I think of going out for the sunset as a quiet, peaceful sort of thing to do. Not last night though. There were two sets of tweenaged boys screaming and playing in the water, and it seemed the seagulls were attempting to out-do them noise-wise. One of the sets of boys, three of them, had two of them extremely far out in the water, and the one on the shore was screaming to them to criticize them. I was almost afraid to zoom out and look for them in the water for fear of what I’d do if they appeared to be in trouble. Happily for them, and me, they were okay. The other set of boys kept choosing to play football between me and the sunset, and in moving myself to get away from them I managed to get in someone else’s view and he let me know it in no uncertain terms. Still, it was good to be out for the sunset. I’ve been looking at the cloudy skies lately and talking myself out of going out. Sometimes I have to give myself a little push, and I’m usually glad I did.
Do you see it? In the feature photo? The manatee coming up for air? Seeing this wild manatee from the river overlook at Homasassa Springs Wildlife Nature Park was a bonus. They were outside the park, but the underwater gates are open this time of year so that the wild manatees can come in when the weather dictates. The park itself has undergone a few incarnations over the years before being taken over by the state. It once housed exotic animals, but now is a rehabilitation facility for native Florida species. All the permanent residents are not able to be returned to the wild for one reason or another. The vast majority of the park is open and many of the birds you see are wild and free to come and go as they wish. I have a confession though. Taking these pictures seems like cheating since the animals are captive. It’s not the thrill that it would have been if I had seen them in the wild and gotten these pictures. But they are beautiful, and this is a fun park to visit.
And here we have Lu, who is a holdover from the exotic animal days. He was a movie star in the past, but he is now going to celebrate his 60th birthday on January 24th. His real birthday is the 26th, but they always have a party for him with school children so they planned for a weekday.
And Frankie enjoyed a bit of a family reunion while she was there.
I once read that you must choose a feature photo that will entice people to click on and read your blog. I’m sure this picture today wouldn’t do that for me. It’s the view from the observation tower at Linda Pederson Preserve, but it’s not the view that got me to climb the four story staircase. No, I climbed it because I was confident that I would see a manatee or two from up there. The waterways on the Nature Coast are spring fed and a constant 72 degrees year round, so when the weather gets colder along with the water temperatures the manatees come to the area to spend the winter. I had a nice view of them from up there, but when I looked at my photos I was surprised at how much the reflections and the ripples in the water had affected the photos. So between that and the fact that the manatees don’t do much except drift around and come up for air now and then there weren’t a lot of useable pictures. But I’m not complaining.
There are other views to enjoy at this park, besides the one across to the fishing pier at Jenkin’s Creek. I saw my first wood stork hanging around with the fishermen on that pier, and I’ve seen eagles, great blue herons, egrets, and the wood storks in the trees around the water. I was there early once morning and standing on the little bridge when a family of river otters started to come onto the bridge, but they changed their mind when they saw me. It’s a shame it didn’t get decent pictures of that!
There were lots of fishermen present along the water yesterday. And I directed two disappointed women who were looking for manatees to climb the tower. But I was really there to get another photo of Frankie, my flamingo photo prop for a challenge from my photo group. I had a heck of a time trying to hold Frankie and take a picture with my iPhone, it’s too big for my hand. Along came a gentleman up the stairs and I told him he’d showed up in the nick of time. He thought I meant because there were two manatees down there, but I told him no, I needed his help if I had any hope of getting a photo for the challenge. He was happy to oblige.
Now you see why I love my camera with the zoom lens. I hope you see the manatees down there in this picture, but I was glad to zoom for photos in with my nice new lens, which I will refer to as my ‘new’ lens as long as I don’t buy a newer one. But I think I’ve found a happy medium with my equipment these days. I’m always ready no matter where I go.
On Sunday I took 650 pictures at Circle B Bar Reserve, and had quite a lot of fun with my friends while we were hiking and discovering the wildlife along the trails. We three were pretty much together the whole time, yet our phones recorded different amounts of steps for us. Our taller friend’s phone recorded a lot fewer steps for her, but us two shorter gals numbers were quite similar. It was the miles that were different. At 6.5 I had the least, and I believe our taller friend’s phone was approaching 9 miles. Whatever it was it was a long enough day for my feet to be objecting by the end. With the recent rain I had opted to wear short rubber bootlets, which allowed me to feel every rock embedded in the trail, and I was regretting that choice by the end of the day. As fun as it was we were quite ready to call it a day and go find some lunch.
The eagles and the owl were what had the photographers gathered like paparrazi. Even my bigger lens, which I had chosen not to carry, wouldn’t have gotten the sort of shots that I can get when I visit my usual eagle nest. And my first ever owl photos were taken at Circle B and they were really nice shots. This owl was up too high, in the shadows, and obscured by Spanish moss. And facing backwards. Nevertheless we three were so excited when we saw our shots in our computers and we saw that we had gotten the owl’s face. Sort of…
The nature center at Circle B has plenty to educate and entertain people of all ages, as well as the occasional flamingo.
My friends and I tried to get to Circle B Bar Reserve for the sunrise, but it was quite a long drive from home. The above feature photo was as close as we got. We wanted to be that early because our theory was that the wildlife is most active early in the morning. Only it was pretty darned chilly, and that is something that will slow the wildlife down. So we walked about 7 miles, went from a little too chilly to almost too warm, and yes we saw some wildlife.
I had hoped to see something unusual, something beyond all the usual birds that we see so frequently. And this little raccoon filled the bill perfectly.I was as close to the edge of the river bank as possible in order to get the angle I needed for the photos. I was most afraid of dropping the camera into the water. As I was shooting some other visitors came to us from the opposite direction and asked if I knew there was an alligator right there. “Where?”, I asked. “Right there!”. was the answer.
I did not expect to be so up close and personal with that gator. If I had known he was there I would never have gotten the pictures. There was a pier just a little way down the trail and I got a better picture of just how big that gator was. And a good look at that smirk in his face. This must be an example of all’s well that ends well. And there are pictures to prove it!
Rain was in the forecast, but it wasn’t raining quite yet so I headed out for the sunrise. I saw lightning on the way over and thought I should probably turn around. But the sky was prettier than I expected, and the sunrise was lovely and pastel. I was determined to get my photo for the challenge if nothing else, but there was an added element of fun. It was Saturday morning and young fishermen were casting their lines over the side of the bridge and pulling in little fish left and right. I was quite surprised to realize that there were two brown pelicans there, I’d never seen them in Aripeka before. The fishermen were throwing their fish to them and they were trying to catch them. It was fun to watch and I thought I’d get a lot of pictures. But then it happened. One of the pelicans leaped up and snagged the fish as the fisherman reeled it in. So it caught the fish plus the hook and the length of line that snapped off with it, all in just a split second. After that the pelican seemed to be gulping water and trying to swallow the fish but was having trouble doing it. And there we were, helpless to help. Suddenly this wasn’t fun anymore, and I wondered how it was that I didn’t anticipate what might happen. I did call and alert the rescue authorities, but I was told that when a bird is in the water the chances of catching it even to help it was slim to none. I stopped taking pictures at that point and left. I heard thunder on the way home.