adventure, attention to detail, birds, brainstorms, connections, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, making memories, natural wonders, perseverance, photography, road trip, technology

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive…

This place has been on my mind to visit for a while now. It’s not a place to go in the summer when the sun is relentless, even if you are driving and hopping in and out of the car for pictures all day. As it turned out this particular day was quite windy, and therefore chilly, but I thought it was a great location to take my friend and her new camera with its great zoom.

This first gator view was across the water. I thought my friend might be freaked out, but she was too busy taking pictures to panic.
I loved the little grebe.
Anhingas, they are everywhere,
The colors on this grackle caught our eye. Shot through the windshield. Apparently the camera ignored the dirty glass, isn’t technology grand?
Ibis, in formation.
An Osprey hunting. I have no idea why the sky was so dark in this shot.
Did the osprey find his lunch? This one did anyhow.
A snowy egret, with her golden slipper on display.
A tricolor heron, pausing for a moment in the sun.
Merlin says that this is a Wilson’s Snipe. A first for me!

We drove home and stopped at our favorite, and only, place to get a ‘South Shore Pizza’ here in Florida. Kathy agreed it was up to par. I left Brockton, MA at age 20, and longed for this fabulous pizza ever since, always being sure to visit the Cape Cod Cafe when I’m ‘home’. Now I can get one whenever the urge strikes!

a second look, adventure, attention to detail, birds, Circle B Bar Reserve, connections, eagles, egrets, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, road trip, technology

The Gray Ghost…

There you have it, the inspiration for many a photographer to head to Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s a Northern Harrier, and I didn’t expect to see it at all. Or ever. We were on our last stretch of trail, which is wide open to see the sky in all directions, but our intention was to make it back to the car before the battery in the scooter gave out. But we forgot all about that when we saw this bird, circling in the distance. I zoomed my lens to the full 400mm, but in the bright light and at that distance I couldn’t see if it was in the frame or not. But I took the shots anyhow. I’ve seen photographers standing with their cameras on their tripods, just waiting, hoping to see him. If they did I’m sure they got better pictures than this, but for my circumstances I’ll take it.

This Pied-Billed Grebe was a first to see here also, but one visited my lake a few years ago.
You’ve heard of a bump on a log…
Heading out on this trail with all it’s roots may be what challenged the battery of the scooter, but now we know where to look for the eagles.
We never did figure out what this egret was so intent on, but we all passed by not 8 feet away and he didn’t even flinch.
Another photographer asked what bird this is, and I answered that it was a Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Then she turned around and proved me right.

It was a fun day, but I crashed when I got home and sat down. It wasn’t a nap, I was done for the day. Now to check out some more of the 1334 pictures from yesterday. I was shooting in the fastest burst mode of the new camera, which is great if the bird takes off or something. But when they are still you just have the tiniest little eye blinks or head tilts to decide which is your best shot. But I’m not complaining.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, cats, ducks, eagles, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, perseverance, photography

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.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, ducks, Florida wildlife, friends, fun, life goes on, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography

More birds…

As the owl and eagle ‘kids’ prepare to fly the coop, literally, the rookery is full of birds who are busy feathering their nests to get ready for their own crop of newcomers.

That looks to me like mom on the left because she looks bigger, and Dad on the right. He had just returned from a jaunt around the area. It looked like he brought back some more building materials, the kids must be doing some damage to the nest.
This is basically it for what we saw that afternoon. Mom stayed in place the entire time we were there. She had a few things to say to Dad when he returned. Aside from several wing flaps from one of the eaglets there wasn’t a thing going on.
This is as close as I came to an eagle action shot. Dad was heading out on a mission.

Meanwhile, back at the rookery…

You can imagine the action I thought I was photographing when I took this picture. And 30 more just like it. If that is going to be their nest they have a long way to go.
Tricolor Herons were frequent visitors to my backyard in Spring Hill, but they hardly ever stayed still long enough for a photo. This one was more cooperative. I hope they will nest at this rookery since I’ve never seen a baby tricolor.
I think he knew how handsome he was all decked out in his breeding plumage.
Ever present, and always beautiful, the great egrets were in abundance also.
While wood storks aren’t the prettiest birds in the area, when they fly they can look positively beautiful. Until they put their landing gear down.
One of these birds is not like the others, one of these birds just doesn’t belong. Just a little Sesame Street ear worm for you today.

Muscovy ducks used to terrorize my son’s neighborhood, but his dog Roo encouraged them to move on out of the yard. So I thought they were a PITA, but I have to say that the ones in the feature photo look spectacular.

'scene' along the way, a second look, blessings, changing times, connections, finding my way, friends, leap of faith, life goes on, making memories, natural wonders, perseverance, photography, sunset, technology, unintended images

Those photo ops…

I’ve been disappointed in myself lately. I haven’t been out for as many sunrises or sunsets. Maybe I was just too lazy, I thought. Or maybe, just maybe, the morning coffee with someone to talk with was the reason. And chatting over dinner might just result in the sunset happening right outside the window and I never noticed. So I’ve given up one obsession for another, well, maybe not obsession, but certainly a lovely distraction. I feel very lucky. And those sunrises and sunsets keep happening, so that when I do head out the door there they are. The big question on this day, which was last Monday, was whether we would reach Edgewater Park before the sun sank totally beneath the horizon. Traffic was annoyingly slow, and we were actually heading to a photo editing opportunity in Clearwater, so we weren’t stopping for the sunset. Nope, I was just shooting out the window of the car as we now seemed to be whizzing past. I was happy to see that I managed a couple of usable shots. And a selfie!

Just made it!
Oops!
a second look, Florida landmarks, flowers, friends, fun, gardens, history, making memories, natural wonders, nature, perseverance, photography, weather

Sunken Gardens…

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, perfect for a trip to the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete. It was warm enough that the cool shady paths were very welcome, even in December. I have seen it referred to as one of the ‘old Florida roadside attractions’, and, at 100 yers old, as Florida’s oldest ‘living museum. It seemed that lots of people had decided that it was a perfect day to visit.

I haven’t visited at Christmas before, so the poinsettia tree was surprise to see.
The paths meander and criss-cross.
Good thing there was a map, though we were lost a lot of the time.
A flock of flamings waded in the fountain.
Azaleas were blooming.
The train garden was chugging along.
Orchids.
More orchids.
Blossoms on a red vein maple.
Small waterfalls were tucked into the foliage..
And larger waterfalls too, with some impressively large koi fish swimming about..

The news last night was full of snowy images and I remember that cold reality. I think I’m right where I belong.