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.

 

 

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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.

bugs, nature, photography

Tangled webs…

Recently I was excited to photograph my first spider web, although it was disappointing to see the web appear so dense that you couldn’t see the strands that made it up. Well, ‘be careful what you wish for’, they say.  Little Miss Muffet got quite the surprise when she let Ozzie out 5;30 AM the other morning. The outside light was on, perfectly illuminating a spider web in a tree just off the patio, eye level and only a few feet away.  And with a big brown spider sitting right in the middle of it. Of course I had to take pictures, even if I was late getting ready for work. The photo shoot came to a screeching halt when the spider ran down the web, appearing to be running right at me! I can take a hint, he’d had enough.  And I was happy to oblige.muffet1muffet2muffet3

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bugs, dragonflies, lizards, losing battles, nature, photography, sunrise

Little jungles…

I think that having the out of control weeds out front whipped into shape was a good move, even if I did have it done immediately before a hurricane. But now it’s past time to mow again already. I have a section of lawn with those tall seed stalks waving in the breeze, and I found myself standing among them as I waited for the dogs to finish wandering around last night. Which is when I noticed a little yellow dragonfly landing on one, and then another, of the tall stalks of grass. Of course I had my phone with me so I started trying to get a picture, and then went in for my DSLR, and back outside again. Then I remembered to try my phone using the macro feature in the Camera + app. If I was a serious photographer I could have laid down in the grass for a better angle, or maybe I could take a yoga class so I could at least bend over a little more freely. I think the dogs love it when I have the camera out there because they can run amok and I don’t notice.

But after noticing all the dragonflies, pretty butterflies/moths (I’m not sure which), and tiny lizards enjoying my overgrown lawn I’m going to feel badly when I do mow. I see things fly up out of the grass while I’m on my riding mower, but I haven’t ever really looked at them before. They have had to contend with all the same crazy weather that we’ve had to deal with all summer, plus me on my mower. Sorry little creatures.littlejungle3littlejungle5littlejungle6littlejungle7littlejungle8littlejungle9