backyard visitors, birds, dogs, finding my way, Florida wildlife, home, memories, nature, photography

Missing the boat…

I may have missed the boat as far as seeing the crane family heading off the lake goes, for the sake of catching them close-up (with the big lens) I mean, but later that morning there were some birds out back who needed their photos taken.4-19reflect4-20Greatwhiteegret4-20ibis4-20littleblue

Then I headed to church at 4 PM and thought I could catch the cranes on their return, but they were already on the lake when I went in to pick up the camera.  Again, pretty far away from my vantage point, even with the zoom lens.  Which is probably why I got distracted by the dogs, who were the only other creatures out there at the time.  They went down to the lake to drink, Zoe walking in chest deep, and Ozzie lifting his head with lots of drool dripping down.  And there was a nice breeze, whipping said drool all around.  It was pretty much the most interesting thing going on out there…4-21zoe4-21drool14-21drool2Zoe will be 13 on May 1st and, sadly, her age is starting to show.  I’ve had to haul her to her feet several times recently.  Or maybe I didn’t have to, maybe I just hated seeing her struggling and was afraid she would hurt herself.  She is older than I am now, in dog years of course.  Though I’ve traveled back to my pre-teen years mentally and I’m enjoying it there so much that I’m thinking of staying…

backyard visitors, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, pond creatures, Tricolored heron

Assumptions…

I frequently assume I know what’s going to happen next, based on what has happened in the past, and I’m frequently wrong.  But not this time.  When I first noticed that the Sandhill cranes had taken their newly hatched chicks off the lake this morning I wasn’t surprised.  Last year’s family had only spent one full day on the lake before doing the same thing.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to go one block over to look for them, and then I went anyhow.4-18close-up4-18close-up24-18close-up3And waiting for them to come ‘home’ at night is a lot like waiting for your teenagers to come home on the weekends.  They show up just as you are starting to panic.  They wander down from the yard across the street, heading for the lake.  It was a lot later than I expected, not until 5:40, and they didn’t seem to dawdle, it was time for Dad to fly over to the nest and clear out all the interlopers.4-18dadtakesover4-18dadtakesover24-18dadtakesover3Dad then led the charge to the nest.  Day two for the new family…

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…

backyard visitors, birds, bugs, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, home, nature, nesting, photography

The vigil…

You’ve heard of waiting for paint to dry?  Well, waiting for Sandhill crane eggs to hatch is just as bad.  I don’t know why I’ve gotten it into my head that it will be any second now.  Of course it won’t happen until I’m at work on Monday or Tuesday.  But a girl can hope.

But what I did get to see was a new bird to me, a Great Crested Flycatcher.  Just ask Merlin, he’ll tell you.  It is not easy to find these birds with the 600mm lens on the camera.  You see them fly in, but you have to zoom out to find them the tree, then zoom in to get a better picture, and then focus manually since autofocus doesn’t work with the extender.  Most of the time they don’t stay still that long.  But once in a while you get lucky.4-13yellow birdWhat was easier to see was the Red-shouldered hawk couple who were feeling amorous out on the telephone pole out front.  Of course I got the camera but was too late to capture any of that action.  I did see one of them swoop down and it looked as if he was going for the head of my new neighbor across the street.  He was mowing his lawn with earphones in his ears and totally missed the whole thing.  So did the hawk, thankfully.4-14hawk14-14hawk2

There is no picture to illustrate the snake that scooted into the water when I was out trying to cut the grass at the bottom of the slope at the very back of my property.  I thought black racer, no big deal.  But as he slithered into the water I realized he was shorter and fatter than they are, and a water snake.  I just saw a chart of the poisonous and non-poisonous snakes that live here.  I’m almost afraid to find that again.

And I got new information about the Sandhill crane family that I saw yesterday.  My neighbor was in the same traffic jam I was in, except she was going in the opposite direction.  And the traffic had come to a halt because that little family had already crossed all five lanes of traffic before I ever saw them,  And while the first baby to reach the curb jumped up and onto the grass nicely, the second one kept falling back into the gutter.  My neighbor was having a heart attack watching helplessly.  She said it took five or six tries for him to get up and join the rest of the family.  Some time ago I had read that you don’t see the Sandhill crane chicks often because the parents keep them secluded.  I wish that was more true than it seems to be, in my neighborhood at least.  So I told her the same tale, but from my perspective, and she said, “Sue, you ought to write a blog.”  Hmm, what a good idea…

4-14dragonfly14-14dragonfly24-14dragonfly3Apparently the dragonflies will be putting on a show for me whenever I’m out there.  Nice of them.

backyard visitors, birds, Florida wildlife, nature, perseverance, photography

Red-shouldered hawk…

The popcorn had just started popping when I noticed a hawk fly up from the ground and land in a tree just to the edge of my yard.  When the popcorn was finished I told myself that he wouldn’t still be there, but I couldn’t resist going out and looking for him.  And I was surprised that he was still there, and I took a few pictures.  I think that by concentrating on him I may have disturbed him and he flew to a lower branch closer to the pond.  That’s when I switched out my lens to the 600mm with the extender, and got the tripod and walked all the way down to the edge of the water to see if I could get more pictures.  Obviously I did, and the overcast sky did wonders for the light.  I didn’t think the weather would hold up for a trip out that night so getting these photos was a nice surprise.  According to Merlin this is a juvenile Red-shouldered hawk, and he eventually flew across the lake, he must have wanted more privacy…3-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk53-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk3-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk23-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk3

adventure, backyard visitors, birds, chickens, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, unintended images

Surprise…

I don’t know who was more surprised, me or the chickens.  I had gone out the back door with the 600mm lens on my camera intending to take a couple of photos of the cranes  who have nested out there.  I didn’t expect to see my neighbor’s chickens out there, and clearly they weren’t expecting me either.  When I attempted to put the camera on the tripod I realized I’d brought out the wrong tripod, so for the heck of it I tried a couple of hand held shots of the chickens.   The camera was zoomed all the way out, and since those shots seemed clear enough I attempted to aim out at the cranes, and that’s when I couldn’t hold it steady.  It was impossible.3-22chicken23-22chicken1

I headed out the door again, with the correct tripod this time, and saw what I knew from photographs to be Swallow-tail Kites zooming around out there.  I hadn’t seen them on the lake before so I concentrated on them as they finally landed in a tree across the way. First one landed, and then her mate landed also.  I cropped these photos past where they should have been for clarity sake, but I wanted to see what was actually happening out there.  I believe that the second one to land brought a lizard to the other one.  The recipient stayed and posed in the tree for a bit, but the other one was off again immediately.  And then they both were gone.  I’m so glad I was ready with the camera since I don’t know if I expect to see them out there again.  3-22swallowtail43-22swallowtail53-22swallowtail23-22swallowtail3Maybe if you are taking a photograph of a still life scene you have the luxury of composing your photo.  It seems I’m always the last one to know what I’ll wind up shooting on any given day, but I’m not complaining.