Clydesdales, fun, moments, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

Budweiser Clydesdales…

Everything about Wednesday night’s photo shoot was new to me.  And not so much Nature Coast, and probably the farthest thing from wildlife. Old Palm Harbor is not strictly part of the ‘nature coast’ per se. I’m fairly sure it would be considered part of the Tampa Bay designation. But the area was charming, at least in the dark, with it’s small neighborhood feel. The restaurants with their lights, and teeming with people, looked so enticing that I wanted to go into them all.  The next time my friend Kathy visits we will. But the hordes of people wasn’t the norm for a Wednesday evening. No, we had been drawn to the area on this very chilly evening because of these magnificent animals.

The Clydesdales.  They hadn’t even gotten off the trailers and they were displaying their big personalities.  They played to their audience.

The Clydesdales were in town for the 50th anniversary of the local beer distributor, and they made the rounds of the local restaurants, delivering beer in style. It was quite a sight to see, but tougher to photograph. Once they were underway the crowds made the photo ops a lot more difficult. Even if I’d had my tripod and knew how to adjust for the darkness better, (ironically this Saturday’s class is on shutter speed, which is what I needed to adjust for the circumstances), I’d have gotten elbowed out of the way. So I was glad that I concentrated my shots on the process of unloading and hitching up the Clydesdales. Clearly the two lead horses were chosen as much for personality as for their beauty, because all the horses were equally gorgeous. But no, those two were hamming it up for the photographers in the crowd, no one will ever convince me that they didn’t know exactly what they were doing. And they did it well.1-17saycheese2 copy1-17saycheese

It was amazing to see how patiently the horses waited as they were hitched to the wagon one by one. The first horse in had to stand there while seven more horses were hitched up.  He was a champ.  I looked down to see their hooves, and it occurred to me that there were plenty of people in flip flops, (crazy people, I hope their toes didn’t fall off), within feet of these horses. They were unflappable. Barking dogs in the crowd, (really?), and camera flashes in their faces were all in a day’s work to them.1-17firstonein copy1-17bigfeet copy

1-17readysetgoI had considered bailing out on this event because of the hour-long drive, and the chilly temperatures, but I’m glad I didn’t. They will also be appearing in Tampa and St. Pete this weekend, so if you are in the area and would like to see them check their website. I was going to give a link to their schedule but the only one I found wasn’t current, but there are a lot of pages available if you Google the Budweiser Clydesdales. This photo op popped up at the last minute, spotted by a member of the group. Props to them!1-17details copy.jpgEvery de-tail was perfect!

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eagles, Florida wildlife, Hudson Beach, nature, nesting, photography, sunset

Hudson Beach plus eagles…

I got off work at 11 AM, walked the dogs, investigated the crane noises out back and took lots of pictures, and then thought, what next?  Well, I said to myself, you haven’t checked on the eagles lately.  So off I went.

I arrived a little after 4 PM, and found Mom, or Dad, on the nest, and I hoped that they would switch off soon.  In no time I saw the other eagle fly into the area and I zoomed in on the nest in anticipation of him landing there.  And I waited, and waited.  Even the on-duty parent got tired of waiting and started yelling.  Then she/he flew off the nest.  And still I waited, focused on the nest, hoping a chick would pop it’s head up.  That didn’t happen, but I swear I heard peeping, but can’t say that it came from the nest.  Eventually, not too long really, parent #2 landed on the nest and started tending something, a baby?  Just general housekeeping?  I decided that this was Mom because she apparently decided that a small branch above the nest had to go, and she spent quite a while working on accomplishing that.  1-16calling copy1-16momtakesover copy1-16momtakesover2 copy1-16momtakesover3 copy1-16momtakesover4 copyAnd again, I thought what next?  Sunset wasn’t for over an hour at that point, so I decided to go to Hudson Beach for the sunset, killing some time and putting me a lot closer to home.  I put the new wide-angle lens on for the sunset pictures.  Practice, practice, practice, yet again.1-16hudsonsunset copy.jpgAnd from the iPhone, one more…1-16hudsonsunset2.jpg

birds, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, nature, photography, Tricolored heron

Birds, and more birds…

It was the Sandhill cranes calling that got me outside to see what was happening on the lake.  I never did see the cranes, although I heard them calling, loudly.   Even so it was pleasant outside with the sun on my back and neck, warm after all my complaining about being too cold.  And to set the stage further, a neighbor off to my right has several yappy little dogs, and a rowdy little kid with a cap gun.  Every time said kid fired the cap gun the dogs yapped up a storm.  Just wanted you to have the whole picture.

First I saw the Palm Warbler, tiny though he is.1-16Palm Warbler2And the Little Blue Heron was on the post, nothing new there.  But he was minding his own business when the Tri-colored Heron booted him off and took the post over.  1-16littleblueheron copy1-16kickedout copy1-16tri-colorThe sun was pleasant while I watched.  And eventually I spotted a bird that didn’t look familiar, so I zoomed in for a closer look.1-16killdeer41-16killdeer3Merlin says it’s a Killdeer.  He was right on time since I got an emailed heads-up to look for them because they have arrived in our area.  Prompt little thing.

You may have had your doubts about Merlin’s identification of the Yellow-rumped Warbler, I know that I did. 1-16Yellow-rump21-16yellow-rumpedwarbler11-16Yellow-rump3 copy Let’s just say that I am convinced…

Bayport, birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, sunrise

Back on track…

1-15sunrise2 copyI went out for a Bayport sunrise the other day and it was pretty, but too cold.  I know you must be getting tired of hearing me say that.  But it was almost a relief that the above picture was as pretty as it got and I could stay in the car.  I have taken a picture of the sign that they have posted there before, but I never used it.  It looks like they are finally going to redo the fishing pier.  1-15billboard copyI’ve taken a lot of reflected sunrise photos at Bayport, I love the way all the channel markers sometimes look to be different colors and almost lit up in the morning light.  Not knowing anything about boating I had no idea what the markers actually indicated.  Now I see that it must be water depth because in all my trips to Bayport, for both sunrises and sunsets, I’ve never seen the water level be low enough for this sand bar to show.  1-15lowtide copy1-14littlebird copyBack in the yard this little bird was out there, teasing me, landing just long enough for me to find him with the camera but flitting off a few feet away before I could focus. This was the best I could do.  Merlin says it’s a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  I’ve probably seen all these little birds before, but finding them in the camera’s view finder is like looking through binoculars.  Now I actually see them.1-15sandhill1 copy1-15sandhill2 copyAnd the cranes were back out there last night.  They seem to have abandoned the mound that they worked so hard to build.  Unless of course this was a different pair. When I see Sandhill cranes around the neighborhood they seem to always be in pairs lately.  But what has struck me is that at least one of the pair looks to be on the small side.  The younger birds setting up housekeeping I guess.  This pair was out there on the original nesting spot from last year, making themselves at home.  At least I hope that’s what was going on…

 

birds, Cranes, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Black and White Warbler…

I’m not sure if this was a new bird out back, or just a new bird to me, but he was flitting from tree to tree out there despite the fence being installed just a few feet away.  And they had a fire pit going also, but the smoke didn’t seem to bother him either.  I don’t think I’ve seen these black and white markings before.1-13birdie copy1-13birdie2 copyThose are my only new photos today, but I also worked on a couple of the eagle pictures from a few days ago.  That eagle was so cooperative, how could I resist?1-13eaglecloseup copy1-13eagle2 copyAnd I had Sandhill cranes as visitors to the backyard the other day also.  I had the 600mm lens on the camera and they were too close to me so getting a good picture wasn’t easy.  Plus my Adirondack chair was in the way, but they were doing a flirty little dance out there so I kept shooting rather than miss it.  1-13sandhillcrane copy1-13sandhillcrane3 copy1-13sandhillcrane4 copy1-13sandhillcrane2 copy

food, perseverance, photography, technology, the easy way out, unintended consequences

Food for thought…

Grapes, I can’t get enough of them lately. I don’t know it the same thing applies everywhere, but the grapes I’m buying here in Florida lately are really good. I mean really, really good. So I crave them, and I’m sitting here realizing that this craving is exactly like craving candy or ice cream, or any other ‘sweet’ that I shouldn’t eat. But grapes? It’s fruit for gosh sake, how bad can it be? And considering that this obsession has been going on for a while, what is the equivalent amount of wine that my grape consumption represents? Wine ‘on the hoof’, so to speak. So far I haven’t had to resort to anything illegal to fund my grape habit, but with my reduced hours of work per week who knows how long that will last. I did eat $10 worth in one day, which I only know because I bought them and finished them all in one day. If the 24 hour period spans two days it really doesn’t seem that extreme.

Aside from grapes I do ponder what to eat, but not because I’m craving carbs or anything like that. I just don’t know what to eat, mostly because my diet instruction came second hand from an acquaintance who said that his PA daughter said, “Don’t drink your calories.” Okay, that’s easy, I thought, even though I don’t think that coffee was an approved drink, but no one gets between me and my coffee. Then I asked okay, what do you eat, he shrugged and said “a lot of salad”. I realize now that the reason this all worked for me is because I said to myself, ‘Self, you like salad. And water, easy peasy”! And it was. Had I said to myself that I wasn’t going to ever eat a piece of bread again it would have been harder. A lot harder! By the time that thought crossed my mind I had seen results, and I have no real desire to change anything. So I’ll pull up my big girl pants, which are now held in place by a belt so there is no worry about what unintended consequence putting my phone in my back pocket might cause. You gotta do what you gotta do!1-13groceries.jpgI went grocery shopping today.  This is the mainstay of my diet lately.  I could have added a jar of peanut butter which I spread on the celery, and a can or two of Progresso soup.  I don’t eat much processed food, but this chilly weather has made a nice bowl of soup a must here and there.1-11truthinadvertisingDid I say that I don’t do processed food much at all?  When I do make an exception it usually turns out like this.  I have a little glass pyrex bowl, but even if I had transferred this meal into that bowl it wouldn’t have looked like the illustration.  It tasted okay, and was on sale, and dinner in 8 minutes was too much to resist…