When it comes to being thankful I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Walter. He’s not exactly a new friend, he’s the young man I’ve talked with before while watching the sunrise at Aripeka. But now we’ve exchanged names and phone numbers, and that’s because he has had a recent encounter with One-Foot Fred. And he even took a picture! Be still my heart! I had mentioned Fred to him since he gets to a lot more sunrises in Aripeka than I do. I told him that Fred used to be on the bridge with me every time I was there, but then he disappeared. I don’t think I’d seen him for a year, but that includes time I wasn’t even in Florida. So I asked Walter if he’d ever seen Fred and he hadn’t, but I did tell him that I’ve been told by several fishermen that Fred still comes around now and then. So the minute Walter noticed that the heron he was watching only had one foot he knew it was Fred. I had only watched him as he posed for me on the bridge, but Walter watched him fishing. Fred would use his stub to take a step but would have to catch himself and balance as he landed on his other foot. Walter was impressed with his obvious adaptation to his new reality. Walter also mentioned that it’s probably lucky that herons stand in the shallow water and wait for lunch to come to them. He was pretty impressed with old Fred. I’m so happy to hear this news and know that Fred is okay, and so happy to have a picture also. Thanks Walter!
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.
This photo walk out of the Chinsegut Conservation Center was a bit of a back to the beginnings trip for me. Early one morning I saw a Facebook post about a bird photography class that was happening at the center, and I wanted to go. I had a new digital camera at the time, and was barely functional with it, so I called to see if they had room for one more. Not only did I begin to learn the camera, but I found friends, and I probably would never have begun blogging without another class that I took at the center later on. Yes, a coming home of sorts,
But I’m not the nature photographer that my friends are. Not every walk in the woods leads to great photos, and I confess that the description of this trip left me skeptical about the photos I might get. So to hedge my bets a bit I got to the center early in hopes of seeing birds at the many feeders there. And they were there. A Downey woodpecker, a red-headed (but not cockaded) woodpecker, a summer tanager, and a tufted titmouse pair that entertained me for quite a while. That meant I could relax and just enjoy the field trip and not worry about the pictures we’d get.
Off we went into the woods, and 20 miles in we found the banded trees that indicated the habitat of the red-cockaded family in question. It was then that I discovered that we weren’t waiting for a flock of these birds to arrive en masse, but just one family. And the banded trees each had the little holes where nesting activity was potentially happening. Young males stay with the family helping to raise the young and doing the necessary tending to the nests which keeps the sap running. The sap is their defense against their nests being raided by snakes. Clever, don’t you think?And it was a successful trip. Yes, one of the birds in question did show up and zoom into the hole in the tree and disappeared. Not one of us got a shot of that. The leader of the trip said that he felt that that was it, the event was over. But he had one trick up his sleeve. He used his phone to play the call of the red-cockaded woodpecker, rather quietly I thought, but it was enough to get this little guy to stick his head out of the nest to see what was going on.
No, it wasn’t a dramatic story. But these are the dramas that are happening all around us everyday, and we are too busy with out own lives to notice. But when we do take time to notice it doesn’t disappoint.
I stopped at Bayport for the sunrise on the way to my hike date yesterday. I had read that they had finally begun work on the fishing pier that’s been out of commission for several years now. I wondered how things were going. I didn’t expect the road to be closed however. It was pretty overcast and I wasn’t expecting much from the sunrise, but I told myself that I’d take pictures of the fishing boats as they left the launch area. Only there were no fishing boats, no fishermen, no one at all. With time to kill I took pictures anyhow. And, as it frequently does, the sky did get pretty. But I wonder how long they will have the park closed…
A friend and I went hiking in the woods yesterday. It was the perfect day for it, cool but sunny, finally the Florida weather I love the most. We did nearly 7 miles, walking and talking, and stopping for a few pictures. Not many really.We kidded that if our mutual friend Betty had been with us that she would have taken a million pictures already. So I took this one in her honor;We didn’t seen another person, and only saw a deer off in the distance, but in the sand on the trail were tracks of lots of animals. Linda said that it must be like rush hour in the night with all the animal activity. We did see a rhino though, not a frequent sight in Florida.Hogg pond was our destination, and we found some egrets gathered there. I suspect the beginnings of nesting activity. And there have been great flocks of birds in the air lately. Usually they are too high in the sky for decent photos, or the camera just isn’t set up for that capture. These birds were coming in to land however. Yes, this will be a booming place in the spring.We had stopped for lunch at a very quaint hot dog shop in Floral City, and then hiked in the Perry Oldenberg wilderness area. But the jackpot happened as we finished the hike and were ready to leave. That’s when we saw the cows in the pasture next to the parking lot. I was looking to take photos like this when I was at my daughter’s house in PA over the summer, but somehow failed to get out and explore the rolling farmland for scenes like this. People ask what kind of photography I like best, but I think I like the surprises along the way that make it so interesting. And I’m normally out by myself for photos, but it was nice to be out with a friend…I thought that all the cows with horns were bulls, but closer examination of my photos disproved that theory. Not this particular photo, but trust me…
I went to an advanced photography class yesterday. I’d seen that it was coming up but I will always feel like a beginner and thought the information would be over my head. And a lot of it was, but it made me want to try harder. Sometimes you have the luxury of planning a shot, deciding the angle and the settings in the camera before you take your picture. Even trying several settings to help yourself learn what would work best. But the instructor also qualified his information by saying that sometimes the opportunity arises and all you can do is just try to get the shot. So with all that new information swirling around in my head I stopped at several parks on the way home. I was surprised that the parks were so quiet on such a pretty day. Quiet except for the birds.
I was turning to head back to the car when I spotted two belted kingfishers zooming this way and that in the air, and then diving to try and catch their lunch. I’d only ever seen one once before and in that same area, and I caught a quick picture while it rested for a second on a lamp post. These two were never still, but they stayed in the area for a few minutes before zooming away. There was no time to think of any of the instructions I’d heard that day, except that you just have to try to get the shot. So I did. It was a treat to see them again.