backyard visitors, birds, dogs, finding my way, Florida wildlife, home, memories, nature, photography

Missing the boat…

I may have missed the boat as far as seeing the crane family heading off the lake goes, for the sake of catching them close-up (with the big lens) I mean, but later that morning there were some birds out back who needed their photos taken.4-19reflect4-20Greatwhiteegret4-20ibis4-20littleblue

Then I headed to church at 4 PM and thought I could catch the cranes on their return, but they were already on the lake when I went in to pick up the camera.  Again, pretty far away from my vantage point, even with the zoom lens.  Which is probably why I got distracted by the dogs, who were the only other creatures out there at the time.  They went down to the lake to drink, Zoe walking in chest deep, and Ozzie lifting his head with lots of drool dripping down.  And there was a nice breeze, whipping said drool all around.  It was pretty much the most interesting thing going on out there…4-21zoe4-21drool14-21drool2Zoe will be 13 on May 1st and, sadly, her age is starting to show.  I’ve had to haul her to her feet several times recently.  Or maybe I didn’t have to, maybe I just hated seeing her struggling and was afraid she would hurt herself.  She is older than I am now, in dog years of course.  Though I’ve traveled back to my pre-teen years mentally and I’m enjoying it there so much that I’m thinking of staying…

Bayport, photography, sky, sunrise, technology, unintended images, weather

Half-mast sunrise…

4-21halfmastsunriseI had a plan for Saturday morning.  I figured that there was time to go to Bayport for the sunrise, and then head back home and find the Sandhill crane family as they left the pond behind me and headed out on their day’s adventures.  And it was going well, I thought, as I saw the color beginning to develop in the sky.  I don’t always notice the flag when I’m at Bayport, I have already tried, and failed, to get the flag to be flowing in the breeze with the colors of the sunrise behind it.  I guess I need to be taller.  But this day it struck me that the flag was at half-mast, and I realized it was in honor of Barbara Bush.  A well-earned sign of respect I thought.

The colors continued to develop, but the overall gray hue at the horizon continued also.  The 600mm lens saw this…4-21sunriseatbayport4-21sunriseatbayport34-21sunriseatbayport2As it got lighter I turned away from the sunrise and looked to the west, looking for otters playing, or the Great Blue Heron who frequently appears just as the sun rises.  I found neither, but I did find a magnificent cloud that looked like a very colorful tornado.  I knew that it was possible to take a vertical panoramic photo with the iPhone, but I hadn’t found a suitable subject before.  IMG_3016 2.jpgIf I hadn’t stopped for coffee and a muffin I might have caught the crane family heading out, but not this day.  Still, a good start to the day…

birds, Cranes, family, Florida wildlife, nesting, perseverance, photography

If you’ve got ’em, flap ’em…

I was out and about yesterday before the sun was even up, so when I came home to relax I looked out back and found a surprise visitor on the lake, and, of course, I took some photos.  It was too early for the cranes just then, but I knew where to look for them. 4-19anhinga

This was only the second time that I’ve seen an Anhinga out on the lake.  I don’t think there is enough water here for them, so I think he was just taking a break as he traveled from one place to another.  I saw the dark shape and expected it to be the Little Blue Heron who sits there every day.  But you couldn’t miss that undulating neck that is very snake-like.  Seeing him was what got me out there.  And after a few pictures I decided to go see if I could find our cute new residents.

You might think that after last year’s chicks these new ones would fall into the category of old news, but they aren’t to me, and I hope they aren’t to you.  These two are bouncy little things.  When they realize that they’ve fallen behind they bounce along as they run to catch up.  They fall down, and pop back up, and are generally just too cute for words.  I loved the ‘nub’ flapping last year, and there is plenty of that going on this year too.  Do I sound like a proud grandma?  I feel like one…


I didn’t think that they minded me hovering and taking photos, but eventually  it seemed as if they should have headed back to the nest and I began to worry that I was the problem.  So I went home and sure enough they came back to the lake just a few minutes later.  It’s going to be hard to resist that closer-up photo op, but I’ll try not to bother them too much.  And when I do head out to find them I’ll try to remember bug spray, I was standing in fire ant territory when I took these photos!

adventure, birds, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography, The Narrows

