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.
Two years ago yesterday I was lucky enough to tag along with an experienced birder as he showed me where to find the burrowing owls ‘here’ in Florida. Here being hours from home, but a day trip, and that trip allowed for lots of stops to places I had only heard about along the way. In looking through my old photos in the computer these pictures of the burrowing owls stood out simply because of how cute they are. But then I thought of how we seem to be burrowing in these days, and how totally unaware we were of what was heading our way. That there would ever be such a thing as quarantine. It’s getting to me, I have to admit it. One year ago I had forced myself out of my comfort zone to start my camping adventure, spurred on by the fact that I had shot my mouth off and said I was going to do it, so I had to just do it. Now this lack of activity has me wondering if I’ll be able to get myself going again when its over. It will be over eventually, right?
These are the Honeymoon Island owlets from 2018. I looked for these pictures when I wanted to post pictures of animals choosing to snuggle. An anti-social isolation sort of thing was what I had in mind And when my friend was visiting not long ago I did remember to take her to Honeymoon Island to see this year’s crop of owlets, but it was disappointing compared to this visit. Our view was straight on and across a distance. In 2018 they were ahead and to the right. But then I also had taken my big heavy tripod and lens with me back then also. I dragged it with me because it was new at the time. I can talk myself out of it more easily these days. So these are more old photos through new eyes. Photo ops from the computer, perfect for the times.
To see an owl in the wild is so exciting. But to see them at Philippe Park where you know which tree they nest in, and, happily, that tree is right in the open, it seems a bit less than ‘wild’. But it is. The camouflage is such that it always takes me a long time to ‘find’ them, even with help, but a treat it is when I do. Today Mama was on a branch, just keeping watch at first…And then she suddenly flew to the nest, a move that had all of us scooting to the other side of the tree for the best view. Once I found Mom in the nest I was thrilled, but disappointed that while you could see the owlet’s downey head, you couldn’t see a face. I only knew that that round, fluffy, mound was the baby because it bobbed a little. And Mom looked down at it so lovingly.It wasn’t until I could see the photos in the computer that I realized that I could see the baby’s eyes. So cute. It looks a bit like a feline face to me.Only a few of the pictures really showed the baby, but even that was a treat, so it was okay. Seemed like Mom gave us a little wink, and then it seemed that it was time for 40 winks, and it was time for us to head home anyhow.
Can you see the Daddy Owl up there? Camouflage is the name of the game with these two owls, owls in general based on how hard it usually is to see them. Without other photographers there to point them out I would never have spotted these two. There is a debate as to whether this is the same pair who have nested in the area in the past. This is a different nest though, but in the same tree as the one I’ve seen in the past. And the female spent the whole time down in the nest. We could see that she rearranged herself a bit, but a peek out at us was the most we saw of her. She is busy sitting on eggs, that much seems to be a given. I’ll be back soon, hoping for more action when their chicks hatch. I don’t quite understand how I’ve gotten so invested in watching Mother Nature in action. Eagles and owls, and my former neighbors have promised to let me know when/if the Sandhill cranes that I used to watch out my kitchen window begin their housekeeping. It bothers me that all of this, the sunrises and sunsets, and nature going about her business, was going on my whole life and I failed to pay attention. It seems that the simple things in life are all that matters at these days. If only I would have figured that out sooner…