a second look, adventure, birds, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, fun, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, road trip

The Lake Apopa Wildlife Drive…

This is a one way drive through some very flat terrain, which I was a little disappointed to see the first time I visited here. When I first moved here it took me a while to get used to how flat all of Florida is. But as you see some wildlife you might like to photograph you can pull to the side of the road and let people pass you while you do your thing. Friends have told me that they felt rushed by the throngs of cars riding through, but this is my third or fourth trip and it’s never been too busy, and we’ve always had a very relaxed time. But be aware there is no shade, so in the heat of the day it might be brutal, but then you are back in your car for a break, so really not too bad. I wondered if going on a holiday weekend might be a mistake, but it was fine. And the weather, well, it couldn’t have been more perfect. We drove with the car windows down and a wonderful, cool breeze coming through. And a curious grackle landed at the open car window, but decided not to hitch a ride.

The tricolor heron that you see in the feature photo had me a bit concerned. He was flitting around, hunting in close proximity to that alligator that was sunning itself on the shore. But he eventually moved to a spot just behind the alligator and continued his flitting around. They hardly ever stay still for very long.

Ospreys enjoying lunch on the top of the posts were a common sight when we first arrived. We saw one suddenly dive into the water, but it didn’t come up with a fish that time. So the rest of our time there we paid attention to ospreys that were circling overhead, but we never did get the shot we hoped for.
Great blue herons were seen all along the road.
Sometimes almost too close to get a shot.
If I hadn’t had the surprise of red-wing blackbirds showing up at my feeders lately I would have been beside myself to see so many of them on the northern portion of the road.
I had to consult with Merlin to ask what this bird was, and the surprise answer was an immature green heron. I would never have guessed that.
These common gallinule chicks were cute, scampering over the rocks to keep up with Mom. I didn’t notice those feet in person!
Still another great blue heron, enjoying the day.
Of course there were dragonflies in the reeds.
I’ve been thinking I ought to get out early on a foggy morning, and see if I can find a pasture with cows and cattle egrets to photograph. There were no cows, and only the bank of the river, but still there were a few cattle egrets to see.
I liked seeing the cattails. They seem like a childhood memory to me, but I’m not sure from where exactly.
This was the only alligator we saw that was sunning himself with his mouth open. Unless he had told himself a joke.

I was told that people get most excited to see alligators when they come to the Florida parks. I know I take pictures of them, but they aren’t what I head out the door in hopes to see. We did see an interesting scene unfolding on this day though. A smaller alligator being followed by a bigger one, and that little(er) one was really swimming fast, as if he had spotted prey up ahead, or else he was the prey being chased by the alligator behind him. Whatever the issue was they disappeared behind us, so we’ll never know how it ended.

attention to detail, backyard visitors, birds, butterflies, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, fun, in the neighborhood, live and learn, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, squirrels, technology

Just because…

Just because I’m ready to sit outside with my camera and enjoy the birds who visit the feeders doesn’t mean that they will actually show up on cue. And just because I have my camera set to take the fastest bursts possible doesn’t mean that I will actually get that great shot of a bird lifting off with its wings spread just so.

I wind up with a slew of pictures of a titmouse holding onto the post, but when the moment finally comes that he takes off it startles me and I take my finger off the shutter and this is the last shot of the burst.
Cute little guy thinks he’s a woodpecker I guess. This feeder gets a lot of attention from more than just the woodpeckers. And it slowed him down a bit. These guys stop just long enough to pick up a morsel and off they go.
I love the backgrounds the bougainvillea gives me for my photographs, but now there is a void in the shrubbery and this vine with big leaves seems to be the reason. It may be taking over, and I have no clue what it is. I’m always afraid it might be poison-something.
Someone else has discovered the woodpecker feeder. But she poses everywhere and all the time.
I walked out in the yard to examine the possibility that bugs were on the flowers out there. And this butterfly cooperated by showing up way up high, but I had my zoom lens plus extender so I was able to get a shot or 20.
Just because I wasn’t at the pond doesn’t mean I wasn’t delighted when this dragonfly showed up and landed in the bougainvillea. I hit the shutter and got a burst of about 40 shots exactly like this one. Doesn’t he just look happy?

I played with the new artificial intelligence features in Photoshop yesterday and it was amazing what you can do. One of my friends said that now no one will believe that the shots that she has worked so hard to get are ‘real.’ Looking at that dragonfly face I can see that someone might question it, but it is ‘just’ a photo. I always hope for a shot of a dragonfly face like that, and to that end I’ve spent a lot of time sitting by the pond, waiting for the magic to happen. And this shot took just a second when I wasn’t expecting it at all. We all put lots of time and money into our photography habit and now something new is on the horizon. I wonder where it will lead…

a second look, black and white, dragonflies, fun, in the neighborhood, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, perseverance, photography

At the pond…

Yesterday afternoon was hot, but the sky was pretty and rain was predicted so I decided to head to the pond to see what the dragonflies were up to. The landscape crew had apparently cut the grass recently, and they cut a lot of the reeds at the water’s edge also, so not so much for the dragonflies to land on. Plus I had taken the extender off the camera so these photos are cropped to a ridiculous degree. That’s when technology helps you out. The camera has a lot of megapixels, plus the new denoise feature in Lightroom helps a lot too. I appreciate a quick walk to the pond now and then when most of our photo ops require an hour’s drive, or more.

