learning, natural wonders, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, sunset, technology

Chasing the sunset…

After seeing that possibly elusive opening in the clouds on Saturday night I stopped for the sunset on the way to Hudson beach.  It has been suggested to me by more than one fisherman that Hammond’s Creek bridge isn’t the best place in Aripeka to take sunset photos.  They both said to go to the next bridge down.  Not knowing exactly where they meant for me to go I kept glancing to my right as I drove, to find the spot and to make sure that the promise of a beautiful sunset was still on the table.  And I came around a bend to see the prettiest setting for the sunset that I’d seen in a while.  I turned the car around and found a place to pull off the road, and climbed over the guardrail to set the camera up as far off the road as I could.  My landing zone was probably 6 square feet.  Standing on that little road, at a hairpin bend in the road, in the twilight, was probably not the best move, but it was a great shot.  Not the one they told me to look for though, guess I’ll try to find that next time…5-20sunsetHDR25-19aripekasunset

And from the iPhone a panoramic shot, straight out of the camera…iphonearipekasunsetWell, I did resize from the 56 mp size that it was.  Yes, the color really was that dramatic.  And I took so many pictures, but all of the same exact scene.  There was nowhere else to look from that little spot.  After you’ve been looking at the photos in order to choose the few you’ll use they begin to look normal, then you check the post later and that’s when you’ll see how strong the colors are.  But with another day of thunderstorms ahead this post will probably be published as is.  Just another day on the Nature Coast…

birds, Florida wildlife, learning, nature, perseverance, photography

The Florida Scrub-jay…

Florida Scrub-jays stand as the only bird endemic to Florida. They live in a rather limited environment of scrub oak in central Florida, an environment that is threatened by development, and their populations are isolated.  They attract birders from all over who come to see them, possibly because when they aren’t threatened they can become very tame, landing on heads, arms, and hands to get food.  Charming as that is, feeding them can cause them to breed earlier in the year, and consequently their young may hatch before the caterpillars that make up their main food source are plentiful in the late spring and summer.

The young stay with their families for a year and help raise the young.  They cooperate by having one stand watch for hawks while the rest of the family hunts for food.  The oldest recorded Florida Scrub-jay was 15 years old, having been banded in 1975 and again in 1990.  They bury thousands of acorns per year, and some of those will germinate and so they help disperse a variety of oak trees.  But they are considered a threatened species, and efforts are being made to preserve their habitat.

Scrub-jays were our first objective and first stop on the photo safari we were on on Friday.  And it was looking as if we would strike out since nothing much as happening at first.  But they were described as ‘curious’, and after a little bit we started to see them on the wires.  We had a few nuts with us, and much to my amazement they did come to us, landing on our heads and hands.  I wasn’t ready for how quick they were, grabbing a nut and then flying off to the ground with it.  What a treat it was to see them, another main objective of the day that came to pass.5-12scrub25-12scrub35-12scrubjay5-11Larryscrubjay25-11Larryscrubjay.jpg

The brown on this guy’s back and head indicates that it is a juvenile.  Such a treat to have him land on your head or your hand.   And not poop on you, that part was nice too!  I’ve been holding off on this post until I got the pictures of me, and today I did.  The whole day was fun, but this was a special treat.Meandscrubjay2closescrubMeandscrubjay

adventure, birds, Florida wildlife, go with the flow, learning, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Photo safari…

I lost track of how many times I heard the words ‘one more stop’ on Friday’s epic photo journey.  But even though we set out hours before, and were hours away from home, it would be crazy not to stop as we passed by Six Mile Slough and the Celery Fields, not to mention Venis rookery.  It was up to me to stop, or not to stop, so we stopped at them all, and I was glad every time because everywhere we stopped the birds were happy to pose for us.  Did I mention what a nice day it was?  I hope so, because it was, a very nice day.

Immature Black-crowned Night Hawk, according to Merlin
Yellow-crowned Night Hawk
Cattle Egret, and below we see why they are known as Cattle Egrets


Merlin was stumped on this one, I say male Grackle
Eastern Mockingbird


Great Blue Heron, I waited for her to stand up to see the eggs, barely, but I had hoped for chicks.
I never dreamed a Roseate Spoonbill would just fly in and join the fun!
Female Grackle, common bird, but she did fly in for a close up
Limpkin, who are responsible for all the open, empty, shells laying along the shore
Purple Gallinule, my friend was quite happy to see them


The Great White Egrets were responsible for much gnashing of, well, bills, and all the appropriate sound effects to go with it!


Florida landmarks, learning, live and learn, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

Sacred Heart Catholic Church…

When I saw that there was going to be a photo opportunity at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa I signed on right away.  At that moment I didn’t know that it was one of the oldest churches in the city of Tampa, built in 1905, and I certainly couldn’t have known how incredibly beautiful it would be inside.  There were about 30 photographers in the church, and I’ve already seen some truly wonderful images that they have posted after the shoot today.  One person chose to shoot close up details of the simplest things, things I never noticed at all.  Someone else posted wonderful photos of the windows and structure of the church itself, similar to these but better composition.  But this is how you learn, seeing things from another person’s perspective opens your eyes.  Just keep shooting they say…



backyard visitors, birds, dragonflies, learning, nature, perseverance, photography, technology

Performing on cue…

Yesterday I had two photographer friends over to show them what I know about creating an HDR image in Lightroom.  I can get the photo to be an HDR, but it will be up to them to do the editing which will make it an outstanding photo.  I don’t claim to have that knowledge, but I could get them started at least.  Or they could rely on another program like EasyHDR as I like to do.  Shortcuts, I love a good shortcut.

But what was especially fun for me was that the cranes showed up on cue.  We had set the timing in hopes of them being able to see the Sandhill crane colts as they return to the nest.  And they did, along with all the usual suspects out there.  The Little Blue Heron, the Tri-color Heron, the Glossy Ibis, a fly over by a hawk and several Swallow-tail Kites.  Even the ducklings, they were all there.  They made me proud!  Even Ozzie was his charming self, if a little slobbery.

But I didn’t get any pictures since I lent my tripod to my friend.  I attempted to use the big lens plus extender hand held, but those images would make you sea-sick.  Maybe because I missed out yesterday I went out when I saw a hawk on the post out there just now, and caught a couple of dragonflies too.  5-8dragonfly35-8dragonfly25-8dragonfly15-8dragonflyface.jpg

And another image of the Glossy Ibis when I was using the tripod earlier yesterday.  You can see the iridescence of the feathers.  And I hadn’t seen the blue detailing at the eye before either.  Beautiful bird, I wonder what has made him decide to visit now?  5-8glossyibis

learning, life, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, photography

Monkey business…

4-29monkeyfeatureMy love affair with Orangutans goes back to when I lived in San Diego in the 70s.  We were a Navy family, part of a huge number of military families there.  Happily the San Diego Zoo made a trip there very affordable for us, which was a blessing when your husband would ship out for 7 months at a time.  The first thing you would see upon entering was the nursery, where they took care of baby animals for whatever reason they might need to.  Tiny baby orangutans wearing premie-sized Pampers and playing together in that nursery was the cutest thing ever.  I was hooked.

But I only looked up info on them today.  I discovered that their name comes from ‘orang’ which is Malay for person, and ‘utan’ which means forest.  They were considered to be persons who lived in the trees.  They are peaceable, quiet, shy, gentle, and friendly to humans.  They fashion tools to use to gather food, and they seem to have maps in their brains so that they know which trees will bear ripened fruit and when.  They are the largest tree dwelling mammal, and seldom need to come to the forest floor.  They live to be 35 to 40 years old in the wild, nurse from their mothers until 6 years old, and don’t reproduce until their teens.  This means that each female orangutan only has 4 or 5 babies in her lifetime, which is part of the reason they are endangered in Borneo, and critically endangered in Sumatra.


And did I mention that 97% of their genetic makeup is the same as humans?  The photo group visited the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa yesterday, and though I took lots of photos, these are my favorites, and I just had to let them stand alone…