recorded in Florida; the temperature dropped down to freezing point, but I have wrote this in some of the previous articles…





Crab snack, Ibis bílý (Eudocimus albus), Little Estero Lagoon



Little Estero lagoon is really busy place – not only you will se many birds (especially at dawn and dusk) but you almost certainly meet another photographer and many passers-by – fortunately the people here are quite used to seeing photographers crawling in the mud so you will not feel that silly as in the same position elsewhere.


Hunt, Great Egret (Ardea alba), Little Estero Lagoon



If you have got the whole day, it is worth to start at Little Estero very early and hang around till the very last sun beams of the day. When the first light hits the lagoon in the morning, it is the best moment to take pictures of Herons, Egrets and Ibises against the dark bushy background. When the sun rises up, flump yourself into the sand in southern part of lagoon where you can enjoy watching the Plovers and Sandpipers wading in shallows ponds and pulling the worms and larvae out of the mud.


I’ve got you! Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)



When the pain in your back turns to be unbearable (while you are on the ground), stand up and explore the Fort Myers beach – 1D3_1202PS the beach is busy with rather little birdlife in its north part but south of Little Estero Lagoon you will find many other small ponds with the same inhabitants as in the famous lagoon itself. One of the best photography then is to sit down into the beach sand, let the sun beams to warm you up and watch the sea in front of you – besides Pelicans constantly hovering above the water you can be lucky to take a picture of Osprey fishing just few meters from you. Come back to the lagoon in the evening and take pictures of wading birds during sunset. You will have buildings in the background this time – I tried to avoid them but e.g. Michal Jirouš used that to make interesting golden background on his photos.


Punk, Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Little Estero Lagoon



The sooner the better

Although I spent about a week in Fort Myers, most of the time I explored the other spots around the city and left Little Estero Lagooon to very last days. It was a mistake as with the arrival of cold weather the birds left the lagoon and those few who stayed on were wading in the water that was too rippling to provide nice pictures.


Wading pool, Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)
So the whole week shrank into just two hours in the morning 8. January this year – from that I spent one hour in the mud trying to get some decent photo of wading Egrets and Herons and another hour talking to one nice birder from New Jersey that I met while watching Plovers. All the pictures presented in this article have been taken during 1 hour and 11 minutes – I say that especially to show the potential of this place for nice bird pictures…


First sun beams, Great Egret (Ardea alba), Little Estero Lagoon
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 17:35
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