The Booby and the Brit

So I'm just getting around to processing all the experiences and photos from Florida's Birding and Fotofest in St. Augustine. The digiscoping seminars and birding experiences were only enhanced by the great camaraderie among the exhibitors, attendees, and guest speakers.
I ended up returning from this trip with 3 new bird species, bringing my quest to 600 up to 535. Among the more notable of these sightings was my unanticipated encounter with a Brown Booby (Sula lecuogaster). The reason that I say this sighting was unanticipated is that Boobies are sea birds, seldom seen from shore. When I heard that I could go to the St. John's county pier and see one, I imagined myself setting up my scope at the end of the pier and scanning out into the ocean for a distant bird diving in the water for food or maybe perched on a buoy or some other marine structure. To sum it up, I was expecting a distant, barely identifiable view of this bird.
As it turns out this was a bizarre booby.

I pulled into the parking lot to the pier and was soon accompanied by Steve Ingraham and Paul Hackett from Zeiss. Paul was a featured guest at the festival, visiting from the enchanted land of Britain (Manchester to be exact). I was excited to play the role of hospitable American and show Paul the Booby, which was a life bird for him as well. It turns out that we were able to garner fantastic views and photos of this Booby as it lounged at the end of this fishing pier, oblivious to the fisherman and sight-seers. We birders were the only spectacle to behold as we donned our cameras and floppy hats, exclaiming what a wonderful bird sighting this was, etc....

The fishermen thought we were crazy, of course, but that didn't stop us from having our fun. It's very likely that the Booby thought we were crazy too.

Here Paul trys to tempt the Booby with a piece of shrimp. The bird acted like it knew better than to take seafood from an Englishman.

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