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Seafood on the menu…

When our visitor visits Florida she likes having a drink while over- looking the water, and if there are boats in the scene that’s a plus too. Which explains how we wound up having lunch on the boardwalk at John’s Pass on Sunday. We stopped to see the scenery when we first arrived and found lots of birds near the pier where people were gutting newly caught fish and tossing the trimmings to the milling pelicans below. Among a few other scavengers.

Here we have a snowy egret surveying the scene.
She got a bit up close and personal for a minute or two.
I thought these two pelicans had found a worm of some kind, but I was told this is entrails. I had quite a few pictures of the battle, but the victor finally flew away with the entrails still wrapped around his beak.
This fella caught his own lunch.
The atmosphere is old fishing village, I find it charming.
Lots of boats, large and small, pass by.
Some require a bit of adjustments as they pass.
'scene' along the way, a second look, adventure, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, perseverance, photography

At the races…

When you go through your photos after a photo shoot to the race track, and you see a shot like the feature photo, you can toss it, or you can pretend you meant to take that shot and use it as your feature photo. I have wondered what a shot of just the horses hooves would look like, I kind of like it.

We met a couple of new people who joined us for this last Tampa Bay Downs photo shoot of the season yesterday, on a day I might have expected to be sweltering, but was breezy and enough clouds to take the curse off. We had a nice session with them.

I walked down to the far corner to get an unobstructed view of the horses making the turn.
With all that dirt in the air it’s obvious that these are not the lead horses in this race. But both horses have all four hooves off the ground so it’ll do.
I made a point of taking my opportunity to get a shot of the horses leaving the gate in this turf race. Most of the time the gate is around the far side of the track and it’s not possible to try for this shot.
This horse was the favorite in his race and he led the whole way with no one on his heels.
I thought a shot of a jockey as he swings up into the saddle would be fun. Now I’m not sure why I thought that, but I sure took a lot of butt shots that day.
Of course people watching is fun between races.
There were many photographers in evidence at the track.
We all noticed the frazzled father who was pushing a stroller and had small herd of children to keep track of. Dad and this little one had identical shirts on, which I thought was cute. But I paid attention when the little guy got distracted and the rest of the family moved on, I was waiting to see what he’d do when he figured out they weren’t right there, but he just took off like a shot to catch up.
This picture was a complete surprise when I saw it in the computer. I meant to take a shot of the beautiful gray horse, but the horse was more interested in the spectators.

I usually want to take a shot of the finish line at least once per visit. This time it was a turf race so they were behind the finish line. So I scrolled my pictures one by one, in order, and saw the lead horse cross the finish line all alone. Next came a pack of horses, each trying to nose each other out. Then as the last of the tails of the pack of horses was disappearing I saw horse number 7 come into view, finishing many lengths behind. Which is when an old song my mother used to sing when I was very little came to mind. If you are as old as me maybe you know it. It’s about Horace the horse on the merry-go-round who is sad since he figured out that he’s the very last horse on the merry-go-round. But it continues…

“Then one day, Horace turned, looked around, then said gosh oh gee. I’m the very first horse on the merry-go-round, all the others are a-following me!”

And Number 7 wasn’t last as it turned out. Number 7 left the frame as I clicked on the last of my pictures, but then horse #3 came into view bringing up the rear. Was his hame Horace? Poor thing was so far behind…

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Much ado in the gardens…

We were promised a weekend of perfect weather and that came true, but with spring break in full swing, an AirFest at McDill AFB for the first time in a couple of years, plus a Pride Parade, all happening in downtown Tampa on Saturday, we were worried about traffic. So we wimped out and the Florida Botanical Garden was our destination yesterday. There weren’t so many flowers, but the scenery was pretty.

Gorgeous weather, high 70’s and low humidity.
That must be perfect water lily weather because they looked like they were taking over the world.
It’s free to come here and sit quietly and read a book, which is what I saw people doing.
Okay, there were some flowers. Light Bulb Clerodendrum with a few pinwheel jasmine thrown in.
The bougainvillea are coming back from a cold couple of nights not long ago.
There were full trees of bush allamanda.
Yellow hibiscus. Yellow flowers took the day I think.
I love it when bumble bees land on purple flowers.
The lilies were so pretty that I just had to take their picture along the water, but even as I took the picture I knew they really wouldn’t show up.
A cardinal serenaded us.
Mama alligator, which I might have ignored if people hadn’t been excited to see her babies. I know I’ve been pouting about not seeing babies/chicks lately, but these babies aren’t the ones I’ve been looking for. I suppose their mother thinks they are cute.
People said their were three little ones, I only saw two.
Here she is from an overlook on the other side of the water. A couple were there looking down into the water, so I pointed her out across the way. “Oh”, they said. “That’s where she moved to. She must have had 65 babies right underneath the overlook the other day.” They were disappointed to hear that there were only three of them.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…
You might choose to peek through this pretty opening into the wedding garden. We had seen chairs being put into place earlier. But we arrived just in time to see the ring bearer run back to where he came from, and then get picked up by the man who eventually walked the bride down the aisle and deposited into his seat. I wasn’t ready to capture that moment.
I was ready for this one though. The first flower girl dutifully throwing flower petals, and the little one racing up behind her wailing away.
Then came the bride, who wore a smile almost as big as her dress, which drew oohs and ahhs from our little group of wedding crashers in the doorway. She was followed closely by the photographer who was being paid to take pictures. I think the kids had calmed down by this time.
And she joins her groom. If you are wondering about the pattern on her escort’s jacket you are not alone. I can’t figure it out.

