Friday, April 24, 2009

Still A Chance

If you hurry, there's a chance for you to see the Golden Knights parachute team at the 2009 Sun-N-Fun air show this weekend. I caught them twice today, once in daylight above, and once at night when the smoke was replaced by sparklers. In addition to people jumping from perfectly functional aircraft, there are plenty of aircraft that are not disgorging people to see. Florida residents get in for only $15, which is a far better deal than the normal admission of $35. Hurry though, this weekend only!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Missing Doodles?

Mmmm, I seem to be missing some doodles. I was going through and trying to tag all of my doodle posts, and I came up with too few of them. So I started looking, and I think I skipped from Oodles of Doodles 163 to Oodles of Doodles 169. That's what I get for posting in roman numerals instead of just counting them in plain old Arabic. Now I have to go back and fill in those numbers. Am I missing any more numbers? I'm not sure and I'm too lazy to look right now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Little Bit

They say that good things come in small packages, and here's a great example. This full-grown kestrel measures only about 8 inches high, but I think he's one of the coolest of the raptors. It's rare to see these guys in the wild, and even rarer to get close to one, so I always get excited when I see one at an event. I spotted this guy at the Oscar Scherer Earth Day celebration this past Sunday. The only time I saw him out was early in the morning, which is a shame because more people should get the chance to see one of these awesome birds.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looks Good, Smells Bad

One of the unique features of Lake Osprey at Oscar Scherer State Park is the artesian spring that feeds it. Someone at some point put a well in near the lake, and they struck an underground spring that forces water to the surface through the pipe you see above. They've built a little pool around it to keep the flowing water from eroding the bank too heavily, and that's what you're seeing above. The water is crystal clear, and looks like you could drink it.

However, sometimes looks can be deceiving. All of the white you see on the bottom of the pool is a form of algae or bacteria that grows only in the presence of sulfur. And when you get close to this water, you can smell the sulfur (or I guess it's hydrogen sulfide you smell, but whatever). It's nasty. After trickling down a short stream (maybe 30 feet) into the lake, most of the sulfur that was dissolved in the water has escaped, and the lake itself doesn't have a smell to it. When I was little, we had a deep well out back, and the water from it would often smell of sulfur. You could drink it if you had to, but it wasn't the best stuff on earth.

I always make it a point to check out this little pool when I'm at Oscar Scherer, and this is the first time I remember seeing so much bright green algae in there. It's usually all white, making it look like someone painted it. I thought it looked pretty neat when the sun lit it up.

Fishy Fish

I spotted this fish in the South Creek at Oscar Scherer State Park Sunday. I've no idea what he was doing, but he kept swimming around in large circles, right at the surface of the water. Maybe he was looking for something. I watched for a good ten minutes, but I never saw him eat anything or push anything around. I think maybe he got caught one too many times and one of the fish hooks poked him in the brain.

(Insert Appropriate Reference Here)

The third and final owl from Oscar Scherer last Sunday is this barred owl. I didn't get any shots looking straight into his eyes, but I don't think this one is too bad.

Same as the screech owl, this guy was keeping an eye on the limbs above his head in case he saw something that resembled dinner. Luckily for those birds up there, he was firmly tied down with some jesses around his legs.

You Are Getting Very Sleepy

Continuing on with the owls from Oscar Scherer this weekend, here is a little tiny screech owl. He may look fierce in the shot above, and don't get me wrong, he's a mean one, but he's only about six inches high. OK, maybe seven with those tufts on the top of head at full attention. He could still take a piece out of you if he wanted too. It might not be a very big piece, but I am sure it would hurt a lot.

There were birds in the tree above this guy sometimes, and every time they'd move or make a peep, he was quick to give them the evil eyeball.

Look Deep Into My Eyes

If you ever find yourself with a view like this in real life, turn and run. From Oscar Scherer State Park this weekend and their Earth Day festivities, this is a great horned owl. These are among the most ferocious predators in the avian kingdom, meaner than most hawks and probably some eagles. I can only think of one time I've seen an owl in the wild, and that's thanks to the fact that they are nearly silent in flight, and they don't hoot as often as you might hope. I love the picture above, except for the fact that his eyes are out of focus. The camera is focused on his beak. The shot below is nice, too, but not nearly so fierce.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Here's another critter I spotted at Oscar Scherer State Park today. This gopher tortoise dug his burrow right in the middle of the parking lot. So it was marked off with orange cones to keep people from driving over it and ruining all his hard work. Surprisingly, even with all of the hubbub around, he was still hanging out, just watching the world go by.

Ever wonder how a big boxy turtle like this dig a burrow? It's with claws like this on all four corners. These burrows can be pretty deep, too. Only problem is when it rains...

Does he look like he's smirking to you?

Little Red Seeds

I always love to see these seeds. I have no idea what they are called, but they just look so cool. They seem to be all over Oscar Scherer State Park, though. Crab's Eye, maybe?

Go Cardinals!

Here are some pretty good pictures of a male cardinal to make up for the obscured picture I brought you last week of a similar bird. This guy seemed to be much more amenable to having his picture taken, since he could hold still for more than a second, and didn't stay behind some cover at all times. That bright red coloration really stands out against the leafy green canopy behind him. I'm sure this fellow is actively seeking out a mate, if he hasn't found one already. The females are a much duller red color, possibly so you don't notice them sitting on the nest guarding the eggs. The bright red male is able to draw the attention of a predator, or a photographer, away. Like all the insects I've shown you today, this bird is from Oscar Scherer State Park.


You know, I really didn't think about the fact that I was shooting pictures of all these insects today. It just sort of happened. I didn't notice until I started throwing pictures on the blog. But here's another, some sort of stink bug. I was trying to take a picture of the flower he was on, not him so much. But there he was, along with two of his buddies. I don't know if they were after some nectar or just hanging out.

This is the flower I was trying to shoot when the bug got in the way. I think you might be able to see him near the top of the spike on the left side, if you blow it up enough. Below is the plant next to this one, and it appears to be on it's way to blossoming soon.

Mmmmmm, Honey

While I'm bringing you insects from Oscar Scherer State Park, here's a honeybee. I'm afraid I don't know what sort of flower that he's gathering pollen from, but there were quite a few of them blooming along the trail. It was the first time I'd noticed them, or at least the first time I'd paid much attention.

Furry Freight Train

Here's another insect denizen of Oscar Scherer State Park. These caterpillars were all over the place. It must be their time of year or something. And they were all headed someplace. It was rare to see one standing still. They were crawling across the ground or up sticks, looking for food or a place to turn into a moth, perhaps. People were saying they would sting if you touched them, or at least irritate your skin, but I'm not sure. I should do some research now that I'm back at my computer.

Not A Bird

I bought you all those birds yesterday, so here's a little something that isn't a bird but still flies. It's a dragonfly, and I caught him on the bank of Lake Osprey in Oscar Scherer State Park today. They were having their annual Earth Day celebration, and I was there. Stay tuned for more pics.