Friday, February 16, 2018

A gathering of herons at the Alligator Farm

This tricolor heron hung out on the alligator food dispencer.

Black heron doing his best not to crash.

The gang: one yellow-crowned heron and three black-crowned cousins.

This yellow-crowned NH looks like he belongs in a cartoon
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We counted 12 herons hanging out at the Alligator Farm.  On a good day we might see three-four.  A dozen is a bonanza.  The cartoonish looking character in the bottom photo perched very close to us on two occasions...maybe he was looking for more company.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Looking for 'little green men'

Can you spot the alien?
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Roswell, New Mexico, is full of aliens..flying saucers hover .and there are alien trinkets, alien burgers at the local burger king, alien bar drinks and an alien research center.  We were on our way West in early 2010 to jobs in Yosemite NP when I figured a stop in Roswell (for 'historical' purposes) would be good.  The neat green t-shirt in the visitor center with a big alien character on it would be a 7 year old collectors item now if Lydia hadn't hustled me away from all the neat designs.
     The back story.  In July, 1947,  an object resembling a disc crashed outside Roswell.  The Air Force said it was a weather balloon.  Locals said it was a flying saucer.  And the legend of green men - -true or not - - started.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Old friends, new poses

Roseate spoonbill reflections

This ring-tailed lemur likes to warm both sides

The wood duck armada or synchronized swimming
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Lots of the same old characters at the Alligator Farm on Thursday.  More pics in previous blog.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Great white egret landing styles in B&W

Landing on a thin limb...

...or a bunch of them...

...takes plenty of spot on finesse

Traffic control
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Thursday, Feb.1, at the Alligator Farm

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ride this train

The train between Durango and Silverton, CO
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - It's May 4, 2010 and we're on the (tourist) train running between Durango and Silverton, CO.  This is another entry in the "How we get photos" primer.  We're slowly chugging along from 6,512' (Durango) toward Silverton at 9,318'.  You might think there ought to be snow in Silverton.  You're right.  The ride went a bit over half way; stopped (for a lunch break) and we rolled back downhill.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Viera 1/25

Sandhill cranes

Black ibis on a breakfast stroll

VIERA, FL - - Two more less frequent visitors popped up on our Thursday morning visit to Viera Wetlands.  See previous post for the rest of the story...and more feathered friends.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Viera Wetlands 1/24

Shhh, I'm hiding.  Stealth Limpkin

Female anhinga shows off

Can turtles get a suntan?  They try
VIERA, FL - - It's the weekend of the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival.  So we headed south on Wednesday mainly to beat the bird photography tours which run to our most favorite areas.  We've noticed over the past few years there have been fewer and fewer birds making an annual stopover on their way to their summer homes.  So far this year has proved no different.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

River rest area

American white pelicans hanging out

This hooded merganser also shower up
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Sometimes the birds you've been looking for show up literally in your backyard.  OK so maybe a block away.  We live one block from the Halifax river and while we have flocks of seagulls and lots of brown pelicans plus egrets and herons we don't see much more variety.  So imagine my surprise on a late morning (Tuesday) walk when I spotted a huge (for white pelicans) group of about 30 on a mid-river gravel bar.  And then a merganser popped up.
     The pelicans were spread out in groups and the merganser was alone.  They were still there after I hustled back to the house for my camera and a long lens. In bird photography we've found you can be good, but being lucky helps out a whole lot.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Cold storage

Braving the chill to get the news

The roseate spoonbills played 'hide the bill'

The lights (a heat lamp) were on in the lemur home

The black-crowned night heron had nowhere to go

The ibis seek food in any whether
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - It was sunny and breezy on Saturday in OB when we set out for the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine  And it was overcast and breezier when we arrived.  50-degrees with a 10mph wind cuts right through.  Consequently, nearly all the attraction's residents were trying to keep warm.
     The big and very slow moving Galapagos tortoise were hustled into sheltered quarters.  The information sign began with "Brrrrr...
     Other residents scrunched up and looked like one-legged feather lumps or had the keepers place heat lamps in their exhibit shelters.  Some, who call Florida, etc. 'home' just waited for warmer weather.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

The breakfast watch

Just hanging out

I'm leaving

Checking out a new location
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Although the cold and windy conditions of the past few days hasn't been conducive to finding many of our local feathered friends, Sunday morning was got lucky. 
     The eagles are back.  Recent hurricanes had trashed their home of the past few years but today we spotted and adult white head at the edge of a newly fabricated nest on the old location. 
     Sunrise Park has also been way, way down on birds which we normally see at this time of year.  However, a great blue heron and a little blue heron decided to hang out near each other with each looking in a different direction - - probably not to acknowledge each other.  After a while great blue winged off for a destination up river.  The little guy decided he would also try his luck elsewhere, but didn't go far.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Characters at Fort DeSoto

This snowy egret likes long as somebody else does it

The early morning breakfast stroll of a yellow-crowned night heron 
PASS-A-GRILLE, FL - - The usual suspects still hang around at Ft. DeSoto (a Pinnelas Co. park/campground) but not in the numbers of a few years ago.  This night  heron liked the grit near the edge of a sandy area.  We saw the bird two mornings in a row intently focused on finding breakfast.    

