Saturday, April 03, 2010


Last post for the day, I promise. I always wonder when I fly if my plane is leaving a contrail like this. Perhaps if the plane had a rear-facing window, I could look and see. Better yet, a glass-bottomed plane (like the boats) so that I could look straight down and see where I'm going. And would it be asking too much if they could keep those windows on the airplanes clean? It's tough to take pictures out of them when they're all spotted, streaky and scratched. Anyhow, I'll be jetting off to DC at the end of next week, so stay tuned for more pictures from our Nation's capitol, including the Cherry Blossom Festival!

More Of The Same

Here are a few shots of the bald eagle nest at Robinson Preserve up in Bradenton, FL. I've shown you this nest and the eagle once before, and these shots really aren't any better than the earlier ones. I'd walked by the nest earlier in the evening when the light was much better, but there was no bird to be seen. Later, on the other side of the park, from the top of the observation tower, I looked back at the nest and saw that the eagle had landed (so to speak...). The shot above is the view from atop the tower.

So I hurried on down the trail and back to the closest approach to the nest. The shot above is one I took on the way. As you can see by the orange glow, it was getting pretty close to sundown and the park's closing time. I didn't want to get locked in!

This was shot from the end of the trail that's closest to the nest. And the eagle just happened to be sitting on a branch that made him almost disappear against the trunk of the tree. Oh, well, at least you can sorta see that he's looking straight at me. I think...


I believe these are the same species of duck I showed you last week (or was it earlier this week), with the blue colors under the wings. Only on these guys, you can see a little bit of the blue as they are standing there at the waters edge. I remember thinking the blue was much clearer when I was taking the picture, but it doesn't show up too well.

Three Colors

I had some pretty good luck bird hunting at Robinson Preserve this evening. I had hoped to spot some Roseate Spoonbills, but other than a pair flying off in the distance, I didn't get any of those. But I did get a nice shot of this tricolored heron. I don't think these guys are rare, but you don't see too many of them around. And they're a little skittish. You can see that he's got an eye focused pretty closely on me, in case I make any sudden threatening moves.

Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or do these brown seed pods cracked open to reveal the gray seeds inside look like some sort of googly-eyed clam from some cartoon? Must just be me... So, what are these the seeds of? I should know this. To Google! Nickernut? Nickerbean? Well, something like that.

Nothing For Dinner

And this fully-grown white ibis evidently had nothing for dinner. However, judging by his red face, he was very embarrassed about something. Not sure what...

Crab Dinner

This immature White Ibis had himself a little fiddler crab for dinner tonight. Mmmm, good!

Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard

I saw this guy hanging out among the flowers on a palm tree outside the plant festival I went to this morning. I had been just going to take a picture of the bloom, but when I saw him in there, I knew that was the shot. I wish the foliage was a little denser, but it's still a pretty good shot.


I went to an exotic plant festival this morning for a few minutes, where I shot this water lily. I think of all the flowers I shot, this was the most spectacular. Click on the picture above for the full-sized version, then save that as your desktop wallpaper. You'll love it!

Talkin' 'Bout Last Night

OK, how many of you made it out to see The Vodkanauts perform The Wall last night? Not many, I'm guessing. From the looks of the State Theatre crowd last night, it may not have even sold out. And the crowd that was there was oddly sedate for a rock show. Everyone sat down for the whole show, even though it was general admission. And the dance floor was deserted, but that may come as no surprise to those familiar with the works of Pink Floyd. But it was still a great show, and I really enjoyed it. It changed just a little from the rehearsal the night before, the music was the same, but they added a backup singer, and there were more visuals on the screen. And the megaphone worked much better. So, what have I got for you? Just a couple of quick pictures before I head out of the house this morning. The shot above is the two lead singers for the evening. Jonathan, on the left, did most of the Gilmore vocals, and the guy on the right did the Waters stuff. What is his name? He's not a normal Vodkanaut... Brian, I think that's his name.

This is Mark, the lead guitarist. You can't see it here, but the back of his guitar says Beatles on it. I was going to give him a hard time about it, but I decided against it. Not that I don't like the Beatles, but it's a Floyd show...

This is the other guitarist, another non-Vodkanaut. He had some pretty good chops. I can't find his name anywhere. Sorry...

And this is Jonathan with the keyboard player, Ryan, who sat way back in the back and was hard to get a picture of. I, personally, am hoping they do Dark Side of the Moon in it's entirety next, but I'm not holding my breath.  Great show guys!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tonight, Tonight, Tonight

For those of you who might be near Saint Petersburg tonight, be sure you come out to The Vodkanauts show. As I mentioned last week, they are performing Pink Floyd's The Wall in it's entirety at The State Theater on Central Ave. I was lucky enough to get to attend a rehearsal last night, and I have to say I was impressed. Even for a rehearsal, with all of it's stopping and starting, it's missed cues, it's flubbed notes, and multiple issues with a megaphone, it was quite the show.

I shot a little over 2000 pictures. I like to get my money's worth, and since I had the access, a rented lens, and a lot of enthusiasum, I went all out. I don't want to share too many shots here, especially since I don't want to ruin any of the surprises in the show. Trust me when I say it's worth your time and $15 to come out.

I didn't mention, but the performers are actually The Vodknauts and Friends. Some of the folks you'll see up on stage are just helping out for this show, and aren't regular members of the band. But they do a really good job of blending in and making it feel like a cohesive group. All the guys in the band were super nice to me and I have to admit it was really cool to be the only guy in the whole theater who was just there to enjoy the show. I'll be there tonight, but I'm sure I won't have the access I had during rehearsals.

