adventure, birds, Cranes, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, nature, on closer examination, photography

Nature girl…

That’s what I heard Charley calling me as I loaded up the car with all my photo equipment and headed to Weeki Wachee Preserve.  As in, “Who do you think you are, Nature Girl?”  I pass by the entrance to this preserve almost daily, but there are only a few cars there and I’ve been a little intimidated to go alone.  But for some reason today was the day to check it out.  I got an excellent piece of advice from a woman in the parking lot who said that she rides a bike there 5 days a week.  She asked me to get the GPS up on my phone and then showed me the satellite view, which showed the trails perfectly, and me as a little blue dot.  “So you don’t get lost”, she said.  Which was prophetic because when I did check the GPS I wasn’t where I thought I was at all.  I had hiked for about an hour, passing by a lake and looking all the while for possible eagle or owl nests, and then I would remember the comments about rattlesnakes at Honeymoon Island and turned my attention to the trail for a while.  The biker I had talked to said that she had seen a bobcat for the first time recently also.  The only wildlife I saw were dragonflies as I turned around on the advice of a family who said the trail ended up ahead, and headed back the same way I came.  It was a pretty walk, but I’ll take a different route next time.  Or I’ll try to at least.


On the way back I saw what ought to be an eagle nest up high in a tree.  I read that they nest in the tallest tree around, but one by itself, and with water nearby.  Except I didn’t see any bird activity at all.  If I knew it was a nest for sure I might have waited, but I didn’t.  When I got home I looked up the Weeki Wachee Preserve to write about it and discovered that it’s most noted for it’s black bear population!  Shy black bears, who stay deep in the woods, it said.  Let’s hope so.


Letting the dogs out when I got home led to the most exciting discovery of the day!3-16expecting13-16expecting2I’m expecting!  I saw this Sandhill Crane laying out there yesterday afternoon, but then she was up and about.  But today she laid so still out there, and for so long, that I got worried about her.  It was a relief to see her lift her head, and I waited for her to get up so I could see if I could see an egg, or two, and I believe that’s what we have there.  It seemed as if she poked at them a little, and then she fluffed herself and then settled back down on them.  I had totally given up on having a new family this year so this is welcome news indeed.  Time to dust off the Adirondack chairs, gonna be out back a lot in the coming weeks.

backyard visitors, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography

Do a little dance…

If you were a Sandhill crane you might be overcome with passion right now, because I have a feeling that this pose is irresistible, to a member of the opposite crane-sex.  2-27cranedanceThen you might choose to do a little dance of your own…2-27cranedance2And then we would have chicks to enjoy, and photograph.  2-27cranedance3But though they return every evening, and explore the mound that they built, I am not as hopeful that I’ll have such convenient photo ops this year.  I see pairs of cranes in the neighborhood every day, but not single cranes, so I guess no one is home sitting on eggs.  I’d like to think that the cold weather has just delayed things a bit, maybe…2-28craneeating2-28craneeating22-28craneeating3They were back again yesterday, feasting on something out there.  Yes, they stab their beaks all the way into the soft earth, that’s not an optical illusion.  I came around back on the riding mower and there they were, and since I didn’t want to disturb them I stopped the mower and went in and got my camera.  I think I disturbed them more by doing that, since they picked their heads up and watched to see just how close I would come with my tripod.  As soon as I stopped and set up they quit worrying about me, and I was only 20 feet away, if that.  There was no further dancing, they were too busy, and I eventually wanted to finish my mowing, so I got on the mower and did the areas out back that were furthest from them.  I had already noticed that they pay no attention to mowers, having seen them follow right behind the mowers in the yard across the way, but I hated to interrupt them.  By the time I needed to get to that last part of the yard they had wandered further to the left and on to the next yard.  That mud at the edge of the lake was looking particularly black, I can’t wait for the next time Ozzie goes down there to drink and sinks up to his ankles in that nice, black mud…

birds, Cranes, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

Would you believe…

… that this is the latest creature that I spotted in the lake out back? I hope not.  Nope, meet Lu, an honorary Floridian who lives at Homosassa Springs Wildlife park.  When the state took over the park in 1989 the exotic animals were all sent to new homes, but a public outcry to keep Lu resulted in his change of status, and he will live out his days in the park.  Along with quite a few varieties of Florida wildlife.  I’ve heard of some of these birds being photographed at other birding sites, but I haven’t seen most of these in the wild.  Or not so far.  But now I’ll have to make it a point to visit as many of the Florida State parks as possible, with my new yearly pass.  Who knows what I’ll find, but I’ll bet that I won’t find another Hippopotamus.2-18Homosassasprings

Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Green heron
Northern Crested Caracara, a bird of prey who is both sluggish and a scavenger


White pelican, and no I don’t know what that protrusion is on his bill and google didn’t tell me


Whooping Crane, who come by their name honestly
Pelican Island, there was a power struggle going on
On the boat ride to the park


backyard visitors, birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Big bird, little bird…

Yes, the Hooded Merganser was back the other day.  And he brought along a friend of the female persuasion.  With eaglets and owlets on the brain lately it’s probably not surprising that I immediately wondered if we would have some tiny little Mergansers out there in a bit.  So I googled them and found an Audubon site with a wealth of information about just that.  With one disappointing map that shows all of Florida as a non-breeding site for them.  Darn.

