Category Archives: Nature

Spoonbill Gathering

I saw a lot of Roseate Spoonbills the first three days of my Florida trip in January but at a distance, behind low scrub and/or in low light. Finally on the third afternoon we came upon a flock of mixed wading birds in a marsh that was close enough to the road for clear photographs.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The flock was working from our right to the left, both wading and taking short flying hops.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The Ibis and Spoonbills seem quite content to hang out together.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

This Roseate Spoonbill trio really show off the darker pink band on their wings, a contrast with the White Ibis that has just a hint of black on his wing tips.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018

Pelican Air Ballet

A fellow photographer spotted the Pelicans at quite a distance when we stopped to view some ducks along Black Point Wildlife Drive. We watched them approach for what seemed like several minutes but probably was only 30 seconds, hoping they would land in the pond in front of us.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

Instead they treated us to an amazing aerial  ballet, with the birds shifting position in the group, breaking apart and reforming, in an elegant flight display.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

The American White Pelican is one of North America’s largest birds, with a wingspan from 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters)!

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

As they glided by I could see that the individual birds adjusted their altitude as well as their flock position and no matter how close they got to each other there was no evidence of an in-flight bump.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.

Click photos for larger view.

Sharing Space

The turtles are the most likely to be seen sharing space with other creatures around the swamp and ponds. They crave the sun just like the alligators on this reptile ramp and don’t show any fear in the presence of an alligator that could easily eat them.

Alligator and Turtles
Alligator and Turtles

Wading birds like this Great Egret like a sunny spot, too, and easily find a spot in between the turtles on a nearby ramp.

Great Egret and Turtles
Great Egret and Turtles

I don’t know what this “foot in the air” display from the turtle just to the right of the egret is all about, but a little further along in another small pond I saw it again, with both hind feet straight out.

Two Turtles Sharing a Log
Two Turtles Sharing a Log

Downy Woodpecker

A Downy Woodpecker right out where you can see her! An advantage to winter is less viewing obstruction of the little birds as they go about their business.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

This one wasn’t doing much pecking but investigated around this tree trunk.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

She left me with a perfect profile shot, compete with lichen framing.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Click any photo for a larger view.

Fall Blooming Narcissus

Narcissus are touted as spring blooming plants but here we are in December and once again this year I’ve spotted some gracing the pathway to the dike around the old rice field we frequent.

This path is lined with huge trees and not much light reaches the ground in any season making it a surprise that these bulbs can rejuvenate year after year. This is not an area that is currently being tended and doesn’t look like it has for some number of years.

Narcissus
Narcissus

A bee found his way to the bloom and checked each cup carefully.

Narcissus
Narcissus

Click on either photo for larger view.

Gathered Around

The Cormorants were content drying their wings on the Alligator ramp as a murky sun warmed the afternoon. A Great Blue Heron came along and disrupted their peace.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron coming in, Cormorants holding their territory

The Cormorants did not surrender their ground despite some posturing from the Great Blue.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron puffed up

An Alligator popped up to see what was happening as I continued along my walk.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron, Cormorants, and Alligator

Sunset

My sunset photographs rarely do the real scene justice. Often it is because there is nothing in the foreground to make a good composition. These dead trees on a nearby beach are a little something but I didn’t get a great angle.

Sunset
Sunset

Knowing the right spots for the time of year is a help. So is luck. Now that we are in our second year in South Carolina I might do better with the locations. For the luck, all you can do is get out there.

Sunset
Sunset

This evening the sunset was spectacular. Really.

Sunset
Sunset

Taken 11/14/2017, Folly Beach, SC.

Young Alligators

I counted at least six young Alligators hanging out with their mother. They were being very still and and the mother was under the water when I passed by going along the edge of the pond. When I returned a few minutes later I heard the tell tell “mewing” sound of one of the young calling.

Young Alligators in the Pond
Young Alligators with Mama in the Pond

Standing still for a few minutes I started to see them move around and the mother rose to a protective position. They were about 12 inches long and sometimes their heads bobbed out of the water and other times you could just see their tails switching the duckweed around.

Young Alligators with Mama in the Pond
Young Alligators with Mama in the Pond

It was almost sundown and time for them to be settling in for the night.

Smithsonian Gardens: Green Wall / Brown Wall

I first became aware of Green Walls when Liz of the New Zealand based blog Exploring Colour posted about an installation in Balclutha, NZ. It is an impressive sight that uses mostly native plants and made an otherwise utilitarian looking space inviting.

Read Liz’s post with photos of the entire wall at Green Wall in Rural Town Centre and close ups of the plants at Green Wall (Part 2).

Just a couple weeks later at the Smithsonian’s Mary Livingston Ripley Garden in Washington DC I was surprised to find a short Green Wall. Much smaller than the Balclutha version  with smaller plants, the colors and textures were a visual treat.

Green Wall
Green Wall

Although not called a Brown Wall, that is what I would call this next construction, or perhaps an Insect Condo as a sign indicated was its purpose. I didn’t get close enough to see if it had occupents but it did look inviting.

Home for Insects
Home for Insects

Maybe this sign would slow down a stinking thief. I wondered if the gap in the Green Wall was due to theft or plant failure.

Sign: Don't Steal
Sign: Don’t Steal

I found this sign more to my liking. #SmithsonianGardens

Smithsonian Gardens Photography Encouraged
Smithsonian Gardens Photography Encouraged

Great Blue Heron In Flight

A Great Blue Heron looped around me twice, going in and out of the early morning sun across a variety of marsh backgrounds. He started to touch down then decided that wasn’t the spot.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

He was on a leisurely flight, surveying the area and looking for a spot to have to himself.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

Elegant in flight the heron glided across the trail I was on with little effort, finally banking sharply and landing out of sight in the next pond.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight