I stopped by Ollies Pond for about an hour on the 21st. Like most small bodies of water here in SW Florida the drought had diminished the size and made it easier for fishing birds to get to their dinner. This also means that some of the bigger fish that stayed in the deeper water and didn’t get taken are now available. That’s probably a good thing for raptors like Ospreys and Eagles but it’s tougher on the birds that swallow their prey whole.
There are about 100 or so White Pelicans who have taken to the pond. They tend to feed in rafts with their feet herding the fish around until someone catches one. Once they make a catch, they move away to let others feed.
There were two of these working on the pond and as someone got their fish they moved off as an individual and would eventually join one of the rafts again. It didn’t seem to matter which there was a lot of transfer between rafts.
Now and again a large fish managed to get caught by one of the pelicans. The two I saw looked to me like Tilapia. The first was really large and the Pelican was having a lot of difficulty with it. It was actually damaging the pouch with it’s sharp spined fins and biting. It moved away before I actually saw it swallowed.
Another one had found a slightly smaller fish and eventually managed to get it down. You can see the comparison of the neck in the second image here.
Every now and again you capture a shot that just looks a bit odd. The guy here on the saddle bronc has just finished a full ride of 8 seconds. But even with the horse still bucking he looks calm, cool, and collected. It looks like he’s engaged in a conversation with the pickup crew right in front of the ice cream stand.
As you can see in the next picture though, this was a planned maneuver to block the horse and allow him to get off safely.
Pretty cool maneuver and one that takes excellent horsemanship on everybody’s part to pull off and make look easy.
Another few shots from the Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo. This time it’s a Barrel Racer rounding one of the barrels. When I shoot action like this I shoot at about 3 frames per second. That’s pretty slow by some photographers standards and my cameras will shoot faster but that also produces a lot more shots to go through to select those you want to present or preserve. These four shots took 1 second to complete. The first shot at zero 16:57:14 by the time stamp and the last at 16:57:15.
If you think this is quick for one second the lady in the pink shirt is one of the pro riders and gets around the whole arena making three barrel turns in less than 20 seconds.
These guys may dress a little funny and look like clowns but it’s really a serious business that requires all the skill and athleticism or the riders. Here are a couple of close shots of them in action from the 89th Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo being held this weekend at the Heard St. Arena. It will be the last one there as it is moving to the new Mosaic Arena next year.
It’s not often you can find a benefit in something like a drought. For nature photographers it does have some benefit. As ponds dry up they get smaller and the critters preyed on by our wading birds get concentrated in small locations. The bigger lakes aren’t drying as much but little flood control retention ponds that the birds have stocked dry up as intended waiting to hold the next storm runoff.
One that I like to visit is the retention pond behind the Kings Highway Walmart. That parking lot has a lot of water running off when it rains and there are two ponds there. A deep one is fenced off but there is a large shallow settling area which gets the water first. Here are a few shots from that location over the last few days.
Anhingas spear their catch and have to flip it around to swallow it. I caught this one at just the right time.
I’ve always thought that Little Blue Herons always looked mad about something.
Roseate Spoonbills use the spoon to stir the bottom The other wading birds follow them around to catch what gets missed.
This Great Blue Heron has managed to catch a
Cottonmouth Black Swamp Snake for lunch. They don’t seem to have any problem with venomous snakes. Further study shows me that this is a non-venomous Black Swamp Snake rather than a Cottonmouth.
You seldom get four species in one shot. I could have had a Glossy Ibis in this one but it was a bit too far out of shot.
It took a while to subdue the snake and the Black Swamp Snake was always trying to get away.
A Kingfisher in flight. I have never gotten what I consider a good shot of these small birds. They are very shy and skittish. The reduced size of the pond though kept it fishing near me.
And then, like any good fisherman wanted to show off it’s catch.
The polar vortex up north has brought SW Florida some foggy mornings. Not usually good for a photographer. Looking out across the canal if was difficult to any detail at 100 yards even with the sun well above the horizon.
As I walked around the yard I noticed a nice near perfect spider web in our magnolia tree. A straight on shot had a very confusing background and the details of thedew-decked web were lost in it. Shooting from the side gave a more abstract look to it. The mist even gave a touch of color to the background.
This image has actually been turned 90 degrees because verticals don’t work too well on screens. The left side is actually the top of the web and the curves are the result of the weight of the dew drawing the web into downward curves.
It looked nice like this but I thought a tighter crop and conversion to monochrome looked better.
The next day I was out to run some errands and when I got into view of the Peace River I saw that the sun had risen enough to begin burning through the fog. I detoured to the Punta Gorda Boat Club where I found the anchored boats well lit while the horizon had disappeared in the mist.
I tried a couple shots to capture the view but didn’t think they were much but painted ships upon a painted ocean. Then a fisherman came through to add some depth and motion to the scene.
These are pretty little butterflies. Their wingspan seldom gets much over an inch at full extension. You see them as bright flashes of blue as the males fly around but they flicker out and disappear as soon as they land leaving the more dull underside of their wings on display.
I caught this one at just the right moment to see the full display. The next shot shows the closed wings and the much less flashy exterior that makes them hard to find at rest.
The females are still blue but a bit less flashy.