a second look, nature, Nature's beautiful creatures, perseverance, photography, pond creatures, road trip, travel, weather

Brockton blessings…

The last time I was in my hometown of Brockton, MA I was freezing.  It was very cold, and not just for this spoiled Floridian, it was COLD.  And I was out for the sunrise, taking photos in the lovely local park, when I came upon two swans.  I believe I posted a photo of the male, but the female was just a pile of white feathers on the bank of the pond.  I focused on her for quite a while, waiting for her to lift her head, but she didn’t.  I wondered if she was alive since she was flattened out, looking a bit like a puddle of white, and I eventually gave up, or gave in to the cold, and moved on.

I returned yesterday, on a day of record-breaking heat.  It’s not that people who live in Florida love hot weather, it’s that we love the air-conditioning that makes living with the heat possible.  I was back to the park at mid-day despite the heat, and thinking about those swans as I drove through the park and stopped when I saw a pair of them, but without cygnets.  I assumed that if the swans I had seen had them they had grown up, but I stopped to take pictures.  When I continued I came across a lot of Canada geese, young ones grazing along the road, being guarded by several adults who allowed the passers-by to come fairly close to them as they grazed.  Almost too close because I had the zoom lens on the camera and they were walking towards me, almost too close for that lens.  Only a short way further down the road I hit the jackpot, swans again, but with 8 cygnets, and all swimming close to shore hoping to be fed.  Taking photos of them, however, proved to be my un-doing.  In my rush for photos I had locked myself out of my car, which was bad enough by itself, but I was in danger of missing the cousin reunion that I had been looking forward to.  That’s when I met my guardian angel.  If I had spoken to her a little earlier I might have called the local George’s garage and paid a lot less to be rescued, which she told me after I had already called someone, but she refused to leave me by myself until she knew I was rescued and on my way.  So Maria, if you are reading this I want to thank you for your moral support yesterday.  As annoying as it was to make such a dumb mistake, it would have been much more stressful without you sharing it with me.  You were a blessing to me and I will try to pay your kindness forward in my travels… 7-1swan27-1swan7-1goose37-1goose27-1goose17-1dragonfly7-1lilypads7-1cygnets37-1cygnet1

birds, Florida wildlife, live and learn, nature, nesting, on closer examination, perseverance, photography, pond creatures, Tricolored heron

Venis rookery…

When I first heard the term ‘rookery’ I thought it meant an official facility of some sort.  I didn’t expect that it was just an island in a small body of water that had been selected by the wild birds, lots of wild birds, as the place to nest and raise their young.  Don’t bother trying to google this place because it wouldn’t come up for me, but luckily for me my big day of photo ops included a stop here.  It was worthwhile even if I didn’t see the alligator that my friend insisted was right there in front of me.  I guess I was too busy looking at the birds.

I didn’t see what creature jumped into the water as this Tri-color Heron zeroed in on him.  But what I did see was the heron walking along the edge of the water towards me, coming almost too close to me for me to be able to fit him in the picture with the zoom lens I had in the camera.  I kept taking pictures, and it was only later that I realized that he was following the trail of bubbles that his prey was leaving, probably without realizing it.  5-12great15-12hotpursuit25-12hotpursuit3The trail of bubbles led away from me, and at last glance the heron was still following, hoping for dinner.  Or possibly desert…

My recent photo excursions have had me distracted from the Sandhill crane family that lives on my lake.  So much so that I hadn’t even done a head count in a couple of days.  I’ve missed several perfect opportunities by letting Ozzie out and discovering that they are right out back, and they head to the other side of the lake before I can get the camera out.  At least I know that they are all present and accounted for, as of last night that is.  And growing fast!5-13longlegs5-13longlegs2

 

birds, Cranes, ducks, Florida wildlife, nature, photography, pond creatures

Ducks in a row…

This year’s cranes aren’t as predictable as last year’s cranes, which makes it harder to catch them on their way back to the nest at night.  They have been showing up much earlier than I might have expected, so I’m missing them as they cross the road, making my photo op always be from all the way across the lake.  Watching them my attention wanders, as it did the other night, and so I do things like notice a duck, with possible ducklings.4-30ducklingspotShe seemed to notice me just about the same time that I noticed her.  At first I thought it was a coincidence that she gathered her ducklings and started swimming towards me across the lake, giving me a better photo op.  But it didn’t take long to realize that she really was coming to me on purpose.  That’s when it hit me that someone has been feeding these ducks, and they were looking at me and thinking ‘lunch’.  4-30ducklingsetsail4-30ducklingsheadmyway24-30ducklingsheadmyway4-30ducklingsheadmyway23She was out of luck though, since I know that feeding them isn’t in their best interests.  So she gave up and headed out…4-30ducklingsheadoutI wish I knew if this is the same family I saw a few days ago, that ones with eight ducklings.  Perhaps the hawk that Mama duck fought off a few days ago has been persistent, or maybe there are two families.  That remains to be seen…

birds, Cranes, ducks, Florida wildlife, nesting, perseverance, photography, pond creatures

I got stood up…

I guess he’ll grow into them, those feet that is…

4-24bigfoot4-24bigfoot24-24bigfoot34-24kidsreduxI was all set up yesterday morning.  On a lawn, sort of behind a tree.  Keeping a low profile so as not to disturb the cranes as they headed out from the lake.  I heard them sounding off like a couple of roosters, but it seemed to take them longer than normal to come into view.  The plan was that I could get pictures of them walking towards me across the neighbor’s lawn, and then across the street to the pond behind mine.  And finally they did show up and walk towards me, but then headed away from me and up the street.  I was stood up.

But when I parked the car I had noticed that there were ducklings on that little pond one street over from me.  There are seldom ducklings on my slightly bigger ‘lake’ so it was a treat to see them.  It was too dark to get pictures of them when I first saw them, but after the cranes were gone I took another look.  That is quite the brood to keep track of.  There are eight ducklings, but I couldn’t get an eighth one in any of my pictures.  Rowdy bunch, or maybe it’s just one wanderer…4-28ducklingsA neighbor said he heard a commotion out on that pond the day before. Turned out that Mama Duck was fighting off a hawk who had swooped in after a duckling. Mama drove him off, but that little wanderer had better watch out!

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…

birds, Cranes, Florida wildlife, nature, photography, pond creatures, unintended images

Frog legs anyone?

It’s always amazing what you notice when you sit out back for a while with your camera.   Yesterday I noticed this very handsome fella out there, and Merlin said it was a juvenile Pied-billed Grebe.  There were at least three of them actually, small, a duck that dives totally underwater to  hunt for food.4-16pied-billedgrebeThat photo is from yesterday, and this next photo is from today…4-17pied-billedgrebeI’m sure he felt as if he’d won the lottery with that bullfrog, and just as in life, his fellow juvenile Pied-billed Grebes were bearing down on him for a piece of the action.  He was able to get away, not so for the frog.  Grebe-1, frog-0.

The Sandhill cranes kept the babies at the lake today, although they did seem to explore the yard of the house across the street.  I expect them to be gone all day tomorrow, and to return later on in the afternoon.  I’m sure I won’t be able to resist watching, and for once I’d be happy to be wrong.4-17momandchickHaving read about the hunting skills of the Tri-color Heron I was surprised that this one was allowed to be in the same general area as the new family.  I did see one of the adult crane lunging down into the grass pursuing something.  A friend had said to watch out for snakes getting the babies, and that’s exactly what came to mind when I saw him chasing something.  Then when it was time to head to the nest Dad (I think) flew over and cleared all the interlopers off the island, and he returned to the side and all four made their way home for the night.  4-17Tri-colorheron