birds, eagles, egrets, Florida wildlife, nature, pelicans, photography, sunset, Tricolored heron

The quiet nest…

I held a vigil for a while at the eagle nest today, camera at the ready, and almost nothing happened.  My eagle watching friend says that the fact that the eagle on the nest was hunkered down and invisible most of the time I was there means that it’s the male.  The female is bigger also, another tidbit I learned today.  I was distracted by a Downey woodpecker for a bit, and hoped I didn’t miss anything but I didn’t think so.  What I expected was for the female to join the male on the nest, that was the photo op I hoped for.  But that’s not what happened.  There was sudden movement on the nest, the male popped up and vocalized a bit, and then took off.  Several minutes went by and then another eagle flew over and settled down on the nest.  We couldn’t say for sure which eagle it was, we were just glad to know the nest was protected.

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I stopped at the Anclote Fishing Pier on the way home and found some more feathered friends there.  It’s my friend’s favorite sunset spot, but it was too early for the sunset, and I was tired so I decided to head home…

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birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, nature, photography, unintended images

Feathered friends…

I spent all last spring out in the back yard with my new (at the time) camera, and never ran out of things to photograph.  There were so many birds every day, plus I noticed the light at sunset, and the magical reflection of the trees in the lake that made the water look like a mirror.  In reality it’s quite loaded with algae, etc., but shortly before sunset it looks amazing out there.  As it did today.

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And of course the Sand Hill cranes.  Their story had me enthralled for months, but they had moved on.  And the reality is that there hasn’t been a lot of bird action on the lake for a few months now.  Until lately.  Lately Sand Hill cranes are all around the neighborhood, and they spend time on the lake too.  A few days ago I watched a stand off of sorts between a Great Blue Heron on one side of the lake, and two Sand Hill cranes directly across from him.

1211heronThe heron never moved an inch, so I really can’t say that it wasn’t a statue of one.  He stared at those cranes for well over an hour.  I was busy but each time I looked outside to see what was going on he was in exactly the same place.  I’ve seen a heron out there from time to time, but they haven’t ever been as common a visitor as the Sand Hill cranes are.

Today I needed to get some new pictures, so when I heard the cranes out there I picked up my camera and went outside.  But instead of seeing them across the lake as I expected, they were right in my backyard.  Someone must be feeding them because they weren’t afraid of me, in fact they headed straight for me.  Someday I’ll contain my excitement when I think I’m going to get some nice pictures and actually look at the settings instead of picking up the camera and starting  to shoot.  Most of the time when I do get a good picture it’s dumb luck, and this afternoon was no exception.  They were coming so close to me that I had to change the lens on the camera.  I’m really hoping they will make their nest out there on the lake again this year.

1211crane21211crane11211closeup1211crane31211cranecloseup31211cranefrombelow1211cranefrombelow2I never knew their beaks were so well ventilated.  Or that they have chubby cheeks.  They were so close to me that I could only take close ups, and as I did they turned their heads this way and that as if they were getting directions.    I finally sat on the ground for a different perspective.  I had been wondering where I ought to go for some photo ops yesterday, and it turned out I only needed to head out the door…

birds, Florida wildlife, moments, nature, photography, pond creatures, simple things, Tricolored heron

Where’s Waldo…

I was hoping to see the Tri-colored Heron again, and I got my wish on Tuesday.  I saw him on the post, and brought my camera outside just in time to see him fly to the island in the middle of the lake.  The grasses out there are tall enough that he disappeared completely, and then you’d see his head pop up like a periscope.  I have read that they are a wading bird, and that thought sent off alarm bells in my head.  These pictures are taken right where the Sandhill Cranes nested last December.  I have to wonder if there is dry land enough out there for another nest this year.  I hope so.

So there I was, camera at the ready, and all I could see of him was his head, and I couldn’t see that all the time either.  But every few minutes he would pop up and fly a short distance and disappear again.  Evidently he didn’t want to make this easy for me.  He is so pretty though.  I decided that he really is a new comer, I couldn’t possibly have not noticed him if he’d been out there before.  How nice of him to join us.

