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, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, life, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography, pond creatures, simple things, storms

The good and the bad…

The good thing about dragonflies is that they return to the same spot all the time.  So you can get yourself ready, get the camera focused, and you’ll be ready to take your photo when he returns.  The bad thing about dragonflies is that they return to the same spot all the time.  And when they do come back they tend to land in the same position again, so you are ready to take the picture, but it’s the same picture every time.  I wish they would do something surprising now and then.  At least they are out back daily, giving me photo ops when Mama Sandhill crane sitting on her eggs becomes less than exciting.4-13dragonfly4-13dragonfly1-24-13dragonfly24-13dragonfly34-13dragonfly44-13dragonfly5

And, speaking of taking the same picture over and over, you probably suspect that my Sandhill crane on the nest photo is the same one and I’m reusing it periodically.  But I’m not.  I was worried when I was away over the weekend, worried that I’d miss the new Sandhill crane chicks hatching.  I was so lucky to be on the spot to watch as it happened last year, so I was happy to see her still on the nest when I got back, that I didn’t miss anything.  And poor Mama has been out there through two really bad storms, and still she is out there.  And her mate is there also.  I love that guy.  But I see that the grass surrounding the nest is longer than it was last year, I hope it will be easy to see the chicks with my big new lens.  But then they didn’t spend a lot of time on the next last year anyhow, so it will be fine. She said, optimistically.

And the Little Blue Heron who is always on the post out there.  I can’t help but take pictures of him almost glowing in the sun.  Not the same photo all the time, it just looks like it.4-13littleblue

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.

3-16nest

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.

birds, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Newton Park…

Lake Apopka is a great place to take bird photos, or so I’ve heard. About an hour away I was told. An 11 mile loop trail around the lake. So I was off yesterday and I headed out for what turned out to be a 2 hour drive at the end of which I discovered that the trail is closed until they get it all cleaned up after Irma made a visit. I had pulled into a parking area thinking that it was a place to get on the trail, but it was just a little dock. Lucky for me a personal trainer was there, working with a client, and he told me to try Newton Park, which was close by. There were lots of bird noises when I got there, so it sounded like a promising site, despite the “Do Not Feed The Alligators’ sign. And then the mosquito sprayers came by and chased the birds away.

So you’d think it wasn’t a very successful day for pictures, but things do seem to work out most of the time. But I’m not sure I would have noticed the osprey if another visitor hadn’t pointed it out to me.

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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