Happy 2017 everyone!
As they say … “out with the old and in with the new”… but before that, I always like to take the time to reflect upon the past year. To me, it’s all about looking back on where I’m been (mentally and physically), lessons learned, and adventures experienced. Those reflections serve as the framework for my goals and direction for the new year. So, grab yourself a drink, get comfy, and take a ride through 2016 with me. 🙂I think that 2016 can be summed up as near and far … usual versus unusual. Let’s begin with the “near and new”. Sounds like a Jeopardy category, doesn’t it? Everyone knows that I live in Florida, and have most of my life, but that doesn’t mean that experiences can’t be new.
OK, I know you’re wondering “what’s so new about sandhill cranes”? Well, of course I love them, especially those colts, which are their babies. They are so darned curious and adorable. Each one has its own personality … just like us.
While this is a typical image of the young colts being fed delicacies by their parents ……getting a shot of them precisely at the moment that one has just fallen face first into the muck is not. To this day, when I look at this image, I find myself laughing. Poor thing looks so indignant, while its sibling looks on.
When these colts are very young, they often can be found snuggled up into their mom or dad’s feathers for protection and warmth. However, these two are getting big now, but that didn’t stop them from trying to snuggle in as well.While I have other images from earlier years of our wood storks, I don’t think that I’ve ever captured one with the parents in courtship mode. Don’t they look so happy? For the first time in 2016, I was able to capture the courtship and nesting of the little blue herons.
Of course, when a bird flies in and perches on top of the trees, it’s a great photo op, but when the sky looks like a pastel colored canvas, it’s super special.Though many times I’ve seen painted buntings, this was the first time that I actually got a shot that I was pleased with. Gosh, they are so incredibly beautiful.Look out … it’s burrowing owl season again … where these captivating owls capture my attention in a way that few other birds can. To say that I love with owls, is probably a bit of an understatement. It’s more like an obsession.Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve spend MANY hours with them, yet this guy managed to catch me by surprise as he jumped towards me on his way to returning to the burrow.Tender moments such as the sharing of food during courtship seemed to be my focal point in 2016. The behavioral aspect of photographing these owls fascinate me to no end.Probably one of my unique experiences with owls this year came to me via a phone call. A neighbor found this “bird” that he wasn’t sure what to do with … nor did he know what it was. When I arrived, this is what a saw …Of course, it was a very young eastern screech owl, which had inadvertently fallen out of its cavity nest. Tom was able to find the nest and placed the baby owl back into it … with the mom sleeping inside! This pair of owls was well known to us, as they had 3 owlets 2 years earlier in our yard.I was honored to be able to follow this little owl from being a little fuzz ball … to being lost in the nest cavity … to barely being able to fit.It was a proud day when it finally fledged … this being the last image I captured before it did. I was so happy that we played a role in insuring the safety of this little one. So cute!Trips out to see the activities of the nesting osprey were carried out, as in past years.Usually I get solo shots, but this time many chase scenes ensued and it was a thrill to witness the calling out and acrobatic flying of these two osprey.Swallow-tailed kites by the half dozen or so are the norm for me, but this year I got to photograph them by the hundreds! It was so unreal to watch them as they roosted in great numbers, then swooped over the surface of the water to drink and clean themselves.Florida boosts another amazing owl, the Barred Owl, which has the most soulful eyes imaginable … I always find it hard to look away.This year I got to observe some very cool behavioral displays, including this osprey who had just flown in with a fish, but was totally fending off its mate from joining in on the feast. LOLThis guy also gave me a unique shot … as it tried to dry off its wings from a recent sun shower. Looks like it was meditating or saying grace. For some reason, I really love this one.In 2016, white crowned pigeons became listed as threatened in the state of Florida, so it was appropriate that I was able to grab some nice images of them. That was a first for me, though I do possess some really crappy ones from my very first encounter. 😉Kingfishers are probably a bird considered by many to be a nemesis … for they are so sketchy and flighty and rarely pause for an image. This beauty was captured while preening herself.Speaking of endangered birds, this snail kite was successfully photographed one day while out in central Florida. Love that red eye … no need to correct for that kind of “red eye”. Of course, bald eagles are always a special sighting and I’m fortunate enough to have experienced many sightings and captured images, but this one is special. I think it’s the topside, wings down position that I find so appealing. What do you think?Yes, though I live in Florida and have for many years, it’s still fascinating and “new” images, birds, and behaviors can be witnessed. Yes, the sun might be going down on this blog post (sorry for it being so lengthy), but there’s more to highlight in 2016.I leave everyone with one final Florida image … that of the boat basis at the Deering Estate in south Florida. So unique and beautiful … when shooting there, you never want to leave.Next Up: The “Far” of 2016
© 2016 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy