Fun Fri: Build It – They Will Come

Today’s “Fun Friday” post comes from my recent Florida trip. More specifically, while visiting Myakka River State Park (one of my favorite places to photograph in Florida) I came upon an amusing sight … wild turkey and raccoons, both busy foraging at a couple of the park’s feral hog traps:

Feral Hog Pen

Feral Hog Pen

Feral hogs have been a big problem in Myakka River State, for several years.  A few years ago, the park began trapping them to remove them from the park.  But as you can see, other critters have been visiting the traps, too! Although I didn’t see very many of the destructive hogs this time, I did spot a single hog as it rooted along the bank of the Myakka River:

Feral Hog

Coming up … more Florida travel pics, along with some early spring Missouri wildflowers.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon 100-400 mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 200 and ISO 640
  • Aperture f/6.3 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/160 sec. and 1/30 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2020, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography | Tags:
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Solitary Bloodroot

Today’s post comes from a very special and beautiful place … Ha Ha Tonka State Park, in the Missouri Ozarks. This is where my fiancee, Bobbie, and I first met, in the fall of 2018. These photos were captured a couple of weeks ago, just before our state’s “stay-in-place” mandate.  Ever since then, I’ve wanted to get back to the park, but I’m trying to bide by the rules!

This Bloodroot wildflower was the only one of it’s species I found on this trek through the woods. I almost missed it … it was sitting alone, surrounded by lots of fern fronds, on a large boulder. After climbing up to the top, I captured a few images, these being my favorites:

Bloodroot wildflower

 

Bloodroot wildflower

Lots more wildflowers during that wonderful morning at the park.  After a few more Florida posts, I’ll share some more beauties found that morning!

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body
  • Canon 180mm, f3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400 (both photos)
  • Aperture f/3.5 (both photos)
  • Shutter 1/3000 sec. (top photo) and 1/2000 sec. (bottom photo)

 

 

 

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Big Bird in Flight

Today’s photo collection focuses on some of the Great Egrets as they flew around the rookery at the Venice Rookery (Florida) recently. I always view this bird as a magnificent sight to see, particularly in flight:

Great Egret in flight

Great Egret in fli

Great Egret in flight

Great Egret in flight

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body and Canon 7D body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens (top 2 photos) and Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens (bottom 2 photos)
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head (top 2 photos) and Handheld with IS “On” (bottom 2 photos)
  • ISO 800 (top 3 photos) and ISO 400 (bottom photo)
  • Aperture f/5.6 (all photos)
  • Shutter 1/4000 (top 2 photos), Shutter 1/640 (third photo), and Shutter 1/1250 (bottom photo)

 

 

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You Watchin’ Me?

Today’s post comes from my recent Florida trip, while photographing an assortment of birds at the Venice Rookery. In this first image, the green heron appears to be locked into a show-down with me as I photographed him:

Green Heron

The Green Heron loves to sit close to the water and watch for fish activity:

Green Heron

Coming up … more birds at the Venice Rookery, images of this past week’s “Super Moon” on the Lake of the Ozarks, and early spring woodland wildflower from the Ozarks (MO).

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head
  • ISO 1600
  • Aperture f/4
  • Shutter 1/500

 

 

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Feathery Delight

Today’s post features the Great Egret in breeding plumage. The Great Egret is a wonderful sight, when captured in breeding plumage. A couple of the most notable changes is the green “lores” that develop at the base of the long beak, along with the wonderful, feathers that showcase this bird.

In this top image, the green lores (the area between the eyes and upper beak) are quite evident:

Great Egret in breeding plumage

The delicate, tail feathers are obvious in this next Great Egret:

Great Egret with breeding plumage feathers

These frilly, fancy feathers nearly decimated the Great Egret around 1900, as these birds were hunted for the feathers … a “classy” look to women’s hats. (Note: in the above image, this “butt shot” was intentionally captured, giving the best angle to see the wonderful breeding plumage tail feathers).

