'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, learning, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, road trip

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Field Trip…

This photo walk out of the Chinsegut Conservation Center was a bit of a back to the beginnings trip for me.  Early one morning I saw a Facebook post about a bird photography class that was happening at the center, and I wanted to go.  I had a new digital camera at the time, and was barely functional with it, so I called to see if they had room for one more.  Not only did I begin to learn the camera, but I found friends, and I probably would never have begun blogging without another class that I took at the center later on.  Yes, a coming home of sorts,

But I’m not the nature photographer that my friends are.  Not every walk in the woods leads to great photos, and I confess that the description of this trip left me skeptical about the photos I might get.  So to hedge my bets a bit I got to the center early in hopes of seeing birds at the many feeders there.  And they were there.  A Downey woodpecker, a red-headed (but not cockaded) woodpecker, a summer tanager, and a tufted titmouse pair that entertained me for quite a while.  That meant I could relax and just enjoy the field trip and not worry about the pictures we’d get.11-22feeding11-22redhead11-22downey11-22summertanager11-22summertanager211-22titmouse11-22titmouse211-22titmouse3

Off we went into the woods, and 20 miles in we found the banded trees that indicated the habitat of the red-cockaded family in question.  It was then that I discovered that we weren’t waiting for a flock of these birds to arrive en masse, but just one family.  And the banded trees each had the little holes where nesting activity was potentially happening.  Young males stay with the family helping to raise the young and doing the necessary tending to the nests which keeps the sap running.  The sap is their defense against their nests being raided by snakes.  Clever, don’t you think?11-22habitat11-22thehomeAnd it was a successful trip.  Yes, one of the birds in question did show up and zoom into the hole in the tree and disappeared.  Not one of us got a shot of that.  The leader of the trip said that he felt that that was it, the event was over.  But he had one trick up his sleeve.  He used his phone to play the call of the red-cockaded woodpecker, rather quietly I thought, but it was enough to get this little guy to stick his head out of the nest to see what was going on.11-22peekaboo

No, it wasn’t a dramatic story.  But these are the dramas that are happening all around us everyday, and we are too busy with out own lives to notice.  But when we do take time to notice it doesn’t disappoint.


Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, history, learning, live and learn, nature, perseverance, photography, technology, unintended consequences

History come to life…

I wasn’t expecting a history lesson when I went to join my photographer friends yesterday.  It was to be a hike, and I was welcome to join them.  They hike a LOT, and volunteer at the Chinsegut Conservation Center, and are currently editing/updating a history of the Chinsegut Hill property itself.  So our hike was on property that is not open to the public, but of course we were conscientious and didn’t leave anything behind us, or remove a thing, unless it was ticks.  After a hike they usually remark about how many ticks they have found on themselves afterwards, which is a big reason that I don’t join them often.  “Stay on the paths and you should be all right,” they said, and then the paths disappeared, and on we trudged.

The history lesson concerned the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, which I’d heard of but honestly knew nothing about, but I looked it up this morning.  This turned out to be the most popular New Deal program of the time, 1933-1942, and it provided unskilled manual labor for unmarried young men ages 17-28 during those difficult depression years.  They were provided with shelter, clothing, and food, plus a wage of $30/month, $25 of which was required to be sent back to their families.  They labored on lands owned by local, state, and federal governments, and this program was not only a boon to the men and their families, but also led to an appreciation of the outdoors, and the need to protect our national resources.  Chinsegut Hill benefitted from the labors of these men, who built the buildings on the property plus improved the wonderful acres of natural environment, preserving it to this day.  When Betty and Linda first saw this property it was old and worn, but in pristine condition, buildings intact, dishes on the table, a bible beside the toilet, and equipment in the fields.  As if people had just walked away.  But it was recently vandalized, windows broken, and the buildings are now locked.  As Betty said, nature is reclaiming what was hers in the beginning.

So now you know what you are looking at, if you have stuck with me this long.  And as I have written this it has occurred to me that I forgot to check myself for ticks.  Excuse me…03-26=2019CHINSEGUTHILLBROKENWINDOW03-26=2019ChinsegutHill503-26=2019ChinsegutHill403-26=2019CHINSEGUTHILL303-26=2019CHINSEGUTHILL203-26=2019CHINSEGUTHILL03-26=2019ChinsegutHilltruck

There were a lot more photos I still needed to go through, but I’ve just started saving them to my external hard drive.  It’s getting back to them that’s the problem.  But you get the point.

birds, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography, technology

A stake out…

The first photography photo shoot I ever went on was to the Chinsegut Conservation Center in Brooksville, to photograph birds.  My camera was still new, and I had hardly had used it except to have it set to auto, and that gave me shots that made me happy.  But going to classes encouraged me to try harder and learn more.  Today I put into practice something I learned on that first photo shoot.  The advice was that if you want to photograph birds you must stake out an spot and stay put, eventually the birds will go about their business forgetting you are there.  In the interests of getting a fourth photo to use for the 10 day photo challenge, and hoping for photos for the blog, I did just that.  Not to mention that I got to sit outside and enjoy the glorious sun and blue skies.

