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Rooting her in…

If I’m being honest I can’t say that I went to the horse races on Saturday with much expectation of taking pictures of the races themselves. Short people are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to trying so shoot over the three sets of barriers that separate the onlookers from the track. So I figured I’d shoot the scene, or people, but I didn’t expect to shoot birds.

Now this was a race that a short person could shoot. We had a clear leader until he stopped to peck in the dirt.
So many racetracks.
Before the first race they were hosing down the horses after their walk and this one wanted no part of it, prompting a little girl standing next to me to tell her mother, “That one is being naughty.”
My friend likes to pay attention to the jockey’s faces, so I paid attention too, and I think this jockey wasn’t happy to see his horse being naughty.
We aren’t allowed to go down to the final turn anymore, so this was the best I could do from my vantage point. And the naughty boy didn’t win.
So for the second race we walked up onto a balcony which gave us a better view, and was in the shade! For some reason I had paid attention to the horse and jockey with the red and white striped jacket. And he was first out of the gates.
This was a much better viewing angle at the turn.
It was only when I reviewed the pictures this morning that I actually enjoyed the races themselves, frame by frame. So I was a little disappointed to see the horse and rider I had noticed be overtaken and lose the race.
This was the third race, and when we saw that it was a turf race I hurried back to the balcony or I wouldn’t get any decent shots at all. Little did I know that this would be the race I enjoyed the most. Pay attention to #1, with the jockey in the green jacket and red hat.
As they came around that first turn #1 was holding her own.
As they came closer I thought she was boxed in.
And even more boxed in. This was crazy. I had checked my pictures to look for the winner of this race so I could follow their progress, but now I thought I’d been mistaken.
A horse was pulling away and ‘my’ horse was falling back. But they had to circle the track again, so at this point I stayed upstairs but moved down to have a clear view of the finish line.
And here we are at the finish line. #1 is the winner! I wish I had pictures of how she managed to move through the pack.
Here is our winner, young and female, with a girlish voice, so excited as she hugged the (female) owners in the winner’s circle. Someone in the crowd was wondering out loud if she was riding any more horses that day.
We stayed for one more race. I stood with one foot on a curbing and one on the fence post to take this last shot. Don’t I wish we could stand on the rail where the official track photographer stands.
a second look, adventure, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, live and learn, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, strangers become friends

Huey, Dewey, and Louie…

Not Donald’s nephews, those aren’t the Huey, Dewey, and Louie I’m referring to. Nope, in this case it’s the three owlets from Philippe Park, who, according to the pictures I’ve seen, are now sitting on tree branches posing nicely for photographers. Just not this photographer. While all around me people were exclaiming that they could see all three of them, and remarking about how adorable they were, and ‘oh look, he’s looking right at us’, all I could see was lots of Spanish moss, and not much else.

Eventually we took a break and ate lunch while enjoying this view.
People insisted that I take a picture of the split in the tree. A baby was there they assured me. They were right.
Someone had something to say.
See that blob that this one seems to be talking to? Well, that’s his brother! Or sister!
This was the picture that convinced me that that really was another owlet up there.
As bird babies go I have to admit that these are the cutest of them all.

What to do those other photographers have that lets them get such great pictures? Better equipment? Steadier hands? More patience? Or just dumb luck. Probably all of the above. But I came away unconvinced that I’d gotten much of anything at all so it was another nice day in paradise for me. And a nice chat with a couple of photographers that I met a long time ago, and we are all still taking pictures.

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A Sunday drive…

The weatherman is promising us that we have a week of wonderful weather ahead of us. He especially stressed that Sunday was going to be the best weekend day to be outside, so we took the hint and loaded up the scooter and bike, and lunch, and headed to Wall Springs Park. Apparently all of Tampa Bay had the same idea. I had imagined us riding along side by side and chatting as we enjoyed the scenery, but that didn’t happen. There were constant walkers to dodge, and other, more serious, bikers bearing down on us, or coming up from behind and yelling, “On your left.”

The Pinellas Trail connects to the park also, 45 miles of rail trail that could potentially take you from Tarpon Springs to St. Pete, but you would have to be more energetic than we are. We did ride it a few miles though. Long enough to see neighborhoods I’d love to live in, and a surprise when I would have least expected it. There was a little stream to the right of the trail, and I saw a bird up ahead and saw that it was swishing its bill back and forth in the water before I could see what bird it was. But only one bird that I know of exhibits that behavior, so yes, it was a Spoonie! The near chaos on the trail just a few yards away didn’t seem to be a problem for him at all. We stopped for a minute to take some pictures, I was surprised that no one else seemed to take notice, but it’s a good thing we did because on the way back just a little while later he was nowhere to be seen.

Pedaling along within the park brought us to this pretty scene.
I don’t know the area well enough to know what neighborhood that might be with such pretty views.
My friend is a fisherman so we waited to see what fish this guy was reeling in. A lady fish, or so I’m told.
We stopped to enjoy our lunch at one of the pavilions in the park. We had many palm warblers for company while we ate.
I suspect that the scooter could have gone anywhere in the park, but bikes aren’t allowed on the boardwalks, so after we explored the park we decided to ride the Pinellas trail a while. Which is where we found this guy.
I have hoped to see a spoonie many times, but the thought of seeing one this day had never crossed my mind.

When we got back we charged our batteries to be ready for the next adventure, whatever that may turn out to be. You never know when a brainstorm will arrive.

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Sunset drive…

Our Tuesday camera club meeting always takes place at 6 PM on Tuesday night. The lovely park that we pass by on our way to the meeting is always pretty, but it’s the sunset that changes. Not too long ago the sky was on fire as we approached the park and I worried that I’d miss the sunset completely. This week’s meeting at 6 PM had us early for the sunset, but not too early for the sky to be amazing. So I held my phone out the car window and kept the burst button down. If you are a photographer, whether a pro or just for fun, you are used to going through a LOT of pictures to find the few that you like a lot. In this case there was an unusual amount of photos taken, but as long as I find a couple to use I’m happy. Life is good.

A possible proposal?
Love the clouds.
I was inside for the sunset itself, I’ll bet it was gorgeous.
I would imagine that someone enjoyed the sunset on one of these benches.
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An eagle’s lament…

I am taking liberties here with my interpretation of this visit with the eagles. We were on our bike and scooter this time, our second outing, and got in another 5 miles. We decided to see the eagles and then continue onto the Anclote Coastal Trail to see where it went. So we expected to find the eagles, but I didn’t expect to find another friend who I first met on this very same quest, in this very same place, four (?) years ago. She had been watching for a while and said that nothing much had happened, not even a feeding so far. And that set the tone for my interpretation of what was going on as we watched.

The feature photo has Mom in the tree, scanning the area in hopes of spotting Dad, who had been sent out to bring back breakfast, but it was now going on lunch time.

From the look of it Mama was none too happy about the goings-on in the nest below.
This youngster was getting restless and soon would wake up its sibling.
A word, or maybe it was that stern look, from Mama calmed him down, for a moment.
But when she turned to scan the skies he was at it again.

We moved on without any more activity than what you have seen. It was time to ride. I’ve gone 10 miles on my new electric tricycle so far and my pedaling must be fairly efficient since I still have four of the five bars of battery life left. I confess it is nice to just cruise along under power here and there. But I need to watch where I’m going because I thought I spotted dear old Dad up in a tree a distance from the nest, and as I turned for a better look I let the bike drift to the right and very nearly drove my friend off the path. Oops. It was a very nice day, pedaling along without any actual disasters…

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Birds do it!

We made a few stops over the last few days, just to see if any nesting was happening, and boy was it ever. There was some hanky-panky, but modestly in the bushes where I couldn’t get a picture. Just as well probably. But I did capture a few moments…

This black-crowned night heron was doing it’s thing, but out in the open instead of hidden in the greenery on the shore.
Mama duck seems to have gotten a head start on all the nest builders in the area.
those are cormorants in the tree. They also are ahead of their counterparts if you can believe the other photographers who said that they are feeding babies up in the tree.
Which came first, the cormorants or the turtles?
This egret was doing the usual egret thing.
But this egret was saying, “Look at me!”
“I feel pretty, oh so pretty.”
Perhaps she feels shy after such a public display.
A dog walker asked me what the birds she was seeing were. I identified the wood storks, egrets, and cormorants, but then she asked, “What about the pink one?” And sure enough, down in the shrubbery I saw a flash of pink, so I took a lot of pictures that didn’t turn out. But then he flew into a tree.
Could he be looking for nesting material?
Spoonies are usually wading in the shallow water and swinging their bill back and forth to find taste treats to eat.
He posed for just a little while and then flew off, out of the area.
I think Ms.Wood Stork is telling her hubby to avert his eyes!
Then they burst into song.

Just getting out for pictures is usually enough of an incentive for me. But our new bike and scooter mean we can zip around like a couple of kids, and not fall over. Though I did come close to crashing into my friend when I thought I saw an eagle. Oops…