connections, coping, courage, faith, finding my way, friends, gardens, go with the flow, growing old, life goes on, loneliness, perseverance, photography

I went to a garden party…

“I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends,
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again.
When I got to the garden party they all knew my name,
No one recognized me I didn’t look the same.”

“But it’s all right now,
I learned my lesson well.
You see you can’t please everyone,
So you got to please yourself.”

Maybe Ricky Nelson knew what he wanted out of life, how to please himself, but I’m not as lucky.  I have no idea what I want the rest of my life to look like so I just keep putting one foot in front of the other and hope it comes to me one of these days.

I took these pictures at the little local botanical garden this morning.  I was in search of butterflies but the sprinklers were on in the butterfly garden and I guess that kept them away.  But these structures caught my eye, and ‘garden party’ started playing in my head, and then I started thinking, about life and it’s twists and turns.  Maybe ‘blowing in the wind’ would have been a more appropriate song for my current state of mind…5-10HDRshed25-10HDRshed-35-17castle5-17iris5-17tilebench5-17tilerug5-17whiteflowers5-17budda5-17peekabooWhat’s the phrase these days, ‘fake it ’til you make it’…

backyard visitors, birds, Cranes, ducks, Florida wildlife, nature, photography

Severe weather alert…

I didn’t start work until 9 AM yesterday, enough extra time in the morning for me to notice a hawk on the post out back and head out with the camera.  The hawk had taken off, but there was a black and white bird out there that didn’t look familiar.  Merlin said it was a Merganser, which I thought were all black, but the info said that they can be anything from all white to all black.  I guess it’s that fleshy orange nose piece that sets them apart.  It was a pretty bird though, another one I didn’t think I’d seen before.5-15muscovy5-15muscovy2

By the time I finished work I had a severe weather alert on my phone when I picked it up to head home.  But that message goes away when you unlock the phone and I seldom look to see what exactly we might expect as far as severe weather goes.  And that’s because it (almost) never materializes.  Like the boy that cried wolf, those messages are easily ignored, and yesterday was no exception.  Apologies to anyone who really did have some ‘weather’ yesterday, I realize that my view of the world is rather limited.  (Fast forward to Weds. morning and I see that all my northern friends and relatives had much worse weather than we did.  Hoping all are well.)

Perhaps the Sandhill cranes pay more attention to the weather than I do, because I was surprised to see them on a lawn as I drove through the neighborhood heading home.  I took some iPhone photos and headed home thinking they’d soon be out on the lake, coming back earlier because of the weather.  I was hearing thunder by then.  The hawk was back on the post, just as he had been that morning.  And one of the adult cranes took exception to that Merganser and chased him off.  Nice when the photo ops come to you on a severe weather alert sort of day.5-15colts15-15colts25-15colts45-15hawk

birds, Florida wildlife, learning, nature, perseverance, photography

The Florida Scrub-jay…

Florida Scrub-jays stand as the only bird endemic to Florida. They live in a rather limited environment of scrub oak in central Florida, an environment that is threatened by development, and their populations are isolated.  They attract birders from all over who come to see them, possibly because when they aren’t threatened they can become very tame, landing on heads, arms, and hands to get food.  Charming as that is, feeding them can cause them to breed earlier in the year, and consequently their young may hatch before the caterpillars that make up their main food source are plentiful in the late spring and summer.

The young stay with their families for a year and help raise the young.  They cooperate by having one stand watch for hawks while the rest of the family hunts for food.  The oldest recorded Florida Scrub-jay was 15 years old, having been banded in 1975 and again in 1990.  They bury thousands of acorns per year, and some of those will germinate and so they help disperse a variety of oak trees.  But they are considered a threatened species, and efforts are being made to preserve their habitat.

