birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography, sky

Defending the nest…

My fellow photographers inspired a trip back to the eagle nest today.  One photographer has been getting shots of baby eagles at a nest she visits, and it made me wonder how ‘our’ eagles are doing.  And beyond that, I heard that the eagles have been being harassed by vultures, and that they had to drive the vultures off several times yesterday.

I got there today about 2 PM and the eagle was tending the nest as you see it above, not in the nest but above it.  There have always been vultures in the air when I’ve ben there, but they have been off in the distance.  Today I counted 12 at one time in the air, and the eagle was constantly scanning the sky as I watched.1-24nesteagle1You can see a bit of a vulture flying over in this picture.  I don’t know if that bird is what inspired the eagle to take off and give chase, but it was amazing to watch them swoop, and reverse direction at top speed.  They disappeared behind the trees, and the eagle was still in pursuit when they reappeared.  I tried to catch the chase in pictures but it was impossible.  1-24nesteagle21-24nesteagle31-24nesteagle4 copyWhen she returned she landed on the nest.  She was still scanning the sky, but also looking down into the nest, at her chick maybe?  While she was gone I concentrated on looking at the nest in case I might spot a little head pop up to look for Mom, but that didn’t happen.  1-24nesteagle51-24nesteagle6Her mate did come back, I saw him flying in and zoomed onto the nest thinking that he’d land there, but I was surprised to see Mom take off and both of the eagles were now in pursuit of at least two vultures.  Again, amazing to see but not so easy to photograph.  When I left there was one eagle on the nest and one in the trees nearby.     Keeping watch, defending the nest.

birds, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

The Hooded Merganser…

I told myself that the sky was too overcast for any possible color of the sunset to show, so I gave myself permission to stay home. Now that I was finally home that is. I could sit with my feet up and look through my pictures to see if anything inspired me. A cup of coffee might give me a jolt, I thought, so I went into the kitchen… and out the window I saw a white-headed duck fly across the lake, skimming the surface and leaving a very impressive wake in his path. White headed? I didn’t think I’d seen whatever that was before so how could I resist? I grabbed the camera and the tripod and headed out.

It was a Hooded Merganser! I had seen them out there before, but not lately. He was zooming back and forth across the lake, at one point being chased by another duck, or so it seemed. And each time he flew he skimmed the surface, making as much of a spectacle of himself as he possibly could. What a show off.1-23merganser1 copy1-23merganser3 copy1-23merganser4 copy1-23merganserfeature copyMerlin says that the Hooded Merganser is small, feeds by diving and using it’s thin, serrated bill to catch fish.  They are usually found on calm bodies of water.  Merlin didn’t mention that he’s a show off.  This is a male in his breeding plumage, which may explain a few things.

I love it when a photo op lands right in my backyard, literally…

Florida landmarks, friends, life goes on, nature, photography, Pine Island, sunset

New ‘old’ friends…

Went to Pine Island for the sunset last night for the first time since before Thanksgiving. Didn’t I say that Pine Island never disappoints?  Struck up a conversation with a woman there last night and anyone overhearing us would have thought we’d known each other forever. We had hoped to kayak together today but the fog is pea soup out there. I can hear the cranes but I can’t see a thing. Maybe it will get better later. And maybe I’ll be sorry that my number didn’t come up on the jury pool for today, it just might be that kind of day.

But the sunset last night didn’t disappoint.1-22sunsetfire1-22sunsetfire21-22sunsetfire3 copy

history, honor, learning, moments, photography, soldiers, The Booksville Raid

The Brooksville Raid…

The Brooksville Raid was a Civil War skirmish that is re-enacted in Brooksville every year, and is said to be the biggest Civil War re-enactment in Florida. It recounts the landing of 240 Union troops at Bayport on July 1, 1864. Those troops then marched to Brooksville, pillaging and destroying plantations in their wake. The Confederate defenders skirmished with them, and sent to Tampa for help, but there never was an actual battle. The union troops did what damage they could and returned to Bayport and from there returned to Ft. Myers.

