Saturday, March 18, 2006

On The Wing II

Not only did I catch a hawk on the wing today, I got this vulture. He's not nearly so impressive, but he's cool in his own way, I suppose.

On The Wing

I'm getting luckier when it comes to capturing birds on the wing. I spotted this red-shoulder hawk today, and managed to catch it on the wing. Pretty awesome, if you ask me. I got some pretty good pictures of him in a more sedentary pose as well.

Wild Beauty

Believe it or not, this beautiful flower grows in the wild. I'm not sure of the name, but I think it's some sort of iris. I guess all flowers started out as wild, but they've been hybridized over the years to get larger blossoms and more intense colors. This has led to many wildflowers seeming tame by comparison, but not in this case. I was quite shocked when I saw this blossom beside a drainage canal in the Myakka River State Park.

I Spy With My Big Eye

The Myakka River was just full of these guys today. I was keeping my eye on them just as much as this guy was keeping his eye on me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Four Years And One Month Ago

You've seen several sunrises lately that are obscured by powerlines, and they reminded me of this shot from 2002. I think this one is pretty cool, though. It's funny how I can remember a particular shot I took one morning way back then on the way to work.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Connecticut (7/50)

Yet another license plate for you this week. I think 100 is a litle old for skiing, don't you? You might recall I tried skiing during my last visit to Ohio. I didn't take to it. Hopefully, your mileage will vary.

Update: Someone much more up on these things than I points out that the 100 refers to the elusive goal of going skiing 100 days a year. Perhaps these people should pick a hobby that doesn't require really bad weather. Or move to Antartica. Down there, the plate would read SKI 365.

Previous plates: New York, Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin.


I posted a single photo of this great blue heron eating a fish the other day, but a curious fan wanted to see more of the sequence. And I'm always one to try and please the fans. So here are a few more photos. The fish was actually caught by a little kid on the North Jetty in Venice, Florida. He decided it was too small to keep, but rather than throw it back in the water, he dropped it on a rock. This bird immediately pounced, grabbing the fish in his powerful beak, looking like chopsticks on a piece of uncut sushi.

The first challenge the bird faced since he didn't have to actually catch the fish was to get it down. He had to get it aimed in the right direction, but not drop it back into the water. That took all of about 2 seconds.

The fish wasn't going to give up without a fight, though. But these final convulsions didn't seem to make a hill-of-beans difference.

Not long now...

Almost done. Notice the pointy tongue that's sticking out towards the end of the beak.

There you go, all done. Well, almost. You can see that the fish hasn't quite made it down to the stomach yet, and I don't know how much longer it took to get there. The bird took off pretty quick after this picture. The total amount of time from the first picture above to the last one? 29 seconds! I can't even get the tarter sauce out of the little plastic cup that quickly.

In The Beginning

Some of you regulars around here may wonder how I got started in the picture-taking business. Well, I was reminded of that by the wedding pictures I posted just the other day. Way back in 2001, I was invited to the wedding of an old friend in Key West. I took my little cheap digital camera with me, and wandered all over the island the day before the wedding. I'd been taking pictures for years (I remember a 35MM camera emblazoned with Sam The Eagle from the 1984 Olympics in LA), but none of the pictures I had taken before that weekend had ever excited me the way the pictures from Key West did. The palm tree above was probably my favorite picture of the whole weekend, but there were literally dozens and dozens of great shots. I was a little frustrated, though, because the old Kodak DC 280 camera I was using only had 1 megapixel. Within two weeks, I had a fancy new 3 megapixel Kodak DC 4800, and I was a photographer. The shot below is from that same weekend, and was taken from the deck of the Schooner Western Union during the wedding itself. I almost missed the boat (literally) before the wedding, because I was off taking pictures.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Eagle In The Distance

I bring you a lot of bird pictures here at Ernie (Not Bert), and most of them are a whole lot better than this one, but none of them are shots of a bird as majestic as this bald eagle. I wish I could get closer to him, but I don't want to get shot for trespassing. I first showed you a picture of this guy and his mate last year, but it was taken with the old camera, so it's a little blurrier. They are building a large housing development close to this guy's nest, so I may be able to get closer in the near future, if the development doesn't drive them away. You can see the huge nest they live in below. This massive structure stood up to several hurricane near-misses in the past few years, so you can imagine how well-built it is.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Keep Watching The Skies

