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.
The last time I was in Charleston missed the turn into my cousin’s development, but that meant I drove right past this gem of a place. I knew I’d want to visit when I came back this time. It was founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, and consequently endured and survived our county’s history as the country was born, and as it struggled with the American Revolution as well as the Civil War. It’s said to be the oldest public garden in the county, opening in 1870, and continuing today.
I’ve hardly put a dent in the pictures I took today. It was a good day.
This park is just lovely, but I usually don’t stop to admire it’s green and shady peacefulness. My usual process is to get to Safety Harbor for the sunrise and then head to the park to see the owls, and once I’ve gotten those pictures I’m ready to drive the hour home again. But I did take a few moments to take some pictures of the park the other day. I love the stonework of the retaining walls and the path that zig zags its way down the slope to the water. As I took the feature photo I saw a bird fly through my shot, you can see it just below the horizon line towards the right hand side of the photo. I thought to myself that I hoped it would look good in the shot, but what took me by surprise was the big splash I heard a second later. I thought it must have been a pelican since they aren’t graceful when they hit the water, but I was surprised to see an osprey with a fish flying up and away. You know I took pictures but they were all too blurry to bother with.
As I approached the car to go home I saw a photographer under a tree near my car, shooting up into the branches. There had been a group there earlier also, and I was told that there was a screech owl up in that tree. I have a hard enough time seeing the much larger great horned owls so I stuck to my guns and got my owlet shots, and then my shots of the park, so I made one last stop and discovered that the osprey had chosen that tree to stop and have his lunch.
Now I was ready to go home, but I stopped to talk with a woman who asked me about the owls. I walked her over to the spot where I had stood to take my pictures and couldn’t spot the owlets, or the mom, and the entire lighting seemed very different. Sometimes you just get lucky I guess.
For someone who got up at 4 AM I’m not sure how I managed to be too late getting out of the house to get to Safety Harbor for the sunrise. But my ulterior motive for going there was to see the owlets at Philippe Park again before they leave the nest, and it wasn’t too late to see them so off I went. As usual there were photographers busily clicking away, and soon I was too. The first of the owlets was in view, and his light coloring on top of his head allowed me to spot him pretty quickly.
I heard comments around me that indicated that there were two owlets there, but I couldn’t see a second one, not while I was taking the photos.
Mom was nearby and it took a lot more looking on my part for me to spot her. And is it any wonder? Nature is amazing, look how camouflaged she is! Crows were making pests out of themselves again today but for some reason it didn’t cause much commotion. The first owlet, however, did flap it’s wings and it moved over to the right where it was almost completely hidden by the Spanish moss. Maybe that left room for owlet #2 to pop up, and #3 was right there too. This was such a treat for me. I had heard that there were three in the nest, but I told myself to be happy to get shots of one at least. What a day!
I made a quick stop at the rookery today, and found that the only action going on was at the wood stork nest. Oh the decibel level was up, somewhere more babies were demanding food from their overworked parents, but the only movement I could see was at the same nest I noticed last time.
It is nice to find photo ops in my own neighborhood…
I had one day free before my second covid shot with its potential side effects, so another spur of the moment trip took me over the Sunshine Skyway bridge and into new territory. Cars were parked along a quiet, ordinary looking, rural street, and it took me a moment to realize I had arrived. Not knowing how far into the woods I’d have to walk I just took my camera and my trusty 18-400, much disparaged lately but not by me, lens and started walking.