Benefits of the drought

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.dsc_5105web

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.Exhibition

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.Exhibition

And then, like any good fisherman wanted to show off it’s catch.Exhibition

Posted in animal behavior, Bird, reptile | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Misty Mornings

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.



Posted in Photography, Scenic, Shooting closeups, Spider | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elusive Butterfly – Ceraunus Blue

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.


Posted in animal behavior, Bug | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Couple More Sunsets with Boats and Pelicans

Saturday evening, I looked out the window and saw a really fiery sunset.  I made my way to Ponce Park to find that everyone else had gone to watch it too and finding a quiet space without a lot of people in the foreground was going to be tough.  So, I went down to the fishing pier and found that it had been a great day for boating and there were quite a few coming for the night.  Here’s the one I liked best.


I made a couple of exposures as the boat came down the channel but it’s position relative to the horizon and the dark silhouette I was getting weren’t satisfactory.  The only flash I had with me was the little popup on top of the camera.  I used it hoping to get some detail on the boat to avoid the large black blob for a foreground.  It could be better but I gotr just about what I wanted from it.

That same evening I managed to capture some pelicans flying home to the mangroves to roost for the night.


I went back Sunday to try again and managed this one.


I think that will satisfy my sunset cravings for a while but, they are so magnificent here it’s hard not to fill a hard-drive with them.

Posted in animal behavior, Bird, Park, Park - Ponce de Leon, Photography, Scenic, sunset | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A cloudless sunset

We usually get spectacular sunsets when there are a few clouds to capture color.  Sometimes there is enough haze to get on color over the entire sky.


When you get one like this you need something to add to it.  In this case, I managed to catch a small boat coming in through the channel with the sun between a couple of palm trees.  I wish the guy behind the tree had moved a bit to his left but I took what I could get.


A few seconds later and it was all over except for a quieter panorama shot.

Posted in Park - Ponce de Leon, Scenic, sunset | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Exhausting Wildlife Safari

As everyone knows, wildlife photographers must risk life and limb lugging heavy equipment in and out of jungles and deserts to get amazing shots of natual beauty.

Well, Florida is a little strange.  See Carl Hiassen or Dave Barry for more detailed examples.

Yesterday I had to run a few errands far across the Peace River in Port Charlotte.  There was a bit of time between a couple of scheduled appointments so I did a little pre-season scouting of some of my favorite photo locations.  The first was the Audubon-Pennington Preserve which is right in the middle of a residential development.  I didn’t have long so I just walked into the entrance 30 yards or so to see what state it was in.  It’s early for migratory birds so I just took a macro lens and stopped at one small bush which sported a  yellow primrose.  Purely by chance a small beetle landed between an opening bud and an open flower.  Naturally, I took it’s picture.


It crawled up on the open flower to give be a better pose and then left.


A wasp landed on the bud a few inches away and allowed me to take it’s picture.


When I brought my attention back to the open flower I discovered that another wasp, this one  a tiny, wingless variety had moved in.


In its turn, it was chased away by a Metallic Green Bee.


All of this activity in the space of 5 inches and five minutes.  If I had a little more time I could have turned to me left and started on the dragonflies at the side of the canal.

But I had another appointment to keep so I went off to attend to it.  Afterwards I decided to check on another local gem.  The Wal-Mart on Kings Highway.  Florida is low and lush with a lot of rain in some seasons.  Wal-Mart’s have large parking lots and have to accomodate runoff in an environmentally friendly manner with retention areas.  This usually leads to some interesting natural locations.  I pulled in behind the store and immediately saw a Great Blue Heron hunting.  He was in luck and quickly had a large catfish in his bill.  While I was grabbing my camera, it flew away.  That was disappointing at first until it brought its catch closer to a small area to complete the kill before eating it.


The bird needs to do this so that the catfish cannot harm its throat with its barbs when the heron is swallowing it.  After a successful catch and kill the heron managed to swallow the fish whole.



You can almost hear the belch in this shot.


This one is beginning to show the bright blue eye patches of mating colors so the season will be starting soon.  After lunch the heron did a few flybys for me.



And just behind me was the truck unloading zone for a superstore.

Whew, a whole 25 minutes of shooting and a total hiking distance of about 50 yards.

Posted in Bird, Bug, Park, Wildflower | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Rookery

On my way to the Chalk Festival in Venice, I stopped off at the Venice Rookery just to see what activity there was.  One pair of Great Blue Herons was nest building but there wasn’t much other activity.  Things will be picking up in another month or so.

I did see some Common Gallinules that were acting very uncommonly.  These little birds of the Rail family are generally seen swimming along quite placidly or sometimes walking on thick vegetation with their odd feet.  During mating season they will quibble with each other and it always looks like they are running on top of the water with long splashy strides.


You can see here the trail left by the one on the right as he attacked another suitor for the local glamor girl.  Outside of this they seldom do much.  But, a while ago I found one that decided it would perch in a tree like the other birds.  Unusual and it gives a great view of their unusual foot structure.


At the rookery this day I saw something even more unusual.  A Moorhen (sorry, the birders changed the name) Common Gallinule actually flying.



Posted in animal behavior, Bird, Venice Rookery | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment