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September 27th, 2015
Where are we going? We never really know… At least once a month, we pack up the truck and take a drive. Packing the truck up consists of photography equipment, snacks and ice cold water. You can never be too prepared for where we end up. We do not take the busy roads or highways, we make sure to take all back roads so we can capture as much wildlife as possible. Florida is an amazing world if you take the time to stop and enjoy it. On this particular day, we headed out our own backyard into the Picayune Strand State Forest. We went down the long stretch of dirt road, past the forest station and turned onto Miller Blvd. For miles, there is nothing but the beautiful work of Mother Nature, a photographer’s dream land really. This is not a fast drive for us, we go about 10 MPH, with our eyes peeled into the brush. There is so much wildlife surrounding the area that most people miss out on. We try to capture every moment possible. A few miles down Miller Blvd, Catcher Dan spotted an Eagle perching high up on an old Pine Tree. He stopped the truck so I could get a better look. It was a beautiful sight, my first Eagle. He was very high up in the tree, so my zoom lens didn’t go as far as I would like it to, but still an awesome capture for me. To get a good picture of wildlife, being quiet is the key. We make as little noise as possible so the wildlife doesn’t get spooked. The Eagle sat perched on the limb for a few minutes before he flew off to another Pine Tree.
Traveling further into the Picayune Strand, we ventured into the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. There is a long stretch of back road called Janes Memorial Scenic Drive, for short we call Scenic Drive, the perfect name for this road. The nature is an unbelievable sight. This is the best road to get up close and personal with Florida wildlife. There is a large variety of birds consisting of Blue Herons and Egrets. Alligators sunbathing in the canals and even laying over the roadway. Turtles, snakes and frogs are everywhere you look. The critters are not the only thing to admire here, we stop to enjoy the flowers and trees as well. We’ve seen wild Orchids growing on the side of the swamp, Bromeliads and Air Plants affixed to the Cypress Trees, and even Royal Palms growing naturally throughout the swamp. Truly a site to see.
After many hours of exploring the wonders of Scenic Drive, we pop out in Copeland, Florida and take State Road 29 back home. The adventure is not over yet, this drive is just as exciting. This road happens to be a panther habitat, so driving careful is the key here. On the right side of us is a large canal that runs parallel to the road. We drive the truck on the bank to see the alligators relaxing in their natural habitat. We were lucky one day, we both spotted a very large cat like image next to a Cypress Tree across the canal. I thought for sure this would be my first Panther photo. My adrenaline was rushing as I zoomed in and started capturing the moment. It was not a Panther, but instead, a beautiful Bobcat staring back at me. Through my lens, I felt as if I was right on top of her. I was able to capture only 5 shots with my rapid shutter before she turned around and ran back into the wooded marsh. For us, a successful day. We took only photos, and left only footprints. Our journey continues for that perfect Panther photo…
Until next time,