adventure, birds, Florida wildlife, go with the flow, learning, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Photo safari…

I lost track of how many times I heard the words ‘one more stop’ on Friday’s epic photo journey.  But even though we set out hours before, and were hours away from home, it would be crazy not to stop as we passed by Six Mile Slough and the Celery Fields, not to mention Venis rookery.  It was up to me to stop, or not to stop, so we stopped at them all, and I was glad every time because everywhere we stopped the birds were happy to pose for us.  Did I mention what a nice day it was?  I hope so, because it was, a very nice day.

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Immature Black-crowned Night Hawk, according to Merlin
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Yellow-crowned Night Hawk
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Cattle Egret, and below we see why they are known as Cattle Egrets

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Merlin was stumped on this one, I say male Grackle
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Eastern Mockingbird

 

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Great Blue Heron, I waited for her to stand up to see the eggs, barely, but I had hoped for chicks.
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I never dreamed a Roseate Spoonbill would just fly in and join the fun!
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Female Grackle, common bird, but she did fly in for a close up
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Limpkin, who are responsible for all the open, empty, shells laying along the shore
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Purple Gallinule, my friend was quite happy to see them

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The Great White Egrets were responsible for much gnashing of, well, bills, and all the appropriate sound effects to go with it!

 

adventure, birds, connections, Florida wildlife, friends, nature, neighbors, nesting, Owls, photography, Uncategorized

Burrowing owls…

The only thing better than being lucky in love is being lucky in neighbors.  Well, okay, lucky in love wins out, but not by a lot.  If you are lucky in neighbors you might realize that your neighbor ran his lawnmower across the last several swipes at the bottom of your yard, the part that you are too chicken to do on your lawn mower for fear it’ll tip over.  Or you will be invited to go shooting, photographs that is, and you won’t get home for 12 1/2 hours, but your dog will be well taken care of, your outside lights will be on to light your way when you get home, and your mail, including a Mother’s Day gift, will be sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for you.  

And good neighbors also mean that when you have a chance to go on a marathon photo shoot you can say yes.  It was a ride along for me.  One of my friend’s main goals was to see young burrowing owls before they fledged the nest.  Or in their case the burrow.  I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I’d seen photos of these tiny owls standing beside their burrows in an open sandy field, with scattered shrubs and not much else.  I didn’t realize that the burrows in these fields would be marked off by short sections of white pipe with yellow tape, indicating the perimeter of their area, or that these open lots were in residential neighborhoods.  I hoped we’d see these owls, but for some reason I was dubious.  I needn’t have worried…

5-12burrowingowl5-12burrowingowl3Ah yes, the babies!5-12burrowingowlbaby5-12burrowingowlbaby2Didn’t expect them on the wire…5-12burrowingowlonthewireIn the burrow…5-12burrowingowlpopup5-12burrowingowllonglegs

Merlin said that these owls are characterized by their long legs, which aren’t apparent when they are hunkered down in the burrow, but they are showing here.

I’m a lucky gal every day, but yesterday was special…

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 Largonature.com.

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?

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

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adventure, backyard visitors, birds, connections, Cranes, Florida wildlife, friends, life, life goes on, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Here we go again…

As you can see from the feature photo, our new Sandhill crane chicks have arrived.  To you it’s obvious, but it wasn’t to me when I came home from work to see the adult cranes across the lake with no babies in sight.  I didn’t worry at first, I just grabbed the camera and went out there to look through the telescopic lens.  And as was the case last year, my neighbor was out working on his yard, so I alerted him and we looked together and couldn’t see the chicks.  I don’t know how long it took.  I kept telling myself it was hopeless, and to go in and change out of my work clothes, but still I stayed out there, looking.  There is taller grass out there, greener too, so the little ones might just be out of sight I thought.  And the two adult cranes were feeding pretty close together, more so than usual it seemed, and recognizing that I stuck with it.  And then I finally I spotted one and called to my neighbor to see it.  He spotted the second one a bit later.  Four hours later I finally called it quits for the day.4-16cranes44-16cranes54-16cranes34-16cranesx34-16chicks14-16cranesx3-24-16sailinghomeI had no thoughts of writing a blog when I took a class on how to start a blog.  I had found some photography classes and was trying to learn to use the features of the camera that I had bought on a whim, and was lucky enough to have last year’s crane family to photograph just a month after buying the camera.  I took the blogging class because I enjoyed the people I’d met in the classes, and I thought

