Driving Through Rural Florida

Don’t ever be mislead into thinking that Florida is entirely a “concrete jungle”.  While that may be more of a reality on the Florida’s coastline, especially in the south, there are certainly areas that offer a much more rural feel.  On days that Tom & I both have some free time together, we take drives into such areas.  Why don’t you come along for the journey?  🙂

Along the shores of one of the many lakes in Florida, we came across some horses, albeit not wild, but they still made for a peaceful looking image.  DSC_9042That was until we heard and saw a bunch of action going on.  Seems like a crested caracara joined a party of two crows and was far from welcome there.  They both ganged up on the caracara with some ferocity, which I always find so fascinating.DSC_8992DSC_8993After a chase ensued, the caracara finally got the message and took flight over the landscape.DSC_9005The crested caracara is normally found dining roadside with some of our vultures (black and turkey) … feasting on some recent road kill or some other type of carrion.  They are referred to as “Mexican eagles” since they have so many of them there and are found in areas like Florida, Texas, and perhaps other gulf states.  They are actually in the falcon family.  I have always found them to be quite beautiful and interesting.DSC_8211Speaking of the oddly intriguing … we also find many wood storks along the way.  It’s easy to see how they got their name.  They’ve made quite a comeback too and can be found bullying over the nests of other birds in our Florida rookeries.DSC_8310More elegant are the common great blue herons.  They have got to be the most patient birds when it comes to feeding, as they will stand there motionless for what seems to be an eternity (at least while you’re photographing them) waiting for the precise moment of opportunity to strike.DSC_8290DSC_8255Feelings of pride and patriotism rush over me whenever I spot our U.S. national bird, the bald eagle.DSC_9107DSC_9223DSC_9171Such a symbol of freedom are they.  I remember that when I was growing up, I never saw them, but they are many out there now in numbers.  Such an amazing comeback story of how the Endangered Species Act, as well as environmental protections, work together to ensure that they thrive again.DSC_9542Always searching for hikes to take out in wilderness and this one yielded this juvenile black-crowned night heron, who incidentally, wasn’t bashful at all.DSC_9378Sandhill cranes, always a favorite of mine whever I can find them, are a thrill to see.  These two are a mated pair and exhibit such dedication to each other.DSC_8512When they start unison calling, I just stop in my tracks.  Much like the sound of elk bugling or a bear cub purring, I can’t get myself to myself to even flinch a muscle when I hear it.DSC_8534Only to be outdone is when they begin their dance of love and celebration.DSC_8521This pair was drinking water in the field, exhibiting a behavior that I had never seen before.DSC_8568The whooping crane can sometimes be found hanging out with the sandhill cranes.  It is primarily white feathered, with black tips and a red crown, it’s much larger than its cousins.  I hope that they will rebound like the bald eagles did.  While sandhill cranes are sometimes hunted (why?) over migration states, the whooping crane is protected.  Sadly though, they are sometimes “mistaken” for a sandhill crane.  When you see a whooper, it’s hard to understand how  they could possibly be mistaken as adults.DSC_9526The great egret, sporting its white lacey breeding plumage backlit by the sun, is a fabulous sight to see as well.DSC_9708Of course, the trip-colored heron is a show to watch as it hunts as well.DSC_9759Towards the end of the day, the sandhill cranes begin to return to roost for the night.  In the beginning, they fly a few at a time….DSC_9859… eventually numerous constructions of cranes soar overhead … all generally calling out their impending arrival.DSC_8838Their silhouettes against the setting sun, which has highlighted the atmosphere, is nothing short of wonderful.  When they drop their legs, as they ready to execute their landing, reminds me of paratroopers as they find their way back to earth.DSC_8856Yep, we may not have mountains and varied mammal wildlife in Florida, but we do have much to be thankful for.  🙂
FullSizeRenderNex Up:  Wonder of the wetlands

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Sandhill Crane Colts & More

Sandhill cranes, their young colts, and the sanctuary wetlands were a favorite subject for me to photograph earlier this year.  While there were many different species of birds transitioning through the area, my all-time favorite had to be the sandhill cranes.

Each time, I would arrive before sunrise and watch the first emerging into the wetlands … both colts in tow, sticking close to both of their parents._DSC2288-2Most days it continued to be a struggle for the young colts to get through the mucky muddy waters, but gosh darned, didn’t they just look so cute all wet and mucky?  LOL
_DSC2452-2I have always gravitated towards textures, especially in an animals fur, so these colts made it fun to photograph them._DSC2514-2Another feature of these birds that always fascinates me is the enormity of those feet that they possess!  Often they get them tangled up in the roots and grasses along the landscape and they would topple over.  No worries, they always would bounce back up and continue on.

Of course, their ability to just fall asleep anywhere and in any position was quite remarkable.  By the way, this image also gives a great illustration of those feet!!_DSC2610-2Mom and dad would continue to forage for food, not just for themselves, but also for their young.  Everyday they seemed to get better at accepting the food and improved the number of “dropsies”, as they continued to thrive._DSC2626-2Now at the wetlands, there were more than just sandhill cranes who frequented or called the sanctuary home.  Always flying around and quite vocal were the red-winged blackbirds.  This guy was quite skilled in grabbing dragonflies on the go._DSC2792-2The white pelicans would gather in the waters as well.  Sometimes just a few … sometimes hundreds.  Always fascinating to watch them depart, fly overhead, or come in for a landing._DSC2856-2Perhaps though the most entertaining of all, and quite vocal as well, were the snowy egrets.  Such boisterous birds, they always seemed ready and willing to start a confrontation with whatever happened to be nearby or looking at it.  LOL.  Never a dull moment!  Such beautiful and graceful birds too._DSC3482-2_DSC3511-2The black-necked stilts congregated here in pretty good numbers as well, though they never seemed to want to nest there.  Such beautiful and dainty looking birds, I’m always fascinated by them._DSC3529-2But of course, the real draw for me to this area was the sandhill cranes.  Such amazing and patient parents these cranes are too.  It’s like the endless buffet line of tasty morsels all being served up by the parents, who did their best to evenly distribute the “wealth” of food._DSC3016-2Whenever the colts seemed satiated, they would tend to find each other and interact.  I can only imagine what the conversation is about._DSC1537-2In the midst of it all, one of them happens to notice that mom has laid down on the grass and off they run to join her.  Of course, that means climbing into her wings for a nap.  This little colt looks like its figuring out where the other colt went and if there was any space left for him._DSC1580-2Finding a great spot to bury itself in, it begins its attempt._DSC1590-2Success achieved by both of the colts and off to a nice warm and dry siesta they go.  Funny how by just looking at this crane, you have no idea that there’s a baby or two settled into and underneath its wings._DSC1616-2Being colts they are obviously curios about what’s going on around them, so they both take a peek to investigate.  As you can see, as they’ve grown, there’s not a whole lot of room under there anymore._DSC1807-2They settle in again, that is until mom decided siesta is over and she abruptly stands up.  It’s quite fascinating to watch as they two colts come tumbling down._DSC1827-2As they do they clumsily fall all over each other … and try not to get stepped on by moms long legs.  I think that I heard one of them say “get off of me, bro” … j/k of course.  🙂_DSC1828-2More feeding ensues and this little colts set a huge worm!  Funny too how once they get a good hold of it, they slurp it down like spaghetti.  🙂_DSC1952-2Much like photographing the burrowing owls, these colts have their own repertoire of silly antics and poses.  I have to laugh at this one and secretly get upset at its flexibility.  I think it’s doing some type of “colt yoga”.  LOL_DSC2985-2Yes the two colts have learned to get along and take turns with the delicacies being served up._DSC2120-2They do however lose a bit of interest as mom does her version of an ostrich … boy, she really digs deep for those worms._DSC2147-2One of the most beautiful sights (other than when they perform “the dance”) is when the adults begin to preen themselves._DSC2196-2More interactions continue for these colts, as the younger one (almost always the instigator) issues a call to action!_DSC2661-2Soon its older sibling comes to its side and is greeted by the younger one grabbing onto its beak.  Over time, they really learned to love and watch over each other.  So very endearing to observe._DSC2692-2Can you guess which one was a day older?  It’s amazing to me to see the difference that just one day older makes._DSC2725-2The last day that I visited with them, they sure had grown up and were roaming large areas of landscape and were difficult to find.  As you can see, they still were developing their wings but were well on their way._DSC3567-2What used to be colts that you could barely see in the grasses were now getting bigger and stronger and starting to do a lot of foraging on their own._DSC3560-2Of course, they were still quite close.  Not sure what ever happened to them, but I was quite thankful for spending the time that I did together with them.  They were precious.  Can’t wait until next year!_DSC3550-2Hope that everyone enjoyed the sandhill cranes as much as I did.