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birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Eagles…

I missed an eagle photo shoot yesterday.  There are so many potential activities of this new group that I joined that it really is mind boggling, and somehow I had the day wrong.    I wanted to go to the eagle shoot because I’ve wanted to ‘shoot’ an eagle for a while now, especially with the new lens, and the shoot was right in my son’s neighborhood.  Well, his old neighborhood.  I had driven down the road that the shoot was on any number of times, so did that mean I had been driving past eagles and never saw them?  I wanted to find out.

Which is how I found myself heading down the road this morning to where I thought the shoot had been.  It turns out I don’t know my way around that area as well as I thought I did.  But, as luck would have it, after floundering for a bit I spotted two women with cameras and a tripod, and stopped to ask if they were taking pictures of eagles.  Happily they were, and I can honestly say that had they not been there I would never have found the spot, because I expected to walk into the woods to see them.  It was nice of them to allow me to join them, and they were a wealth of knowledge.  They have been watching the eagles for years, and they said that out of the five nests that they were aware of, Hurricane Irma had destroyed three of them.  Two are rebuilt now, but the third is not.  These are a new nesting pair, they said, because the last pair got electrocuted.  Turns out mating and talons and electric wires don’t mix.  I find that sad of course, and I’m not sure I’ll leave that in my post.  Sad but true.

They think that this pair has just laid eggs in the last day or so because they were both out and about all day the day before.  But today we saw the changing of the guard, they are taking turns staying on the nest.  This will be interesting…

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birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, home, moon, natural wonders, nature, photography, the easy way out

Taking it easy…

Sometimes you run out of energy and have to take it easy after you get home from work, and after swimming laps.  It helps that the Sandhill Cranes were out back, sounding off as only they can.  They must not be the same pair that was here last year because last year’s birds ignored the dogs.  These cranes were all the way across the lake and yet they objected to Ozzie and Zoe wading and drinking out of the lake.  Last year, at the end of December, I took a picture of two Sandhill Cranes nesting on the island out in the lake.  I’m not sure that I realized that they were nesting at that moment.  Now I have to hope we’ll have a new set of babies this year.  They seem to be feeling their oats.  Love the new lens in this situation.  It’s quite big and heavy though, I’ll have to pick and choose when to bring it with me.

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I took the featured photo at about 5:30, just about the same time as the sunset out front.  I  had a feeling that once it got dark I wouldn’t be able to capture the detail in the moon, not as clearly as it was in this photo.  Plus ducks, and what Merlin says is an immature Little Blue Heron.  And it’s time to snooze…

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adventure, birds, boats, connections, finding my way, Florida wildlife, fun, nature, pelicans, photography, safety Harbor, sky, sunset

Safety Harbor Sunset…

In the interests of finding new and different places for photo ops, plus my social life could use a kick in the pants, I joined a big group of photographers for a shoot last night at Safety Harbor.  Drove through a very cute town with shops I would have loved to have had time to explore, maybe I’ll do that next time.  Actually we were having fun exploring and photographing birds, enough so that we very nearly missed the sunset all together.

An immature Black Crowned Night Heron, was a new bird to me.  Merlin says that the white tips on the feathers are what tells you it’s not a mature bird.  He posed like a champ.  As did the Downey Woodpecker, and there were lots of pelicans swimming alongside the pier.

1130nightheron1130downeywoodpecker1130pelicansBut we did turn our attention to the sunset in time to catch some pretty color in the sky.

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Even the walk past the boats in the marina on the way back to my car had me stopping for another couple of shots.

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But the real adventure came on the way home.  One of the group officials had suggested that I take a right out of the parking lot to avoid most of the congestion in the area on the way home, and he told me what street to take.  But I was still unsure so I asked my pal Siri to “direct me home”.   I always forget that when you do that you get a very close up map with the route highlighted in blue, but you can’t see even your next move coming up.  Or where you are or where you are going, just that blue line glowing in the dark.  And the road she had me on kept snaking to the right and the left, and reversing itself so that it seemed like you were going the wrong way.  I began to wonder who’s house she was taking me to, but, as always, she got me to the Suncoast Parkway and it was fine from then on.  All in all a fun adventure…