It was a perfect way to spend a day, sitting in the most lush natural garden you can imagine, and talking with friends while various visitors dropped in to have their picture taken. Lots of butterflies, many that zoomed into view but never stopped long enough for a picture, The same with a beautiful big dragonfly and a tiny little hummingbird. A lazy cat and two dogs seemed to be enjoying the view with us. A perfect day in a beautiful oasis of green. Thank you Eddie and Linda, for doing all the work and planning that makes this not only a beautiful oasis for us, but the perfect microclimate to allow these creatures to thrive. And for sharing a lovely day with me.
Seriously, that’s what I am, a photography groupie. I see photos from lots of photography groups online, and when I see that someone has seen the nearby eagles I become possessed with heading over to see them too. Same with the owls. Lately it’s been butterflies. A friend just took a fun field trip to a butterfly garden a couple of hours from here, and just then butterfly pictures started showing up online. So I Googled butterfly gardens nearby and came up with Hammock Park. If you are looking for a big, lush butterfly garden then this one isn’t for you. I didn’t know how I felt about walking the trails in the park by myself so I had nearly given up when the butterflies suddenly appeared. Today I am headed to a macro photography class, so, as usual, my timing could have been better since I was taking close ups today. Just means I’ll have to get out there and have a do-over! And try to do better!
It’s the little ones you have to watch out for, isn’t that what they say? Like this little bird in the tree just above Mama Owl. He was hard to spot and harder to capture in a photo. But that little guy was harassing Mama owl to the point of dive-bombing her and making contact. There was a group of us below, way below, all amazed at his daring, and our cameras were clicking. I for one had forgotten all about the fact that Mama should have been my subject. And she was paying absolutely no attention to that little bird. She just sat in the sun and napped. We thought for a second that once Mama turned around and possibly wasn’t facing his nest the bird would give up his assault, but we were wrong. The dramas of nature are going on every day, imagine how many more dramas are unfolding all around us and we have no clue.
That’s the bird making contact on her head! That’s it, a blur with a little bit of feathers or beak. You have no idea how many photos I had to scour to find even this bit of that little bird’s assault. We photographers had fun watching this all happening. If not for the mosquitos I’d have stayed until it got dark, but I had to call it a day soon after this. Nature never disappoints.
Mama finally looked around and we got her face rather than her back.
Such a sweet face on this baby owl.
Then someone showed up with a dog and this one looked very interested, and a little bit fierce.Dad was there but too sheltered in the trees for a good photo. So no one was on the nest while I was there, but one of the gals said that the babies had cuddled together in the nest the night before. Cuddling, that sounds like a good idea.
The very first FCCP photo walk that I attended was to Safety Harbor, to pan for the birds as well as take in the sunset. Turned out that there weren’t a lot of birds flying in that day, but the water was calm, pelicans were bobbing, and as we walked along the boardwalk there were birds to see tucked into the shrubbery. I had fun, which you might have guessed since I rave about the group a lot. So in my wanderings yesterday I found myself at Safety Harbor again, but the water was high and choppy, and the sun wasn’t going to set in the ‘right’ spot. But there were lots of birds flying overhead, so that was a plus. Even if I did manage to miss an osprey flying over with a fish in it’s talons. Twice. What really caught my eye were these ibis, flying in formation, or so it would seem. Is this where the Blue Angels got the idea? I used to ignore the ibis, even though they are pretty enough. No, I didn’t pay them much attention because they were ever present on my little lake in the backyard. They weren’t elusive enough I guess. A person could take a lesson…
And I did mention the osprey, right? Is he sticking his tongue out at me because I didn’t get his picture with the fish?
I feel as if I’ve emerged from my cocoon of ‘settling in’ just in time to have my first snowbird season looming. Suddenly I’m rushing to catch up on some online classes with my photo club, the FCCP, and the one I watched yesterday morning led to an a-ha moment. My new camera and lens are wonderful, and I could get along using them exclusively with no problem. Less to carry also. But one of the first things I did with my new camera was attach it to my ‘big’ lens, the 150-600, and headed to the rookery to practice, and didn’t get a single really good image. How disappointing. But the class I watched yesterday made me realize that my problem with blurry pictures may have been my shutter speed, and I was out the door in a flash, this time in search of the eagles. I parked and began to walk over to see if I saw them at the nest when I saw this; I haven’t seen Great Blue Herons in the tree tops in a very long time. There was an eagle nearby also, but he flew away too quickly for me to get his photo. So I moved on and found this;I had seen lots of pelicans in this spot before, almost looking like a rookery that day, but not yesterday. I decided to swing past the eagle nest on my way home again, and that proved to be the photo op I was looking for;Mom and Dad were in the tree just above the nest. The Princess, as she is known, was in a tree not far away and even closer to the road. She is looking regal isn’t she? But what I hadn’t counted on was a dead armadillo in the road very close to where I had parked. By the time I returned to the car there were vultures on both sides of the road and in the trees, and I had to get past them to get to the car. They are creepy. But then once I was at the car I couldn’t help myself, and so we have these last photos of the day.Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.
Part of the charm of heading over to the rookery is that there is a Twisty Treat ice cream stand right there! So you can tell yourself that you are going to take pictures, but in the back of your mind you are thinking ice cream. Yesterday I had my priorities straight, I got the ice cream first! Okay, you do have to drive across the parking lot and tuck your car in behind the buildings to unload, but I then found myself marching towards the fence with another gal, a like-minded gal, because we were both lugging a three step ladder and cameras with nice long lenses. It must have looked like we planned it. So I made a new friend yesterday, and had a very nice time as we took pictures of the chicks, and talked about photography in general. I told her about our camera club, FCCP, Florida Center for Creative Photography, and I told her that there are a lot of people my age in the group, but younger people also. Mentioned because she is young, the years that I wonder where they went are still waiting to unfold for her. But she said she likes people my age, and at that moment we were kindred spirits. The big difference was that when the osprey we had been watching hover in the air over the rookery finally made his dive and came up with a fish, her camera battery didn’t die like mine did. The most dramatic moment of a nice afternoon and I missed it. But really I didn’t miss anything, I made a new friend…