Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Red-shouldered Hawks - Compare and Contrast

 Juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk
Adult Red-shouldered Hawk

8 am rejects

Man, not sure if it was the weather (38 degrees when I headed out) or just unbelievable luck, but I got some amazing photos on my morning walk today.  (Click to enlarge photos.)

When I first ventured out, I did not hear any birds at all and thought I was going to have to settle for this pretty, but boring shot of  a Robin. Boy was I mistaken!

This is a White-wing Dove that I caught doing jumping jacks in mid air.
White-wing Dove in flight
My bird of the day, a juvenile Red-Shouldered Hawk. Here is is taking a nap. There is another picture on my 8 am blog.
I loved the lighting on this picture. I didn't manipulate this at all other than a little cropping.
Even the Mockingbirds looked particularly resplendent today.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Manatee Watch January 27

Adult Manatee -- if you look closely, you can see the rest of his body underwater. These are huge suckers!

Mom with Baby Manatee

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Rejects from January 25

 Cool flower, don't remember its name.
Little Blue Heron taking off. A cool picture, but when it comes down to it, fairly common.
Palm Warbler, again, nice picture, but common.

This was taken at the spillway where the manatees hang out. Technically, this was the picture I took at 8 a.m., but it was too depressing for the 8 a.m. blog. But I must say, it's super excellent that we don't need the EPA, it's not like every living thing on earth needs clean water to survive.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yet more rejects from the 8 a.m. blog

The robins were going nuts for this Brazilian Pepper tree. I think some of these pictures came out better than the one I used for my blog, but the one I used for my blog told a story, and none of these really did.
I was gonna use this one, but it's slightly out of focus.

Some grackles. If these 4 birds were going to form a band, this would be their album cover.
I was bummed out, I really wanted to use this picture, but it didn't come out as spectacular as he looked in real life. His eye was the color of the sky, and it looked like you could see through his head.
This one is out of focus, but I really liked the look on his face. Most birds look really silly when they look at you face on.
One of my favorite, if not my most favorite bird, the Turkey Vulture. I played with the color on this a little, but he really was this bright and majestic.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

More Rejects from 8 am blog

I went for silliness again today on the 8 a.m. blog, these are some of the pictures that I did not use. One of the things I always notice when I shoot robins is how varied the plumage is among individual birds, especially around the eye ring.

A combination of slight plumage differences and a different angle make this bird look much less Robiny.
 This bird, again just from the plumage variation and different pose, could be mistaken for a Kestrel if you ignore the beak.
This bird (not a Robin) was singing a song that sounded like she was singing ooo, baby ooo. I said ooo.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Had a great time at Birdapalooza today. Met some super people including an awesome little girl who came over as I was packing up. We went through all my bird puppets and cut outs and she told me the ones she has seen and knows. We talked for about 15 minutes. She was so amazing and gave me a renewed sense of hope and reminded what I love so much about teaching beginning birding.

In addition to that, I also got some helpful Pokemon tips from some birders, and oh yeah, I also got the best shots I have ever gotten of a Pileated Penguin (haha, inside joke for Amy :-) Click to enlarge pix.

 There was something in the tree (David theorized carpenter ants) that the bird was nomming on so hard that he didn't even care that we were there taking pictures. We weren't close enough to disturb him, but these were still the best pix I've ever gotten of a Pilleated.

Although I wasn't able to attend one of the women's marches today, I did feel kind of good that maybe I helped to fan the flames of science and knowledge in this little girls heart, as well all of the people who attended my classes both today and earlier in the week.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coffee of the Damned

This is a true story. If you are squeamish, just read this part: If you live in Florida, always make a cup of hot water with your coffee maker before you make a cup of coffee. Coffee can hide things.

So, have you ever had a day that goes from Disney to Stephen King in 30 seconds flat? I'm sitting on the porch with NummyMuffinCoocolButter, and I say to myself, "Self, a big old cuppa coffee is the only that could make this moment better." So I go inside and start to make some coffee. Just as I am pouring the water into the coffee maker, I see an ant, but it's too late, I was already pouring. No problem I say,  I'll just run a cup of plain water through to wash the ant out.

So I run a cup of hot water through... and out of the coffee maker into my mug comes not only the ant, but the dead ant, about 30 of his closest friends, and a small roach. I screamed. I ran a second cup of water through to make sure they were all gone. Another 30 dead ants in the second cup. I said, ok, this needs serious cleaning. I ran a cup of vinegar through. Another 30 dead ants. Another cup of water. Another 30 dead ants. I did this about 6 more times, when I finally just unplugged the coffee maker, carried it over to the sink, and completely filled the resevoir, thinking this would wash out whatever was left in there.

