'scene' along the way, adventure, birds, friends, fun, learning, live and learn, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, perseverance, photography

Egg Rock Island…

A cruise to Egg Rock Island hadn’t ever been on my radar screen before this trip, but today was our chance and we took it. An Audubon cruise to see and learn about Puffins, the cutest birds ever.

They are social little things and a group of them such as this are a raft of Puffins. Males and females look alike, and they both take care of the one chick per year that they produce. August is towards the end of their breeding time and we were told that we are among the last of the people who will see them this year.
I imagined seeing these birds standing on a rock, so that we would see their cute feet. But our instructor told us that these birds struggle to become airborne. They must flap their wings over 400 times per minute to become airborne. Sometimes, she said, you can see them running on the surface of the water as they are taking off. I love this picture because that’s exactly what we see here, and we see those orange feet. A lucky shot for sure.
Think of them as pudgy, slow-moving, hummingbirds, said the instructor.
We were lucky to see them at all. What a treat.

There were no more Puffins in Maine by 1901, and sewing machines were at fault. Ladies were so enamored of having feathers adorning their clothes and hats that the population of Puffins, and other birds, were affected. It wasn’t until the 1970s that attempts to repopulate the island began, and it took over 8 years to make progress. The winning combination involved bringing young chicks to the island, playing their mating calls, populating the island with Puffin decoys (back to that social thing), and even placing mirror boxes on the island to make them think there were more birds in residence and this would be the place for them. And it worked. There are 300 mated pairs on this island, and over 1000 in Maine as a whole. And these same conservation techniques are in use with other species of birds all over the world. This was a great experience on a wonderful day. We couldn’t have asked for more.

a second look, birds, facing facts, Florida wildlife, life goes on, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Winding down…

Things have slowed down at the rookery. There were a few ducklings as you see in the profile picture, but you also wee the water lilies that have completely taken over the water there. The decibel level is down with the few remaining babies calling out to be fed. The grassy slope we stand on to shoot has been overtaken by sandy looking spots, which I attempted to avoid in my flip flops but I still managed to come away with a fresh crop of fire ant bites. The great egrets were the only action to focus on while we were there, and I can’t say for sure if they are an adult and baby or two siblings practicing their poses. It’s a privilege to witness this cycle of life yet again. Nature truly amazes.

birds, Florida wildlife, live and learn, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, perseverance, photography, Tricolored heron

The star of the show…

Off we went to the rookery again, this time sure that the egret chicks would be bobbing their little heads at us. But not only did we not see egret chicks, the nests that I knew had wood stork chicks were pretty quiet also. So it was this tricolor heron that captured my attention. I spent a lot of time trying to photograph them at my old house as they flitted around the shoreline of the pond out back. I missed way more shots than I managed to take, they were too quick for me. But this guy was walking the shoreline towards me, and though I was only 15 or so feet away he kept on coming, too close for my lens at times. For some reason that little voice in my head was saying, “Along came a spider and sat down beside her.’

I never realized what big feet they have.
I don’t think that he really has a glass eye, but I thought it looks like it in this photo.
And then he decided to head back to his nest.
The nest si too tucked into the shrubbery to see it, which is a shame because I don’t think I’ve ever seen their chicks.

The next day I saw great pictures of the chicks that I’m sure were taken at this same rookery. Midday is not the best time to shoot wildlife in general. And even at the zoo. You would think I would have learned that lesson by now. So thank you to this tricolor heron, my star of the show and savior of that trip to the rookery.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, friends, fun, live and learn, making memories, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, simple things, technology, unintended images

Incoming…

I had been taking pictures at the rookery for quite a while. The nests look like piles of sticks, the ones you can actually see that is, and I was quite sure that with all the little heads bobbing up and down I’d probably gotten a few clear shots that I’d be happy with. So I was a little bored, but my friend hadn’t ever gotten himself out to see the new little chicks before so he was still having fun. But I was wandering a bit, and then I saw him. A wood stork out of the corner of my eye. He was flying in with a nice piece of nesting material. But instead of making a beeline for the nest he looped around just enough for me to get my camera up and start shooting. No plan, no attempt at composition, just start shooting and attempt to get him in the shot. Later on when I got the SD card into the computer I looked at the pictures in order, always looking for the best shot of the chicks. There were several hundred pictures, and I was deleting as I went, so I was getting tired of the whole process when I got to these pictures. Yes, I’d gotten the wood stork. Well, most of him at least. And I cracked myself up when I saw them. So here they are, all my shots of this big, awkward, funny-looking-but-somehow-charming, wood stork.

