Saturday, April 18, 2009

The End

Well, I guess this is the end of my big week. My goal was to post 100 items to get caught up for all the things that I'd meant to post but hadn't. I think this will be post 119 for the week, so I got a little more than I'd hoped for. Thanks for all your comments. I didn't have a lot of time left to respond to them, but rest assured they are very much appreciated. I think I've got some more stuff coming up tomorrow, but I'm going to slow back down now, to a much more leisurely pace. Hopefully not back to the snail's pace I was at before, but certainly not 20 posts a day. I know it may seem easy to blog, but it can take a lot out of you if you're trying to do a quality job.

Save Our Seabirds

I noticed when I was out on City Island this evening shooting bird pictures that someone new had moved into the old Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary. Somebody called Save Our Seabirds seems to have set up shop there, doing pretty much the same thing Pelican Man used to do. Hopefully, they'll do this without all the politics. They seem to be open to the public, although they were closed up tight when I was there, and I didn't see much inside that led me to believe there was much going on ever. OK, I did hear an osprey inside, so they must be doing something in there. I'll have to try to get out there and check them out soon. I used to actually be a dues paying member of the Pelican Man place, but that was a long, long time ago.

The Last Pair

OK, I think these are the last birds I have to bring you tonight. Ring-necked doves aren't as exciting as many of the other birds I've brought you this evening, but I figured I should put these up while I'm thinking about it. This pair were all into each other, cooing and preening, putting their heads on each others neck. Like the gulls, I'm sure they were just waiting for me to leave so they could get busy.

My Name Is Ibis

As I was on my way back to the car after what I have to say was an amazingly productive hour or two of shooting, I spotted this juvenile white ibis grooming himself in a tree. He squawked at me quite a bit, but he stayed put as I took his picture for a few minutes. As he gets a little older, he'll loose most of the dark colored feathers in his plumage, until he's almost all white. I think they have some black feathers under their wings as adults, but you can really only see them when they are flying overhead. There's also a black version of this species, called the glossy ibis, but you don't see them as much. I think they may actually be non-native. And this may or may not come as a surprise, but the black ones don't hang out with the white ones, at least not that I've ever seen.

Sky Clowns

Who haven't I shown you today? Oh, yeah, pelicans. Heaven knows we have pelicans around here. They are everywhere. They are big and goofy. Sorry, but I can't think of anything clever to say about them. Perhaps 13 bird posts in a row is just too many...

Lil Blue

One of the few local waterfront species I haven't shown you already today is this little blue heron. He was a shy fellow, not holding still when I tried to take his picture. But I did get a couple of shot when he was on an old post out in the water. That's the city of Sarasota in the background of both shots. In the picture below, you can see the big purple Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, a local landmark. Well, I think it's a landmark because they painted it purple, but it seems to have worked. Sorry about the darkness of this guy. They are naturally quite dark, and it was getting late. The city behind him is well lit, though. Perhaps I should have tried a flash. Didn't think of that. I have so much to learn when it comes to taking good pictures.


I think it's really hard to get a good shot of mangrove roots. I think this one is pretty good, though. They usually come out too dark, and you can't see the tangle of the roots very well. But this shot is nice, with the green water, the nice reflection, the well-lit roots themselves. I like it! Only problem with this shot is that there are no birds in it, and I'm supposed to be posting bird pictures.

The Dance Of Love

Not the most exciting birds I shot tonight, but still a nice shot. These two black-headed gulls were on a channel marker in New Pass, doing their little mating dance. See how the one bird has his beak straight up? He kept doing that over and over and over again. The other bird didn't seem too impressed, though. Perhaps they were waiting for me to quit watching. Not that they don't always have black heads, that's just the mating season plumage.


I told you it was a good night for bird pictures, but I'm not sure if you believe me yet. These shots of a black-crowned night heron should help convince you a wee bit. These first two shots should give you a good idea about those two long white feathers that adorn the back of their heads. I think they should be named after that, not the dark head. Trailing neck-feather birds. How's that? Oh, all these pictures are of the same bird, except this one, obviously. This one is the same species though, just a juvenile. His adult feathers haven't come in yet, but he's almost full size.

The Ruckus

I think I mentioned a ruckus at the rookery on City Island. Well, here's some pictures of a very similar, if not identical ruckus. It's just a parent great blue heron, on the left, and a petulant juvenile who wants his dinner and wants it now. Just gaze at these pictures and imagine some extremely loud bird squawks to get the idea. No, louder. Louder! LOUDER! That's close.

I have to believe that this youngster is pretty close to fledging and flying away to live on his own. His coloration is all there, and he's almost the same size as his parent. I guess I missed most of the baby bird season this year. Too bad.

In The Pink II

You know it's a good bird picture day when you come back with shots of one of these guys. This is a roseate spoonbill, and for some reason, I hardly ever get pictures of these guys. It's not that I don't see them occasionally. I saw one flying out of a drainage canal earlier this morning, but when I've got a camera in my hand, they're rare as hen's teeth. But today, I got one. He was just sitting there in the small rookery on City Island, so I shot a few dozen pictures. He didn't move much, so don't expect any action shots. I'm pretty happy with most of these, though. Well, except for the one below. The camera is focused on some leaves in front on him, but I included the shot anyway, since it's the only one where he had his beak open. And what a beak it is!

The Curious Heron

Little did I know when I set out this evening to shoot the sunset that I wouldn't get a single shot of the sun setting. Nor did I know it was going to be such a good day for birds. I was on City Island, just off-shore from Sarasota proper, hanging out near the boat ramp where there is a small rookery. This great blue heron was down in the mangroves, only a foot or so above the water. Normally, that would be in the dark, but with the low sun behind me, he was well illuminated. In fact, he was too well illuminated. The background was dark, and I had to manually adjust the camera to get a good exposure. But I think I did OK. He's got an eye cast upward because there was a ruckus in a nest up above him. They were making lots of noise, and I guess he's just trying to see what all the fuss is about.

