Wednesday, March 31, 2010


A few weeks past were a series of unusually warm days into the 70s.  No longer spring but almost summer.  I headed out to plant some perennials in the heat and happened to glance up at the sky.  Just above my head diving and swirling like a dog-fighter pilot was a rusty brown bat in the afternoon sun.  

What was he doing in the middle of the day?  Had he gotten mixed up because of the sudden change in seasonal temps?  

He swooped and dove and perhaps was eating gnats up high that I could not see.  I crazily threw off my muddy garden shoes and gloves and almost killed myself rushing inside to get a camera to photograph this phenomena.

I had the telephoto lens on and therefore it was hard to capture such a small bird in such crazy flight.  He zoomed to the side of the high holly and actually landed...for three seconds.  He was immediately attacked by the resident titmouse who screeched at him and went for his throat!  I was so enthralled by the exercise that I did not get a photo.

The bat flew off into the woods and then just over my head he was followed closely by the bald eagle...both at low levels.  They disappeared into the bare branches of the trees.  I hope that wherever they ended up, they played nice!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another Lunch Guest

While eating lunch yesterday I happened to glance out my breakfast corner window.  It was a dreary rainy day.  It had actually been raining for several days and I had been thinking about my day lilies that had arrived and were waiting patiently in my cold garage to be planted.

Something red caught my eye.  It was not a cardinal.  I knew that I could not sneak open the deck door without losing the opportunity and therefore took these through the double-paned window.

One would think that when one was packing such a dangerous weapon one would be just a little braver when it comes to stalking photographers.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's Not There

Some times I see things in the woods that aren't really there.

Like elephant toes.

Or Elephant legs

Or Sleepy Dragons (some make-up added)

Or swirly snakes.

Or the carriage trail to the castle as I hurry for shelter before nightfall.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hot House Flowers

 A gray and rainy spring day is framed by the windows of my dining room.
Silver drops of cold hang from sharp holly leaves.
Winter smoky fog and sage greens linger peacefully in the ravine.
Tiny bright green noses of flowers to come
push through the newly laid chocolate mulch 
as if they were hungry pups looking for their mother.
And at my table
sheltered in the artificial warmth
these brazen hussies fly open.
Full-faced trumpets imploring for touch and kiss and more.
Flowers of summer with their own
self-stimulation to satisfy their high ardor. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Clue

I did not do any tweaking.  When Mother Nature provides you with an exquisite sunset, you accept the gift with modesty and thankfulness.  All I did was reduce the huge size in which I took the photo.  This type of sunset portends only better days.  Click on the photo and be thankful for what you have today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Battles Won and Lost

Last fall I was crazy strong and laughed at the rush of cold weather that was waiting like a freight train to freeze everything in its path and to turn every warm color to cold gray and black.  I crossed my arms and stuck out my chin and said "Bring it on."  With the heat of fall afternoons still in my heart, I even paused to reflect on the beauty of the dusting of white glitter that continued to cover every surface while holding close any remaining warmth beneath my scarf.

But time was on winter's side and I have been worn smooth with all the suffocating snows and freezing rains and charging winds and shortened days.  My sharp chin has been refined into modesty and my arms hang down at my sides no longer attempting to hold in the warmth.  Now as I finally admit defeat, the winter takes its victory flags and in a sudden departure opens the door for gentle, shy spring to arrive surprising us all!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Birds of a Feather

The most intriguing of the birds in Florida for me were the snowy egrets with their wispy plumage.  They were like entire balls of white cloud or dancing threads.  These birds almost met their demise when women's vanity demanded hats with the exotic decor of real bird feathers and eventually whole birds were stuffed and placed on their heads like some weird homage to hunting.  Hundreds of these awkward looking delicate creatures would be killed in a single day!  That was when mankind felt that everything on this earth was his domain and it would all last forever.  Lesson still being learned!

For more information on the demise of birds brought about so that women could wear stylish hats you can check this link or for a chronological history of this craziness go here.  And if you have the stomach for how entire birds looked when killed and placed on womens' heads go here.  Fur, feathers and skin...what a fix we were in!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happy Feet

I have nothing intelligent to say about this anhinga.  The photos are not great and there is no excuse for that because these birds (who do not have natural water repellent) must dry their wings when they come out of the water which results in them sitting very still for long periods of time in the full sun on branches.  Even an amateur can get a decent photo so what is my excuse?

Just, for some reason, this fellow looked so hopelessly happy and goofy that I had to post about him today.  Must be the brief spring that danced through our yard a few days ago.  Click on the photos if you do not believe me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A Collection of Some of the Little Guys

I took hundreds of bird photos but will share the smallest of them.

Just a collection of photos of the forest birds in Florida that we spotted on our hikes and canoe trips.  Above a catbird.


Snow Plover?

Least Grebe

Painted Bunting at the Corkscrew Swamp feeder
(For a closer view, you may wish to click on the photos.)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chance Encounter

During one of our several canoe trips in Florida, we decided to explore the area just outside the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  This is a protected area on the barrier island of Sanibel.  It is famous among bird watchers and tourists.  It is usually crowded with guys and gals lugging tripods with large intimidating lenses.  (Why is there always one guy photographer with a pony tail?)  Most of the birds can be easily observed at low tide from the 4 mile drive through the park.  One water side of the refuge is also open to canoes and non-motored boats.  

We were surprised to find that most of the birds were more closely observable from the drive and not from our canoe.  We also spent (wasted) some time trying to find an area to launch the canoe with enough water to paddle in as it was low tide.  

At mid-day we tucked into a mangrove and marsh area on the far side of the reserve to eat a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh Florida fruit.  We were deep in conversation about the areas of the mangrove that had been destroyed by a hurricane years earlier and the second hit of cold weather that had caused die-back on the trees last month.  I was just about to expound on some other tidbit from my wisdom when I looked up at something that moved at the front of the canoe.  I stopped talking with my mouthful of sandwich and froze in place.

After a second, I quietly and stealthily grabbed my camera which I had placed at my feet and with the telephoto still on quickly took the overexposed photo above.  See that little bird in the center of the V of the wood branches?  I was afraid he had not noticed us and would quickly retreat when discovering how close he was to the bow of the canoe!  But he just kept on perusing the mud flats and as I studied him he caught a little 2-inch fish and gulped it down while watching us with one eye!  This was quite a surprise as my husband and I had not seen a single fish of that size the whole lunch hour while we watched shallow water activity from the canoe.

Here he is poking closer along the side of the boat and sneaking under mangrove roots.  He is a juvenile heron.

Here is an even better photo of the entire little guy who was completely unconcerned (well he at least bluffed that) about our proximity.

Such a little charmer and so glad he shared his lunch time with us!  I feel privileged when they trust us to be so close.  (Do click on the last photo for a kiss.)

Monday, March 01, 2010

More Florida Birds

We were happy to see this Florida osprey.  He looked thinner than our mid-Atlantic fish hawks and whiter, but perhaps he was a migrant and we just didn't recognize him in his warmer wardrobe.  The hurricane that passed through a few years ago managed to destroy large sections of mangrove which left dead branch perches everywhere for these regal birds.

We paddled by this yellow crowned night heron, but he did not look  happy.  I hope that it was just the cold and windy weather that made him look out of sorts.  (Not that he was so crabby hungry!) The yellow on the forehead explains how is named which you can see more clearly if you click on the photo---I did not reduce the pixels.  He is supposed to be most active in the nighttime, but we saw quite a few during the daylight hours along the edge of the mangrove looking for crabs, frogs and fish.