birds, blessings, Florida wildlife, live and learn, nature, nesting, Owls, perseverance, photography, technology

Update from Philippe Park…


I am revisiting the owl photos from Phillippe Park which were posted in February because there is news to report.  When I heard that there was an owlet at the park I headed there asap, and because of how wonderfully birders share their information I was able to find the tree.  The nest was surrounded by photographers most every day, present, but respectful of the nest.  They dubbed this owlet Charlotte, they alternate male and female names every year.  So this might have been new to me but it’s an annual event.  I only went there to photograph the owlet twice, and shortly after the second visit the photographers reported that Charlotte had fallen out of the tree and scratched her eye.  She was taken to Sarasota for rehab, and several unsuccessful attempts to return her to the nest ensued, and there was much debate among birders as to whether she should have been taken from the nest at all.  But there is good news to report.  She was recently returned to the nest area in Philippe park and is reported to have a parent with her in the trees.  All of my info is second hand, or actually third hand, but I choose to be happy and hope that that owl has a long life ahead of her in that beautiful park.

Looking for photos of the owlet has reminded me that I have never set Lightroom in my computer to fully take advantage of the abilities of the program to organize your photos.  You can tag your photos, and then a search for ‘owls’ would have brought up all my owl photos.  You can rate your photos as they are imported into your computer, or you might choose to color code them, and Jeff, fearless leader of the group, talks about how quickly he can find a photo he might be looking for among his thousands of photos.  But I’m a beginner, and he also talks about the silly things that beginners think they need to do.  Like delete unusable photos one by one, when it’s also possible to tag the photos you will eventually delete and then purge them in one fell swoop.  It drives me crazy when he talks about beginners and the silly things that they do, mostly because it’s as if he has been reading my mind.  A little, or possibly a lot of organization is needed, I see that now.  Alas, I don’t have new photos to share, but these are the ones I used previously.2-15winglet2-15owletvignette12-15owlet42-15owlet32-15owlet22-15owlet13-7owls83-7owls73-7owls63-7owls23-7owls33-7owls4

birds, egrets, Florida wildlife, nature, on closer examination, photography, sunrise

An Aripeka morning…

Someone new rode up on a  bicycle when I was at Hammond’s Creek Bridge this morning.  I told him that the last biker who showed up for the sunrise cracked open a Budweiser to drink while he watched the sunrise.  He laughed and said that he was waiting for the bait shop to open so he could get coffee.  Coffee?  Good to know.5-18HDRbaitshop5-18HDRskylightI got home to find a new post-sitter out back, so of course I went out for pictures.  A beautiful Great Egret who posed like a champ, long enough for me to notice the moth/butterfly, a Skipper I think, in the grass at the bottom of my yard.  It was in the weeds really, enjoying the tiny flowers.  I had the big lens in the camera, plus the extender, and this little thing was at least 20 feet away, which let me take it’s photograph.  I never saw one closely enough to see that curly tongue, or proboscis as a cousin’s grandson recently corrected his brother, he’s using to gather pollen is amazing.  Mother Nature is always amazing.


backyard visitors, birds, Cranes, ducks, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Severe weather alert…

I didn’t start work until 9 AM yesterday, enough extra time in the morning for me to notice a hawk on the post out back and head out with the camera.  The hawk had taken off, but there was a black and white bird out there that didn’t look familiar.  Merlin said it was a Merganser, which I thought were all black, but the info said that they can be anything from all white to all black.  I guess it’s that fleshy orange nose piece that sets them apart.  It was a pretty bird though, another one I didn’t think I’d seen before.5-15muscovy5-15muscovy2

By the time I finished work I had a severe weather alert on my phone when I picked it up to head home.  But that message goes away when you unlock the phone and I seldom look to see what exactly we might expect as far as severe weather goes.  And that’s because it (almost) never materializes.  Like the boy that cried wolf, those messages are easily ignored, and yesterday was no exception.  Apologies to anyone who really did have some ‘weather’ yesterday, I realize that my view of the world is rather limited.  (Fast forward to Weds. morning and I see that all my northern friends and relatives had much worse weather than we did.  Hoping all are well.)

