birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, nature, photography, unintended images

Feathered friends…

I spent all last spring out in the back yard with my new (at the time) camera, and never ran out of things to photograph.  There were so many birds every day, plus I noticed the light at sunset, and the magical reflection of the trees in the lake that made the water look like a mirror.  In reality it’s quite loaded with algae, etc., but shortly before sunset it looks amazing out there.  As it did today.


And of course the Sand Hill cranes.  Their story had me enthralled for months, but they had moved on.  And the reality is that there hasn’t been a lot of bird action on the lake for a few months now.  Until lately.  Lately Sand Hill cranes are all around the neighborhood, and they spend time on the lake too.  A few days ago I watched a stand off of sorts between a Great Blue Heron on one side of the lake, and two Sand Hill cranes directly across from him.

1211heronThe heron never moved an inch, so I really can’t say that it wasn’t a statue of one.  He stared at those cranes for well over an hour.  I was busy but each time I looked outside to see what was going on he was in exactly the same place.  I’ve seen a heron out there from time to time, but they haven’t ever been as common a visitor as the Sand Hill cranes are.

Today I needed to get some new pictures, so when I heard the cranes out there I picked up my camera and went outside.  But instead of seeing them across the lake as I expected, they were right in my backyard.  Someone must be feeding them because they weren’t afraid of me, in fact they headed straight for me.  Someday I’ll contain my excitement when I think I’m going to get some nice pictures and actually look at the settings instead of picking up the camera and starting  to shoot.  Most of the time when I do get a good picture it’s dumb luck, and this afternoon was no exception.  They were coming so close to me that I had to change the lens on the camera.  I’m really hoping they will make their nest out there on the lake again this year.

1211crane21211crane11211closeup1211crane31211cranecloseup31211cranefrombelow1211cranefrombelow2I never knew their beaks were so well ventilated.  Or that they have chubby cheeks.  They were so close to me that I could only take close ups, and as I did they turned their heads this way and that as if they were getting directions.    I finally sat on the ground for a different perspective.  I had been wondering where I ought to go for some photo ops yesterday, and it turned out I only needed to head out the door…

birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, home, moon, natural wonders, nature, photography, the easy way out

Taking it easy…

Sometimes you run out of energy and have to take it easy after you get home from work, and after swimming laps.  It helps that the Sandhill Cranes were out back, sounding off as only they can.  They must not be the same pair that was here last year because last year’s birds ignored the dogs.  These cranes were all the way across the lake and yet they objected to Ozzie and Zoe wading and drinking out of the lake.  Last year, at the end of December, I took a picture of two Sandhill Cranes nesting on the island out in the lake.  I’m not sure that I realized that they were nesting at that moment.  Now I have to hope we’ll have a new set of babies this year.  They seem to be feeling their oats.  Love the new lens in this situation.  It’s quite big and heavy though, I’ll have to pick and choose when to bring it with me.


I took the featured photo at about 5:30, just about the same time as the sunset out front.  I  had a feeling that once it got dark I wouldn’t be able to capture the detail in the moon, not as clearly as it was in this photo.  Plus ducks, and what Merlin says is an immature Little Blue Heron.  And it’s time to snooze…



Bayport, birds, Cranes, eagles, natural wonders, nature, photography, sunrise

Sunday sunrise…

Do you see the eagle in the feature photo?  I saw that there was a bird in the top of the trees across from Bayport, so of course I took a picture.  And I can enlarge it enough that I can see the white head of an eagle, but not clearly.  It’s amazing how quickly a 300mm lens seems to be not enough.  Sigh.

But the sunrise tried, it really did.  After two gloomy days the clouds didn’t seem as overwhelming, so I headed out in hopes of a pretty sunrise display, but it really didn’t get more colorful than this.


I turned to check the reflected light from the sunrise and was surprised to realize that the Great Blue heron, my usual sunrise partner, had arrived.  He was quiet, unlike the grackles who arrived in one fell swoop, squawking all the while.



The heron walked along the sidewalk to the spot where I normally take my sunrise photos, and then flew across the water and posed nicely for me.


When I got home I found a Sandhill crane lounging on the lawn across the street, and he was soon joined by two more.  I’m seeing them more often lately, after a few months of not seeing many at all.  I hope that means they’ll be nesting on the lake again this year.  Something to look forward to…


birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, home, nature, photography

Meanwhile, back on the lake…

It was a Blue Jay in the grass that got me out back with my camera on Saturday afternoon.   I’ve seen Blue Jays all along since I’ve lived here, but not often.  And they usually fly through my field of vision, but never stop for a photo op.  So why they were out there was a mystery, but they stuck around while I got my camera and tripod and got myself (sans dogs) outside.



While concentrating on the Blue Jays I couldn’t help but notice the cute little Palm Warblers, there were many, and they flitted merrily all over the yard.



If that wasn’t enough a Red-bellied Woodpecker decided to join the fun.

Overseeing all were the ever present Little Blue Herons.  Two live on the lake, they are here all day every day, in the grasses at the edge of the lake, and commonly on the post that measures the water levels.  Without the Sandhill Cranes to compete with they are the noisiest birds out there.  One calling to the other across the lake, like a loud conversation.  Today the Little Blue Heron and the Great Egret took turns on the post, but one of them was on it at all times.


And, of course, the ducks.  Merlin, the app that has helped me identify all these birds, says they are Mottled Ducks.  I love that app.  Without it I’d have to ask for the ID of most of the birds out there no matter how common they may be.  I read that you should learn to ID the birds on your own and not rely on Merlin.  I should do a lot of things…


birds, bugs, bunnies, Cranes, flowers, home improvements, life, nature, photography, squirrels

The Rest of the Story

My lake hasn’t seen much crane action at all in weeks, but here and there around the neighborhood I see a group of five cranes, four with their red heads and one colt. So I got quite the surprise when I went out back yesterday and there they were, the five cranes, and right in my backyard. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether they include any members of the original crane family, but I usually see them on the same corner that the family also liked. I think the colt is showing a red blush on her head, if it’s one of our colts then it’s just five months old.

There are still some surprise wildlife sightings out back now and then. I saw a cute little bunny out my kitchen window one day and thought I was nuts for grabbing my camera to try to get a picture, but he never moved a muscle as I slowly let myself out onto the patio. After a few photos I moved to get a different angle, kind of hoping that he’d move and give me some different shots, but nope, he stayed put, never moving a, ahem, hare.

From my chair I can see my hibiscus bush out back, and I couldn’t help but notice that it was shimmying and shaking in a most unusual way the other day.  Upon further investigation I discovered that my little Peeping Tom was at it again.

In case you were wondering, my new shower doors are still looking fantastic. I reapplied Rain-x the other day, the first time since my original application when the doors were brand new.  And, I have never once taken a shower without squeegeeing the doors off. No wonder they are still looking great. My mother would be so proud.


birds, Cranes, nature, photography, Uncategorized

Letting go…

Watching a Sandhill crane pair raise their chicks right outside my kitchen window was an unexpected treat.  That this happened when I had a brand new camera with a nice zoom lens gave me a closer look, and I was hooked.  I’ve blogged their story as it unfolded, sorting through the hundreds of photos I took for the ones that illustrated the twists and turns as they happened.  But those beautiful birds are very photogenic and there were so many photos I couldn’t use in those posts, so even as I let go of my sandhill crane obsession I would like to share some of these now.6174618896_IMG_7951