Next Up:  Who wants some burrowing owls?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

It’s All About the Sandhill Cranes

Back to being a CRANIAC!

Off to another pair of sandhill cranes which I have observed earlier this year.  This is a pair of repeat nesters in a local preserve in south Florida.  During February I observed them as they appeared to be tending to a nest in the wetlands.  I could only hope that I was correct in my guess, since if there was a nest, it was fairly well hidden in the marshy landscape._DSC4875-2Sure enough … I visited one early morning, unaware of any new arrivals, and was pleasantly surprised to see the proud parents tending to a newly hatched sandhill crane colt.  I was quite excited._DSC8354-2This adorable little colt was actually about 3 days old when I first found it and almost immediately it begins to follow its mom and dad all over the wetlands, staying close by for protection, and of course, for a readily available source of food …provided by the parents._DSC8574-2When mom and dad are busy foraging for tasty morsels, they often hide the young colt in the brush near them.  Instinctively the young colt knows that it must remain there until called for._DSC8621-2Once it knows that the coast is clear and the parents are summoning it, the colt emerges from the grasses and heads up the embankment towards them (and me)._DSC8636-2It’s so fun to observe them as they “high step” through its version of the jungle on there way.  Sometimes, their proportionately large feet get tangled up in the grasses and vegetation and over they go.  To the casual observer, it’s quite entertaining.  To them, they just learn to go with the flow._DSC8639-2When they’re not making their way through the brush, they have to navigate through the thick, sticky muck, which makes it hard to get around.  Often, in their struggle, their still developing wings come into play to help them in their balancing._DSC8879-2This young one reminds me of when I’m in super strong winds and have to lean into the wind to make progress.  On this day though, it was probably more like .. whoops, I almost fell over.  LOL_DSC8919-2This little colt had a younger sibling that I wasn’t even aware of until the parents finally coaxed it into making the treacherous journey from the nest to where they were feeding, under one of the parents watchful eye of course.  The older colt, 1 day older and wiser in its navigation, watches as its younger sibling gets really muddy from the muck-filled waters._DSC9214-2Once on a bit harder surface of muck, the colts sink less, while the parents sink a bit being heavier.  No problems for them though and the walk is fruitful with lots of bugs and small aquatic life being plucked out of the muck._DSC0064-2Fat juicy worms seemed to be the favorite of this colt.  Sometimes refusing harder shelled insects, they would run when the parent offered up this worm delicacy._DSC0215-2They would patiently wait for the mom or dad to mash it up a bit and get it to the proper placement in their beak before offering it up to the young._DSC9820-2Often, the colt would grab it, but then drop it.  They are still learning how to eat and manipulate their food after all.  Such patience by the parents was observed as they would offer the prize over and over, until consumed._DSC9838-2Now with two of them competing for food, there always seemed to be some sibling rivalry going on.  One would expect that the older colt would pick on the younger one, since it had the size advantage.  No harm was ever done to its sibling though._DSC9955-2Just loved it when this young one turned and gave us its own version of the “vogue” look.  LOL_DSC0023-2Being low to the landscape, they often were a bit dirty with muck and cling-ons from the grasses.  I think that made them look even cuter!_DSC0034-2What was quite interesting to me was how often the little colt was actually the aggressor.  I guess it learned quickly how to stick up for itself.  _DSC9573-2While out there photographing the sandhill cranes, there were of course other birds living within the sanctuary.  Such was the case of this great blue heron, who was quite the fisherman too.  Oh, not just fish on this ones diet either … snakes, frogs, turtles … you name it.