The Narrows…

My friend Larry was already a ‘bird brain’ when he attended a talk given by the director of the Education Center at The Narrows.  When he heard that the director thought that the birds should be among the people, and the people should be among the birds he was impressed.  But when he heard that these birds provide rehabilitation for people who are suffering from trauma from many sources, as well as receiving rehabilitation themselves, and/or a permanent home if they aren’t deemed able to survive on their own, he was hooked and became a volunteer.  A chance encounter with someone with a lot of knowledge of birds, and who was willing to share that knowledge, was what had sparked his interest in birds, and he is doing a great job of sharing the knowledge he has gained.  The volunteers take care of the birds, clean the cages, and hand feed when needed, but also walk along the paths in the park, lovely shaded paths, with birds on their arm, and stop to talk with visitors about the animals.  I wish I had known about this facility when I had visitors recently so that I could have recommended a visit to them.  So I am recommending a visit to you if you are ever in the Tampa Bay area.  You can check them out at

Hand feeding…4-18handfeeding

This is Slayer. He, along with Slasher, are American Kestrals.  They imprinted with people and that’s what prevents them from living in the wild.4-18slasherorslayer1

Shay is a Red-tailed hawk who lost part of his wing and now is a resident at The Narrows.4-18Shay

When I say that this little Screech Owl is little I’m not kidding.  Take the mental image you just got and divide by two.  Larry had taken pictures of one once, he couldn’t see the bird but took the pictures based on what the people around him were saying, and was amazed when he looked at the pictures in the computer later.  That’s when he saw the owl.  I took this picture when he held this little guy up to demonstrate to me this ability to blend in, and then he did the same for some young girls who were walking along the path.  But the tree he used then didn’t have the heavily textured bark that this tree had and I didn’t expect the same result.  I was wrong, it blended just as well, and the girls were quite amazed.

4-18screechowl14-18screech2If there was an aspect of photography that I would have said that I wasn’t interested in it would have been portraits.  But when you are so close to these birds you almost don’t have a choice, but that’s not a complaint.  When do you get to see them in such detail?


This Great Blue Heron is just a visitor, but since he posed so nicely I also took his picture.


backyard visitors, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, pond creatures, Tricolored heron


I frequently assume I know what’s going to happen next, based on what has happened in the past, and I’m frequently wrong.  But not this time.  When I first noticed that the Sandhill cranes had taken their newly hatched chicks off the lake this morning I wasn’t surprised.  Last year’s family had only spent one full day on the lake before doing the same thing.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to go one block over to look for them, and then I went anyhow.4-18close-up4-18close-up24-18close-up3And waiting for them to come ‘home’ at night is a lot like waiting for your teenagers to come home on the weekends.  They show up just as you are starting to panic.  They wander down from the yard across the street, heading for the lake.  It was a lot later than I expected, not until 5:40, and they didn’t seem to dawdle, it was time for Dad to fly over to the nest and clear out all the interlopers.4-18dadtakesover4-18dadtakesover24-18dadtakesover3Dad then led the charge to the nest.  Day two for the new family…

connections, coping, finding my way, growing old, home, life, life goes on, loneliness, memories, moments, photography, sunrise

Just listen…

“Just listen,” I said for the umpteenth time.  It was so frustrating that my mother was so dismissive of the music I was loving at the time.  Roughly age 15 or so.  It was Simon and Garfunkel for heaven’s sake, beautiful music, and elegant words.  How could she not listen and be moved?  It made me so mad.

And of course I didn’t think it was the same thing at all when I was in the car with my son when he was about that same age, and on the radio came the latest trend in ‘music’, a rap song.  There was nothing elegant in those lyrics, or if there was I couldn’t get past the un-elegant parts to hear it.  I would snap my fingers, pretending to be snapping to the beat, which there wasn’t any that I could hear.  I was sure rap would be a flash in the pan. 

Will that rap music be something he looks back on eventually and feel that it was written just for him, as I am doing now with Simon and Garfunkel?   I found something in their music that spoke to me back then, and, if anything, it speaks to me more now, decades later.  “How terribly strange to be seventy”, they said.  Yes, it is, and I’m not quite there yet so I’m having my moment over it in advance.  It’s a cliche isn’t it, old people’s minds going back, living in the past?  Hanging onto their memories?  Is that what’s happening to me?  Am I Slip-Sliding Away?