Charley liked to call it “the war of Northern aggression”, but then he fancied himself a southern boy. We went to the Brooksville Raid in 2013, and watched the battle but didn’t venture into the Union and Confederate camps at all. I’m not sure that we knew they were available to tour. Sunday’s photo meetup at the Brooksville Raid started when they opened the gates at 9 AM. It was to our advantage to be there so early so that we could take photographs without crowds in the background. Walking the camps went a long way to helping to imagine what a soldier’s life may have been at that time. I overheard a re-enactor explaining to another photographer that his great-grandfather had left the farm at 15 years old, and fought for all four years of the Civil War. He became a re-enactor to honor his ancestor’s service.

Once I had toured both camps, and watched the artillery demonstration there were still two hours to kill before the actual battle was going to be fought. I took pity on the dogs who would be needing to go out, so I didn’t stay for the battle itself. But I had it on good authority that the South was going to win this time. They do two re-enactments, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I looked up the information on the raid because I was told that since the Union had won the skirmish on Saturday, the Confederacy would win on Sunday. That seemed like rewriting history until I read that I wasn’t a battle as much as a series of skirmishes. Charley was on my mind the whole time I was there. He would have been pleased to see the South prevail.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, Tricolored heron

A watched pot…

I got home from my eagle hunting yesterday to find the Sandhill cranes were laying out on the site of last year’s nest. Of course I immediately assumed that they had been there all day, and that maybe she was sitting on eggs. Well, that hope was dashed this morning when neither one was out there on the nest. No cranes means no eggs. It was January 20th last year when they laid their eggs, according to one neighbor. But they came back this afternoon, and are out there on the nest right now, and, since I’m ever the optimist, it’s just a matter of time.1-20crane2 copy1-20standingcrane copy

When I got home today I checked to see if cranes were out there and noticed a bird flitting from spot to spot along the water’s edge. To me that indicated the Tri-color heron, but when I went out with the camera all I could find was a Little Blue heron. A large Little Blue Heron. Maybe I ought to run his photo through Merlin just in case.  But that sneaky little Tri-color was out there after all.  I love it when I’m right.1-20littleblueheron1 copy1-202herons copy1-20tri-colorAnd, the eagle hunting.  I forgot to post my favorite photo from yesterday.1-19eaglepose2copy

I’m not seeing any sun out there, and I’m chilly here in the house, so the sunset probably isn’t in the cards tonight. I guess that means I’m done here. I see a Grace and Frankie marathon in my immediate future.

 

birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Oh say can you see…

I heard about a new eagle nest yesterday so I decided to check it out today.  Once I found it I liked the round shape, it looked different from the other nest I visit.  But it was a lot farther off in the distance, and I knew my photos would be disappointing.  But I didn’t have to wait too long for some eagle action though.  This eagle flew in and delivered some lunch, perched for just a few minutes, and was off again.  I decided to head to the other nest, which wasn’t too far away.1-19newnest copyI was far enough south, I just had to head due west to the other nest.  I was rewarded by being able to get a couple of photos in before this eagle hunkered down on the nest.  I usually can’t resist taking a lot of pictures of the nest with only an eagle head showing, and then they aren’t really usable pictures.  But I resisted doing that, so it seemed like I was just standing there doing nothing for quite a while.  I watched cars stop and take pictures out the window, and a truck pass a school bus and nearly drive it off the road.  There is a lot of traffic on that road and I don’t think it was designed for it.  People honk and wave, I get tired of squinting into the camera.1-19oldnest1 copyThere always seem to be vultures circling overhead, and until now I’ve had to stare at them to try to decide if they are eagles.  But when it really is an eagle he makes a bee-line for the nest, no soaring for him.  And when I see one flying I usually focus on the nest to catch him as he lands, but so far that hadn’t happened.  I saw this one flying in, and when he didn’t show up on the nest I looked and spotted him nearby.  He posed a bit and flew off again without landing on the nest.1-19eagleposeAgain I saw him flying, and again I focused on the nest… and, you guessed it.  He landed a lot farther away, and I considered walking down to get better photos of him, but then I wouldn’t have a shot of the nest, so I stood my ground.1-19secondpose copy

I had been there standing at the side of the road for quite a while by then.  I was tempted to leave, but the longer I was there it seemed to me that it he’d be back soon, possibly as I walked back to the car.  So I stayed, and it paid off.  He must have been a hero when he landed with his prize.  Mom didn’t stick around to enjoy it though, she was off to spread her wings…

1-19return21-19return3copy1-19return1copy1-19finalecopy