Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Unexpected delights

Last week's business trip put me in the Florida panhandle. The organizers of the North American Nature Photography Association's annual summit had invited me to review photographers' portfolios, so I joined the event at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort east of Destin on Wednesday afternoon.

In a resort setting, I didn't anticipate seeing much wildlife. The grounds, however, included many ponds -- large and small -- stocked with fish as well as large areas of long-leaf pine trees.

The ponds, not surprisingly, attracted Brown Pelicans, Great Egrets, Double-crested Cormorants and Mallards. Walking from the conference center where the portfolios reviews took place toward my hotel room, I chanced upon a Belted Kingfisher and stood transfixed by his machine-gun call and nonstop movements.

The next day, while sitting beside pine trees, I heard squeaky toys to my right. Yep, Brown-headed Nuthatches were foraging and provided good looks of the white spot on the back of their necks.

On my last day, I visited an island on the property at the recommendation of another birder. (Thanks, Ernie.) At the end of the footbridge, a Carolina Chickadee briefly perched to my right before dashing to the island's interior. What a treat.


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