a second look, backyard visitors, bugs, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography

Hummingbird moth…

You are not only going to have to indulge me a little with this post, but you’ll have to use your imagination also.  There I was, just heading out with Ozzie to check the mail and something caught my eye.  I see enough posts of birds and insects that when I saw this creature I knew instantly what it was, and that when I see posts about them people are quite excited to see them.  So I was excited, but didn’t have a camera with me, or even the phone.  I know Ozzie thinks I’m nuts when I suddenly make a mad dash into the house, but he’s used to me.  Lately I’ve been less than successful with what I have thought to be my easy, and unbeatable, iPhone technique to catch butterflies.  Lock your focus in on a flower about three feet from your camera, then chase the butterflies around shooting bursts.  I get a LOT of photos that way, but usually some are usable.  But this moth was as hard to capture as an actual hummingbird.  He zoomed frantically around the flowers, his wings especially never stopped moving, and he liked to hide in the depths of the plumbago.  At best these photos only prove that yes, I did see what I thought I saw.  And you know what, most of the images of these things that I’ve seen online aren’t a lot sharper.  So these are as good as it gets.8-4moth58-4moth48-4moth38-4moth28-4moth1

Of course I googled them and they appear in warm climates and like honeysuckle type flowers.  Excuse me while I go check the honeysuckle growing on my neighbor’s shed…

bugs, butterflies, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, flowers, gardens, nature, on closer examination, photography, the big picture

Let me tell you ’bout…

…the birds and the bees, and the flowers and the trees…

So happy for friends, and for completely different reasons.  One has a brand new rescue puppy to love, and another is reuniting with his grandkids.  As well as happy for myself, with a day of different photo ops ahead of me.  It’s a good news kind of day!5-10dragonfly5-10gazebo5-10butterfly5-10traingarden25-10traingarden5-10bee35-10bee15-10snakeAnd a snake, which isn’t good news but is tolerable news when it is a black snake, so harmless, and running away from me.  Those were busy bees, buzzing away.  And I assume that those orange sacks are full of pollen.  I’ve been hearing about them but hadn’t seen that for myself before.  Guess they were having a good day too!

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.

birds, boats, bugs, eagles, egrets, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, Jenkin's Creek, nature, photography, sunset

No-See-Ums…

I couldn’t see them so I can’t show them to you, but they are the biggest take-away from last night’s sunset trip to Jenkin’s Creek.  I had doused myself with bug spray just in case, so what they attacked was my face and scalp.  Imagine trying to hold the camera steady while your scalp is stinging and things are crawling on your face.  Figures that there were photo ops a-plenty so I’ll probably go again sometime, when the memory fades a bit.

I expected a wood stork and wasn’t disappointed, but he made himself scarce pretty quickly.1118woodstorkThere were kayakers and boaters to watch.  I thought this guy came in a little fast and might crash into the bridge or get tangled in the fishing lines, neither of which happened.

1118baoterI would prefer to think I’d have noticed the eagle on my own, but thankfully it was pointed out to me by a fisherman.

1118eagleLong ago I took pictures from the observation tower in Linda Pederson Park across the street, and I got mad because you have power lines across your sunset pictures.  The tower is closed now, hurricane damage I assume.

1118observation towerThe egret stole the show though.  I think he liked posing, he sure stuck around and did his part.1118egret21118egret31118egret41118egretcloseAnd the sunset.  Always the sunset…1118sunsetcheck1118sunset2

bugs, butterflies, Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Preserve, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, nature, photography, spider webs, unintended images

Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge

The Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1941, is comprised of over 31,000 acres of saltwater bays, estuaries and brackish marshes at the mouth of the Chassahowitzka River. The refuge, located approximately 65 miles north of St. Petersburg, FL, was established primarily to protect waterfowl habitat and is home to over 250 species of birds, over 50 species of retiles and amphibians, and at least 25 different species of mammals, including the endangered West Indian Manatee.

I lifted this description of Chassahowitzka straight off of the internet.  Just a little way up the road from me is such a wonderful natural resource that I probably would never have discovered if not for finding the photography classes offered by Alice Mary Herden at Creative-Nature-Photography.com.

 

 

I had heard of the extensive underwater cave system here in Florida, unfortunately because of the deaths which occur when people without the necessary training attempt to explore the caves.  What surprised me was the access.  An unimpressive staircase to enter a little pond, no bigger than the ‘lake’ in my back yard, is the access to such an amazing system of caves.  It seems like the entrance ought to be more dramatic than it looks.  It’s sad to think that divers have entered and never returned.

But the objective of the day was bat photos, which you won’t find here because none of mine turned out.  “It’s hard to capture the bats in a photo”, said Alice, and she wasn’t kidding.  And an owl would have been nice, maybe next time.  But here is what I did manage to capture.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Zipper spider was my favorite.  I had heard them mentioned before and wanted to ask why they were named that, but once I saw one I didn’t have to ask anymore.  What a perfect time to discover this place, with months of gorgeous weather ahead to explore and enjoy.

bugs, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, learning, nature, on closer examination, photography

Small World…

I probably shouldn’t admit it, but bugs aren’t really my thing. I shouldn’t admit it because on Sunday I went back to the Chinsegut Conservation Center for their Small World Photography Exhibit. The photos were taken by the members of ‘my’ photo group, where we have all learned how to get the best images possible out of our cameras from Alice Mary Herden of Creative-Nature-Photgraphy.com. They took many hikes to find and photograph all the interesting critters to be found there. Personally, I wimped out on most of the hikes, mostly because of work, but even if I was off the relentless heat this summer was enough to keep me inside. But I was in awe of the beautiful images and interesting insects they found.

Fall Exhibit | Small World

But one of the fun things I look for when I go to Chinsegut for classes is a pasture I pass that commonly houses donkeys, goats, sheep, and cows. But not all at the same time, or I don’t think so. Those animals have so much personality, just aim a camera at them, you’ll see.