Friday, December 22, 2017

Santa's rest stop

PASS-A-GRILLE - - Ho, ho, ho...Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Perfect landing

Making touchdown look easy

Sometimes you come up empty

Catching bait fish is a two step process
PASS-A-GRILLE, FL - -  Pelican antics and one human trying to gather up his bait fish after emptying his cast net.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

On the rocks

Hanging out
PASS-A-GRILLE, FL - - Six snowy egrets rockin' out on a  rocky breakwater at the end of PAG peninsula. (Gulf side)
     We're on the road for a four day holiday break from OB...a whole 120+ miles away on the other  side of Florida

Monday, December 18, 2017

Coming out for the holidays

Hibiscus bloom time
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - Our recent warm stretch...70s reaching for 80...has some of our bushes figuring its time to bloom.  This hibiscus must be on steroids because six blooms (the top one is washed out color-wise by the sun) is way past the normal 3-4 at a time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

When you live near the beach...

Bull session?  Gull session? Note the fishing trawler on the horizon

Royal Terns don't associate with rif-raff seagulls
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We don't 'do' the beach s much as 25 years ago.  Now it's more like grab some grub for a picnic and wander down the sand for 3-4 miles (round trip).  This was Sunday at lunchtime, yet the beach was nearly empty (by tourist standards). 
     Of course there were plenty of seagulls; a few terns and one or two slumming egrets.  Just another lazy day.

Sunday, December 10, 2017


ORMOND BEACH, FL - - To hear the weather forecasters,  you'd think we were set for the Halifax River to freeze over.  To most Floridians any temperature below 60-degrees calls for hunkering down.
     Unlike most folks we enjoy it brisk.  Saturday morning our breakfast walk got rained out.  Saturday evening the Christmas parade in OB actually started on time...probable because it was high 40s with a steady breeze.
    It was today, Sunday, we were waiting for.  Clear skies and 40-degrees when we left the house at 6:10am.  No problem since we have plenty of cold weather gear from our travels.  However, the fingertips always take a hit no matter what gloves you wear.
     Always interesting to listen to the folks at Rivergate discuss 'how cold was it when you left the house' among each other.  And the the sly looks at us when they realize we walked to breakfast.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Getting up there

Denali, highest point in North America with low lying clouds
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We worked in Denali National Park in summer 2007 as shuttle drivers and sometime tour guides.  The mountain, at 20,310',  creates its own weather so that in nearly five months on site Denali showed a clear profile less than 10 times.  The rest of the time it was ringed with clouds or totally obscured.  On a 90 mile (one way) day-off shuttle trip to the base we passengers  started out catching glimpses of the mountain early but by the time we reached Wonder Lake (30 miles from the base) Denali was so socked in by weather you didn't know anything was there.
     You might think Denali rates an entry on the list of the highest points in the world.  Sorry, there over 400 peaks higher led by Mt. Everest at 29,029.  And nearly all of those are located within 20 degrees (north or south) of the equator.  Denali, located at 63 degrees (latitude) is an anomaly.
     Our summer in Alaska  was full of "wonder" and Denali was just one part of it.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Catching an early flight

The elusive female zip liner

Nap time with a tree trunk pillow

Yellow crowned night heron grooming itself

Try this next time you are doing shadow puppets
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - A few weeks ago we did our every-so-often trip to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine.  Thursday we went back.  This time not only were there only a few visitors, but the slim bird population encountered on the previous visit had apparently headed home early for the holidays.   However, we did catch a glimpse of the rare 'female zip liner' zipping past.
     The normal residents  (gators) can't go far.  The ones who weren't napping were waiting.  You don't want to fall into their territory.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

An antidote for 80 degrees

April 25, 2007; Alberta, Canada
ORMOND BEACH, FL - - December will roll in a day from now.  But instead of cooler weather, we have sunshine and 80 degrees.  However, we can check the photo archives for something a bit cooler. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

"The usual??"

ORMOND BEACH, FL - - We have a favorite breakfast place which we  head to nearly every Saturday.  It's about a 2.5-mile walk each way which can be invigorating at this time of year since we leave the house at 6:10am.  The usual suspects arrive at about the time we do when a waitress clicks the"open" sign on.  There are usually 10-12 regulars along with us.  The reason people keep coming back is that the food at Rivergate (especially the drop biscuits) is very good, the prices  reasonable and everybody is  friendly.
     Rivergate Coffee Shoppe has been around for more than 25 years,  according to one of the 'seasoned waitresses.  We have been regulars for nearly 12 years and the faces of the servers are pretty much the same.
     You know you're 'back home' when it's your first time back in five months and the waitress asks:  "You having the usual??" 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Toy soldiers on guard

ORMOND BEACH, FL - -  Saturday (11/18) we chose to head to nearby DeLand for their annual Fall Arts Festival.  As this is mid-November the city already had some of their Christmas decorations out.  Our favorite, for a number of years, has been the larger than life toy soldiers.  They are always nice and gleaming in their uniforms and located on a few street corners like they are on guard.  They fit in  nicely with the festival.
     A special attraction (on which we could find no information) was a troupe  of silent performers.  Two were on intricately constructed metal stallions which they 'rode' while on balancing stilts and pacing just as a steed would do. Additionally, they could manipulate the neck/head of the animal so that it appeared very real. The horsemen were in  colorful outfits with multi-colored plumes of feathers and had 'legs' which appeared to be in stirrups. Two colorfully dressed attendants led the horsemen and enhanced their movement. 
     Unfortunately, the troupe was heading in a direction which had them back lit.