For a day that started out at 32 degrees this morning it certainly turned out to be a great day. The sun felt so wonderful, and with no breeze we were comfortable even walking the in the shade on the paths at John Chestnut Park. If you are walking a path along a body of water you will surely see an anhinga drying its feathers in the sun. That’s my feature photo. And in this park especially you will see squirrels, who will approach you in hopes of getting a handout. This particular squirrel was balancing on the tip top of a snag, and I guess we will never know why.
More cold and rain is expected tomorrow, but today at least we got out for some R&R.
It was several weeks ago that a friend and I cruised past the eagle nest so I could show him where it was, and I was dismayed to see the barest skeleton of a nest remaining. There was so little of it left that I wondered if they would choose a new spot to rebuild. But when I returned on Tuesday I was happy to see a rather healthy looking nest, even if no one was on it. Two photographers I know were there already, but up the street a way and busy taking pictures of a single eagle on a snag. They said that the eagles seemed to have finished working on the nest, for the most part anyhow, and were leaving for longer periods, making for fewer photo ops. One had left the area a while ago, they said, and while I was still setting up they saw that eagle return to the nest with a stick. In the feature photo you see that eagle on high alert. The other photographers thought there might be some action because an osprey had just flown in and landed on a snag overlooking the nest. If there had been eggs in the nest there certainly would have been some excitement, but the osprey stayed a few minutes and then flew on, and the eagle relaxed and started preening. And posing. So a quick but successful visit with the eagles on a cool Florida morning. Soon we’ll be on the lookout for eggs, and lots more photo ops to come.
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.
That was the name of the class that my friend and I attended today, It was a wonderful class and we stopped on the way home to take pictures. I’d like to say that I tried to apply some of what I learned in the class to the photos I was taking, because you are supposed to visualize the photo you want ahead of time and then make it happen. Beginners ‘spray and pray’, which means you take a zillion pictures and hope you get a good one. I confess, I’m guilty of that. But we had fun today, and practice makes perfect, or so I’m told. I tried to whip them into shape through cropping, at least to some extent.
We got rained on while we were taking pictures at Hammock Park, but we were luckier while we had lunch outdoors by the water. What a nice day…
After the sunrise I decided to swing by the pond in my community to look for the family of ducklings I had heard about. There were 13 to start with, and they were down to 9, so I wanted to see them soon. I’m jealous of my photographer friends who can, sometimes literally, sit on their patios and take gorgeous sunrise and sunset photos. Lovely views come with higher prices I’m sure, so it’s a trade off, but when I hear of a photo op that’s so close to home it’s a treat and I don’t want to miss it.
But someone else was also watching the pond along with me. An osprey up in the tree on the right hand side. I nearly missed seeing him at all. Was he looking for the ducklings also? I had to google it to know for sure, and found out that they eat 99% fish, but small animals and birds are also possible. So maybe I was happy that the duck family wasn’t there. And I was happy to see the osprey take to the air, but mostly for the photo ops…
When you finally wake up to a morning without the threat of immanent thunderstorms you quickly figure out somewhere to go to get out and enjoy it. For me it was John Chestnut Park, a place that I always feel like I can count on for wildlife, even if it’s just little birds and squirrels. It’s a pretty park, I love the stone and wood structures, even if they are just picnic pavilions or rest rooms.
But on this day the wildest wildlife happened to be the people out playing on the water. I guess I wasn’t the only one wanting to get out and enjoy the weather.
That water skier was some serious eye candy, but this little guy was pretty darned cute too.
I also found a butterfly section that I hadn’t seen before. No butterflies though, only a couple of very big bees landing on little purple flowers and then waving in the breeze making getting a photo next to impossible. But I had to try.
Eventually I moved on to Anclote River park, where I found a lawn blooming with morning glories. That’s the feature photo, if I ever manage to figure out how to add a feature photo to this post. And an Osprey on the hunt.
My last stop was just up the road at Anclote Gulf park where I had a nice chat with another photographer. It was very low tide, and we were both surprised to see white shapes in the shallow water, lots of them. At first I thought manatees, and then it dawned on me that they were stingrays. I hadn’t seen them there before, or at all really. Plus a little blue heron and a limpkin, shaking his booty.
As I’m writing this post I’m hearing thunder. I’m glad I got out when I did!