Perhaps the Sandhill cranes pay more attention to the weather than I do, because I was surprised to see them on a lawn as I drove through the neighborhood heading home.  I took some iPhone photos and headed home thinking they’d soon be out on the lake, coming back earlier because of the weather.  I was hearing thunder by then.  The hawk was back on the post, just as he had been that morning.  And one of the adult cranes took exception to that Merganser and chased him off.  Nice when the photo ops come to you on a severe weather alert sort of day.5-15colts15-15colts25-15colts45-15hawk

birds, Florida wildlife, learning, nature, perseverance, photography

The Florida Scrub-jay…

Florida Scrub-jays stand as the only bird endemic to Florida. They live in a rather limited environment of scrub oak in central Florida, an environment that is threatened by development, and their populations are isolated.  They attract birders from all over who come to see them, possibly because when they aren’t threatened they can become very tame, landing on heads, arms, and hands to get food.  Charming as that is, feeding them can cause them to breed earlier in the year, and consequently their young may hatch before the caterpillars that make up their main food source are plentiful in the late spring and summer.

The young stay with their families for a year and help raise the young.  They cooperate by having one stand watch for hawks while the rest of the family hunts for food.  The oldest recorded Florida Scrub-jay was 15 years old, having been banded in 1975 and again in 1990.  They bury thousands of acorns per year, and some of those will germinate and so they help disperse a variety of oak trees.  But they are considered a threatened species, and efforts are being made to preserve their habitat.

Scrub-jays were our first objective and first stop on the photo safari we were on on Friday.  And it was looking as if we would strike out since nothing much as happening at first.  But they were described as ‘curious’, and after a little bit we started to see them on the wires.  We had a few nuts with us, and much to my amazement they did come to us, landing on our heads and hands.  I wasn’t ready for how quick they were, grabbing a nut and then flying off to the ground with it.  What a treat it was to see them, another main objective of the day that came to pass.5-12scrub25-12scrub35-12scrubjay5-11Larryscrubjay25-11Larryscrubjay.jpg

The brown on this guy’s back and head indicates that it is a juvenile.  Such a treat to have him land on your head or your hand.   And not poop on you, that part was nice too!  I’ve been holding off on this post until I got the pictures of me, and today I did.  The whole day was fun, but this was a special treat.Meandscrubjay2closescrubMeandscrubjay

birds, Florida wildlife, live and learn, nature, nesting, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, pond creatures, Tricolored heron

Venis rookery…

When I first heard the term ‘rookery’ I thought it meant an official facility of some sort.  I didn’t expect that it was just an island in a small body of water that had been selected by the wild birds, lots of wild birds, as the place to nest and raise their young.  Don’t bother trying to google this place because it wouldn’t come up for me, but luckily for me my big day of photo ops included a stop here.  It was worthwhile even if I didn’t see the alligator that my friend insisted was right there in front of me.  I guess I was too busy looking at the birds.

I didn’t see what creature jumped into the water as this Tri-color Heron zeroed in on him.  But what I did see was the heron walking along the edge of the water towards me, coming almost too close to me for me to be able to fit him in the picture with the zoom lens I had in the camera.  I kept taking pictures, and it was only later that I realized that he was following the trail of bubbles that his prey was leaving, probably without realizing it.  5-12great15-12hotpursuit25-12hotpursuit3The trail of bubbles led away from me, and at last glance the heron was still following, hoping for dinner.  Or possibly desert…

My recent photo excursions have had me distracted from the Sandhill crane family that lives on my lake.  So much so that I hadn’t even done a head count in a couple of days.  I’ve missed several perfect opportunities by letting Ozzie out and discovering that they are right out back, and they head to the other side of the lake before I can get the camera out.  At least I know that they are all present and accounted for, as of last night that is.  And growing fast!5-13longlegs5-13longlegs2


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.

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


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


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


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