adventure, attention to detail, birds, brainstorms, connections, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, natural wonders, perseverance, photography, road trip, technology

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive…

This place has been on my mind to visit for a while now. It’s not a place to go in the summer when the sun is relentless, even if you are driving and hopping in and out of the car for pictures all day. As it turned out this particular day was quite windy, and therefore chilly, but I thought it was a great location to take my friend and her new camera with its great zoom.

This first gator view was across the water. I thought my friend might be freaked out, but she was too busy taking pictures to panic.
I loved the little grebe.
Anhingas, they are everywhere,
The colors on this grackle caught our eye. Shot through the windshield. Apparently the camera ignored the dirty glass, isn’t technology grand?
Ibis, in formation.
An Osprey hunting. I have no idea why the sky was so dark in this shot.
Did the osprey find his lunch? This one did anyhow.
A snowy egret, with her golden slipper on display.
A tricolor heron, pausing for a moment in the sun.
Merlin says that this is a Wilson’s Snipe. A first for me!

We drove home and stopped at our favorite, and only, place to get a ‘South Shore Pizza’ here in Florida. Kathy agreed it was up to par. I left Brockton, MA at age 20, and longed for this fabulous pizza ever since, always being sure to visit the Cape Cod Cafe when I’m ‘home’. Now I can get one whenever the urge strikes!

'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, blessings, connections, friends, fun, life, life goes on, Loyalty, making memories, perseverance, photography

Bosom buddies…

I have had a visitor this last week, and I have loved every minute of it. Because I’m rather camera obsessed, my biggest objective was to get her out to use her new camera with it’s fabulous zoom capabilities. At home, home being NH, she said that there was a lack of color everywhere, including on the birds at her feeders who are in subdued winter colors. So she traveled all day the day before, and then we got her out to the race track the very next day. Racing back and forth, and up and down stairs, a busy first day of her visit. Lots of color and photo ops there.

Green grass was nice to see, she said.
I love the ‘They’re off’ sorts of shots.
We trekked to the farthest corner to attempt to photograph the horses as they were racing right toward us. Head on shots.
I had spotted this gorgeous gray horse as they passed by heading to the gate for this race. And there he (or she) is, crossing the finish line first! And with all four feet off the ground, something you can just cross your fingers to catch in your photos.
And here is the happy winner. It seems we see a female jockey win her race every time we are at the track. I wonder if it’s always the same talented gal.
I caught this jockey blessing himself before his race, which is a good idea I think.

I am a lucky person to have had a best friend who spans 7 decades of my life. We have been friends through the many wonderful times of our lives, and even more cherished is the fact that we have also been there for the most difficult days we could have imagined. This is just our latest visit, there will be more, next will probably be back in New England. Always where I call home…

a second look, adventure, attention to detail, birds, Circle B Bar Reserve, connections, eagles, egrets, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip, technology

The Gray Ghost…

There you have it, the inspiration for many a photographer to head to Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s a Northern Harrier, and I didn’t expect to see it at all. Or ever. We were on our last stretch of trail, which is wide open to see the sky in all directions, but our intention was to make it back to the car before the battery in the scooter gave out. But we forgot all about that when we saw this bird, circling in the distance. I zoomed my lens to the full 400mm, but in the bright light and at that distance I couldn’t see if it was in the frame or not. But I took the shots anyhow. I’ve seen photographers standing with their cameras on their tripods, just waiting, hoping to see him. If they did I’m sure they got better pictures than this, but for my circumstances I’ll take it.

This Pied-Billed Grebe was a first to see here also, but one visited my lake a few years ago.
You’ve heard of a bump on a log…
Heading out on this trail with all it’s roots may be what challenged the battery of the scooter, but now we know where to look for the eagles.
We never did figure out what this egret was so intent on, but we all passed by not 8 feet away and he didn’t even flinch.
Another photographer asked what bird this is, and I answered that it was a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Then she turned around and proved me right.

It was a fun day, but I crashed when I got home and sat down. It wasn’t a nap, I was done for the day. Now to check out some more of the 1334 pictures from yesterday. I was shooting in the fastest burst mode of the new camera, which is great if the bird takes off or something. But when they are still you just have the tiniest little eye blinks or head tilts to decide which is your best shot. But I’m not complaining.

