Ibis in the surf

It takes talent to hunt for dinner and manage crashing waves at the same time. These ibis have what it takes! Yesterday was a hot day in Naples, Florida, and no doubt the water felt very refreshing.

Just before sunset, these ibis pecked for a meal amid the crashing waves in Naples FL.

A shutter speed of 1/125 froze motion just enough but not too much. The final image has a painterly quality that I love.

While I reduced the size of this digital file, so it would load quickly on the blog, it can be printed with great success since the jpeg is a large file with virtually no noise (ISO 100). Email me or check my website for a print.

Quiet morning, until now…

It was a quiet morning at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, Florida until the Anhingas started to squawk. They are usually quiet birds, but I discovered that when they cry out, they can be loud. (Click here to hear one.)

Sometimes called the “snake bird” because its slender neck often curved in an S shape looks like a snake when it sticks out of the water when they swim underwater, and pop its head out to breathe. Since females have brown necks, this one appears to be a male. They are also quite large (wingspan 42″) and are commonly seen in Southwest Florida and the Everglades. Black and white feathers on the mature Anhinga resemble piano keys.

This one had a lot to say. He seemed panicked as though he was putting out a danger call. Perhaps there was a bobcat or a vulture in the area.

Texture in Florida habitats

Recently I have met new friends in Florida who ask me what kind of photography I do. I usually reply that my primary niche is landscape/nature and any wildlife that crosses my path. But many of my blog followers might call me a travel photographer, since many of my subjects come from scenic travel destinations. Last year, I brought you images from Paris, England, Scotland, Wyoming, New Mexico, California and Florida.

Today, I enjoyed the monthly bird watching tour I like to do in Naples, Florida. While looking at birds, I also look around at the environment for textures and shapes that appeal to me, and for compositions that work in a rectangular or square frame.

I like the morning light on the side of the pine trunk and the softer repeated patterns that the grasses make along the base of the frame.

This is the kind of photography I like to do. My subjects don’t have to be important. This scene conveys a peaceful moment that I wanted to preserve.

Watching for birds, found bobcats!

Whoever the teacher was who told me, “always look behind you,” was right again today. Watching a pelican at daybreak and listening to a dog barking persistently, I turned around to find exactly why the dog was barking… two bobcats were stalking in the shadows and hissing at one another.

I was lucky to have my 600mm lens mounted on my Nikon D800, and clamped on my RRS (Really Right Stuff) tripod, so I quickly focused and snapped a few frames. The light was very low in the shade of the large ficus tree and on a foggy morning at dawn, so the shutter speed was very slow. Motion blur, unfortunately, compromised the quality of the final image — but you definitely get the idea.

#bobcats, #wildlife, #nature, #florida
Bobcats seen just before dawn today at Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

These wildlife experiences are always teachable moments. One rule, often repeated for good reason is: Never hike alone. This morning I was grateful to be out with about 15 other bird watchers. The bobcats were more interested in each other than in us, but I’m sure the size of our group discouraged them from approaching us.

To capture a better final image next time, I will have changed my ISO setting ahead of time to 1600 or 3200. I confess to being half asleep at 7am, and I had not changed my ISO setting from 100, which I use for a still landscape when motion blur is not an issue.

Lastly, I feel more thankful than disappointed because this wildlife sighting was something special I experienced. It was exciting!

Walking the Gardens of Versailles

After October 30 this year, the fountains at Versailles shut down for the season, but the gardens still offer a lovely long walk. Some yellow leaves held their place on the trees and reflected the low afternoon light. Without the water flowing, we were able to see the amazing sculpture of the fountains, especially these horses and men rising from the water.

#versailles, #Paris, #daytrip, #gardens, #walk, #November, #water, #season, #fountain, #bike
Zoom in to examine the baroque sculpture at the center of the pond. Versailles Gardens, November 2018.

I always enjoy seeing the locals enjoying these gardens — walking, biking and even taking out a paddle boat. The scene reminds me of New Yorkers enjoying the pastoral beauty of Central Park. 

Secret of the Aspens

The shimmering golden aspens of the Rocky Mountains are known for their white trunks and brilliant fall color, but did you know their biological secret? Clumps of aspen trees are actually clones of each other. Yes! They share the same DNA.

The National Forest Foundation explains it this way:

One aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism. A stand or group of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system.”

#aspens, #aspen, #trees, #vertical, #trunks, #whitetrunks, #forest, #clone, #yellow, #fallcolor, #pattern
Stands of golden aspen trees flourish in Grand Teton National Park. September, 2018.

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Along the Teton Fault

Did you ever wonder why the Grand Tetons rise straight up out of a flat valley? The Teton Fault separates two tectonic plates at the foot of the mountains. For the past 10 million years, the mountains have inched up to 13,700 feet, while the flat valley floor has sunk to its current level at 6,800 feet above sea level, according to the National Park Service.

During the Ice Age glaciers moved south from Yellowstone region, filling the valley and then eroding the mountains into jagged peaks and melting into lakes. All of this geology history tells a fascinating story too gradual for us to observe, but we can observe the changing seasons and fall color.

#valley, #grandtetons, #jacksonhole, #gtnp, #golden, #sky, #sunnyday, #wyoming, #grandteton, #landscape, #nikon
The valley floor appears golden in late September along the Teton Fault in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park.

Do the colors in this scene leave you feeling uplifted?

(The facts in this blog were provided by the National Park Service.)