birds, Cranes, family, Florida wildlife, nesting, perseverance, photography

If you’ve got ’em, flap ’em…

I was out and about yesterday before the sun was even up, so when I came home to relax I looked out back and found a surprise visitor on the lake, and, of course, I took some photos.  It was too early for the cranes just then, but I knew where to look for them. 4-19anhinga

This was only the second time that I’ve seen an Anhinga out on the lake.  I don’t think there is enough water here for them, so I think he was just taking a break as he traveled from one place to another.  I saw the dark shape and expected it to be the Little Blue Heron who sits there every day.  But you couldn’t miss that undulating neck that is very snake-like.  Seeing him was what got me out there.  And after a few pictures I decided to go see if I could find our cute new residents.

You might think that after last year’s chicks these new ones would fall into the category of old news, but they aren’t to me, and I hope they aren’t to you.  These two are bouncy little things.  When they realize that they’ve fallen behind they bounce along as they run to catch up.  They fall down, and pop back up, and are generally just too cute for words.  I loved the ‘nub’ flapping last year, and there is plenty of that going on this year too.  Do I sound like a proud grandma?  I feel like one…

4-19feeding24-19feeding4-19chicks34-19chicks54-19chicks6

I didn’t think that they minded me hovering and taking photos, but eventually  it seemed as if they should have headed back to the nest and I began to worry that I was the problem.  So I went home and sure enough they came back to the lake just a few minutes later.  It’s going to be hard to resist that closer-up photo op, but I’ll try not to bother them too much.  And when I do head out to find them I’ll try to remember bug spray, I was standing in fire ant territory when I took these photos!

backyard visitors, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, pond creatures, Tricolored heron

Assumptions…

I frequently assume I know what’s going to happen next, based on what has happened in the past, and I’m frequently wrong.  But not this time.  When I first noticed that the Sandhill cranes had taken their newly hatched chicks off the lake this morning I wasn’t surprised.  Last year’s family had only spent one full day on the lake before doing the same thing.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to go one block over to look for them, and then I went anyhow.4-18close-up4-18close-up24-18close-up3And waiting for them to come ‘home’ at night is a lot like waiting for your teenagers to come home on the weekends.  They show up just as you are starting to panic.  They wander down from the yard across the street, heading for the lake.  It was a lot later than I expected, not until 5:40, and they didn’t seem to dawdle, it was time for Dad to fly over to the nest and clear out all the interlopers.4-18dadtakesover4-18dadtakesover24-18dadtakesover3Dad then led the charge to the nest.  Day two for the new family…

adventure, backyard visitors, birds, connections, Cranes, Florida wildlife, friends, life, life goes on, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Here we go again…

As you can see from the feature photo, our new Sandhill crane chicks have arrived.  To you it’s obvious, but it wasn’t to me when I came home from work to see the adult cranes across the lake with no babies in sight.  I didn’t worry at first, I just grabbed the camera and went out there to look through the telescopic lens.  And as was the case last year, my neighbor was out working on his yard, so I alerted him and we looked together and couldn’t see the chicks.  I don’t know how long it took.  I kept telling myself it was hopeless, and to go in and change out of my work clothes, but still I stayed out there, looking.  There is taller grass out there, greener too, so the little ones might just be out of sight I thought.  And the two adult cranes were feeding pretty close together, more so than usual it seemed, and recognizing that I stuck with it.  And then I finally I spotted one and called to my neighbor to see it.  He spotted the second one a bit later.  Four hours later I finally called it quits for the day.4-16cranes44-16cranes54-16cranes34-16cranesx34-16chicks14-16cranesx3-24-16sailinghomeI had no thoughts of writing a blog when I took a class on how to start a blog.  I had found some photography classes and was trying to learn to use the features of the camera that I had bought on a whim, and was lucky enough to have last year’s crane family to photograph just a month after buying the camera.  I took the blogging class because I enjoyed the people I’d met in the classes, and I thought

]it would be interesting.  So by the end of the class we had the framework of the blog in our computers, but the real incentive to write was to tell the story of last year’s crane family.  If for no other reason but to get the whole saga straight in my own mind.  It’s fourteen months later and my life bears very little resemblance to what it was then.  I’m more ‘connected’ than I was, to new friends, to old friends, and to a larger group of photographers who have expanded my view immensely.   I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the past, enjoying the memories, but I have more faith now that there are memories yet to be made…

birds, bluebirds, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography

The Bluebird house…

My uncle has been telling me about the little birdhouse he has hanging outside his place here in Florida.  Bluebirds nest in it every year, he says.  First he moved it away from the carport side of the house because of the mess they made on the car.  Then he had to move it away from the patio area slightly because the birds wouldn’t come if there were people sitting outside.  But apparently they found the perfect spot for it because the birds have hatched their eggs, and mom and dad are staying quite busy feeding their babies.  I once read an article describing the dos and don’ts of bluebird houses, and I’m pretty sure that this little house breaks every one of those rules.  Maybe the Bluebirds didn’t read that same article.  I decided to head over there this morning before these babies leave the house, and before the storm that was heading our way spoiled any chances of taking photos today.  That poor little birdhouse was being tossed around in the wind, my uncle said it’s a wonder the eggs didn’t get scrambled.4-15bluebird74-15bluebird2-24-15bluebird64-15bluebird34-15bluebird44-15bluebird1-24-15bluebird54-15dove