It was so fascinating to see this heron catch 3 snakes in a row.  This beautiful snake (which is actually hard for me to say, seeing I’m not a big fan of snakes, but even I have to admit to its beauty) tried its best to not be taken, as it wrapped itself around the bill of the heron and even tried to double back at the heron so that it could bite it._DSC0234-2Another snake, which was already bitten in half at this point, tried desperately to wrap itself around the entire head of the heron in an attempt to not become the herons dinner._DSC0297-2_DSC0304-2Didn’t seem to be effective though, as one by one, they all succumbed to the same fate.  Down the hatch they all went.  Gross, if you ask me.  I imagined that those snake were wiggling around even after being swallowed!_DSC0346-2The next day, I returned to the sandhill cranes and their beautiful colts.  From pre-dawn, they were already out and about … babies staying close to the parents._DSC0463-2Yes, they were still getting muddy and wet as they navigated through the muck, but they sure looked beautiful when they rested on the grasses and weeds._DSC0559-2Still the smaller colt of the two kept the larger one in line.  🙂_DSC0593-2Well, look at what mom (or dad, can’t remember which) is catching for us now … a frog!_DSC0733-2After being mushed quite a bit in the beak of the adult, the frog was finally ready for the offering.  To my surprise, the younger colt took center stage for this treat._DSC0747-2While its sibling looked on, the tiny colt tugged and tore bits of the frog.  Quite the tasty breakfast._DSC0756-2These adorable colts seemed to be always pushing each others buttons and asking for a “fight” or at least a confrontation between them.  Of course, I didn’t want to see anything mean like birds are so notorious for, but it was fun to anticipate their actions and playful interactions._DSC0696-2Over time, they got used to each other and became quite great friends.  I have a tendency to squeal with delight when photographing such cuties and these early days in the lives of these young colts were no exception.  No worries, more images and stories about these cuties to come in a future blog post, so stay tuned.  🙂_DSC0963-2Next up:  How about some natural rookery action?  Courtship, mating, nest tending, and rearing of the young ones featured.

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

A Passion & Cuteness Alert

Everyone knows that I LOVE BEARS of all types.  Most people know that I ADORE OWLS of all types.  Not sure if everyone knows how much MY HEART MELTS FOR CRANES … but it does, especially sandhill cranes and their young.  🙂  So when I learned about a loving pair of SHCs that were raising a newborn, I knew what I had to do … that was to jump in my car and drive up to my next photography shoot, starring this young colt.  I was so excited and left so quickly that I forgot my ID, my wallet, and had no money, debit, or credit card on me.  Not even a red cent was in my car.  No biggie, right?  Just turn around and pick it up, right?  Well, I was already about an hour or so north when I realized it and it was about 4:30 AM!  Would I even have enough gas to get me home?  Quick thinking, I called and prayed that Tom would answer the phone.  Yes!  Poor Tom was sleeping and probably in mid-dream when I abruptly woke him up and off to the rescue he went, as we coordinated our progress and met at the precise location where we would both intersect on the road.  So, big time THANKS to Tom … not only my sherpa (though on this day, he was relieved of duty), but also my courier.  He’s absolutely the BEST!

Now, back to these cranes…. when I arrived fashionably late, to meet up with Jess and Michael, there it was … the Birthday Boy … 1 Week Old!  The lone offspring to this beautiful pair.  It was resting on the grass as mom and day were foraging.

_DSC7895As they would make their way to better “bug locations”, so too went the little colt, which Jess nicknamed Uno._DSC8187As wonderful as it was to see the little one exploring its new home, it was also fascinating to hear the parents calling out in a duet of unison calls.  I become desperate to “imprint” their song into my memory bank._DSC8190Of course, all of this louding calling out was puzzling little Uno and I don’t think he knew what to make of it.  (Note:  I have no idea if Uno is a male or female, but I will call it a “he” for now)._DSC8206Bugs … It’s What’s For Dinner.  🙂  The pair took turns finding some tasty morsels to share with Uno.  It wasn’t an easy feat to feed him either as he would repeatedly refuse or drop it.  The parents would have to mash it up a bit more and offer it to him numerous times before it finally ate it._DSC8215We tried to get down low as we photographed this little cutie.  It was quite alert to its surroundings and stayed pretty close to mom and dad._DSC7960It was a virtual smorgasbord of bugs too, which we could quickly see Uno had a few favorites._DSC8084All of this feeding and catching up made poor Uno tired … sometimes a nap ensued, while other times Uno just gave in to a good stretch of its still developing wings._DSC7977It’s so amazing the body size to foot size ratio of these guys.  Often those big feet would get tangled up in the grasses and brush and over Uno would go.  LOL_DSC8025Thank goodness I brought along 2 camera bodies because sometimes they got really close to us.  They really didn’t seem to mind us, as we sat still for the most part, though sometimes we got up, giving them their freedom to roam wherever they pleased._DSC8441Is this just not the cutest face ever?_DSC8395As if that sweet face wasn’t enough, sometimes Uno would wander into the pretty wildflowers in the area and really offer a great shot._DSC8293Now where in the world is this guy going?  When they get up their energy and run, I can’t contain myself and begin to laugh, making shooting a bit difficult._DSC8330Oh, it’s that big, juicy worm, which mom or dad dropped in front of Uno._DSC8454As you can see, those worms were definitely a hit!_DSC8471Yes, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a self-proclaimed “CRANIAC”.  How could anyone not love them?  I mean, they were even blessed with that red heart, so identifiable, on the top of their heads.  🙂_DSC7896Being the only child, I would expect that Uno would grow up quickly.  I sure hope that Uno grows up to be a big beautiful crane … and I can only hope to be reunited one day with him, perhaps photographing its own offspring._DSC7999Well, got to go …. thanks for the memories Uno!_DSC8144

Next Up:  More photography and stories in the area between Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP.

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Calling All Craniacs

One of my favorite sights to see in Alaska, or anywhere for that matter, is the image of sandhill cranes flying overhead … oh, and the sound of them as they call out to each other, let’s not forget that.  On our approach to Fairbanks, I heard distinctive calling out of the sandhills and I hoped that we would have good sightings in town.DSC_0568We figured that we would go to Creamers Field, a place where I first saw sandhill cranes in Alaska numerous years ago.  Sure enough … they were there …. coming in and taking off.  As luck would have it too, we hit Fairbanks and Creamers during the Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival.  Perfect timing for a self-proclaimed craniac like me!DSC_9923The fields were filled with sandhills of various ages, as well as geese and other birds, and the occasional hawk that would swoop in and cause a commotion within the smaller birds.DSC_0184Whether in the air or on the ground, there was a lot of calling out and communication going on with these beautiful cranes.  Photographically, it was awesome to shoot them amidst the yellow wildflowers that sporadically filled the field.DSC_0803Eagle-eye Tom spotted a juvenile crane that caught a small rodent while feeding in the field and pranced around quite a bit with it, causing both the adults and the other juveniles to take chase.DSC_9987But this young wasn’t to be denied his prize.DSC_0011Always fascinating were the take-offs of the cranes, usually 3-7 at a time.  So graceful and skilled in their execution of pre-flight and eventually flight.DSC_0389We could see them soaring overhead, with their magnificent and impressive wingspan, all throughout town.  Of course, you could hear them calling out too.  Love that sound.DSC_0422We visited the field the next day too, though at that point, the festival was over.  That didn’t matter to them though, as they were still there calling and flying in and out.  🙂DSC_0868DSC_0270On a side note, Tom and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in Fairbanks too.  Love you babe.  Seems like we should have gone to Chena Hot Springs for an official anniversary, but the weather wasn’t cooperating for any chance at more northern light sightings.IMG_1038Next Up:  Denali National Park

© 2015  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Lucky Getaway Weekend

Sometimes it’s nice to get away … to see something or do something different … and that’s how this weekend started.  We decided to venture up to northern Florida and meet up with my daughter and son-in-law.  Of course, I did my research before I left and knew that the sandhill cranes were migrating through in numbers and hoped that they would be keeping company with another less frequent, but much loved, visitor.