In the image below, the green lores are not as striking, but nevertheless indicate breeding season is here:

Great Egret in breeding plumage

Coming up … more birds from the Venice Rookery.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens (top 2 images) and Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens (bottom image)
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with Wemberly gimbal head (top 2 images) and handheld with IS “On” (bottom image)
  • ISO 1600 (top image), ISO 6400 (middle image), and ISO 800 (bottom image)
  • Aperture f/4 and f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/250 thru 1/3200

 

 

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Black-crowned Night Heron

Today’s post comes from the Venice Rookery in Venice Florida, captured during my recent trip to Florida. The Black-crowned Night Heron is a common resident of this rookery:

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Coming up, more birds from the Venice Rookery.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II body
  • Canon 500mm, f/4 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod
  • ISO 1600 (top 2 images) and 400 (other images)
  • Aperture f/4 and f/5.6
  • Shutter 1/320 sec. to 1/3200 sec.

 

 

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Venice Rookery: Night Shift

I hope all my readers are safe and well from the pandemic that we now face. I’ve been mostly at home, at my new residence at the Lake of the Ozarks. However, I did take some time off to check out some “new” photo spots here, primarily for wildflowers. Nice to get back out in nature, away from the virus threats from other people, and to once again enjoy the beauty that God has given us in the great outdoors!

Today’s post comes from a favorite photo spot of mine in Florida … the Venice Rookery (Venice, FL). Arriving before sunrise, I set up my camera on a tripod and made some time exposures (it was still dark enough that it was a bit difficult to make out the birds in the rookery).  Also, most of my images were too blurry to use (have you ever tried to tell a rookery-full of birds to “stay still”?).

Enjoy these early morning images … subsequent posts will feature individual species and some of their courting/mating/nesting behaviours.

Much of the overnight rookery residents are white ibis:

Venice Rookery and Residents, Pre-dawn

Below, several White Ibises, along with a Great Egret (the one in the center, with the black legs):

White Ibises and Great Egret at Venice Rookery, pre-dawn

As sunrise approaches, this White Ibis and a Heron await takeoff from their overnight perches:

White Ibis and a Heron at the Venice Rookery, pre-dawn

Lots more Florida wildlife coming up … along with some of the Missouri spring wildflowers beginning to “pop”!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark II
  • Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens (top photo) and Canon 500mm f/4 lens (bottom 2 images)
  • Bogen 3221 tripod
  • ISO 6400 (all)
  • Aperture f/9.5 (top photo) and f/5.6 (bottom 2 photo)
  • Shutter 1/8 sec. (top photo) and 1/5 sec. (bottom 2 photos)

 

 

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Bok Tower Gardens, Part 2

Today’s post features the most unique feature of Bok Tower Gardens … the tower, itself (In Part 1,“Bok Tower Gardens, Part 1”, I featured a few images of the garden landscape).

The tower consists of multiple levels (all closed to the public). The entrance to the tower consists of a beautiful, brass door. On one of the upper levels of the tower, resides a “60-bell Carillon Bell & Playing Cabinet”. At noon, an expert carillonneur, a full-time position, plays an assortment of music, using these bells … meanwhile, visitor’s to the garden flock around the tower to sit and listen to the wonderful bell concert!

At the top of the Tower, 205-feet above the base, are eight marble heron statues. 

 

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

Bok Tower

And before leaving the gardens, we visited the Visitor’s Center. In this area, a scaled model of the Bok Tower was located:

Scale model of Bok Tower

If you’re ever in the area, I recommend you visit this beautiful garden! Coming up, some of the wildlife encounters from Florida!

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld
  • ISO 250
  • Aperture variable
  • Shutter variable
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Bok Tower Gardens, Part 1

Today’s post, part 1 of 2, features a wonderful garden that I visited for the first time, during my recent trip to Florida. The Bok Tower Gardens is located in Lake Wales, Florida, and is 130 acres in size.