What else did I do last weekend? Oh, yeah, I went to a wedding. And not just any wedding, but a wedding where the bride and the groom fell from the sky. Yes, you read that right. They climbed into an airplane and returned to earth without it. The shot above is the lovely bride, Heather, and below is Marck, the groom. Heather was an old pro at jumping, I think this was her 70th jump, or something like that. It was Marck's third, so he wasn't allowed to jump solo. Look closely, and you'll see he's jumping tandem with someone else.

After the jump, everyone gathered around the back of the plane for a short ceremony led by a skydiver dressed in a Spiderman jumpsuit. I don't know if it was planned or not, but there were other jumpers falling from the sky right before the ceremony, making for a great shot.

I described the wedding theme as gangster-pimp. Taking a look at the groom below, you can probably see why.

The bride was not looking gangster or pimp. She was, however, wearing bright red, patent-leather combat boots. I didn't get any good pictures of them, I'm afraid. I don't know her at all, and she probably wondered why I was taking so many pictures anyway. I didn't want to shoot her feet, too.

And here's everybody's favorite part of the wedding, the first kiss as man and wife. Don't miss Spiderman there on the left.

I think this was my favorite picture I took of the couple. This was as they were walking back to the hangar after the ceremony. I've never been the official photographer at a wedding (and I don't want to be), but I've shot quite a few of them in my own amatuerish way. I like to try and get shots that a professional wedding photog wouldn't take.

I may have missed the bride's red boots, but I did get the purple Pumas on my friend Arn's feet.

Wisconsin (6/50)

Here's a new plate for you, courtesy of the state of Wisconsin and Nurse Babs.

Previous plates: New York, Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio.

Monday, March 13, 2006

More Baby (Not Cat)

I normally only post one version of a shot, but I can't get enough of these heron babies. This is a great shot. The baby is almost a mirror image of the parent, just slightly less regal

Flights Of Fancy

It's really hard to get a good picture of a bird in flight. This one isn't too bad, but it could be better. The one below is much better. I'd like to have caught more of the green color of the water though. I'm my own worst critic.

That same great blue heron kept flying back and forth across the Venice inlet, so I got several chances to shoot. The photo below is probably the best I got. I love the little bird to the right trying to get out of the way. I also like the fact that I'm in front of the bird. It's rare to catch them flying towards you.

Mother & Child Times Two

I had a chance to visit the Venice Rookery this weekend, and as usual, I got a severe case of lens envy. There were professional photographers out there with 1000mm lenses and $10,000 cameras. So I'm sure their pictures are better than these by a long shot. But mine are still pretty good. In the photo above, you can see a great egret and some pre-babies, errr, I mean eggs, in a nest. And in the photo below, you can see a baby great blue heron with her mother. Imagine the shots I could get with something longer than a 300mm lens. Donations cheerfully accepted.

Dinner Time

Here's a pair of pictures I got Sunday. The great blue heron above has gotten a small snake for dinner. The one below has caught a large fish (with a little help from a human fisherman) and is about to swallow it whole. This makes me appreciate the can of soup I had for dinner so very much more...

More March

The picture this week is yet another rerun that sharp-eyed viewers will remember. I caught this reddish egret in mid-yawn down at Nokomis Beach at the North Jetty. There's some pretty funky stuff going on down in his mouth.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hat Art

I suppose it could be argued that I'm not the most cultural of folks. But in an attempt to counter that, here's a little bit of high-class sculpture for you. This was out front of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens this morning. I guess it's supposed to represent a woman reading a book while wearing a funny hat and a rather bustled-up dress. OK, whatever.


I find myself taking the same pictures over and over again, sometimes in the same spot, sometimes in a different location. Here's another variation on a shot you've seen again and again and again. This sky/water combo was shot at Quick Point Nature Preserve on Longboat Key in Sarasota, Fl.