Do you know how long I’ve wanted to find this bridge that I would see in photos from my camera group which is based in St. Pete? Driving ‘down there’ was out of my comfort zone, and even when Charley was alive we didn’t head down there often, and if we did then he was the driver. I think of it as ‘down there’ kind of like I refer to wanting to return to New England as ‘up north’. I have no clue what exactly I’m referring to, it’s a direction not a specific place. And when I said that sure, I’d join the group for a shoot at the Causeway bridge I didn’t have a clue that this bridge was what they meant. There are, after all, a lot of bridges in the area and they are all ‘down there’. I didn’t plan ahead, I was too busy worrying over my iPhone, knowing that starting a function called ‘restore from backup’ an hour before I was due to leave the house was probably not a great idea. But of course I did it anyway, and left without a photo to save me if I got lost. All of this to explain how it was that I left with the 10-18mm lens on the camera, and with it probably set all wrong for the circumstances. So all my pictures are ridiculously noisy. That’s a term I see used in photography but can’t always see what they are talking about. There was no problem seeing it in these pictures though, and I was heart broken when I saw them in the computer. This is a lesson to me, or would be if only I knew the specifics of what I did wrong. So forgive me, but I love the idea of these photos, and I hope to get down there again soon for a do-over, but for now this is all I’ve got…
Yesterday I said I ought to look up egrets to see, and be factual about, that behavior of theirs called ‘displaying’. What I found out made me think I’d create a post for them alone. And I’m glad I did because gloomy weather may keep me from being out taking pictures today, but I have lots and lots of egret pictures to work with.
It seems that in the late 1800s these lovely birds were endangered due to the fact that their feathers had become much desired in the fashion industry. But early conservationists were able to protect them, and this is how they became the symbol of the National Audubon Society. Did you know that? I didn’t.
So it seems they don’t reproduce until they are 2-3 years old, and the males select the nesting site, sometimes alone but often in colonies. At first he drives off other birds, but in the close quarters in which I see them I’ll have to take Wikipedia’s word for it for that information. And then he ‘displays’, fluffing, and stretching, and bowing, and hopefully finding a mate. They both feed their young by regurgitation, there are some details I could live without, but it’s nice to know that the males do their part. I had noticed that the birds I was seeing who were displaying did seem to be alone. Well, as alone as you can be in that situation. And if they are still trying to attract mates then it seems that the rookery will be a stop of mine for a while yet. Other photographers I know have beautiful sunrise settings right in their back pocket, so to speak. This rookery is my very own ‘back-pocket’ opportunity, and that’s a good thing.
I checked back to see when I first saw the eggs this year, and it was 17 days ago. Incubation is 23 to 26 days and I have no idea when those eggs were laid. I’m trying not to hold my breath in anticipation of the blessed event(s), but I so hope that my visitor will get to see this place in full swing. It really is a sight to see.
I took these pictures of my grand-dragons on Christmas Day. They had gotten crickets for Christmas and that had gotten them all perked up and moving about. And posing. I was enjoying visiting with everyone, and drinking egg nog, but I couldn’t help but notice them posing face to face, and eventually I just had to take a few pictures.While I do find these guys fascinating and I like to take pictures of them, they aren’t the cuddly pets I prefer. I’m pretty sure that my pet owning days are over.
Well, except for Frankie. For day two of the photo challenge I took her to Publix yesterday. As far as iconic Florida goes I think Publix fills the bill. It was founded in Florida by George Jenkins in 1930. He worked in the grocery business but didn’t like how the employees were treated, so he started his business with the premise that if the employees were happy they would in turn lead to happy customers. It has grown into a 32 billion dollar business with 200,000 employees, and in 2017 it was awarded the status of #1 most admired retailer. Seems he was on to something.
I’ve been to this wildlife drive before, but it was shortly after a hurricane and it never occurred to me that it might be closed. But it was. And it was a two hour drive so it was a disappointment. I guess that’s why I haven’t planned another trip until now, if you can call it planning when you wake up and kick yourself for sitting around the last couple of days, and decide to go right now. I found myself surprised at how wide open the landscape was. I’m glad the day turned out to be cloudy. It just couldn’t quite manage to actually get sunny so the one-way road, that forms an 11 mile loop around the lake, was muddy and full of puddles. But everyone was enjoying the birds and taking pictures, while we dodged puddles. There were thousands and thousands of birds, ducks, swimming in the water on each side of the road. And they were calling, it was loud! It seemed like I may have been lucky enough to have a good variety of birds in my area because I’d come all that way but my photos are of the birds I commonly see at home. It was a nice day, but a car wash is in order…
They called it a Santa paddle, and paddle we did. Hours of paddling on Silver Lake. I spent most of that time fascinated at the thought that the scenery was so natural. I wondered if people paddling this place years ago looked at an identical scene. If you notice the trees you’ll see the high water line, and the few houses that we did see on the shores suffered flooding when the water rose. It was hard to imagine the water so high.
The feature photo shows the most alligator-ish sight that I saw. And for that I was thankful. It was too cold for the gators, I was told, it was meant to reassure me. But where would they go? In my mind every log floating just beneath the water was suspect, but I did forget about that after a while. Maybe it was the overcast day that caused such gorgeous reflections in the water. It was a lovely paddle.
I wish all a very Merry Christmas and I hope the New Year will be kind to one and all.
I had signed up for the Thanksgiving photo shoot to look for the ‘Duke’ eagles because it sounded like a good idea at the time. To tell you the truth I was surprised to see it on the schedule as an option at first, and then I wondered how many of the people in this Florida group lived alone and away from family, and I decided that it was a nice activity to have the option to choose. They offer it on Christmas Day and also New Years Day, and I think I signed up for all three. But I do have family here and this will be a nice holiday so I told myself I wasn’t going to go, and then I found myself in the car and got there 45 minutes early. And that turned out to be the secret.
As I arrived I saw an eagle fly into the nest, much too quickly for me to have the camera ready. And once in the nest it wasn’t visible at all. So I looked around, and off in the distance I saw what looked to be a bird sitting on a dead tree branch. There are always lots of vultures around and I told myself I was nuts for giving up my position at the nest to walk down the street for a closer look. But yes, it was an eagle. I took a lot of pictures, mostly all identical since they do have a tendency to strike a pose and stick with it, and then it flew off toward the gulf. I got myself back to the nest in time for another group member to join me, and then came the brief moment when that eagle joined the first one at the nest. I was ready this time. After that we chatted and watched the fog roll in. The nest is a short way from the Duke energy plant with it’s tall smoke stack, and we were surprised to see the top of the stack become lost in the fog. I should have taken that picture, I thought, and I turned to do just that and the entire stack was gone. And the fog became thick enough to feel like droplets on your skin, and so I decided to head for home. It was a good shoot for me, and I told them I hoped that my leaving would bring them all luck. I hope it did…