birds, Cranes, Florida landmarks, Florida wildlife, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, photography

Would you believe…

… that this is the latest creature that I spotted in the lake out back? I hope not.  Nope, meet Lu, an honorary Floridian who lives at Homosassa Springs Wildlife park.  When the state took over the park in 1989 the exotic animals were all sent to new homes, but a public outcry to keep Lu resulted in his change of status, and he will live out his days in the park.  Along with quite a few varieties of Florida wildlife.  I’ve heard of some of these birds being photographed at other birding sites, but I haven’t seen most of these in the wild.  Or not so far.  But now I’ll have to make it a point to visit as many of the Florida State parks as possible, with my new yearly pass.  Who knows what I’ll find, but I’ll bet that I won’t find another Hippopotamus.2-18Homosassasprings

Yellow-crowned Night Heron
Green heron
Northern Crested Caracara, a bird of prey who is both sluggish and a scavenger


White pelican, and no I don’t know what that protrusion is on his bill and google didn’t tell me


Whooping Crane, who come by their name honestly
Pelican Island, there was a power struggle going on
On the boat ride to the park


birds, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, unintended images

Getting my Spoonbills in a row…

Seeing Roseate Spoonbills was a bucket list thing for me, and I managed to do just that at Circle B Bar Reserve.  But it was just a tease.  I had to glimpse them through the foliage, and they were hunkered down because of the chill in the air that day.  So when my photo op for the day fell apart, meaning that I chickened out of a two hour drive in the dark, and in the dense fog (really, really dense), I decided to head to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park to see the Spoonbills there.  There is a school of thought that says that you shouldn’t photograph animals in captivity, but I don’t have a problem with that.  I’m in hopes that seeing the beauty of these birds will only make people appreciate them, and nature, more.  Of course getting the photos was a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.  So how come I got so many truly bad photos?  I wanted to get them in flight, and fly they did, but maybe it was the close quarters but all the photos were disappointing.  Or I tried for an artistic effect.  You be the judge…2-18spoonbill52-16spoonbill6-22-16spoonbill4-22-16spoonbill3-22-16spoonbill2-22-16spoonbill1-22-16spoonbill5

birds, Florida wildlife, memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, photography, Uncategorized

Philippe Park…

I am a New England gal who may not have lived there in almost 50 years, but if you ask me where I’m from that’s still my answer.  And this gal is still a sucker for stone walls.  But when I say that I picture meandering little stone walls that look as if they somehow grew in place.  As natural as the trees and fields they define. They were everywhere back home in Massachusetts, and I knew I loved them, but what I didn’t realize was that they aren’t found everywhere.  I wish they were.

While I was photographing the owls I was also noticing the park itself.  The winding  path at Philippe Park, the path that curved up the hill along side the stone wall really appealed to me.  It certainly doesn’t look random, or like it grew there by itself, but it still did my heart good to see it.  This park will be a place to return to, and I think I’d feel that way even without the owls.2-9philippe62-8Philipe Park2-9philippe5

On my way home from seeing the owls at Philippe Park I stopped to check out the ‘action’ that I heard was going on a lot closer to home in New Port Richey.  I didn’t know what I’d find but what I saw was shrubbery, which was obscuring a chain link fence.  But there was a break in the greenery, and a locked gate with a bit of a gap, and this is what was going on beyond the fence.  I had to shoot photos through the gap in the gate, and that’s when I remembered the suggestion to stick a step ladder in the car.  My friend meant that seriously since the chain link fence is tall.2-9BOMfeature

The birds were rather subdued when I was there, but the day before I heard that there was a lot of mating happening.  And nesting in that very unimpressive shubbery in the water.  It’s hard to imagine what made this such an attractive spot both to Great Egrets and Woodstorks.  I looked up Woodstorks because I wondered why they have such odd, naked heads, and that wasn’t addressed, but I did read that they nest ‘communally’.  So I suppose I now know what that means.  Perhaps there will be new generations of birds here in the not too distant future.  Something to look forward to.2-8woodstork2-8showysnowy

birds, Florida wildlife, natural wonders, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, on closer examination, Owls, perseverance, photography

Whoo is that???

Photographers are a friendly bunch.  They freely share information on where to go to see whatever birds you may wish to see.  Upon losing the eaglets my attention turned to the Great Horned Owl nest I’ve been hearing about.  One of my new acquaintances posts info on the current conditions in the various parks around, so I was well aware that Phillipe Park was the place to go to find an owl-ette (?).  I had never been there before, but I was hopeful that I would find the nest.  I asked directions once I was there and was told to go through the 4-way stop and look for the paparazzi, LOL, and it worked.  Well, it got me to the area, but the other photographers had to point out the nest.  One even moved over to give me a better view, and finally I spotted the Mom up above the nest in a tree.  Some of them had been there for three hours when I got there, but I was just in time, they said, because they expected her to move to the nest any minute.  Then it would be feeding time.3-7owls1The Spanish moss that you see was a challenge to shoot through.  It was hanging from limbs between the owls and where we were standing, and it was blowing back and forth.  I had to switch to manual focus because auto focus kept refocusing as the moss came into the viewer.  Then someone yelled that she was in flight…3-7owlsfeatureOnce she landed all you could see was the baby, sort of…3-7owls2And we all scrambled across the way, hoping for a better angle.3-7owls33-7owls73-7owls43-7owls63-7owls53-7owls8And oh by the way, I wasn’t far off with my made up owl-ette.  Siri says it’s actually owlet.  Such a cute face, and quite the wing spread from the glimpse I got of that.  I have no idea what I used to think about before I became a bird-brain…