All White Now

After shooting the ospreys, I came across this white egret. I don't know if it's too early for it or too late, but sometime around now, the yellow are around their eyes turns green as part of a mating thing. I don't know if I missed it already or if it's not here yet. I guess I haven't been out shooting birds enough lately.

Osprey Alert

So I went out to City Island this evening to try and shoot the sunset. Probably not the best place to shoot the sunset, since the water access there faces east, but I was on auto-pilot. As I drove in (and wondered what all the traffic was about. Turned out there was a boat show...), I saw the osprey above just chilling out in a tree where I thought I could get a good shot. So I parked the car, put a long lens on the camera and hiked back. I squeezed off a couple shots, then started walking to see if I could find a better angle. Then I heard the cries of another osprey in the air.

I looked up and saw this bird headed straight towards me. I got a couple of decent pictures.

Then he started spiraling around overhead, catching the sun on each turn, so I got lots of good pictures like this.

But the most amazing, or interesting, or noteworthy picture may be this one. If you look close (click on the picture and it should open up much larger), you'll see white squiggles and drops trailing out behind the osprey. Yes, that's right, he's pooping. And no, I did not get hit. Thank goodness. But I did get the shot!

Yet Another One

And here is another memorial to the Civil War, or the veterans there-of, or the dead there-of. This one is in downtown Bradenton, FL, right in front of the county courthouse. These things are everywhere I tell you. I know of at least one more I'll try to shoot soon.

Two More Memorials

While I was shooting the Gamble Mansion for you this morning, I also shot these two memorials located out behind the mansion. They were both erected in 1937, one for Confederate veterans, the other for veterans of the first World War. Well, actually, they don't refer to it as the first World War, because World War II hadn't happened yet. Anyhow, I share these to prove my point that many small towns have Confederate or Civil War memorials tucked away somewhere, if you know where to look.

The Mansion I Mentioned

I shared a picture of a cannon being fired off the other day, and I mentioned it was in front of the Gamble Mansion. Then I realized you hadn't seen any pictures of the Gamble Mansion here at the blog. So I made it a point to get up today and head out there for a little while and shoot some pictures. This is the Gamble Mansion, originally part of a much larger sugar plantation along the Manatee River near present-day Ellenton, FL. Since a major restoration effort in 1937, I believe, this has been part of the Judah P. Benjamin Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park. That's quite the mouthful. Judah P. Benjamin was the Confederate Secretary of State, and lived here briefly after the Civil War while awaiting escape to England. And the house is the only surviving antebellum mansion in the Southern part of Florida. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

Go For Lunch

The little diner at Kennedy Space Center is called Countdown for whatever reason. The real joke here is their byline, We Are Go For Lunch... How funny is that?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Number One Oh One

Well, if my count is correct, that last post makes 100 items I've posted this week. I think they are all fairly decent posts, nothing to be ashamed of. I've brought you pictures from many of the places I've visited over the past few years, and plenty of pictures from right here at home, too. I think I averaged almost two pictures per post, too, so you can't say I skimped on anything. I'm going to continue to post things for the next day as well, since I've got over 36 hours left in the week. Don't expect posts every hour like you got for the first three days, or every other hour like you got for the second three days. It's not that I don't have the pictures, it's that I don't have the energy. It takes a lot of work to find, share and comment on all this stuff. I don't know how those social bloggers do it. It's hard enough for me to make 2-3 posts a week most weeks. 100+ this week has left me weak in the knees.

Bunker (Not Archie)

From a trip to California 3 or so years ago, here's a shot of a World War II-vintage bunker in a Marin County hillside, overlooking the entrance to San Francisco Bay. There are all sorts of these emplacements in the area, put there to guard one of the west coast's most important harbors. Because the federal government bought up all that land during the war and held onto it for so long afterwards, much of this beautiful area is undeveloped. As you can see, even the old fortifications have a certain idyllic charm to them, tucked away in the scenic hillside.


I missed the firing of this cannon by about ten seconds. Both as a great photo op, and as being targeted by it. I was taking a picture off to the left of this picture, and the cannon guys hollered at me to move. I moved and they fired off the blast before I could get around to the side and point my camera. Oh, well, maybe next time. I saw these guys at an open house at the Gamble Mansion in Ellenton. (Oddly enough, I don't seem to have ever brought you any pictures of the Gamble Mansion. I'll have to add that to the list of places I need to share with you.)

I Hear The Train A Comin'

I knew there was a train down there somewhere. I put my ear to the rail, but couldn't hear it.

Yep, there's a train! A steam locomotive in fact. Don't see those around too often.

And she's got a full head of steam, flying along as fast as she can go on these poor old out-of-shape tracks.

Certainly not something you see everyday, at least any more.

An Unknown Soldier

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that many of the cities in the South have a memorial to their dead from the Civil War. I suspect that many cities in the North are the same way, but I haven't visited too many of them Anyhow, I came across this picture from Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta that I took earlier this year, and it sort of fits in with that. It's the Lion of Atlanta, a monument to "Unknown Confederate Dead", perhaps a fitting memorial in a cemetery that is filled with many graves of both known and unknown Confederate dead.

Not far from the lion is The Confederate Obelisk, an earlier monument to all those who died in the war. I believe the date on there is correct, 1873, which means this was erected less than ten years after the war was ended. Notice that there is no Confederate battle flag on the flagpole.