I was wrong. I ran another cup of water, and this time there was only about 10 dead ants. I literally ran about 10 more cups of water through, and each time there were still dead ants coming out. So, I took it back to the sink, and tried rinsing out the resevoir again. I dried it as much as I could and took off the bottom. Another dead roach, roach droppings, and more dead ants. I washed what I could, dried it all out, and tried running another cup. There was only 1 or 2 dead ants this time. But I was not feeling secure at all. I waited about 10 minutes, went and did some chores, and ran another cup of water through. Another 10 dead ants.

At this time I said forget this, I am never using a coffee maker* again. I went on line to get instructions how to make coffee without a coffee maker, went down to Publix and got a strainer and some filters. I got home, only to find that the power was out, so I couldn't even boil the water. So now, I'm just despondent. I sat on the porch eating cold crab stuffed mushrooms until the power came back on. Then I found my old-fashioned tea kettle and made me some coffee. It took a tad longer than the coffee maker, but at least I was confident there were no ants in it, and it actually tastes really good.

Disclaimer: I specifically am not mentioning the brand of coffee maker here because I realized that this can happen with any coffee maker - there are parts you can't see and hence can't really clean on any brand.

Rejects from the 8 a.m. blog

So, the goal of my 8 am blog is to take a picture at 8 a.m., where ever I am and write about it. For me it's more about forcing myself to get out of the house every day, and getting back into writing that doesn't involve work or being on Facebook. I haven't been religious about choosing the picture that was taken at exactly 8:00 a.m., I usually manage to take a bunch of pictures and choose one that inspires me to write. Here are some of the rejects:

I took this picture of an ant lion the day I used the spider web picture. This isn't focused enough to really be able to see the ant lion well, I need to practice using the extender more, and also practice squats so I can get closer to things on the ground.
I took this picture the day I used the mourning dove egg. It is a Cuban anole snuggled down in my pineapple. Which sounds like a euphemism but is not. Anyway, I figured there will always be anoles, but it's not every day you find a mourning dove egg, so I went with that picture instead.
This is the photo I had planned to take the day of the great mud incident. I actually took this right from the parking lot where my car was parked. So basically, I didn't even have to go through that whole ordeal, technically, I didn't even have to leave my car that day.
I took this one the day I caught Barty bird watching. The squirrel is cute, but my Barty is way more adorable.
 I took this shot of a green heron the day I took the shot of the dead fish. Indignation won out over a nice photo that day.
I took this shot the day I took the mockingbird picture. A really stupid joke won out over an artsy photo.
Another shot from the day I took the mockingbird picture. I like the way he was staring at me, but couldn't think of what to write about it.

If I was making a video blog, I would have totally used this, but alas, it doesn't work as a still photo. What happened was, the bird would make this loud chirp, then his tail feathers would splay out. I am sure it was a display of some kind, but I swear, it looked like an old guy farting and laughing. I wish the quality of the photo was better, I still might have used it if I hadn't cut off his head.

Pretty but boring shot of a white wing dove. I just couldn't think of anything interesting to say about him.  Rejected from 17-January blog.
Nice shot of a mockingbird eating berries, but I just used a mockingbird on 17-January.
A Common Grackle. This picture is higher quality than the one I wound up using on 17-January, but I really wanted to continue with the Mercenary Blue Jay story.

Wild pigs. Didn't have the long lens out. Reject from  January 18.
Reject from  January 18. This tells a story, but I couldn't quite tell it.
Reject from  January 18. Green Heron. Great picture, but I couldn't think of anything to write.
Reject from  January 18. This is another one that tells a story, but the Great Egret is out of focus. Perhaps the story it tells is that I suck as a photographer.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pelican in distress...

Note the monofiliment - it's faint in the picture, but it goes from his right wing to the post. I couldn't tell if that lure and hook are attached to the bird, and if the bird, fishing line and lure were all attached to the post? 
He spent a lot of time grooming the right wing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Manatee Watches, January 10 and 11

It's been a little chilly lately, so the manatees are starting to come into the spillway. Here are some pictures from yesterday and today's manatee watches.

I had 17 manatees yesterday, and 13 today. This one had lots of barnacles. They get barnacles when they go from salt water to fresh and are generally harmless.
This is a green heron who flew down to check out my water thermometer. I like this picture because, due to the angle, he looks like he has a googly eye glued to the side of his head. (click the picture to enlarge to see it.)
 See my 8 a.m. blog for details of this one.
Can't remember the name of this plant. Similar to Brazilian pepper but isn't.
I fall more in love with this park every day.
Just a beautiful place.
This is the other side of the spillway.