Maybe my title of Much Ados in the Gardens should have read much ‘I dos.’ As things do tend to happen, you just never know exactly what you’ll get when you head out to go shooting. So just keep heading out the door, and be sure to take your camera.

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The Secrets of ZooTampa…

Yes, there are other amazing animals at ZooTampa, although you’d hardly know it based on my fixation with orangutans. This last trip to the zoo was our first chance to visit the newly completed Florida exhibit that has been under construction for quite a while now. Obviously we are surrounded by Florida wildlife every day, but we don’t get to see them up close and personal the way we did at the zoo.

I loved this view of a baby manatee, who looked to me like he had a smile on his face. There were heads of lettuce floating on the surface making all the manatees happy.
There were ducks swimming with the manatees so I had to zoom in on this unusual view.
On second thought we also visited the Malayan tiger who;s habitat is next door to the orangutans. So, no, we don’t run into tigers when we are out and about in Florida.
Now I’m confused. I think we were still in the Florida exhibit, but the pink birds we saw were flamingos.
Up close with this flamingo.
And a spoonie, who was almost too close for a photo.
I love the way the camera will ignore the mesh of the cage and focus on the subject beyond, in this case a sleepy barred owl.
This little screech owl was winking at us.
This iguana was posing so perfectly, begging to have his picture taken.
There are two eagles at the zoo, Ross, for Betsy Ross, and Glory. I’m not sure which one this is, but Glory is celebrating 30 years at the zoo. Both eagles are not able to live in the wild, so this is their permanent home.

Of course the star of the Florida exhibit was the Florida panther in the feature photo. It was a treat to see one, and this one looked quite content in his new habitat. Later we heard that we missed the stork chicks in the Africa exhibit, but it was time to meet the group for lunch, and we were hungry. So that means another trip to the zoo will be in order, but in a few weeks, not while spring break is in full swing here.

Let me highly recommend the series from National Geographic called Secrets of ZooTampa. So much goes on behind the scenes, it’s very interesting. And, much to my delight, the segment on orangutans covered the birth of Riplee, my favorite baby boy.

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I learned a few things about orangutans yesterday. First of all my dear friend gave me a heads up about a series on National Geographic called ‘Secrets of ZooTampa’. She had watched an episode about orangutans which included footage of Randee giving birth to little Riplee, I saw that message as we were heading out the door to go to a photo shoot with our group, to the zoo! Then a chatty little girl at the zoo told me about another episode, and at lunch after the shoot yet another mention of that series came up in the group. Since I can take a hint, we found the episode last night and watched it. For someone who was so excited to see that baby orangutan I’m ashamed to say that I was completely in the dark about that series. And the take away from the episode was that in the wild orangutans are solitary creatures. The fact that they live together at the zoo, nine of them, grandmothers, daughters, and grandchildren, plus the resident male, is unusual. Their interactions with each other is wonderful to watch, so the idea that they would live solitary lives in the wild seemed sad somehow. All this being said, I took more pictures of the orangutans yesterday than anything else, as usual. And there was still another surprise in store also.

It was a chilly morning, so the activity was to be covering up with blankets as they munched on leaves.
The day would be warm, but they looked cozy as they ate.
There was a bit of rearranging going on.
Dear old dad was covered up also, choosing a plain white blanket rather than the colorful blankets favored by the ‘girls’.
A little family time.

I promised another surprise, didn’t I? Another of the young adult orangutans gave birth about a month ago, a fact that had escaped my notice completely. Apparently this event happened during the day and was witnessed by the zoo-goers who happened to be there. What a photo op that would have been.

This is Hadiah, and this little girl is her second baby. Born February 6th. No news on a name so far.

Evidently I will have many more days of enjoying the baby orangutans ahead of me. What a nice surprise it was to see this new addition. And if Riplee was #9, then we now have 10 orangutans at ZooTampa.

'scene' along the way, a second look, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, nature, perseverance, photography

Cycling at Circle B…

I have to wonder if the gator in the feature photo looks so amused because he startled me when I glanced to my right and saw him there, only 30 feet or so away. We were on what I’ll have to call the far side of Circle B, heading for the Eagle Roost, though we never saw an eagle nest. There were no other people around, just the trail with water on both sides. Even the oak trees were missing. Somehow seeing this gator in this setting felt more alarming to me. And I was quite sure that he would have no trouble outrunning my electric tricycle with a top speed of 12 mph, if he wanted to. But he just stayed put, looking smug. Having the trike and scooter meant that we covered a lot of trails at Circle B that we hadn’t seen before. And I pedaled almost the whole way, which is what I promised myself when I got the trike. Of course we hoped to see the more elusive wildlife that people seem to see when they visit. I think our timing was off, we need to visit earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. The most abundant wildlife we saw while we were there were the bus loads of students on a field trip. With their clipboards and assignment sheets to fill out they were a lively bunch. I wonder if they had as much fun as we did.

Over the river and through the woods.
Bumps on a log.
Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield.
Not so wild wildlife.
He posed best of all that day.
Wait, maybe this great blue was the winner.
I think he spotted his lunch.

I wonder how many photo ops we missed since we had to watch the trail for roots, not to mention walkers and photographers. But it was a fun way to spend yet another beautiful Florida day.