Naturally Florida

Spring season signals the time has come for birds to congregate, court, mate, nest, and raise their young.  The osprey are no different.  For me, spring also signals that a return trip to Blue Cypress Lake is in order.  This year I met up with some friends, bright and early, to try to capture the essence of this gorgeous place, as well as the wonderful osprey.

IMG_0901-1We got out on the water just in time for the sun to begin to emerge on the horizon.  This year, the wind was quite strong and thus the water choppy at times.  Didn’t make much of a difference though at sunrise.  Yes, it’s going to be a fabulous day!_DSC9017Our first juvenile osprey was spotted … as it waited patiently for its parents to return.  The young osprey are easy to differentiate from the adults by that orange eye, versus the yellow eyes of its parents._DSC5416There was a plethora of activity going on that morning.  Some of the osprey were sitting on nests … some were reinforcing their nests … some were out fishing … some were out learning to fly … some were defending their “air space”.  This fabulous osprey was multi-tasking bring ing back both nesting materials and dinner to its nest.  LOL_DSC5624Of course, there were more than osprey hanging out in the lake.  Always fascinating to watch, photograph, and listen to, were the black-bellied whistling-ducks.  When they take flight overhead, you quickly realize where they got that name from._DSC5879_DSC5903To give you a perspective of the nests, which number in the hundreds, and the beauty in which they exist, take a look at this image.  Gorgeous cycpress trees, filled with spanish moss, are the settings for the nests.  Talk about a room with a view … :-)._DSC6073There were so many osprey flying around that I had a bit of difficulty figuring out which osprey to follow.  I know, it’s a good problem to have._DSC5995_DSC6083Talons on predator birds have long captured my fascination.  When an osprey launches into the air and those talons get exposed, it’s a moment that I anticipate hugely, as I try to perfect that exact moment._DSC6168As you can tell, many of the nests are nice and low, which offer the photographer a great view at the occupants of the nests.  Notice those orange eyes … juvenile or adult?  Juvenile of course.  I absolutely love their feather markings too.  Much darker and distinct._DSC6265On this particularly windy day, the birds were fairly predictable in their flight pattern, as birds will always take off and land into the wind._DSC6325Taking advantage of the wind, they flew around quite a bit, almost taunting the others to take chase._DSC6367Many times, we witnessed attacks inflight, though often they were just having fun._DSC6369_DSC6375This juvenile osprey had been flying around the lake a bit and was coming for a landing.  I love this “orchestra conductor” pose, as they extend out their wings and obtain full feather benefit in helping them to slow down as they approach their landing._DSC6383Once again, those gorgeous talons extend as they pick their favorite branch to land on._DSC6438Not sure how many osprey were out there flying around, but safe to say it was far more than I could photograph.  Some flew high, some flew low, all were gorgeous inflight and exhillerating to watch._DSC6495This young one returns to the nest._DSC6548Following right behind it was the parent landed right behind it.  Notice the yellow eyes._DSC6565As beautiful as the adult osprey are, it’s the juveniles that get my pulse racing.  _DSC6581Again, it’s not just osprey … we saw anhingas, woodpeckers, sandhill cranes, ibis, wood storks, herons, etc.  Here’s another visitor … the red-shoulder hawk, which posed nicely on top of the tree for us._DSC6590While looking for other birds, we happened to find this beautiful black-crowned night heron.  Love that red eye!_DSC6607OK, any image that has both talons and all of this feather details and fluff is considered to be super special in my book._DSC6699The only thing that it was missing was that gorgeous orange eye.  Yes, we sure were treated to an amazing air show.  🙂_DSC6757Yes, this is the true natural Florida … as it was … as it wish that it could be everywhere again.  At least, I know, that there are still places that I can go in Florida to get simple moments like this.  🙂_DSC9026Hope that everyone enjoyed.

Next up:  More burrowing owls

© 2016  TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Nature in Florida

January in Florida doesn’t necessarily offer much to make you feel like it’s winter, except for the promise of birds to photograph.  One doesn’t have to travel far to partake in their beauty, especially when you wake up early to catch them in that early morning sweet light._DSC4487If you’re wondering where the birds are hanging out … all that you have to do is follow their path inflight.  This roseate spoonbill, of course, revealed their location._DSC4625To our surprise, we didn’t find just a few, but hundreds of birds foraging in the waters and even all lined up on the boardwalk handrails.  Not just spoonbills either … white pelicans, white herons, ibis, tri-colored heron, great blue herons … one big happy family._DSC4783Of course, the roseate spoonbills hold the most interest for everyone.  I mean, how could they not?  Flamingos, they are not, though you almost always hear someone mistake them as such.  All dressed up in the beginnings of their breeding plumage, with their reflections of varying degrees of pink and white effectively doubling their beauty into the waters below._DSC4604Perhaps it’s just me, but they seem to me to have such fun personalities.  This one seems to actually be smiling.  🙂_DSC4636A walk around the wetlands yields many other sightings, including this European starling, known for its aggressive behavior in bullying other cavity dwelling birds out of their home.  Until this day, I never noticed how their markings were so beautiful._DSC4900It’s always fun to watch the beautiful and skilled green heron hunt for dinner, or in this case, probably lunch.  The stillness of the water almost makes it for a “mirror, mirror, on the wall” moment._DSC4971Also delightful to witness were Mr. & Mrs Hooded Merganser, who went swimming on past us.  _DSC4510Off to another location, we find the brightly colored, unmistakeable, male cardinal, with its red crest and feathers contrasting beautifully with that green foliage in the background._DSC5023Its mate, while not as red or brightly colored, was not far away.  I just loved the way that it was hanging out in the palm fronds, keeping an eye on everything going on._DSC5246Where there are birds and outdoor feeders, of course there are other critters trying to take  advantage of an easy meal.  This brave squirrel was running up and down not wanting to miss anything.  I just hoped that it wouldn’t jump out at me … LOL._DSC5031Then came a visitor who was a bit more assertive in trying to get a hand out of food.  The raccoons have been know to approach humans (yes, a terrible lesson that humans have taught them, much like the squirrels) … I’ve had one in the past tap my bottom as I sat at a picnic table years ago, giving me a big hint of what it wanted.  Of course, I didn’t indulge.  _DSC5061This particular raccoon put on its cutest face while it begged and pleaded for something tasty.  Here it even looks like it was praying for something good.  🙂_DSC5176Before long it found where a secret stash of treat were hidden in the log.  BUSTED!_DSC5130One of the most beautifully colored birds with an array of colors like that from an artists palette is the painted bunting – male, that is._DSC5537Though the female is beautiful in her own right, she lacks the variety of colors.  If one didn’t know better, they would never even think that they were related to the male version.  Reminds me of the how different the red-winged blackbirds are – males versus females._DSC5340Alas though the males again look like when they were created, a child was asked to color it.  So very beautiful.  These birds are winter visitors here in south Florida and will eventually move on with their migratory plans._DSC5579Much less colorful, though also marked quite nicely, is the thrasher … love those specks on its breast._DSC5589Of course, there will be lots more wintering birds and those breeding and nesting opportunities and blog posts, so stay tuned.

Up Next:  More Polar Bears!!

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com