Raptors of the Everglades
The late Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter, thrilled audiences with his love of nature, and fearless approach to dangerous species such as crocodiles, pythons, and all sorts of creatures. I got to spend a few days with Florida’s own Irwin version by the name of William Steele, a naturalist, alligator wrestler, snake handler, falconer, dive expert, and bird and wildlife photographer extraordinaire. William is a true born and bred Florida naturalist, and runs his own company called Brother Nature Tours. Recently I spent a great weekend with him in the everglades of South Florida and got to see some species of raptors I had never seen before. And best of all I met a wonderful new friend.
Per the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, The Peregrine Falcons are the largest falcon found over most of the continent. “Powerful and fast-flying, the Peregrine Falcon hunts medium-sized birds, dropping down on them from high above in a spectacular stoop. They were virtually eradicated from eastern North America by pesticide poisoning in the middle 20th century. After significant recovery efforts, Peregrine Falcons have made an incredible rebound and are now regularly seen in many large cities and coastal areas. “ William and I saw a number of these beautiful raptors. The other major highlight was the capture of a few photos of a rarely seen White-tailed Kite, which is only found in extreme Southern Florida and the west coast in the US. Bald Eagles, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks were seen about the area in abundance. My favorite rented lens autofocus feature malfunctioned on me when I tried to capture a photo of a male Snail Kite also but I salvaged a few shots. I totally missed my only close opportunity of the illusive “Gray Ghost” or male Northern Harrier. Perhaps another time my ghostly friend.
We all regret missed opportunities I am sure. But that challenges me to make up for it. Don’t wait too long though my friends. We may never pass this way again. Be blessed. Harry