I wasn’t sure that I’d gotten him in the frame at all, so I decided that what I liked about these pictures outweighed the fact that I missed his wing tips. For me anyhow.
A graceful turn.
I love the look on his face.
He’s putting on the brakes, which is probably why I was able to get his whole self into the shot.
Honey, I’m home!

Just a few seconds out of a photographer’s day, but most of the time that’s all it takes to make your day.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, Florida wildlife, fun, Just do it, live and learn, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, nesting, perseverance, photography, unintended images

Posers…

We made a special trip to the rookery the other day, sure that at least a few of the chicks would have hatched, and we were looking forward to seeing them. But we didn’t see any chicks this visit either, and I didn’t have the best attitude as I walked around and took pictures. Sometimes I forget that the point is to see what’s there and not try to second guess things ahead of time.

These big birds can look so odd perched in what looks like just twigs up high at the tip-tops of the trees.
Overhead the grackles kept chattering away.
Not to be outdone the ibis perched also.
On the shrubbery below were enough snowy egrets for us to be sure they are nesting. More chicks to look forward to.
Along the shore a little blue heron came so close to me that I couldn’t get his feet in my shot.
Tri-color herons are nesting here too.
There are lots of egrets just sitting on their nests, but some are still building that perfect nest to raise a family.
One must remember to put their best foot forward at all times.
I was amazed to see a wood stork taking a bath the other day. Now I see they are a very well groomed species of bird.
A circle in a square.
At least there is hope, I see eggs in that nest.

To be honest I was pouting to myself as I walked back to the car to put my tripod inside. But then I heard a noise. A rat-a-tat-tat that meant a woodpecker was nearby. I expected a more common little downey woodpecker, but I found a pileated woodpecker and got quite excited because they aren’t so common to see. I will always check to see what’s going on in the trees across from the rookery from now on. But when I looked at my pictures I was disappointed because all the pictures were blurry, that head of his was never still. But I did get one shot, which kind of saved the day for me.

'scene' along the way, a second look, birds, Florida wildlife, fun, life goes on, live and learn, nature, nesting, nothing's easy, perseverance, photography, Uncategorized

Rushing Mother Nature…

Rushing Mother Nature rarely pays. At least when you are talking about nesting birds and stubbornly non-hatching eggs. You may arrive at a rookery, doesn’t matter which one, and find lots and lots of birds, looking like piles of feathers, just suspended in the shrubbery doing nothing. There may or may not be a mate standing beside them, but they are also doing nothing. Such was the situation the other day, and all this nothing-ness caused me to walk a little way down the block to a pond I knew of which sometimes has some birds visiting. That’s where I found this wood stork taking a bath. He splashed and he splashed, and then he dried himself off, only to start the process over again. Round two is what you are seeing in the profile picture. And I really don’t know if it was round two, how many more times did he do this before I took a peek?

Little birds splashing in the water look cute. This guy just looked silly.
I thought he was done and starting to shake himself off.
But when he got to this stage he ducked himself back down and started over again.,
It seems there is always a great egret or two who are trying to attract a mate, even while surrounded with other birds on their nests. Privacy is non-existent in the rookery.
If there aren’t other birds photo bombing your shot, then it’s sticks in front of the bird’s faces. Ah, but check in the nest below this one. Instead of doing the mating dance I think this one’s feathers were just blowing in the breeze, and it got up to tend the eggs. Just below the bird, do I see a tinge of blue eggs that are being turned? Or is it wishful thinking?
There I was on my ladder, focusing on the rookery just across the water, when a wood stork flew into the shrubbery right in front of me. I quickly took a shot, too quickly, because the auto focus chose the shrubbery as the subject, instead of the bird. But I kind of liked this shot.

There are many places you can go to take pictures, and usually it’s all up to Mother Nature whether the sunrise or sunset, or just the weather in general, will cooperate with you. But this time of year the rookeries are a sure bet. The birds will be there, possibly just sitting there, but they are there. Mother Nature sees to that. But one of these days we will hear the chicks calling out to be fed, and the real fun will begin. So we will keep going back.