]it would be interesting.  So by the end of the class we had the framework of the blog in our computers, but the real incentive to write was to tell the story of last year’s crane family.  If for no other reason but to get the whole saga straight in my own mind.  It’s fourteen months later and my life bears very little resemblance to what it was then.  I’m more ‘connected’ than I was, to new friends, to old friends, and to a larger group of photographers who have expanded my view immensely.   I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the past, enjoying the memories, but I have more faith now that there are memories yet to be made…

adventure, childhood, connections, friends, kids, life, life goes on, memories, photography

Old friends…

There was, after all, a lot to lose. My most treasured memories stem from the neighborhood that I lived in from ages 4 to 9. It doesn’t look at all the same now, it seems to have shrunk. I know this because I drove past it this weekend. I was there to visit with my lifelong best friend, but also to spend a little time at ‘home’. But there was also the fact that a few months ago my sister contacted my constant partner in crime from back in those days. It was a fluke that she spotted him online, and once she messaged me that she had contacted him I was tempted to contact him, but also a little afraid. All my life, it seems, when I would roll out a favorite memory of mine, my mother would jump in and insist that I had it all wrong. I would see it perfectly clearly in my head, but be told that I was wrong. Then when my daughter got to be about 12 or so I found myself in the same situation, my memories being corrected by my daughter. Clearly my memory was suspect. To my mind, back then we were like the kids in the Charlie Brown cartoons, with parents who were vaguely in the background. We were free, to climb trees, and swing on a rope swing out over the river, and there was even a garage roof we used to jump off of, grabbing a young tree trunk that would bounce us up and down a few times before we let let go, and then we would climb back onto the roof to do it again. I don’t recall sneaking to do these things, it was just what we did. If our parents knew it seemed to be okay. Even when my shoe fell off as I rode the rope swing over the river, I only remember watching it float away, I don’t remember going home to confess.

So making contact ran the risk of ruining those memories I’ve hung onto for all these years. To be told I was wrong, or, worse, to be greeted with a blank stare. But from my sister I did know that he remembered us, that much was a plus. But still it took me a month of thinking about it to actually message him, and over the weekend we were finally together. It is at least 60 years later, and those years most definitely have taken their toll on us both, but that cherished connection was still there. I think all the kids who grew up in that neighborhood in the 50s remember it the exact same way. It was a perfect time to be a kid. I thought we ought to climb a tree, but instead we talked, and talked, and talked some more. He told my sister that I was the first girl he ever kissed. I don’t think we said goodbye 60 years ago, we were still so young. But we kissed goodby this time, that same sort of kiss as from 60 years ago. He laughed and said that now I’m the first and also the last girl he’s ever kissed. I still think that next time we meet we ought to climb a tree…4-9Nausetlight

adventure, birds, learning, nature, photography, technology

Emu…

I had a post all written and ready to post this morning.  It was on the Blue Moon that I saw Saturday night, well, actually Sunday morning.  But in Lightroom class on Monday night there was a chuckle over those nighttime shots where the sky takes on all sorts of blue and brown colors.  Then Jeff proceeded to tell us how to get rid of them.  Color me a novice, but I thought those skies looked quite interesting, and was kind of proud of the photos I was going to post.  I will re-edit them in the new and dramatically improved version of Lightroom that just became available today.  And the feature photo has nothing to do with Emus, it’s just one of the few I could crop to long and skinny.

In the meantime I applied some of what I learned to the Emu pictures I took at Gatorland.  Emus are the second largest bird, second to the Ostrich.  They are the largest bird that is native to Australia.  They have tiny little wings and are flightless, but with their strong legs they can reach sustained speeds of 30 mph, and they can jump 7 feet in the air, so they are quite capable of avoiding trouble.  And if they have to fight their feet are powerful weapons.  In zoos they can reach an age of 35 years old.  Their feathers have two shafts from each follicle, which creates the hairlike appearance.  Honestly, I took the pictures trying to get that head on shot, just because I knew it would be silly.  I didn’t expect them to provide a learning tool for Lightroom.  I think we ought to name this one Tripod, and yes, she needs a pedicure…

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