Scrub-jays were our first objective and first stop on the photo safari we were on on Friday.  And it was looking as if we would strike out since nothing much as happening at first.  But they were described as ‘curious’, and after a little bit we started to see them on the wires.  We had a few nuts with us, and much to my amazement they did come to us, landing on our heads and hands.  I wasn’t ready for how quick they were, grabbing a nut and then flying off to the ground with it.  What a treat it was to see them, another main objective of the day that came to pass.5-12scrub25-12scrub35-12scrubjay5-11Larryscrubjay25-11Larryscrubjay.jpg

The brown on this guy’s back and head indicates that it is a juvenile.  Such a treat to have him land on your head or your hand.   And not poop on you, that part was nice too!  I’ve been holding off on this post until I got the pictures of me, and today I did.  The whole day was fun, but this was a special treat.Meandscrubjay2closescrubMeandscrubjay

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

 

adventure, birds, Florida wildlife, go with the flow, learning, nature, nesting, perseverance, photography

Photo safari…

I lost track of how many times I heard the words ‘one more stop’ on Friday’s epic photo journey.  But even though we set out hours before, and were hours away from home, it would be crazy not to stop as we passed by Six Mile Slough and the Celery Fields, not to mention Venis rookery.  It was up to me to stop, or not to stop, so we stopped at them all, and I was glad every time because everywhere we stopped the birds were happy to pose for us.  Did I mention what a nice day it was?  I hope so, because it was, a very nice day.

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Immature Black-crowned Night Hawk, according to Merlin
5-12yellowcrowned
Yellow-crowned Night Hawk
5-12cattleegret
Cattle Egret, and below we see why they are known as Cattle Egrets

5-12cattleegretsinaction

5-12stumped
Merlin was stumped on this one, I say male Grackle
5-12easternmeadowlark
Eastern Mockingbird

 

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Great Blue Heron, I waited for her to stand up to see the eggs, barely, but I had hoped for chicks.
5-12spoonbill
I never dreamed a Roseate Spoonbill would just fly in and join the fun!
5-12femalegrackle
Female Grackle, common bird, but she did fly in for a close up
5-12limpkin
Limpkin, who are responsible for all the open, empty, shells laying along the shore
5-12purplegallinule1
Purple Gallinule, my friend was quite happy to see them

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5-12conflict
The Great White Egrets were responsible for much gnashing of, well, bills, and all the appropriate sound effects to go with it!

 

adventure, birds, connections, Florida wildlife, friends, nature, neighbors, nesting, Owls, photography, Uncategorized

Burrowing owls…

The only thing better than being lucky in love is being lucky in neighbors.  Well, okay, lucky in love wins out, but not by a lot.  If you are lucky in neighbors you might realize that your neighbor ran his lawnmower across the last several swipes at the bottom of your yard, the part that you are too chicken to do on your lawn mower for fear it’ll tip over.  Or you will be invited to go shooting, photographs that is, and you won’t get home for 12 1/2 hours, but your dog will be well taken care of, your outside lights will be on to light your way when you get home, and your mail, including a Mother’s Day gift, will be sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for you.  

And good neighbors also mean that when you have a chance to go on a marathon photo shoot you can say yes.  It was a ride along for me.  One of my friend’s main goals was to see young burrowing owls before they fledged the nest.  Or in their case the burrow.  I didn’t know what to expect exactly, but I’d seen photos of these tiny owls standing beside their burrows in an open sandy field, with scattered shrubs and not much else.  I didn’t realize that the burrows in these fields would be marked off by short sections of white pipe with yellow tape, indicating the perimeter of their area, or that these open lots were in residential neighborhoods.  I hoped we’d see these owls, but for some reason I was dubious.  I needn’t have worried…

5-12burrowingowl5-12burrowingowl3Ah yes, the babies!5-12burrowingowlbaby5-12burrowingowlbaby2Didn’t expect them on the wire…5-12burrowingowlonthewireIn the burrow…5-12burrowingowlpopup5-12burrowingowllonglegs

Merlin said that these owls are characterized by their long legs, which aren’t apparent when they are hunkered down in the burrow, but they are showing here.

I’m a lucky gal every day, but yesterday was special…