This mourning dove was so cute, and more of an apricot color than gray.  Maybe it was just a reflection of the roof it was sitting on.  When those babies leave home it looks like a little spring cleaning might be in order.

backyard visitors, birds, bugs, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, home, nature, nesting, photography

The vigil…

You’ve heard of waiting for paint to dry?  Well, waiting for Sandhill crane eggs to hatch is just as bad.  I don’t know why I’ve gotten it into my head that it will be any second now.  Of course it won’t happen until I’m at work on Monday or Tuesday.  But a girl can hope.

But what I did get to see was a new bird to me, a Great Crested Flycatcher.  Just ask Merlin, he’ll tell you.  It is not easy to find these birds with the 600mm lens on the camera.  You see them fly in, but you have to zoom out to find them the tree, then zoom in to get a better picture, and then focus manually since autofocus doesn’t work with the extender.  Most of the time they don’t stay still that long.  But once in a while you get lucky.4-13yellow birdWhat was easier to see was the Red-shouldered hawk couple who were feeling amorous out on the telephone pole out front.  Of course I got the camera but was too late to capture any of that action.  I did see one of them swoop down and it looked as if he was going for the head of my new neighbor across the street.  He was mowing his lawn with earphones in his ears and totally missed the whole thing.  So did the hawk, thankfully.4-14hawk14-14hawk2

There is no picture to illustrate the snake that scooted into the water when I was out trying to cut the grass at the bottom of the slope at the very back of my property.  I thought black racer, no big deal.  But as he slithered into the water I realized he was shorter and fatter than they are, and a water snake.  I just saw a chart of the poisonous and non-poisonous snakes that live here.  I’m almost afraid to find that again.

And I got new information about the Sandhill crane family that I saw yesterday.  My neighbor was in the same traffic jam I was in, except she was going in the opposite direction.  And the traffic had come to a halt because that little family had already crossed all five lanes of traffic before I ever saw them,  And while the first baby to reach the curb jumped up and onto the grass nicely, the second one kept falling back into the gutter.  My neighbor was having a heart attack watching helplessly.  She said it took five or six tries for him to get up and join the rest of the family.  Some time ago I had read that you don’t see the Sandhill crane chicks often because the parents keep them secluded.  I wish that was more true than it seems to be, in my neighborhood at least.  So I told her the same tale, but from my perspective, and she said, “Sue, you ought to write a blog.”  Hmm, what a good idea…

4-14dragonfly14-14dragonfly24-14dragonfly3Apparently the dragonflies will be putting on a show for me whenever I’m out there.  Nice of them.

birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, nesting, photography, sunrise

Close encounters…

Bayport was calling me this morning, for a sunrise photo and maybe see the eagles on the way home.  As I watched the sunrise it seemed not to be going to develop much color, so I decided to switch to the big lens.  I always wondered about the shots I’d see fellow photographers getting when they use a telephoto lens to get a shot that I would expect to want to use a wide angle to capture.  I have to admit, the shots were different, and I liked them.4-13pastelsunrise4-13600mmsunrise24-13600mmsunrise4-13sunset44-13sunset5I did check for eagles on the way home but didn’t see any.  But as I drove up Spring Hill Drive and was just a couple of blocks from home I had to stop for a Sandhill crane in the road.  There were two of them, one in the grass, and I put on my flashers to warn the drivers behind me.  This street is two lanes in each direction, plus a ‘suicide lane’ (as Charley called it) to use if you needed to make a left turn.  It wasn’t until after I stopped that I saw them, the chicks, little ones, just feet off of the street.  The crane I stopped for had moved to the grass, so I took the right hand turn and pulled over, and was very glad to have the zoom lens on the camera.  I walked to the front of my car to hide a little, I didn’t want the cranes to move into the street because they were threatened by me, and I was able to get several pictures before they moved behind some shrubbery.  If they hadn’t been so close to a busy street I’d have followed them, but I didn’t.  What I wanted to do is see if that was ‘my’ Sandhill crane family.  I needed to know if ours were still on the nest, but when I got home the glare of the sunrise was so bad that I couldn’t see, so I called my neighbor to see if they could see mom out there.  I was happy to know that our cranes and eggs were still out there, but now I had another crane family to worry about.  This stuff ain’t for sissies.4-13bytheroad4-13familyfeature4-13ourcranes14-13ourcranes2I took the last two pictures later.  I’m in vigil-mode now that I’ve seen chicks.  Both Mom and Dad were out there tending to things and I was sure I was missing the nativity scene.  But Mama settled back onto the egg(s), and I was a little disappointed, but on the other hand I hadn’t missed anything either.  And the last picture?  I couldn’t resist putting it up because of the dragonfly photo-bomb.  Maybe the dragonflies do do surprising things after all!