birds, dogs, eagles, Florida wildlife, life, life goes on, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, Osprey, pelicans, photography, pond creatures

Beyond the nest…

When I left the nest, having heard the sad news about the eaglets, I went to Anclote River Park.  I had been there before with my son and his family, and what I remember was that the water was red.  I don’t remember the explanation.  It was very odd, and it stuck in my mind.  What I found this time was a lovely park, and I would think it might be yet another great spot for the sunset.  I was directed there by another photographer, who told me to look to my right once I got there and I’d see the Osprey nest.  He wasn’t sure if there were eggs, but as you see the Ospreys were on hand.

Then I wandered along the walkway and what I couldn’t help but notice were the pelicans.  Certainly the most up close photo opportunity with them that I’ve seen so far.3-2pelican2Day 6 PelicanBut still the eagles were on my mind.  I saw the one in the dead tree when I first got to the nest, and the other one when I stopped on my way home.  So they are still in the vicinity of the nest, a nest of very long standing.  I spoke to my eagle watching friends and there is speculation that the eagles may mate again and lay more eggs this season.  I hope so, at least I think I hope so.  It’s hard not to get too attached.3-2eagle3-2eagle2Back home the Sandhill Cranes continue to tease us.  They are on the lake daily, on the old nest and also visiting the new nest they built.  They don’t spend the night, or I don’t think that they do.  So whether or not there will be new babies on the lake is still an unknown.3-2cranes.jpg  I counted on the sunset for a Day 7 of the 10 day photo challenge, but it was too overcast.  Sunsets are funny that way.  Which left me with only one solution.Day7Zoe

I suppose this is Zoe’s ‘before’ picture because she needs a haircut.  She was gorgeous when she was young, long-legged and slim.  I joked that I got her because people grow to look like their dogs, and I wanted to be taller and thinner.  Well, what’s happened is that Zoe has gotten thicker through the middle, and I’ve got grayer… and hair on my chin.

birds, eagles, Florida wildlife, life, natural wonders, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, on closer examination, photography


I asked Siri what baby eagles are called, and eaglets was the answer.  I was afraid I’d made that word up when I considered using it.  One of my fellow stalkers of the nest, and I say that with all respect, happened to speak with an official from Pasco County yesterday.  When asked if he would like to receive photos from the photographers who have been concentrating on the nest the official said yes.  And that is what made me go back to my last visit and look, really look, at my photos from that day.  Sometimes after being out for quite a while taking the photos, and then coming home and writing a blog post, I tend to narrow my vision to what fits the subject I’m writing about.  Telling the story of the day as it happened, and not posting a ridiculous number of photos.  In looking back at the photos for Pasco County I realized that what I’d most like to see is the eaglets, as clearly as possible.  And when you consider the distance involved, the size of the eaglets, and the angle from which you are forced to take the photos, it is amazing that these photos are even possible.  That’s technology for you, not necessarily the photographer.  So the post for the 3rd of February is probably outdated since those little guys change so rapidly.  All the more reason to post them now, because the next time I manage to make it to the nest they’ll probably look entirely different.1-29onthenest11-29onthenest21-29onthenest31-29onthenest41-29onthenest51-29onthenest61-29onthenest7The images of them being fed are the most frustrating to get.  In person you can see what’s going on.  The parent shreds a morsel from whatever unfortunate creature has found itself as dinner, and then turns it’s head and the eaglet takes the morsel from it’s beak.  I’m not sure I’d have imagined that activity from a still photograph.  And I’m finding myself making the same assumptions that I did last year over the Sandhill cranes.  One baby seemed more adventurous and the other more quiet and subdued.  That’s how I’m seeing the eaglets, one is easy to spot, but the other doesn’t seem to lift it’s head up to check out the world nearly as often.  Patience is a virtue, especially for a nature photographer, or so it seems to me…

I wrote this this morning (Friday), and then my plans for the day changed so I went to the nest.  I was surprised that I saw no eagles, babies or parents.  After a while I took my phone out of my pocket and was dismayed to see a message from a friend that it is suspected that the babies have died.  Heartbreaking news, I felt guilty just walking away. I drove to a nearby park, and on my way home I saw photographer friends all set up at the nest.  They were aware of the possible problem, but they were planning to stay anyhow.  The eagles were in the area, but not on the nest…