Errands brought me to Main Street, New Port Richey the other day. Much to my surprise I noticed a lovely little park there, but couldn’t stop to investigate that day. So today I made it a point to go back and check it out. It was a quiet little spot, in that there were not many people walking, but a nearby playground supplied all the happy kid noises you could ever want. This weather is my very favorite time in Florida. By our standards it was almost sweater weather, though my Northern friends would think we were nuts.I walked around the lake, mostly because I saw all the birds across the way. But before I had gotten to taking pictures another walker stopped me to ask if I’d seen the duck on a nest. I hadn’t, I had walked right past it. He said there were four eggs there, and he and his daughters had just seen her rearrange the eggs and settle back down on them. I thought her nest was not very protected, even if getting a photo was a challenge.I did get around to taking pictures of the birds, but it was the flowers and the bees that got me in trouble. I walked across the grass to get close enough to the flowers, but when I turned to go back to the car I found myself walking through wetness in the grass. In my flip flops. Mud. I’ve insisted that there is no mud in Florida, but I was wrong. This wasn’t just mud, it was more like tar, and it ended my travels for the day. I think I’m glad I didn’t have my hiking shoes on after all, they wouldn’t have survived. Flip flops, however, have at least nine lives.
I’m still in Maine, but when I leave here on Tuesday it will feel like the beginning of my trip home, even if I’ll be heading west rather than south. A stop in NH, and then on to PA to be with family. Eventually I’ll have to head south. I’m procrastinating, wishing to see fall in all it’s glory before I’m back in the land of palmetto bugs and palm trees.
So how was camping? How did this 100% novice like her first camping adventure? A lot actually. I’ve lived in the camper for a total of 11 weeks over the summer, and it felt like home. I loved it. Slept like a baby, fell asleep on the couch watching Netflix on the computer a couple of times when it was raining. But mostly I went out to see as much of the not-Florida scenery as I could. It didn’t seem like the other campers did much but sit outside, so I guess I was an oddball being inside a lot, but on the computer dealing with photos. Which is how I spend most of my time at home also.
I didn’t know what to expect from a campground, but with three under my belt I find that they have a lot in common. The first was The Pastures in Orford, NH. I probably had the most fun there, but I had family there and got to talk with a lot of people. They have a pool and playground for kids, plus a great covered pavilion where they hosted breakfasts, pot luck dinners, and Friday night was movie night, complete with popcorn. It’s on the Connecticut river, so kayak and canoe rentals were available. Newly upgraded bath facilities. It’s a great place and the best bargain.
The second campground was Shore Hills, in Boothbay, Maine. No playgrounds or pool, but each campsite was wooded with a lot of privacy. I was almost surprised to realize how steep the climb back to the campsite was after meandering down to the river to take sunset pictures. There were lots of options to go out and take pictures, from the Coastal Botanical Gardens to Acadia National Park. And when you get hungry the lobster roll from Red’s Eats in Wiscasset was to die for. So good, but be prepared to wait in line. Found some very nice people there also.
Which brings me to Wild Duck Campground in Scarborough, ME. I took pictures of the wild ducks of Wild Duck Campground today. They look pretty tame in the feature photo, all the ducks in a row. But they all got pretty riled up a little while later. Plus an egret catching his dinner. This campground is adjacent to Scarborough Marsh, so egrets are plentiful. The Audubon center is just down the road. As is Old Orchard Beach, Portland, and Portsmouth, with lighthouses galore. It seemed like every time I looked up a place to go it was 12 miles away. Right next door from my point of view. What a great spot for a photographer to spend a couple of weeks.
When I do head for home I can follow my trail of breadcrumbs, in the form of lost bath scrunches, face wash soap, underwear (I swear I don’t know where they go), and lost glasses. I briefly lost my phone, found my phone, and broke my phone. Next year I’ll bring half as much stuff and hopefully keep myself better organized. And there will be another snowbird adventure next year, but where will I go? I’ll have a lot of time to plan…
Did I forget to mention Scout? He’s a full time RVer. His young mom and dad work online and have their itinerary set through March, traveling in an Airstream trailer. I’m told they love it. Scout sure seems like a happy camper…
I suppose it’s not politically correct to lump people into a group and then talk about my impression of the people who fit into that group. Like how cat-like and aloof I found the people to be at the one and only cat show I ever attended. Conversely, my dog show experience seemed to be the opposite. The people were friendly, like, well, puppies. But what’s on my mind today is a desire to rave about what nice people photographers seem to be. What a great activity to re-find at this time of my life when I had figured out that spending all my time alone was probably not going to work out well for me in the long run. I wanted to get out and do something, and jumped at the chance to go to a photography class I happened to see on Facebook one morning. I couldn’t have known where that spur of the moment decision would lead me. The photographers I have met have proven themselves to be willing to share technical information about the camera itself, and locations for shooting. Not just willing to help, happy to help.
