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!

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, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, life, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography, pond creatures, simple things, storms

The good and the bad…

The good thing about dragonflies is that they return to the same spot all the time.  So you can get yourself ready, get the camera focused, and you’ll be ready to take your photo when he returns.  The bad thing about dragonflies is that they return to the same spot all the time.  And when they do come back they tend to land in the same position again, so you are ready to take the picture, but it’s the same picture every time.  I wish they would do something surprising now and then.  At least they are out back daily, giving me photo ops when Mama Sandhill crane sitting on her eggs becomes less than exciting.4-13dragonfly4-13dragonfly1-24-13dragonfly24-13dragonfly34-13dragonfly44-13dragonfly5

And, speaking of taking the same picture over and over, you probably suspect that my Sandhill crane on the nest photo is the same one and I’m reusing it periodically.  But I’m not.  I was worried when I was away over the weekend, worried that I’d miss the new Sandhill crane chicks hatching.  I was so lucky to be on the spot to watch as it happened last year, so I was happy to see her still on the nest when I got back, that I didn’t miss anything.  And poor Mama has been out there through two really bad storms, and still she is out there.  And her mate is there also.  I love that guy.  But I see that the grass surrounding the nest is longer than it was last year, I hope it will be easy to see the chicks with my big new lens.  But then they didn’t spend a lot of time on the next last year anyhow, so it will be fine. She said, optimistically.

And the Little Blue Heron who is always on the post out there.  I can’t help but take pictures of him almost glowing in the sun.  Not the same photo all the time, it just looks like it.4-13littleblue

fun, perseverance, photography, simple things, special effects, technology

Baseball and fireworks…

Last week the photo group went to opening day of the Clearwater Threshers baseball team.  They were playing the Dunedin Bluejays, and it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening.  During the ballgame the photo to get is the ball on the bat for the hitters, and the ball just leaving the fingertips of the pitchers.  I got neither, I tried though.  I had 477 photos, none of which even came close.  More practice is in order.  But all was not lost, the other photo op of the evening was the post-game fireworks.  That was a little more successful, thanks to advice from the group.  A 10 second shutter speed, I’d never have come up with that on my own.  You couldn’t see what you were getting on the camera, you were flying blind.  I will go again since this photo op comes up a few times during baseball season.  Senior price of admittance is $6, lots of fun for just a little money.

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backyard visitors, birds, Florida wildlife, nature, perseverance, photography

Red-shouldered hawk…

The popcorn had just started popping when I noticed a hawk fly up from the ground and land in a tree just to the edge of my yard.  When the popcorn was finished I told myself that he wouldn’t still be there, but I couldn’t resist going out and looking for him.  And I was surprised that he was still there, and I took a few pictures.  I think that by concentrating on him I may have disturbed him and he flew to a lower branch closer to the pond.  That’s when I switched out my lens to the 600mm with the extender, and got the tripod and walked all the way down to the edge of the water to see if I could get more pictures.  Obviously I did, and the overcast sky did wonders for the light.  I didn’t think the weather would hold up for a trip out that night so getting these photos was a nice surprise.  According to Merlin this is a juvenile Red-shouldered hawk, and he eventually flew across the lake, he must have wanted more privacy…3-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk53-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk3-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk23-31juvenilered-shoulderedhawk3

birds, family, Florida landmarks, gardens, grandchildren, perseverance, photography

A day with family…

Such a fun day.  A birthday trip to Busch Gardens with two of my grandchildren.  It’s been quite a while since I’d seen them so it was quite a treat.  However the quest to ride the rides (them) cut down on the opportunities to take pictures (me).  But as I left to head for home I passed the two aviaries that we had zoomed past as we entered the park.  I couldn’t help myself, I had to stop in.3-28blueface3-28greenbird3-28lovebirds3-28onebird3-28Polly3-28redbird3-28toucan3-28twobirds