Is Blue Your Color?

The Great Blue Heron stands out in the marsh with its blue feathers, long and sharp beak and distinct yellow eyes. I love to bike in the Everglades to get a close look at these elegant birds.

Examine the delicate neck feathers of this Great Blue Heron. The yellow eye and beak stand out with their complimentary color. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

This Great Blue Heron (below) shows his breeding plumage. The male bird wears the eye catching “dress” to attract a mate.

In profile, this Great Blue Heron shows his crown feather and delicate neck plumage. Shark Valley, Everglades National Park, 2019.

From Florida to Pennsylvania…

I’m delighted to spot the Red-Winged Blackbird. I learned about this beautiful bird on early morning bird tours on the Royal Poinciana Golf Club. Then, I recognized the same beautiful species in flight three times this month in Western Pennsylvania.

This red-winged blackbird sings a morning song in Naples, Florida. I have also spotted this distinctive bird near Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Bird watching in Pennsylvania is especially challenging when the leaves are out on the trees. In the morning, you can hear numerous birds singing, but when you look for them, all you can see are hundreds of leaves in the trees.

I’m not complaining, for all this greenery is gorgeous! With the April and May showers, the lawns are as green as the west coast of Ireland and the trees are bushy with fresh green leaves. As I write today, the azaleas are in full bloom, and the rhododendron are up next. Happy Spring!

Green Heron, Turn Around

Want to know a fun fact about the Green Heron?

  • The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It often creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, and feathers, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish. (Source: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.)
The Green Heron is a short stocky bird, compared to other herons. I found this one at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at the water’s edge.
As I watched silently, the Green Heron turned around for another view in the sunlight. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida.

French Formal Gardens, outside France.

The French may have designed the first formal gardens in the 17 century, but many garden designers around the world emulate the style today. Visit the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh for the Spring Flower Show to enjoy the symmetry of the flower beds, bursting with colorful tulips.

Order, rationality, grandeur and symmetry of the 17 century French garden: find it at Phipps, 2019.
Circular tulip bed at Phipps Conservatory, seen through a fish-eye lens, 2017.

Who started this trend? Andre Le Notre designed the formal gardens at the Palace of Versailles from 1662 to 1700. I’m sure you have visited many beautiful formal gardens in your home town or in your world travels. I would love to hear about your favorites.

Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is coming up on May 12, and it’s time for all of us to think of a special kindness for a mother, grandmother or special lady in our lives. My aunt who never married was a special person in my life, so she deserved and well appreciated some TLC on Mother’s Day.

Fresh flowers are a wonderful gift especially in Spring, when perennial plants are just starting to bloom again, awakening our own senses and inspiring us to linger outdoors. So are the gifts that preserve the delicate beauty of nature, such as photographs.

I won’t be braving the unpredictable Spring weather at Sewickley’s May Mart this year, but I am happy to fill requests for notecards, tiles and prints of my varied portfolio of tulips, butterflies and other nature photographs. Just drop me an email to share with me your ideas. Let’s make something beautiful and share the love!

Orange tulips in the foreground are emphasized in this image with a shallow depth of field. Can you reach out and touch them? Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA, 2019.

Anhinga and the Bottle Brush

Just like every good movie has a great actor and strong supporting actor, every great Nature photo reads the same way. This female anhinga is a regal and fascinating bird with striking feathers and an unusual ability (for a bird) to swim underwater. But this contrasting and colorful setting, the bottlebrush tree makes this image sing.

Female anhinga perches in the Bottle Brush tree, lakeside, in Naples, Florida.

As I adjusted my ISO to 1250 and focused on the bird, my friend Cecil said quietly to me, “That’s the money shot.” Thank you, Cecil.

Nature Photography Contest

Today I have submitted three photos to the Royal Poinciana Golf Club’s annual nature photography contest. All photos submitted to the contest must be taken on the grounds of the Club. Last year I won second place! My favorite submission this year is the morning light on the Great Blue Heron.

I photographed this Great Blue Heron around 7:15am on a Bird Tour at the Royal Poinciana Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
On a morning bird tour of the RP Golf Course, I also observed this female osprey landing on the nest, while her partner cries out.
My third submission shows a rare sighting on the golf course: two bobcats hissing at one another. The light was very low, and the long exposure reveals some motion blur. I was grateful to have seen them and taken a photo before they slipped away seconds later.

I will let you know if one of these images is a winner this year!