Okay, so this is basically what was going on. Dragonflies landing on sticks and holding on.
Sometimes they stand up a bit.
Looks like someone nibbled on this one’s wing.
Wow, orange dragonflies DO land once in a while.
Butt shot of the dragonfly but I liked the details on his perch.
I liked this black and white version of the feature photo. On Sunday we have a class on how to edit your black and white photos, so I’m jumping the gun.
attention to detail, attitude adjustments, backyard visitors, birds, Florida wildlife, fun, in the neighborhood, nature, Natures little dramas, perseverance, photography

Gender issues…

Perhaps it’s not the correct political climate to be trying to figure out who the mated pairs of our backyard birds may be. We have our funny immature somebody in the feature photo. But what got me thinking about this again was the appearance of the female red-winged blackbird yesterday.

I think I saw this bird at the Celery Fields, and I was so surprised to find out it was a female red-winged blackbird. So now I wondered if other bird couples had been visiting.
Her Mr. announces his arrival to be sure you notice him.
The other day Bernie was enjoying all the birds out there when this bird showed up and started sounding off. The two doves who were scavenging on the ground popped their heads up, and all the birds scattered immediately, just as a hawk swooped in through the yard, and only a few feet from the lanai. But the hawk must have found his dinner elsewhere.
So I wondered if the female red-bellied woodpecker had ever shown up, and guess what, this is the female. She has a red nape, while the male has a full crown of red on the top of his head also. I looked though my photos and I think I’ve only seen the female, so far at least. And yes, her first stop is to check out the post before she chows down on the woodpecker cylinder.
This guy’s potential confusion may extend to his pretending to be a woodpecker.
I bought the little cup feeder to hold the meal worms which only attracted the crows to the feeder. So I replaced the meal worms with ‘butter buds’ and they are a hit with everybody, including the crows.
My experiments with ‘precapture’ from the other day were less than successful. But all the gnashing of teeth that I did over the technology must have worked because this photo showed up in Lightroom today. So my efforts the other day weren’t a total waste of time.
Any scattered seeds don’t have a chance to sprout with this grounds crew on duty.

The tufted titmouse has been too fast for me to get pictures lately. But I looked up the male/female identification issue and they are identical. You have to watch their behavior as the males are more territorial than the females. I will keep an eye out when they visit next time. As you have seen it’s been a lot of fun watching the goings on at the feeders. And such nice timing since the action is best at ‘happy hour.’

attitude adjustments, facing facts, life goes on, nothing's easy, perseverance, photography, technology, unintended consequences

I’ve been driven to drink…

The feature photo is something I saw while waiting for a traffic light the other day. It caught my eye because the day before I had dithered over buying this;

Eventually I said “Yes way to the rose”. Don’t take that as a recommendation, it was just okay.
I’ve been through several boxes of this after my friend Rita introduced me to it when I visited her. Nice and light. Summery. And the rose version isn’t bad either.
Happened into Sam’s in time for a wine tasting yesterday. This was so good, fruity, I’d have never looked at the bottle twice. I drank the last glass of the open bottle of ‘Yes way’ last night while I let this chill.
While my guy perused the beer isle at Total Wine I went outside and took pictures of the crazy clouds, then I wandered through Home Goods, and when I checked to see if he was done he was right where I left him in the beer aisle. So I wandered a bit and spotted this, but didn’t buy it.

In this particular case it’s technology that’s driven me to drink. I discovered that my camera will let you take a ‘precapture’. So you focus on a bird and when the action happens you take the shot and half the time you get this;

If you use this new feature you half-press the shutter button while you find your shot, then when to do push the shutter button all the way it takes the photos from a half second before you pressed the shutter. Great, right? So I took a ton of pictures that way the other day. but my software doesn’t want to open them. So this morning I upgraded the software, upgraded the camera firmware, and added a new editing program. And everything fought me as I worked on it. It’s been a long morning and I still haven’t successfully created even one picture. I have wasted half the day, but certainly it must be close to 5 o’clock somewhere…

attention to detail, backyard visitors, birds, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, life goes on, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography

Feeding the birds…

So I went back to Wild Birds Unlimited and spent some more $$$ in an attempt to de-clutter the photos that I take of birds in the backyard. So far it’s the same birds stopping by, but that’s okay with me.

I have to assume that this is an immature cardinal. Not only because it looks a bit silly, even though it does, but that tuft seems to rule out any other conclusion.
This woodpecker feeder is the only new addition, besides the pole to hang it from. Getting the cylinder of woodpecker seed installed was not easy, but we bought the extra cheap version of the holder. I may have to upgrade it eventually. It took the red bellied woodpecker a day or two to find this one.
This little titmouse likes the cranberry cake, and now there isn’t quite so much competition at this cake.
This female cardinal is our most frequent flier, and I suspect she is the ruler of the roost out there.
The littlest birdie out there made a stop at the biggest feeder. Carolina chickadee.
The red bellied woodpecker has been back to this feeder again, so I guess it’s a hit.
The little downey woodpecker discovered this feeder first of all, but I haven’t seen him as often now that the red bellied woodpecker comes around.
See what I mean, a bit silly.
How nice of him to pose for me. As I’m writing this he is on the backside of the feeder and all I can see is his tail.

I took these pictures over the last couple of days and I’ve lost track of whether or not it was early, before the sun comes up enough to be in my eyes, or later on when it’s heading to sunset. It has gotten a lot cooler as it heads to sunset and we’ve been known to sit out on the lanai and just enjoy watching them. While we enjoy a beer or a glass of wine also…