Oops, there's that pesky megaphone!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Metal Animals

I shot these big steel animals at an art fair in downtown Sarasota a few weeks ago. I meant to share them then, but things get away from me sometimes. Not only are they brightly colored, they are also animated! The heads on most of them bob up and down in the breeze.

Some of them are so large and heavy, I was a little scared to stand next to them as they moved. I would imagine that even though it's only the breeze making them move, the momentum they gather would pack quite the wallop.

Everyone loves a cow, especially a cow with purple spots.

They had quite the menagerie out in the street. I didn't have a wide enough lens to shoot most of them, especially with all the people milling about and blocking my shots. But I think you get the idea. That elephant in the back of this picture was the scariest one. Those tusks moved up and down with the head, and they were sharp. No one stood too close to that guy.  Took me a while to find this artist on Google, but I found him.  Fred Prescott is his name.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Another Nest

I guess I need to hang out with more photographers. While shooting the second owl nest, someone clued me in on a nearby eagle nest. So after leaving the owls, I went in search of the eagles. I found the nest quickly enough, but no birds were to be seen. I guess the young were large enough that they were out of the nest, though probably hanging out in a nearby tree, and the parents were off searching for food. So all you get is a picture of a giant nest. This thing is probably the size of a small car, and weighs almost as much. I've heard that some of them get to be the size of small SUVs!

The Other Baby Owl

I think I mentioned the myriad of photographers that were on the ground with me shooting pictures of the great horned owls at the Venice Rookery on Saturday. Well, one of the topics of conversation was other nests and that led to the location of this second great horned owl nest near Ruskin on Cockroach Bay Road. We trekked up there Sunday under gray skies, but managed to find the nest. Again, it used to be an osprey nest, but the owls took it over this year. It was in pretty bad shape, and if someone hadn't said there were owls there I wouldn't have given it a second look. But sure enough, there was a baby owl.

He was nice enough to stick his head up for a few shots, but we never did spot either parent. There weren't any other photographers around, but many cars on the road slowed down and looked as they drove by. I guess the owls are sort of local celebrities.

This photo shows the whole nest, and makes it look a little better than it actually was. It's not going to survive if they get much of a windstorm up there.

They're so cute when they're young!

Mother & Child

I showed you individual shots of the mommy owl and baby owl from Saturday earlier this week. I went back to the Venice Rookery later on that same day, and I discovered both birds together up on the tower near their nest.

As you can see, the baby is almost as big as the parent, he just needs to grow in some actual adult feathers.  I didn't think he was that big earlier in the day when I saw him peering over the edge of the nest.  Scuttlebutt among the gathered photographers was that there had been two babies up until recently.  One of them had fallen out and been taken to a local animal rescue center where he was doing well.  Hopefully, they'll be able to raise him and release him to the wild.

The hard part was getting a shot of both of them looking at the camera at the same time. The baby was much more curious about us photographers down on the ground, but the parent could care less about us and was intent on the sundown for some reason.

I figure catching them both looking in the same direction was a good shot, even if it wasn't in the direction of the camera.

Looking at each other, perhaps? That's not a bad shot.

Mommy got so bored with the proceedings that she started yawning.

And the joke among the photographers on the ground was that baby had gotten into the poison ivy. He was scratching a lot.

It takes a lot of stretching to get those wings ready for flight.

Then Mommy got the itchies.

Then everybody got the itchies.

The almost full moon was rising in the background, and I found a hole in the trees to get the shot. Unfortunately, I couldn't manage to get both the moon and the birds in focus at the same time. It's a tough shot to get.  I suppose I could look up how far I needed to be away from the birds at a given f-stop for both the birds and infinity to be in focus at the same time...  I know, the moon really isn't at infinity, but at 238,000 miles away, it may as well be.  Hmmm, looks like I would have had to be over 600 feet from the birds before I stood a chance of getting both them and the moon in focus.  Not likely.

I got tired of shooting the owls for a bit, and wandered off. When I returned, there had been some movement, and the sun had gone down. You can see that Mommy looks more alert now. Pretty soon it will be her time to shine.

Baby didn't want to stay down in the nest for long, so he hopped back up beside mommy.

As I said, the sun had gone down at this point, so I was pretty close to shooting in the dark. But I was happy that I finally got some pictures with movement in them.

But then Baby got back in the nest.

Then he jumped up beside Mommy again. He's a little indecisive or insecure or something.

I wish I'd gotten motion shots like this when there was some light to be had.

Baby's got his eye on Mommy, but Mommy is looking like she's ready to get on with the hunt.

Baby makes his move to go be with Mommy.

But just like that, Mommy is off.

But Mommy didn't go far.

She just flew to the top of the tower where the nest was, but it seemed to be far enough that Baby couldn't hop up there. It was only a minute or so after this last picture that Mommy spread her wings and flew off into the trees. I know this because I was watching. If I hadn't been watching, I never would have known because she didn't make a sound. Not a flap, not a rustle, not a hoot. Well, actually, she did hoot a few times while she was sitting up top like that. Fairly faint for a bird this big, but very distinct. I imagine that she was telling her baby not to worry, she'd be back soon with some nice field mice for dinner.

PS-These Great Horned Owl pictures are dedicated to my friend Meredith, who I haven't seen or heard from in a long while now. She introduced me to my first great horned owl, and I've been hunting for them and other birds ever since. Thanks, M!