The gardens were established by Edward W. Bok. During visits from their Pennsylvania residence to their winter retreat near Lake Wales, Florida, Mr. Bok became enchanted with the beauty and vistas from nearby Iron Mountain. At 295 feet above sea level, one of peninsular Florida’s highest points, Iron Mountain offered views of dramatic sunsets. Awed by the tranquility of the area, he wanted to create a place that would “touch the soul with its beauty and quiet,” and chose it as the perfect setting for a bird sanctuary. He purchased land to transform into a sweeping landscape of lush gardens featuring a majestic Singing Tower housing a 60-bell carillon. Originally called Mountain Lake Sanctuary and Singing Tower, he presented this extraordinary gift to the American people Feb. 1, 1929 as an enduring token of his appreciation for the opportunities he had been given.

Today’s images show some of the interesting facets of this beautiful garden. Upon entering the garden, visitors are greeted with a saying that Bok’s grandmother once told him:

Bok Tower Gardens welcoming sign

And on the wall at the nearby Bok Gardens Visitor’s Center, is a famous quote of Mr. Bok:

Wall sign at the Bok Tower Gardens Visitor Center

Once inside the garden area, the landscape is a gently-flowing landscape that truly is eye candy:

The picturesque landscape at the Bok Tower Gardens, Florida

The picturesque landscape at the Bok Tower Gardens, Florida

And at the foot of the 205-foot Bok Tower, is a reflecting pool. One of the most interesting plants here was a giant Amazon Lily … although not in bloom, it was still quite an interesting sight to see:

During my visit, it was quite windy, so images of the colorful flowers/plants were difficult to capture (without a tripod), but still such an inspirational place to visit!

In Part 2, I’ll feature the Bok Tower and some of the interesting things associated with it.

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III
  • Canon 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens
  • ISO 250
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/15 sec. to 1/100 sec.

 

 

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Holy (Sea) Cow!

It’s good to be back, again! For those interested in my absence, I explain at the bottom of this post.

I recently took a 4-week travel trip to Florida.  This was a combination vacation to see friends, as well as a photo trip. My first stop on this trip was Crystal River, where I was able to snorkel with manatees (aka, “sea cows”). I learned that the manatees are having a struggle this year, with the widely ranging temperatures that Florida has been seeing.  Bottom line is that their food supply is being eaten up, as they are staying in the warmer waters … if they stay in the warm waters, there is little vegetation to eat … if they leave the warm waters for the cooler, Gulf waters, they are risking freezing to death. Not an easy choice to make!

Here are a few of my favorite images I captured at Three Sister’s Spring, a warm water refuge in Crystal River:

Manatee

 

Manatee

 

Manatee

It’s always fun to be with our wild brothers/sisters that we don’t get to see on a regular basis, including the lovable manatees!

 

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Pentax Optio W60 waterproof camera (purchased many years ago for snorkeling with sea lions in Baja, Mexico)
  • Fixed 5mm-25mm lens
  • Camera in automatic/under water mode
  • All images shot as jpeg files and edited in Lightroom and Photoshop

 

Now, for “the rest of the story” … For the past few months, my postings have been very sporadic.  The reason … over the several months, I have been working around my home and getting it ready for sale … the reason?  Actually, a couple of factors here:  (1) as I “age” (hopefully, gracefully!), I was finding it much more difficult to keep my acreage up to snuff … constantly mowing, cutting up downed trees from storms/winds, keeping the multiple flower beds weeded and maintained.  And secondly, I met a wonderful lady from the Lake of the Ozarks in September 2018.  After spending a lot of time together in the past 18 months, we became engaged.  So, that made my choice to sell pretty darned easy!

It didn’t take long to sell my 9.5 acres in rural Cass County.  As things worked out, I closed on Friday, February 07, then moved (to the lake) on Saturday, February 08, and Bobbie (my fiance) and I headed out for Florida on the morning of Sunday, February 09.  We arrived back home a little over a week ago.  Since then, it’s taken some time to unpack things, organize two households into one (still many things to do), and then to find and set up my computer … but here I am!  I’m planning on getting back on track with postings really soon … and with a lot of new outdoor areas to explore and photograph!

 

 

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