2023—The Snatch

Snail Kites, natives unique to central Florida, eat snails, only snails and specifically, Apple Snails. They hunt for them at the very shallow edges of swampy lakes like Lake Kissimmee. Last year when I visited here, we photographed lots of Snail Kites carrying snails but we did not see or photograph the snatch. This year, we had lots of opportunities to try for it because Captain Mark put us in the right place at the right time. I was successful a few times on our last day out in the airboat on the lake. In this shot, a banded male Snail Kite takes off after just snatching his prize out of the water following a reconnaissance flyover. We got to recognize the pattern of flight and hovering that indicated that the bird was about to plunge feet first into the water after a snail. Captain Mark was always careful to put the sun at our backs but the birds and the snails didn’t always cooperate. Quite often the birds went for snails behind us so we missed those shots that were facing into the sun.