adventure, attention to detail, birds, exploring new places, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, gardens, live and learn, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, road trip

Distractions…

I have to confess that as much as I enjoyed the butterflies at the Butterfly Rainforest yesterday I did let myself get distracted by the adorable Chinese Painted Quail that were busy scooting around in the underbrush. And sometimes napping on the walkway. Another visitor asked if they were okay, and the workers said yes they were. And added they they are the worlds smallest variety of quail. You can see them in the feature photo, a male and female I would expect.

See that tiny little pink dot nearly in the center of this photo? That is a Summer Tanager and it was busy taking a bath and didn’t seem to mind that I was intent on getting pictures.
Thank goodness for the zoom, he was too cute to miss.
He was splishing and splashing.
So cute.
And when he was done he up and flew away.

Actually the fun started right when you walked into the lobby, before you even entered the rainforest. In the lobby was a huge screen on the wall, and when we entered on the screen was a Mastodon and baby, wandering in the lobby. We quickly discovered that if you walked into the area the animal on the screen would start following you, and chasing you. You can imagine how excited the two young boys we saw were as they were chased by a tiger.

Not a great photo I know, but it was quite effective in person.
Tigers chased you more than the Mastodons did.
Also on display in the reception area. Fossils was the other big feature while we were there. I was sort of along for the ride, not expecting to be as interested as I turned out to be.
This display was nice, in the kids’s play area.
Hanging above the kids’s heads, the stuff of nightmares.

Did you know that giant sloths existed years ago? Big! Like 14 feet tall or so. And Dog bears? Not a dog and not a bear, but a dog bear. And did you know that horses used to be small and have gotten bigger over time? I didn’t either. And now I wish I’d taken more pictures.

butterflies, exploring new places, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, gardens, Just do it, live and learn, making memories, moments, natural wonders, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, road trip

Exploring a Rainforest…

We visited a Rainforest yesterday. In Gainesville, FL. With Butterflies. A shorter road trip this time. Your price of admission included visiting the museums associated with the University of Florida, so we saw more than just a host of butterflies. But for now it’s the butterflies that stole the show.

You walk a boardwalk through a lush garden of lovely flowers, with waterfalls, turtles, and koi fish. Butterflies of every imaginable color are literally everywhere. If you stop to take pictures you must check around your feet before you take a step, just in case.
These black and white butterflies were either the most abundant variety or the ones who most wanted their picture taken.
Black butterflies seemed elusive.
I loved his blue color.
Just saying hello!
Catching them while they were on flowers wasn’t easy.
This one was small, and it’s body was thick enough that I thought it was a hummingbird for a second.
Say cheese.
Yellow fellow.
A worker pointed out this blue butterfly when it was staying still and we could get pictures. He called it the ‘money shot’. These blue butterflies, and others of every color you can imagine, flitted through your view constantly, but didn’t stop often enough to get photos of them all.
This is how that blue butterfly looks with his wings closed. Signage said that some of these startling colors are so that the butterfly can open its wings and the color will startle a predator.

We set the record for heat in the Tampa area yesterday. If it wasn’t a record in Gainesville then I’m sure it was close. Plus the humidity was even more than what was natural to enhance the rainforest atmosphere. But it was a worthwhile trip, we were happy we got to enjoy this colorful place.

'scene' along the way, adventure, bucket list, exploring new places, following the rules, friends, fun, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, road trip

Assateague State Park..

I don’t know if getting to see the wild ponies at Assateague Island was exactly a bucket list thing for me, I’m not sure I even knew about them until I lived in Maryland. And for 30 years or more I gnashed my teeth when I saw the pictures of the round-up, when the ponies are herded across the water and then some are sold. The monies collected are used to fund the fire department, if I am remembering that correctly. I never seemed to see an announcement of the round-up ahead of time, only after I’d missed it. My friend was stationed in VA with the Air Force years ago and he says he always wanted to go there and never did either. For some reason the GPS said it couldn’t give us directions, so I just drove south from where we were staying and counted on seeing signs. And it worked!

This was all the view I expected to see. Ponies off in the distance.
This is why I love my 18-400 lens so much. I’m ready for anything.
I’m also ready when ponies suddenly cross the road from the opposite side and surprise me.
By this time the traffic had been held up as they wandered across, and cars were pulled off the road in each direction so people could watch.
We watched for quite a while and then moved on, but when we headed back in this direction these ponies were still grazing in this same spot.
They made such a pretty sight. And they completely ignored the people jostling for position to take their pictures. But people kept some distance at least, possibly because of the signs that warn that ponies bite and kick!
Of course this foal captured my attention.
Isn’t he cute?

I don’t know if I ever read Misty of Chincoteague or not, or if I ever bought it for my daughter, but I bought a copy for myself in the gift shop at the state park yesterday. I am in my second childhood after all…

a second look, Florida landmarks, friends, fun, making memories, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, weather

Checking on the baby…

You do know to which baby I am referring, don’t you? Little RipLee, born to RanDee in November of last year. I wondered if he was showing some independence yet.