1-31yellowrumpedwarbler1-31yellowrumped41-31yellowrumped31-31duck21-31-duckThe Yellow-rumped Warbler was the star of the show out there, giving me a photo for the challenge.  The Mottled Ducks managed to find a spot of sun in the shadows making them look very dramatic I thought.  I cheated a little since the Tri-colored Heron feature photo was taken a few days ago.  I loved it but couldn’t use it, but it was just the thing for today.

And now I’m cheating again because I wrote this yesterday.  Now today I went back out to see the Tri-color Heron, who seems to be the busiest bird out there.  But this image is my 5th day of the challenge photo.  And after I took it I came in, sat in the recliner, and e-filed my taxes.  And I fear that I’ve taken root in this comfy chair, no more photo ops for me today.2-1Tri-color

birds, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida wildlife, flowers, friends, learning, nature, photography, sunset

Photo Adventures…

When you go out for a long day of photography adventures you might come home with not one, but two, dead camera batteries.  And that might result in you having to get up in the middle of the night to sort through your photos to see what you got.

Like birds at the Chinsegut Conservation Center… the Rose Breasted Grosbeak, who isn’t a native but is probably migrating through, the Gray Catbird, and the Yellow-Throated Warbler.Rose Breasted Grosbeak copy1024chinsegutcatbird11024yellowbird

Then you might go on a nature hike, on a trail that our intrepid leader, Alice, says wasn’t on a map but showed up on Google Earth, in search of a surprise find, high on a tree limb.  Green Fly Orchids, growing wild.  She says they are cultivated and sold outside of this country.


Then dinner, and off to another of Alice’s secret spots for the sunset.  What a nice day.  Thanks ladies!


butterflies, Chinsegut Conservation Center, Florida wildlife, flowers, nature, photography

Brightening up a gloomy day…

What is there to do on a gloomy looking day but run errands after work?  And a pedicure, that’ll usually cheer me up.  But my brilliant idea of stopping at the Botanical Gardens on the way home yesterday might not have been the best choice of activity in my flip flops, and with my newly painted toenails.  Picture dirt paths and flip flops.  And it turns out the mosquitos were feasting on my ankles while I was there.  Made getting to sleep last night a chore.  Nevertheless I did manage to get a few photos.1017botanicalflower1017botanicalflower21017botanicalgardenbutterfly

And I also got some photos on Sunday at the Chinsegut Conservation Center when we were there for a photography class.  Really we were learning some of the features of using Lightroom, but new technology and I have a long standing love/hate relationship.

1017chinsegutbutterfly1017chinsegutbutterfly21017chinsegutfrogWhile I’m thinking about frogs this morning I remembered a photo from one of our first trips to Florida after we bought out house here but before we moved down for good.  We were so amazed at this little creature, from a time when we thought, like we all do, that there was all the time in the world…


Chinsegut Conservation Center, coping, growing old, healing, losing battles, memories, natural wonders, nature, photography, solitude

A new you, I mean me…

Nature photography is new to me. For years I thought that cameras were for taking pictures of the grandchildren only, so in a sense I’ve reinvented myself as far as photography goes. Taking photos of sunsets and butterflies are one thing, always beautiful, but a trip to Chinsegut Conservation Center provides more than just the obvious photo ops. A locust chrysalis, which I would never have spotted if it hadn’t been pointed out to me, isn’t pretty, but in reviewing my photos from my trip there it’s the chrysalis that’s on my mind.

Seeing it made me think how nice it might be to just shed your outer, worn out, and thoroughly abused self, and re-emerge as a newer, fresher, you. Or me.  But knowing what you know now so you don’t make the same mistakes over again. Reinventing yourself so as to face a world that reinvented itself while we were busy and not paying attention. A world that dotes on youth isn’t such a friendly place these days. I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m the same person I always was, but better really because getting older really does make you wiser. Easier on yourself. But you don’t look better, just older, and stepping out into the world, this crazy youth-worshipping world, when you left your own youth behind years ago, leaves you where, exactly?

I’ve spent the last three years at home, telling myself that I was happy, but in reality I was using the house as a chrysalis, hiding, safe, because I didn’t know what else to do. And telling myself that I was happy, and loving the privacy. No witnesses, except the dogs and they don’t judge. And now I think wait a minute, is this all I want or need for the rest of my life? And I imagine various Hallmark movie scenarios of what life could be. Then I walk past a mirror and think, who are you kidding?

Mother Nature gets it, at least as far as locusts go. When they have become worn and tired, and have been buffeted around by life a while, they can just shuck their old shell and reemerge as a new and improved version. I’m thinking that I wish people could do the same thing…