Little Estero Lagoon, Fort Myers Beach

Royal Tern Preening

Tony & I headed to Little Estero Lagoon in Fort Myers Beach this morning and arrived there before 7 am.  Traffic was very light on the way there but was heavy on the way back as we saw hundreds of cars streaming across the bridges into the Fort Myers Beach area.  Little Estero Lagoon is located on the Gulf side of Florida and is accessible through the parking lot of the Wyndham Garden Hotel which was formerly a Holiday Inn.  GPS: N26 24.925 W81 54.184.  We parked in a small strip mall across the street in front of a US Post Office and Subway shop and had no problems at all.  We parked here last winter too facing the street and organized our gear before walking across the street to the Wyndham Garden Hotel and through the south parking lot carrying our camera, lenses and tripods.  Once through the parking lot, one must turn left and following the walking paths along the edge of the lagoon for about a half mile before coming across a path to your right which leads out onto the sandy beach and also the southern edge of the lagoon.  There is also a sandbar and trail through some mangroves which permits access to the main beach area.  There was plenty of action along here with ospreys, pelicans, royal terns, ring-billed gulls, oyster catchers, egrets, herons, etc.  Today’s first image was taken on the gulf side sandy beach.  There are 8-10 wooden pilings sticking out into the water from an old pier that are favorite roosting posts for many seabirds.  I shot the above shot full frame with my 600mm lens mounted on my tripod at eye level.

White Ibis

This white ibis was foraging for food in the lagoon area and took a few minutes off to bask in the sunshine before continuing to look for food.  There were quite a few sanderlings foraging as well in the lagoon.  A reddish egret and tri colored heron also made appearances.  Tony & I witnessed an osprey actually splash down into the water and come up with a fish before it flew away.  I didn’t have a great angle for a good shot unfortunately but it was very exciting to see as I’ve never seen an osprey completely submerge in search for food and then flap like crazy to drag itself and dinner into the sky.

Brown Pelican

I’m always amazed at how delicately pelicans can balance themselves in trees with those big webbed feet.  This guy looked to be falling out of the tree any second but to my surprise he just sat there, perfectly balanced, enjoying the sunshine for a good 30 minutes.  We shot until about 9:30 am before walking back to our car.  Little Estero Lagoon is a popular birding spot and we weren’t the only photographers out this morning.  There is lots of sand and water so dress wearing shoes or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet if planning to come here for a visit.  We wore sandals, shorts, t shirts, photo vests, hats and sunscreen.  Hoping we can plan a return visit near sunset while here to get some warm colors in the sky above the Gulf.

Royal Tern facing into the windRoyal Tern

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