So off I went in search of the sandhill cranes and sure enough … there he was … Whooping crane #9-13.  At this time, he was a 21-month old male on migration from WI.  Whooping cranes, Grus Americana, are an icon for endangered species everywhere and one of only 2 cranes that call North America home.  As recently as the1940s, there were only ~15 in existence!  Their decline in numbers were a result of habitat loss and over-hunting.  In 1967, they were placed on the Endangered Species list and through the work of many, including Operation Migration, they are making progress!

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This guy made his 2nd trip down to Florida and was hanging out amongst his cousin sandhill cranes in Alachua County.

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Their diet consists of plants, seeds, grains, small fish, frogs, snakes, and insects.

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Operation Migration assists in the migratory process of the cranes first migration and the banding of them with transmitters to track their whereabouts.  Each crane adorns its own branding of “jewelry” which provide that identification.

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Probably my favorite image I got while visiting up there was this one.  Reminds me of “hanging out with the gang at the water cooler”.  🙂

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It’s quite remarkable how well they get along with the sandhill cranes.

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Most times that I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph whooping cranes, they have been from an incredibly far distance, with the Florida heat radiating in waves from the hot earth.  This sighting was different … so close I could have a conversation with it  (who knows … maybe I did … LOL).

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Whooping cranes are the largest birds in North America and quite a bit bigger than their sandhill crane cousins.  They stand about 5′ tall, with a wingspan of greater than 7′, while the sandhills stand about 4′ tall.

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This was my buddy who I met while photographing the cranes.  He/she carried on quite a conversation of their own with me.  ~ MOOOOOO ~

After doing some chores up in the area, we set off for another favorite location of mine … Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, just outside of Gainesville.  Usually we head out, walk the trails, see many species of birds, some snakes, lots of alligators, and maybe get a peek at distant horses or a bison or two.

On this day though, out of seemingly nowhere, we encountered a lone bison who was determined to share the trail with us.  🙂

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Being how it was too late to back out, we decided to respectfully stay put and let him show us which direction he wanted to venture in.  Of course, I was at that point thankful that I was carrying the landscape lens, as this was no situation for a long lens.  In the image below, if Tom were to have tried to retreat, he would have gone into the alligator-infested waters (oh my!).  LOL.

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After being quite indecisive about where the bison wanted to go, it finally decided that it would pass us, but not before we alerted other unsuspecting hikers heading its way.  They were sure glad that we did too.

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Grazing along the way … we finally parted ways.

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At that point, we decided to leave before it decided to come back in our direction.  Tom, aka “eagle eyes” spotted a lovely Wilson’s snipe resting in the wetlands along the trail.  Gosh, they are so beautiful.

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As we approached the sinkhole, we also came across a wonderful tri-colored heron just beginning to come into its colors.  All in all, it was a great getaway weekend and well worth the trip.  It’s not often that you can spend the morning with whooping cranes and in the afternoon share the trail with a bison … in Florida!  🙂

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Note:  For anyone that might be wondering … Whooping crane #9-13 completed his return migration to the north on April 22 (appropriately Earth Day) … another successful migration!  Yay!

Stay tuned for more “time away from home” in Florida.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

The Dance

As I have self-proclaimed on earlier posts, I’m a total CRANIAC!  I just absolutely adore sandhill cranes – from the baby colts to the full grown … they never cease to intrigue me and make me want to photograph them.  So you can imagine when Tom told me that he had just spotted a sandhill crane and its young out in the Beluga Lake Slough in Homer, Alaska.

With this adult feeding low in the grasses, I can see why Tom thought it was a colt

With this adult feeding low in the grasses, I can see why Tom thought it was a colt

Of course, I begged Tom to stop so that I could run out and take a peek for myself and hopefully capture an image or two.  He obliged and I ran out, but when I got there I noticed no colt, but in fact two fully grown cranes, probably mates.

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Even so, the scenery with them against the lush green grasses and the deep blue sky was enough for me to begin shooting.  Then, as some nearby joggers past by and I feared that they would scare away my crane subjects, something was beginning to happen …

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They began to get excited to their surroundings and to each other.  See, sandhill cranes do this type of dance to and with each other, that simply expresses their closeness and affection towards each other and celebrates their union together.