Still in mom’s arms but even cuter than before.
He was on his feet!
RanDee and RipLee.

But there was another fun interaction going on also. Another photographer had been to the zoo recently and had commented on how the male orangutan, Goyang, who had usually been seen keeping to himself, was now interacting with a young one. This was the behavior we also noticed at the Zoo on Thursday, and they both seemed to be having quite the time of it.

I took a lot of pictures of them wrestling but all you could see is a mound of orange fur.
I believe they are father and son.

When I could tear myself away from the orangutans I discovered that there is another new baby at the zoo.

This little Siamang Gibbon was harder to photograph than the orangutans.
He is little, but a bit more independent than RipLee.
I was excited to see him in the open for photos, but I think his coloring made the images more challenging to take and to process.

A lot of renovations are going on at Zoo Tampa, closing some of our favorite photo ops, but we did find a few more things to take note of.

The elephants were confined to one portion of their area while some renovations are going on. This elephant, however, seemed to think that he should supervise things.
Shoebill Stork.
I should know what species this is but I don’t.
I could claim to know that those grasshoppers were on the stump when I took this picture, but I’d be lying.
Imagine my surprise when I spotted this stampede of wild animals making off with unsuspecting children.

We had expected to take pictures for only an hour or two before the rains came, but they held off longer than we expected giving us a nice day.

'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, bucket list, exploring new places, Florida wildlife, front yard visitors, fun, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, road trip

Wishful thinking…

There is a consistency to my vague desire to find the perfect place to live these days. Aside from the basic affordability, the most important, and unobtainable, wished-for aspect, I want built-in photo ops on my doorstep. With that in mind downtown Lakeland might be just the spot for me.

Who wouldn’t love to have this park right outside their front door?
Each year they have an event where they capture, band, and give veterinary check -ups to the resident swans at the lake. TV coverage of the event this year was how I knew the swans were even there.
While swans are always lovely, I don’t know if I would have wanted to stop here on our way home, very loosely ‘on our way home’, were it not for knowing that they had black swans here. Now seeing them was worth the extra mileage.
These were a treat to see.
A youngster perhaps, judging by the lighter feathers?
I think that this one was preparing to audition for Swan Lake.
And a snowy egret in her golden slippers. She didn’t seem to mind being out numbered by her bigger feathered friends.

Birds do seem to dominate the Florida photo-op scene, don’t they? I’m lucky to live here where affordability is at least possible. Not to mention the photo ops.

a second look, adventure, bucket list, fun, learning, life goes on, live and learn, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, on closer examination, perseverance, photography

Riplee…

All that had to cross my mind yesterday was to think of how long it’s been since I’ve been to the zoo and I was out the door so fast that I got there before they were open. Oh, they’d let you in, but you couldn’t leave the entry plaza. But soon I was looking at the orangutans, of course, but I honestly had a very hard time spotting ‘our’ baby. Mom doesn’t hold him in quite the same way these days, he is expected to hang on for dear life as she moves around their enclosure. I saw an especially small baby who was all over the place playing, including as high as he/she could climb, and I finally had to ask a keeper if the newest baby was allowed to play yet. She said that he wants to, but Mom doesn’t let him, so far. And I finally remembered to ask about the contest they held to name this little guy. With a grandmother named Dee Dee, and a mother named Randee, I’m not surprised that the winning name was Riplee.

I only got a couple of shots of little Riplee’s face.
Randee got up in response to one of the keepers tossing pieces of fruit to the group. There were some really great catches.
I didn’t notice any squabbling when one caught a piece, he just got to eat it and the rest tried for the next piece.
What I thought I saw was this orang race over and pose when she spotted this photographer. He had cameras the likes of which I hadn’t seen before, plus he was accompanied by a keeper, so I suspect he’s an official photographer. I’m telling you, she was posing.
And this one also took up this position in response to seeing the photographer. Posing for sure.
This one is very small, especially to see her all over the enclosure, but she sure seemed to be having fun.
It’s more fun to have a playmate of course, and these two were inseparable.
If we had opposable thumbs on our feet maybe we could also do this, when we are young at least.
I thought this was a loving mother’s face when I took this picture, but then they unfolded themselves and the one I thought was the mom hitched a ride on the actual mom.
I wish I understood their relationships to know who is who, they had me fooled.
Even as I took this picture I thought of all the times that someone came up to us in the supermarket in our dental office neighborhood and started trying to show Charley the tooth that was bothering them. He liked to go out to one of the corner bars after work to relax for a little while, but he was picky about which ones to avoid for exactly this reason.
I did walk the zoo of course, but I just can’t stay away from the orangutans for long. In looking at this scene I told myself that we might see a scene like this if we were in Africa. I wasn’t noticing the man-made structures at that moment though.