'scene' along the way, adventure, antiques, attention to detail, attitude adjustments, blessings, connections, exploring new places, finding my way, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, life goes on, live and learn, making memories, perseverance, photography

A Holiday Stroll…

And then we strolled through the Henry Plant Museum that was all decorated for Christmas. A fellow photographer says that he has been to this event twice before, and it’s never the same thing twice. I would love to come back again next year…

Santa is there to greet you as you’re buying your tickets. It’s so overwhelming to see those lovely rooms, the carpets, the wall hangings, and the lovely pieces of furniture.
Then you step into the hall, with doorways all along the length, and a beautiful tree to draw you in. Look at the carpet, and all the displays all along the way. I tend to think in terms of the pictures to take, which sometimes makes me miss the lovely details that I’m photographing.
The beautiful Christmas tree sitting at the end of the hall was lovely.
Now I don’t know what order the rooms were seen in. But if I remember correctly this room was first one I saw, and then I knew this event was something truly special.
Just passing from room to room was a treat.
Who wouldn’t love the bottle tree.
My friend totally missed Santa’s elves in a display case in one of the rooms. Or was it in the hallway?
A lovely bedroom display. A beautiful display of fans to decorate the tree.
This doorway gave us a peek into the gift shop.
I wonder if they got new hats for Christmas?
Nutcrackers on display.
Even the teddies got presents. I also took a picture of the tea set which is when I noticed the little lizard, or possibly it’s an alligator, on the teacup and decked out in a bow.
One room was dedicated to Florida’s role in the Spanish American war…
But Christmas was also represented here.
This suggestion of a soldier writing home really got to me…
This room was dedicated to women’s pastimes, which included accompanying their husbands at fishing or hunting. But also suggested relaxing with a cup of tea or listening to a concert out on the lawn.
What a wonderful way to celebrate, and think of the Christmas traditions of long ago.

We decorated the tree with decorations that we each have accumulated over the years. A real collaboration. We spent the first Christmases of our lives in the same place, without ever meeting, and then life took us to different places through the years, but now we are spending Christmas in the same place again. But together this time. And I have to say that the Christmas spirit has found me again, and I’m very glad that it’s back.

'scene' along the way, a second look, blessings, boats, connections, food, friends, fun, go with the flow, let it go, perseverance, photography, sky, sunset, technology

Hitting the road, continued…

Day two had us waking up to news of the flooding and storms in the Midwest, and I wasn’t so sure that we wouldn’t have to drive right through that weather. We did, but only for a short time and then we seemed to be skirting it as we continued. The weather on day three was great, and we reached our destination just in time to enjoy our first bowl of clam chowder in Plymouth, MA. Two tired people walked out of the restaurant and into some beautiful sunset color, and there we were without our cameras, but the best camera is the one you have with you and we are never without our iPhones. Looking at the photos in the iPad this morning and I was amazed. I hope they look as nice to you.

Boats and water, which we see all the time in Florida, but somehow it just screams New England.
I’ve forgotten if the ship is the Mayflower 2, but you see it’s masts breaking the horizon line.
Oh my, tired as we were I knew we had to enjoy this view for a little while.
I liked this little bridge.
Boats were returning to the launching area, but others were just being put into the water also.
Such pretty clouds.
And finally it was time to get some rest.
'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, blessings, connections, finding my way, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, live and learn, nature, perseverance, photography, strangers become friends

Flappers…

I never thought of myself as particularly OCD, but it seems I am when it comes to my photos. I always want to use them in the order in which they were taken. And God forbid that I went out for pictures and then happened across a situation where I got more and ‘better’ pictures afterwards. That’s what constitutes a dilemma for me. So I already had pictures from the Tampa rookery when I left for my recent trip to NH, and I only got around to looking at the rookery pictures today. They are from Mother’s Day, judging by the ducklings in the feature photo. Would anyone have known that these aren’t current pictures? Of course not, but I know they aren’t current and it bothers me. But not enough to just chuck them and go out for newer pictures.

Do you think she was counting heads? There were 14 of these little cuties at the time. I haven’t seen them since to see how many are still tagging after mom.
I don’t know that I’d ever have noticed this juvenile black crowned night heron chick if another photographer hadn’t pointed it out to me. It stayed on that branch the whole time we were there, so I went back and took more pictures of him every now and then, but he mostly just sat there.
I thought he just sat there but then I came across this picture.
This rookery has some birds I don’t commonly see, such as this young glossy ibis. I was fully prepared to call him a reddish egret until I noticed that long, curved beak.
The reason there seems to be so many tricolor herons at this rookery is probably because many of them are juveniles who are flapping their wings and zooming around the area.
Not to be outdone in the flapping department is this juvie wood stork, who still yells for his Mama.
This snowy egret isn’t so flappy as it is fluffy.
Note the ‘golden slippers’, which are how I check myself as to who I’m looking at.
Eventually these little wood storks grow into their beaks.

My interest in birds snuck up on me. I bought a DSLR first, spur of the moment (it was Christmas after all), and when I sat in my backyard with the camera birds were what was there to pose for pictures. I’m not sure I’d ever heard the word ‘rookery’ until I started paying attention to the photos online, and then found the camera club. A long time ago I realized, and sort of kicked myself over the realization, that I never actually made a plan in life, I just let myself go where the wind blew me. Now I see it blew me right where I belong.