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From their calling out, to their posturing and presenting themselves to each other, they looked more like ballerinas of the tundra and they unfolded their story to me.  I struggled with whether I should continue to shoot images, or switch over to video, to capture best the experience … even thought about simply putting down my toys and simply watching them … well, dance.

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While watching and photographing (it won out over the video), I couldn’t help but hear the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack playing over and over in my mind.  What a beautiful moment it was and I can’t tell you how privileged I felt to be able to witness it.

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Every so often they would appear that the dance was over, but alas, they would re-unite in their passion to sing and dance together.

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Eventually though, they did ultimately fly off into the distance together, but not before they literally had me with tears in my eyes.  What a lucky couple they were and in a weird way, I envied what they were displaying.  I mean, isn’t that we all want?  🙂

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Poor Tom, when I returned had to figure out what happened to me and why I had tears in eyes and rolling down my face.  I shared with him what I saw and tried the best that I could to explain what it meant and how it moved me.   I think he understood … and I wished that he would have come out to see it too.  I wanted to get his attention to join me, but I didn’t want to risk missing the show.  🙂

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Homer has a lot more than sandhill cranes to offer.  Stay tuned for more from Homer, AK.

2012 Review: PART 7 – Back in the FLA

The remainder of 2012 was spent with family, friends, and of course, with nature – the ever-present beauty that surrounds us.

Parent killdeer with its newborn chick
Parent killdeer with its newborn chick
Crested caracara surveys its surroundings during a rain shower - Kenansville, FL
Crested caracara surveys its surroundings during a rain shower – Kenansville, FL
Wild horses of Paynes Prairie State Park, Gainesville, FL
Wild horses of Paynes Prairie State Park, Gainesville, FL
Fox squirrel at Joe Overstreet Landing
Fox squirrel at Joe Overstreet Landing
The sandhill crane pair that sings together .... stays together
The sandhill crane pair that sings together …. stays together
Juvenile bald eagle at Lake Marion, Kenansville, FL
Juvenile bald eagle at Lake Marion, Kenansville, FL
Lake Newnan, Alachua County, FL
Lake Newnan, Alachua County, FL
Great Blue Heron, Wakodahatchee Wetlands
Great Blue Heron, Wakodahatchee Wetlands
West Palm Beach night scene, FL
West Palm Beach night scene, FL
Barred owl pair perched in tree, Dinner Island Ranch WMA, FL
Barred owl pair perched in tree, Dinner Island Ranch WMA, FL
Northern harrier soaring, Green Cay Wetlands, FL
Northern harrier soaring, Green Cay Wetlands, FL

I want to be sure to thank those of you who shared our year’s experiences with us, somewhere along the way…. you know who you are.  It’s always good to see old friends, and of course, make new ones along the way.  Oh, and a special shout out to all who helped out immensely in Georgia – again, you know who you are!  Your friendship means the world to us!  One last person to thank for my 2012 – that’s a great BIG THANK YOU to my best friend, husband, adventure traveler, and sherpa – Tom.  Not sure what I would do without you.

Sherpa Tom
Sherpa Tom

So what’s on the burner for 2013?  Who knows really … but a sneak peek does involve another return trip to AK, visit with the kids in NY or wherever they land, and wherever else makes sense or my hearts tells me to go.  Life is an adventure that one must live to appreciate.  My favorite saying, which guides me in my life and provides me with much inspiration is:  “Life in not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”.  Here’s to 2013 – BRING IT ON!

Hope that you’ve enjoyed a look back at my personal 2012.  I really welcome any and all comments and advice on this blog.  Here’s hoping I can keep this 2013 Resolution – a post a month or so (I give myself permission to “go with the flow”).  I wish you all a year full of life’s wonderful moments, great health, life-altering opportunities, and of course, adventure!  Life is only as good as the effort you put forth into it.

Take off from Beluga Lake, Homer, AK
Take off from Beluga Lake, Homer, AK
Thanks for hanging in as I looked back at 2012.  Now on to 2013!