Thursday, January 31, 2013

Manatee Park/Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Last stop on our Florida vacation brought us full circle back to where we'd landed -- Fort Myers.

Blue crab
We snuck in a stop at Manatee Park on the way to visit Danelle's college roommate.  There were a bunch of manatees, but they didn't photograph especially well.  Unlike this blue crab, off of who's bright shell the sun reflected nicely through the shallow water.

Manatee Park
I'm always entranced by the variety of plant life in tropical climates.  So many subtle differences in shade, so many shapes and textures.

Sanibel Island was on Danelle's wish list to visit, so visit we did.  It didn't take long to figure out why it's considered the seashell capital of the world.  The beaches were just littered with them.

Brown Pelicans
They might not be quite as comely as swans, but this pair of Brown Pelicans still made a fetching sight.

Sunset on Sanibel Island
Sunset was yet another treat.  In Colorado, the landscape is a huge part of most sunrise and sunset pictures I've taken.  But in Florida it was much more about the sky and clouds.  I wasn't sure what to do with the relatively flat terrain in most shots.

Danelle and Taryn were both bitten by the shelling bug, so we headed to Captiva Island on our last morning for more collection.  Which was fine with me, since it also meant more pictures like of this foraging Willet.  At least, I think it's a Willet.  I'll be tapping into the good folks of the Audubon Florida Facebook page for confirmation.

Crystal Conway confirms: "Yup, it's a willet."  Thanks, Crystal!

Stiff Pen Shell
The iridescence of Stiff Pen Shells always caught my eye.  Several of them ended up coming back to Colorado.

I kept tying to get a good shot of a pelican hitting the water going after a fish, but I wasn't happy with any of the results.  This guy coasting over the water came out pretty well, though.

I couldn't tell if someone had left these sunglasses on the beach, or if the tide had brought them in.  Either way, I found them interesting.  And the reflection off the lenses enabled me to get in one of my own pictures.

Every gull species in my Audubon app seems to have a yellow bill, so I'm not exactly sure what these birds are, either.  They were all paying rapt attention to something, though.

Carrie Gentle weighs in via the Audubon Florida Facebook page: "Probably laughing gulls in winter plumage (in summer they have black hoods)"  Thanks, Carrie!

A moment later they were flying off, much like we did ourselves later that day.

Florida was everything I'd hoped it would be photographically -- captivating wildlife and beautiful scenery, especially in the "golden hours" around sunrise and sunset.  Nothing at all like Colorado, but no less gorgeous in its own way.  Wouldn't mind coming back and exploring more of the Everglades and Keys some day!

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