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Before Florida was infamous for poorly run elections it was known for its subtropical climate.  A climate that draws in the winter visitors.  Not just winters arriving on planes and in RVs.  Others arrive buoyed by feathers sliding over the wind.  Birds like the palms as well as humans

Last Sunday I visited the north Florida coast near Tallahassee.  All of these pictures were taken at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge with the exception of the oystercatcher pics which are from Bald Point State Park, a bit further to the west.

In addition this was a chance to compare and contrast my two cameras.  Back in September the latch on the underwater housing for my Canon G9 broke.  It turns out, that in this madcap world of new electronic products every 15 seconds, that the housing for the G9 is no longer available (Canon is currently up to G14 or 15 I think).  I was only able to find a single underwater housing for the G9 for sale on ebay for more than it cost when it was new.

I decided to investigate the new 'tough' cameras - ones that can be used underwater without a housing, at least down to 40 feet (I am unlikely to find myself more than 40 feet underwater in the near future).  A little bit of sleuthing revealed that a good option would be an Olympus TG-1.  It was a bit pricier than I had planned for but was advertised as reliable (i.e. not leaking) and fast and bright.

One bonus of the Olympus is that it is much easier to use with my scope (digiscoping) to take long distance pictures.  The G9, otherwise a great camera, sucks at digiscoping.

This is a 'Stay At Home' bird, a tri-colored heron.  A pretty easy bird to digiscope as they hold still.  Most of the wading birds were napping and preening while I was there - it was siesta time after all.
This is a cropped image of the above photo showing the limitations of the technique (at least with the TG-1).  The image doesn't have high enough quality to allow you to zoom in at all.  Although this crop does have a certain impressionistic quality.
In contrast this is one of the group of Western Sandpipers that are featured in the picture up at the top of the diary.  This is a fairly small crop from a photo I took with the G9 - still pretty clear.  This guy is a migrant but I'm not really sure they count as 'snowbirds' as they are here 8-9 months out of the year.

Another example from the G9 - a picture of an Anhinga, taken from the road (note bonus turtle).

And a close up of the upper body from the same image - still really clear.
Back to the Here are some 'snowbirds': Scaup and Wigeon.  The duck pictures were more challenging as they don't hold still and it is difficult to follow them with the scope and take the picture at the same time.  The blurriness is some vegetation between me and the ducks that I didn't notice.
And back to some more cooperative residents.
The little blue heron in the background was much less cooperative than the great blue in the foreground.  It insisted on actually looking for food rather than posing.
And this guy wouldn't look at the camera.
A few pictures from a situation in which digiscoping is impossible - kayaking.
This eagle posed nicely for a very large number of shots which was good because the waves were making it difficult to keep the bird in the shot and in focus.
This was the most impressive moment of the day - this huge flock of white pelicans rose up from the horizon and flew straight at and over me.  Unfortunately they were flying straight out of the sun and I couldn't really see what I was photographing.
Back on dry land I head west to Bald Point State Park for a brief visit before heading home.  It was pretty quiet birdwise but there was this large group of oystercatchers way way out in the bay standing on a submerged oyster bar.
Not a great picture but one that is only possible with the scope.  Off course then when I was taking pictures of the sanderlings on the shore the oystercatchers got jealous and flew in to hog the camera.
And let's finish this off with a quiz.  There are four images below of a close cousin of our feathered friends with a rather toothy grin.  Two are profile shots and two are full face views.  One of each is digiscoped with the Olympus and the other is cropped using the G9.  I have poll below.

Originally posted to Birds and Birdwatching on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

Poll

Which two of the gator pictures above were taken with the Canon G9 and then cropped

16%2 votes
41%5 votes
16%2 votes
25%3 votes

| 12 votes | Vote | Results

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