But their breeding routine makes them quite the adventurous little ducks.  They build their nests in tree hollows, from 10 to 50 feet in the air.  Rarely 80 feet in the air, but I suppose for them to add that stat it must have been done a time or two.  On day one the mother Merganser calls to the chicks from the ground below the nest, and one by one they leap to the ground!  There was no mention of how many chicks manage to survive the leap, so does that mean that they all do manage such a feat of derring-do at such a young age?  Maybe I’m glad they won’t be nesting out there.  I might feel like I have to stand below the nest and try to catch them on their way down.  It would be hard not to.HoodedmergansersAnd the cranes were back too.  Calling as only they can, and close enough that I knew they were right outside the door.  They seemed to be interested in the chickens next door.  The last part of the fence to their yard is chain link, and I thought the cranes wanted to see what they were scratching and clucking about.  When I came out to take pictures they barely reacted to me at all.  But then something caught their attention across the lake.  I couldn’t see what it was, but their reaction surprised me.  I heard a different, low growl of sorts as they looked intently across the way.  A far cry from their normal call.  Whatever was the problem caused them to suddenly take off and fly off the lake.

2-13cranes2-13taking offAnother tease of seeing them and hoping they’ll settle down on the lake and raise a family.  Still looking for the happy ending even after all these years.

birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, live and learn, nature, old dogs new tricks, photography, sunset

Feeling my age…

Wasn’t I just insisting that I didn’t feel my age, my chronological age?  Well, you can forget that because I think I hit the wall.  Maybe it’s just that I thought I was working Tuesday and Wednesday this week, but I was wrong.  I was on the schedule on Monday and had to scramble to get there only 25 minutes late, but it set the course for the day.  I came home and took pictures out back, my only option because I had a class in Clearwater that night, and figured out much too late that I didn’t have the smart card in the camera.  My laptop had been closing applications on me because of a lack of storage space, so I bought a desktop computer and have been in that particular hell of getting everything switched over to a new computer.  It seems like I’ve been swimming upstream this week.  As fun as it is to have a new toy, it has it’s moments.

So I sat in the recliner after work today (Tuesday) and promptly fell asleep.  The dogs got me up just in time to walk them before I had to head out to Hammond’s Creek for the sunset, my only option for photos for the day.  The no-see-ums were out in force, but so was One-Foot Fred.  I was informed that that’s our Great Blue Heron’s name.  I asked what happened to his foot and was told, for the second time, that he lost it due to getting tangled in fishing line.  I don’t know if he hangs out on the bridge all day long, but I’ve seen him now at sunrise and sunset.  Seems he has adapted well to his new reality.  I could take a lesson.2-6iphonefeature2-6onefootfred22-6sunset2-6cheers

Bayport, birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, sunrise

Back on track…

1-15sunrise2 copyI went out for a Bayport sunrise the other day and it was pretty, but too cold.  I know you must be getting tired of hearing me say that.  But it was almost a relief that the above picture was as pretty as it got and I could stay in the car.  I have taken a picture of the sign that they have posted there before, but I never used it.  It looks like they are finally going to redo the fishing pier.  1-15billboard copyI’ve taken a lot of reflected sunrise photos at Bayport, I love the way all the channel markers sometimes look to be different colors and almost lit up in the morning light.  Not knowing anything about boating I had no idea what the markers actually indicated.  Now I see that it must be water depth because in all my trips to Bayport, for both sunrises and sunsets, I’ve never seen the water level be low enough for this sand bar to show.  1-15lowtide copy1-14littlebird copyBack in the yard this little bird was out there, teasing me, landing just long enough for me to find him with the camera but flitting off a few feet away before I could focus. This was the best I could do.  Merlin says it’s a Yellow-rumped Warbler.  I’ve probably seen all these little birds before, but finding them in the camera’s view finder is like looking through binoculars.  Now I actually see them.1-15sandhill1 copy1-15sandhill2 copyAnd the cranes were back out there last night.  They seem to have abandoned the mound that they worked so hard to build.  Unless of course this was a different pair. When I see Sandhill cranes around the neighborhood they seem to always be in pairs lately.  But what has struck me is that at least one of the pair looks to be on the small side.  The younger birds setting up housekeeping I guess.  This pair was out there on the original nesting spot from last year, making themselves at home.  At least I hope that’s what was going on…