Monday, April 21, 2008

Support Your Local Eagle

As part of the Earth Day festivities at Oscar Scherer State Park last Sunday, they brought out this bald eagle. He's a permanent resident of a local sanctuary, and they bring him out to show the majesty of these beautiful birds. You see them on the backs of quarters, and maybe in the opening animation on The Colbert Report, but how often do you get to see these guys up close? Never, that's how often. Well, maybe not never, but rarely. And Sunday was your chance. They really are magnificent. No wonder they selected the bald eagle as our national bird. They're much more exciting than some dumb old turkey.

Unprocessed Thanksgiving Dinner

For only the second time ever, I saw a wild turkey on Sunday. The first time was quite a few years ago when I was first starting to get interested in digital photography. A buddy and I took my new 1 megapixel camera out on a small road trip, and one of our stops was a dirt road that ran up into the Green Swamp a short ways. Off on the side of the dirt road, I spotted a turkey and got a single shot that's only slightly worse than this one. But I knew that great things were coming if I only practiced with that camera. And that brings us to yesterday and my second turkey. This gobbler was on a trail at Oscar Scherer park. I spotted him as soon as I came around a corner. I thought at first it was a single sand hill crane, but I watched him for a second and figured out what it really was. I slowly started trying to get closer for a better shot, but a couple of other hikers walked past me and straight towards the bird, causing him to run off into the bushes. I would have liked to gotten a better picture, but there's always next time. Even if it takes 6 more years...

What Is A Balloon Glow?

Gather 'round kiddies, and let Ole Ern tell you about the balloon glow. It was about a week and a half ago when I was at the Sun-N-Fun Fly-in, and I came across a few of these hot air balloons, all filled up with hot air, as is their way. But nobody was going anywhere because they were tightly tied to the rear bumpers of large pickup trucks. Every so often as the hot air in the balloon turned to lukewarm air, the operator would pull a handle overhead and release a generous helping of flammable gas into the balloon. At about the same time, he would flick a lit match up over his head, igniting the flammable gas and creating a giant fireball. As it got darker, these fireballs would light up the inside of the balloons, creating the glow I spoke of earlier. Now you know. It's hard to tell, but the balloon all the way on the left would be glowing if it weren't made of a dark fabric. I don't know why they included such a dark colored balloon in their glow. I guess they didn't want to exclude anyone...

A Thistle Among Flowers

Sometimes you've got to zoom in as far as you can go to get right to the heart of the matter. I found this thistle blossom on the side of a runway at the airshow last week. Even though there were hot-air balloons taking off over my head, I had to get down on my hands and knees to shoot the flower at my feet. Beauty is where you find it.

Home Sweet Hole

People say that a turtle's home is his shell, but that's not entirely true. And technically, this isn't a turtle, but a tortoise. A gopher tortoise to be exact, and he lives in a hole in the ground. I stumbled (almost literally) across this guy on Sunday while at an Earth Day celebration. I thought he was a stuffed display at first, but then he slid a few inches into his hole as I got closer, so I knew he was the real thing. These guys used to live all over the place here in Florida, but habitat loss has decimated their population, and they are now protected. We used to play with them as kids, but I suspect that's against the law now.

A Wing And A Prayer

I didn't download the pictures I took on Saturday until Sunday night, and I didn't look at most of them until today. So I didn't know that I had this great pelican picture until just a few minutes ago. I shot this guy near the New Pass Bridge at the south end of Longboat Key. As you can see, the water is starting to get that great shade of green again. I need to get out and take more pictures!