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For the last 10 or more years every winter I go fishing in the Everglades 10,000 islands with my brother, Ed, my son Tyler , and Ed's son Bryan for a four day weekend.  It is a great time that I look forward to every year. My brother lives near a marina during the winter where he docks his boat.  We spend almost all our time out in water fishing, telling stories, laughing, ribbing each other.  Just a good ole time with people I love.

I always try to go early and stay later to visit other friends and of course, to photograph the landscapes and wildlife. This blog is about that part of the trip.

Unless there a scheduling conflict I always go early to visit my good friend Rick Davies. Rick lives in Bradenton, Florida.  Rick and I grew up in Woodburn area of Morgantown, West Virginia and in our teenage years you'd find us fishing, hunting, or just hanging out at Marios a local beer garden. When we got older we roomed together going to WVU. We tried looking cool for the girls but not very successfully, but the one thing we could really do was drink beer and have fun.  Many adventures and stories that will go untold from this time of our lives. Rick and I bonded for life and we both married beautiful Morgantown girls and started our families.  Rick eventually moved to Florida for his career and we would not see each other very often.  When I started going to Florida to fish regularly I always try to go early to visit Rick. We usually go camping and practice the one thing we can still do ...Drink beer.  It is always a great time.

Rick and I drinking a beer

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Rick teaching me how to fly the drone at camp

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My next stop is usually Cape Coral to photograph the burrowing owls.  My good friend Jim Lawther from Mannington, WV met one year to photographs the owls together.

Photographing burrowing owls in Cape Coral is interesting.  Usually you don't photograph wildlife by driving around a town.  It is best to get a map of the active burrowing owl nest and then you drive around to see if any nest are active and if the birds are outside of their burrows.  

"The City of Cape Coral adopted the Florida burrowing owl as the "Official City Bird" at the City Council meeting on September 6, 2005. The Florida Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia floridan)is the most encountered listed species in the City of Cape Coral with over 2,500 owl burrows"

Jim Lawther photographing wildlife

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Click on image to view Burrowing Owl gallery

Last year during my annual fishing trip my photography buddy Greg Kullman was in Florida so we hooked up and had dinner with our wives at a Florida restaurant. The next day Greg and I went on a Florida safari to shoot some photos. 

Sandy and I with Greg Kullman and his wife Kris eating at Florida restaurant

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Some photos I shot while on safari with Greg Kullman.

After visiting with Greg Kullman and his wife Kris we went down to Sanibel Island to visit with Phil Shuman and his wife Sherry.  Philip and I went kayaking to fish and take  pictures.

Photos taken while out kayaking with Philip Shuman

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  • Mr and Mrs Bald eagles
  • Looking every which way
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  • All in a row
  • See how pretty I am
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Usually when fishing I don't take photos I just concentrate on the fishing.  The exception was one time just Ed and I were out in boat, our sons had not arrived to Florida yet, and I brought my camera.  While fishing this one area in the mangroves this osprey really started squawking at us.  I figured her nest was nearby and she wanted us out of there.  I caught a small fish and instead of just letting it go I tossed the fish in the water toward the osprey. To my surprise the osprey took off and I could tell she was going after that fish.  I grabbed my camera and got some of the best osprey photos I have ever taken.

The eagle whisperer

One day I was talking to one of fishing guides in the area and I mentioned I was a photographer and loved taking pictures of eagles.  He told me I need to talk to Ken the eagle whisperer.  Ken was an older gentleman that had fished in the area for years.  Whenever he came back from fishing he would hold a dead fish up in the air and wave the fish around.  Before long one or sometimes two eagles would come flying in and land on the roof.   Ken would throw the fish out in the yard and when the eagle would wait to make sure it was safe and then he would fly down and grab the fish and take off.

Of course I got excited when hearing the story and hoped Ken would be alright with me photographing the eagle.  Ken turned out to be a very nice man and very accommodating.  I asked if he would throw the fish out in the water which would make for a better picture.  He had no problem with that and even put some wood in the fish to make sure it floated on top the water so the fish would not sink and the eagle could get it.  Several years  when I went to Florida to fish I'd schedule some time to try to photograph the eagles at Ken's place.  I got some really cool photos but I missed way too many.  I would only get one or two chances because once the eagle got a fish they seldom come back till next day.

Photos taken with help of the Eagle whisperer

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  • Amercian bald eagle grabbing fish out of water
  • Early morning hunt
  • Bald eagle flying
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  • What is up big guy?

Florida is a great place to photograph wildlife, especially birds.  Florida has many great sanctuaries for photographing wildlife. I have been to several of the sanctuaries in Florida to photograph but the one I go to most is near the Collier-Seminole State Park.  More convenient then most because close to where my brother lives although I try to check a new sanctuary each year.

Photos at bird sanctuary near my bother home close to Collier-Seminole State Park.

Fishing and photographing in the Everglades

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