The other morning at the Cape Cod Canal was a good example. I was standing there with my camera and tripod when several other photographers showed up. “Have you seen the King?”, was the question. I think I probably just stood there with a blank look on my face, so he said, “The King Ida.” I was still lost. He pointed out that all the ducks I was seeing had just arrived in the last week or two. The white ones are Ida’s, he said. The males, he explained, have a blue ‘cap’ over their eye, and he searched the photos in his camera until he found a photo of one. He had only seen one, but he had heard that there were two with this group. After our conversation he, and a few other photographers who had shown up, headed down the path to see if there was a King with the group that day. There wasn’t. But I smiled through the rest of the time I spent shooting these photos. A little encounter like this one is enough to totally make your day, even when the King doesn’t show up…
I didn’t start work until 9 AM yesterday, enough extra time in the morning for me to notice a hawk on the post out back and head out with the camera. The hawk had taken off, but there was a black and white bird out there that didn’t look familiar. Merlin said it was a Merganser, which I thought were all black, but the info said that they can be anything from all white to all black. I guess it’s that fleshy orange nose piece that sets them apart. It was a pretty bird though, another one I didn’t think I’d seen before.
By the time I finished work I had a severe weather alert on my phone when I picked it up to head home. But that message goes away when you unlock the phone and I seldom look to see what exactly we might expect as far as severe weather goes. And that’s because it (almost) never materializes. Like the boy that cried wolf, those messages are easily ignored, and yesterday was no exception. Apologies to anyone who really did have some ‘weather’ yesterday, I realize that my view of the world is rather limited. (Fast forward to Weds. morning and I see that all my northern friends and relatives had much worse weather than we did. Hoping all are well.)
Perhaps the Sandhill cranes pay more attention to the weather than I do, because I was surprised to see them on a lawn as I drove through the neighborhood heading home. I took some iPhone photos and headed home thinking they’d soon be out on the lake, coming back earlier because of the weather. I was hearing thunder by then. The hawk was back on the post, just as he had been that morning. And one of the adult cranes took exception to that Merganser and chased him off. Nice when the photo ops come to you on a severe weather alert sort of day.
When you let Ozzie out and the ducklings are right out back it’s hard to resist going back in for your camera. And as you watch you spot a dark bird on the far side of the lake and take some photos of him also, and try to figure out what exactly he is.
My first thought was Glossy Ibis because his back shone iridescent in the sunlight, and I was right, but I didn’t realize how red their heads can be. Another bird I hadn’t seen on the lake before. It took a while to notice the Tri-color Heron out there.
But it was the ducklings that Ozzie and I mostly enjoyed. And you see how terrified of Ozzie they were.
My efforts to see the cranes as they leave in the morning have backfired. Oh I see them as they crest the hill and come into view…
But each time I’ve been waiting for them they haven’t continued onto the pond behind mine, and I suspect that it was my presence that sent them scurrying up the street. And, sure enough, I walked Ozzie this morning the cranes were at that pond, and probably had been there a while enjoying it since it was well after sunrise. As much as I like to get nice photos I really don’t want to disturb them so I guess I’ll try to resist stalking them.
And when you are out back watching duckling and other creatures it can almost be a surprise to see the crane family returning after their day’s adventures. Another day drawing to a close…
This year’s cranes aren’t as predictable as last year’s cranes, which makes it harder to catch them on their way back to the nest at night. They have been showing up much earlier than I might have expected, so I’m missing them as they cross the road, making my photo op always be from all the way across the lake. Watching them my attention wanders, as it did the other night, and so I do things like notice a duck, with possible ducklings.She seemed to notice me just about the same time that I noticed her. At first I thought it was a coincidence that she gathered her ducklings and started swimming towards me across the lake, giving me a better photo op. But it didn’t take long to realize that she really was coming to me on purpose. That’s when it hit me that someone has been feeding these ducks, and they were looking at me and thinking ‘lunch’. She was out of luck though, since I know that feeding them isn’t in their best interests. So she gave up and headed out…I wish I knew if this is the same family I saw a few days ago, that ones with eight ducklings. Perhaps the hawk that Mama duck fought off a few days ago has been persistent, or maybe there are two families. That remains to be seen…