A Close Look at a Peony

Macro photography lets you take a careful look at a flower’s center. I also find that the irregularity in a flower makes it special. I was attracted to the darker pink streaks on the petal in the back. In this image, I find my eye is first drawn to the delicate yellow tendrils of the flower’s center. In the asymmetrical composition, that yellow center needs a counter weight, which the fascia-streaked petal provides. Does your eye move the same way? Is your vision attracted to color changes, defined detail and edges?

#peony, #spring, #flower, #macro, #nikond800, #pink, #backyard, #irregularities
Today I found something very delicate and beautiful in my own back yard.

Ibis drama

I hopped off my bike to watch a flock of eight to ten ibis peck around in the swamp water in search of a meal. Then I decided to take a seat on the ground and just watch to see if any action developed. The scene presented a few photographic challenges: the birds were in constant motion. Think: high ISO and fast shutter speed. There were so many of them, that they never seemed to form an orderly or symmetrical composition. Think: I’m going to watch for a composition to form, but most likely crop later. The brightness of the birds and the dark water would foil my camera’s efforts to calculate a good exposure. Think: Meter the exposure directly on the bird; you don’t want the feathers to be blown highlights that cannot be recovered in processing.

The result: I caught a scene with some action. One ibis was acting like the bully on the playground, chasing away his peer. Preparation paid off. With all the prior analysis of the scene, I was ready to catch the split-second ibis drama.

#ibis, #birds, #wadingbirds, #chase, #florida, #bully, #drama, #preparation, #nikonD800
As I quietly observe, these ibis act like kids on the playground — or presidential candidates.

Mating Season

#heron, #nightheron, #yellowcrestednightheron, #wadingbird, #bird, #Florida, #matingseason, #plummage, #nature, #wildlife, #protect, #wildlife
The Yellow Crested Night Heron wears a fancy dress for mating season.

Inching along the grass in the Florida wetlands, I tried to get as close as I dared to the wading birds having dinner last night. I kept checking around me for alligators, but luckily, they were hunting somewhere out of sight. I was able to get a close look at two Yellow Crested Night Heron. It’s not terribly common in my neck of the woods, and I wasn’t sure what kind of heron it was at first. But I quickly became a fan of its zebra striped face, yellow crown, red eyes, distinctive accent feather,  light and darker grey feathers  and its long coral colored legs. This fellow kept a careful eye on me and in no time took flight to the safety of a nearby mangrove tree. But not before I got off a few nice shots.

 

Feeling like a bird in flight

After I captured this image of an ibis taking flight from the beach, I began to wonder what it would be like to take flight to the sky at a moment’s notice. Only birds can do this, but what a gift! I think the closest I can come to that feeling is to glide through the water while swimming. As I glide weightless with the water rippling through my hair and the cool water skimming over my body, I feel that magic combination of freedom and relaxation. I wonder, why don’t I swim more often?

#birdinflight, #ibis, #florida, #fllying,  #feelings
As I approached the ibis, he took flight, but I still captured this image — looking even better in flight.

Antiqued Anhinga

This monochrome treatment of the anhinga, drying its feathers, isolates the elegant dark bird from its habitat,  a busy tangle of tree branches spotted with lichen. Anhingas are plentiful in southwest Florida, tame around people, and interesting to watch as they swim underwater to catch fish. After a swim, they fan out their wing feathers to dry.

I like this the sepia effect on a square composition. While the bird takes center stage, the diagonal branch and star shaped air plant add interest. The overall effect of the image reminds me of photo taken in the early days of photography. It makes me feel akin with the wildlife explorers of old.

#anhinga, #sepia, #blackandwhite, #wildlife, #lichen, #florida, #nature
In Florida, the Anhinga dries its feathers on its perch in the trees.

Frog and his dinner

Back to the Florida swamp, I’m sharing this image of a smiling frog in honor of the ever popular St. Patrick’s Day. I might have missed this friendly guy without the tip from the watchful naturalists at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. I was busy watching the enormous alligators; both the male and female were groaning at each other from a distance. They sounded something like a person who groans from joint pain while standing up. Do you know anyone who does this?

There were also some baby alligators crawling on the mama, and some large anhinga birds sitting on their nest. But you’d hate to miss the little guys — like the lizards and frogs and insects they are about to eat.

#frog, #nature, #wildlife, #swamp, #corkscrew, #corkscrewswampsanctuary, #green, #stpatricksday
Smiling frog with an insect at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, FL

“Good Night,” Egrets

Have you ever witnessed a large flock of birds roosting as the sun sets? In Florida, the large wading birds like the heron, egrets and pelicans roost together for protection. They will often find a rookery island where predators like raccoons can’t reach them.

In Six Mile Cypress Slough, a large flock of egrets chose this wooded area along the edge of a pond to roost. As the setting sun sheds warm light on the trees, dozens of these egrets decorate the landscape. It is a special sight to witness, especially for a “snowbird” like me.

#egret, #birds, #roost, #dusk, #safety, #sleep, #florida, #fortmyers
Egrets roost at dusk in Six Mile Cypress Slough, Fort Myers, FL

Sushi for dinner

Captured this Great Egret in the Everglades catching and eating his dinner — a wiggly creature from the wetlands. It was a big morsel to swallow whole. Nearly the last photo of 199 images shot at Shark Valley last Saturday.

#NikonD800, #greategret, #egret, #bird, #eating, #feeding, #everglades, #sharkvalley, #wildlife, #nature
Nikon D800, ISO 400, 175mm, f/ 3.2, 1/800 second

The Neighborhood Wood Stork

My dog Sophie can’t believe how big the birds are in Florida. Yes, that’s a six-pound wood stork over there! And looking at its fuzzy head, I can tell it’s a juvenile. This bashful bird is wary of the photographer inching along the grass to come just a little bit closer. He is one of a threatened species, the only breeding stork in North America, found in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. His biggest predator is the raccoon, who steals eggs from its nest.

#woodstork, #threatened, #stork, #bird, #wildlife
“Who me?” says the wood stork in Naples, Florida

Wood storks wade in lowland wetlands and look for fish, frogs and insects to eat. They shuffle their webbed feet in the shallow water to stir any aquatic critters to move, and then keep their bills in the water to catch dinner. That is a blue heron standing behind the wood stork.

#woodstork, #stork, #bird, #wildlife, #Florida, #swamp
Wood storks have interesting knees that bed backwards.

 

#woodstork, #stork, #bird, #florida, #swamp, #wildlife, #nature
Wood stork feeding in its favorite habitat, shallow swamp.

In my neighborhood in Naples, Florida, the wood stork shares the swamp with numerous heron, ibis, egrets, turtles, fish and alligators. Sophie, you’re not in Pennsylvania anymore.

Magical air plants

Tillandsia, or “air plants” for short, are magical. They attach themselves to trees and grow without soil, taking in moisture and nutrients through the air. They aren’t picky eaters: bugs, dust and decaying leaves will do. They are evergreen perennial plants that flower and make babies. You can see them everywhere in the Tropics — like in your back yard! — but you can also observe dozens of them in cypress swamps. These two caught my eye in Six Mile Cypress Swamp in Fort Myers, Florida, as they were gently lit by the setting sun.

 

#cypress, #swamp, #tree
Tillandsia attaches to cypress trunk. Lichen (white spot) is part of the scene too.

 

#Florida, #parasitic, #plant, #nature, #swamp
Evening light on flowering Tillandsia. Six Mile Cypress Swamp, Fort Myers, Florida.