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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.

'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.

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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!
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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.

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Clyde Butcher…

Even though I had lived in Florida for eight or so years, I don’t think I became acquainted with the name Clyde Butcher, or his incredible photographs, until I joined my photo group four years ago. Florida Center for Creative Photography, which has taken over my life in a very good and welcome way. When I saw mentions of Clyde Butcher I think I nodded knowingly, to cover my uneducated rear end, and then looked at his wonderful images online. He has published books also, and he has a studio in Venice, Florida, which I am belatedly hoping to visit.

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, intending to write a post about them so that anyone who visits the area, (yes, you Maddie), might choose to stop in at the Clearwater Library to see these images for themselves. Though seeing his images online is wonderful, until you have stood next to an image that is taller than you are, or ones that are 9 feet long, you can’t begin to imagine how incredible they really are. And to see what he goes through to take the images and produce such amazing prints is just as incredible as the images themselves. When I took these pictures they looked great in the iPhone, it’s only now that I see all the reflections in them, but I hope it’s enough to whet the appetite to see them for yourself. Perhaps at his studio if you are in the area, or in the library in Clearwater. The display runs through May 2022.

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Have I mentioned?

I know I mentioned that I wasn’t particularly gracious when I found myself driving the endless hairpin turns as we traveled the last 20 miles to the cabin. But I don’t think I mentioned that the entire rest of my trip was chauffeur driven, including the first part of the drive home. That’s the part with the hairpin turns and the frustrating traffic approaching Atlanta. Whew! So I spent one of the days we were there, the day that it stayed overcast most of the day so the light was soft and the colors were nice, shooting iPhone pictures out the windshield of the car. I have, on occasion, tried to shoot pictures out the windshield while also driving, a practice that I don’t recommend since it rarely leads to a good picture, not to mention the danger involved. But with a chauffeur it was hard to resist trying for shots as the scenery was gorgeous but there was nowhere to stop and take pictures. The feature photo is one of my more successful of those shots.

We were at a higher elevation, as well as the softer light, so the colors really seemed more vivid.
Ordinarily I’d have cropped out the people at the bottom of the picture. But as you can see they are aiming their phones across the parking area. I wonder if they ever turned around and looked behind themselves?
I don’t know that I stand and savor these views since I’m usually in such a hurry to take a picture, as if someone is about to snatch the view away.
Rocks and water again.
The water is so clear.
The sound of the water was nice too, and all the while you were under a canopy of gold and orange leaves.

The drive to get to the Smokies may have been long and frustrating at times, and the lack of wifi for the entire stay, as well as not even having TV for the first two days, may have been enough to spoil the trip for some people. But our focus was to get out and take ever more pictures, so that’s what we did. Plus I had downloaded books from Audible before we left, just to use my points before I quit the app, so we listened to a Vince Flynn book for the two TV-less nights. Now we need to listen to the end to see if everyone lives happily ever after. Which is what we seem to be doing…