Thursday, April 08, 2010

The High Court

OK, I made it through a long plane ride, three different trains, and a pitiful bit of bowling, but here I am in Baltimore. I even had an hour or two to kill in DC, so I checked out some of the sites. The cherry trees are in full bloom! Very impressive.

Still Waiting

And here I am in Union Station, deep in the heart of Washington, DC. I'm waiting for a train to take me towards Baltimore. There's too much wiating involved in travel. At least we have free wireless here.


Here I sit, waiting for my flight to DC. This netbook is a far cry from a real camera, but at least I included a picture. I';ll be back with a shot from Washington, DC, I promise.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Swans Of Lakeland-Black Ones

The big white ones aren't the only swans in Lakeland. They also have quite a few of these black ones. They are slightly smaller, slightly nicer and they come from Australia. Gotta love those bright red beaks, too.

It's best to let sleeping swans lie. You wouldn't like them when they're angry.

There seemed to be more nesting black ones than white ones. Or maybe my pictures just came out better with the black ones.

I even got a decent picture of both parents working on this nest. One sitting on the eggs, the other bird gathering more nesting material. Or maybe he's just neatening up the same old nesting material. It's hard sometimes to tell what's going through a bird's brain.

The Swans Of Lakeland-White Ones

Did you know that the official mascot for the city of Lakeland (here in Florida) is the swan? Yep, and they keep Lake Morton near the public library well-stocked with them. I shot a few of them on Easter, so here they are. It's tough to get a picture of this many together without getting some other random bird in the shot. I cropped a duck out of the bottom of this one, but you wouldn't know it if I didn't tell you.

I'm used to shooting big birds sometimes, but these guys are huge! The bodies are probably almost two feet long, and those necks add another foot or two.  If I remember the story correctly, the original swans were a gift from the then-new Queen Elizabeth II to Lakeland in the fifties.  I doubt if any of those original birds are still around (they would be really old, and they never look both ways before crossing the street), but I think these are their direct descendants.

And did I mention they are mean? Get too close and they will strike at you.  Refuse to give them the piece of bread in your hand and they will peck your eyes out!  I've never been hit by one, but I would imagine it hurts.

It's nesting season, and many of them were sitting on nests like this. One parent would be sitting on the nest, and the other would be nearby, keeping pesky photographers away and dragging more debris near the nest so the sitter could form it into a larger nest.

A Bad Egg?

On my trip around a lake in Lakeland on Easter (while hunting ducks), I saw many of the swans had built large nests and were sitting on them already. But I stumbled across one nest that had no swan on or even near it. But at the center of the nest was a single, large, slightly bluish egg the size of your fist. I don't know if mommy and daddy swan had just wandered off for a moment or if they'd given up on the idea of parenthood. I don't know how long an egg like this can survive without the warmth of the parent to keep it alive. The temperature outside was pretty warm, but somehow I think there's more to it than just ambient temperature. But anyway, here's a picture of a swan egg. You aren't likely to see that on too many blogs!

Another Good Wallpaper

Here's another nice shot from the plant show last Saturday that will make a nice desktop wallpaper on your computer. This was my original choice of a plant to buy, but then I found the green and purple succulent, so this plant gets to live for a while longer.

Green And Purple

I didn't show you this odd succulent from the plant show last Saturday yet. I'd never seen anything quite like this before, or at least with this unique coloration. I think it's some sort of jade plant, but for some reason the older green leaves turn to purple. I liked it so much I had to buy one for Mom. I'm sure she'll do better than I would at keeping it alive and flourishing. I have a balcony full of dead plants. :(

Sneaky Snake

I spotted this little black snake at Mom & Dad's house on Easter. I got off a couple of shots from up above, but as I was repositioning to get a better shot than this, he disappeared. I have no idea where he went, but he must have gone there awful fast. I looked away for an instant and he was gone. So that's why you only get this shot of his head.

Two Children

I drove past the local eagle nest two nights ago and spotted the two babies out in a good spot, much better than the last time I spotted them out of the nest together. So I stopped and shot some pictures for you. And to give you an idea of how far they were from home, below is a shot that shows the two eaglets on the left, and their nest on the right. Mommy and daddy were nowhere to be seen, unfortunately. I've also spotted these guys on the big cell tower across from work, which is several miles from their nest, so they're starting to get around. It won't be long before they head off North for the summer.

Monday, April 05, 2010

One Crazy Looking Duck!

I spotted this crazy looking duck at Lake Morton in Lakeland, FL, over the weekend. I'd seen them before, but never gotten any decent pictures. I think these are pretty good, except for the fence he's sitting on, but you can't have everything. Check out that green helmet of feathers on the top of his head, and my book refers to those white lines on his face as dual chinstraps. I guess they're there to hold the helmet in place when he flies. And fly he did when I got within 20 feet of him. Out into the water he went, where I guess he felt safer.

Once out in the water, he started making his weird, squeaky quack. And he'd extend his neck each time, like he was making the noise through some sort of stretching. Compare the length of his neck above and below, and you'll see how it changes. The book called this Florida's most colorful duck, and I'll have to agree with them. This puts my poor blue-winged guys to shame.

Another Shuttle Launch

Did you see the shuttle Discovery launch this morning? I didn't try to go over this time, but I was able to glimpse it outside my condo in the pre-dawn hour. When I got to work, the sun was just coming up and it lit up the smoke trail from the early launch. Those high-altitude winds do some weird things to what starts out as a fairly straight line.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

Here's a whole flotilla of Easter happiness for you. Hope you had a good one!