Friday, May 31, 2013

More Excitement


Wesley Chapel, Florida

We’ve had some excitement around here, and no, it’s not another park model being moved.  This is real excitement!

A few days ago, Al and I walked down to where the otters have been hanging out.  They weren’t there, but this little turtle was.


I didn’t pay any attention to her until Al mentioned that she was laying eggs.

Sure enough, when I zoomed my camera in, she was definitely laying eggs.  Unfortunately, she laid them on the bank of the pond, and in an area that is mowed regularly.


We took a few pictures, then left her to finish her work.  Our intention was to go back later and put up some stakes warning people away, like they do for sea turtles at the beach.

Unfortunately, by the time we got back, the eggs were gone and the otters were back.  We’re pretty sure the otters ate the eggs.   We felt bad, but not as bad as if they had been incubating for a while and were ready to hatch.


Thursday was spent getting paperwork ready for Al to sell his business.  He has already found a buyer, so we just have to get some facts and figures ready for him.   I sure will be glad not to be tied down with that.   He doesn’t have many accounts left, just enough to tie us down even more than we already are with my Mom.


Last night, we were sitting outside on our back patio, having happy hour and reading.  I happened to look up and not 15 feet away from me was a little fox, looking right at me.

I wanted to alert Al, but not scare the fox away, so All I said was “fox”… I was slowly grabbing for my camera. 

I had my little Canon (LC) unfortunately.   I had it on the sports setting trying it out and I wasn’t happy with my photos, but I did manage to get a few decent ones.


The fox was right under our bird feeder, eating the spilled bird seed.  I believe he is a gray fox.   He doesn’t look nearly as red as the ones that used to play in the pasture at our place in Georgia.


He even went and had a drink of water from the little orange birdbath you see in the foreground of the picture.


You can see that he was panting.  It was warm with that thick fur coat.



Isn't he a beauty?

You can bet that tonight, I’ll be sitting out there with my Big Canon (BC).

Speaking, of big Canon.   I got my 500 mm zoom lens on Wednesday.

It’s a big thing and when attached to the camera, which is already quite a bit heavier than LC, it’s quite a challenge. 

It will not be my “camera of choice,”   but I really like it.  It takes good pictures, but is so bulky that I will probably miss more shots than I get.  My main goal, was to have it in places where the wildlife is abundant and nearby, like Kissimmee Prairie, or sitting by my campsite.  It will be great for our daily drives on the campground road at Kissimmee Prairie.   It will probably not go on a lot of hikes….unless of course Al  (he calls himself the pack mule) wants to carry it.

Anyway, I like the Canon Rebel and the new lens.  I’ll have to get some pictures to show you what a huge beast it is.  The lens is supposed to weigh 4 pounds, but it feels like 20. The funny thing is, it’s less than half as powerful as my “stalker” lens on LC.

Here are a few photos I took with the Canon Rebel (BC) and the  new 150-500 mm lens.

I noticed after I uploaded the photos that they had a blue tint to them.  I must have something set wrong.  I played around with adjusting them with Picasa and got a few interesting shots.

This Tufted Titmouse, I changed to black and white and put a soft focus on him.  These are all modifications right there in Picasa. I figured since the color wasn’t right, I’d just see what it looked like in black and white, and  kind of liked it.


I tried the “warmify” on Picasa and it did help to warm up my bluish tinted photos.

Here is the before picture.  (terrible shot, I know)


Here is the after shot, with warmify added.   Better?


Picasa has a lot of tools to help you fix some less than perfect shots.

This next shot was “warmified” as well.


Here is one that I took that didn’t need to be warmified.

By the way, these are all a family of baby Cardinal’s that have been frequenting our feeders.  You can always tell the babies, because they are so clumsy!

baby cardinal

This could be Mama Cardinal


These pictures are all taken with BC.  I shot this Bluebird, but he was still too far away so I had to seriously crop it to bring him into view.  This was zoomed to 439 mm. 


I did some experimenting with the editing in Picasa and got some interesting results.  (That’s what you do when your pictures are crummy)



I plan to spend some time today, learning how to use BC and hopefully tonight I’ll get some more fox photos!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Excitement for the Day


Wesley Chapel, Florida


There was a sad report on the news this morning.  A 51 year old woman was struck and killed by lightning while walking on a nearby beach.  Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay area is the lightning capitol of North America, and we usually see several fatalities each year.   Most of them are on a sunny day.  Denis Phillips (our favorite local meteorologist) has recently been warning about staying inside if you can hear thunder, even if the skies are blue.  Lightning can travel 13 miles, so please don’t take any chances.  


Yesterday was the day our neighbor was having his park model mobile home moved.  He found another park that he liked better, so he decided to have it moved.  It’s not quite as easy as moving an RV.

We are just to the left of the park model.  


I had a good view of all the action right from my living room window.  That’s little Noogie you see in the foreground. She was a little irritated that I made her move to take the picture.


Some of our neighbors brought chairs and had a party at Pat and Ron’s.   It was very hot with very little shade, so I went outside every so often, but for the most part I preferred staying inside in the air conditioning.


Pat and Ron will be moving into this site when they come back from their summer travels. 

The prep work took several hours.  They had a crew of a few guys unhooking the pipes, electrical, and tie down straps.

I mostly stayed inside in the air conditioning, but went out occasionally to check on the party.

One of the workers came over with a large handful of eggs, asking us if we knew what they were from.   I didn’t think to get a picture, because I was more concerned with trying to save the eggs.  The eggs were underneath the house, and under the plastic moisture barrier, laying right on the dirt.

We quickly concluded they were most likely snake eggs, and decided to put them underneath the shed that was staying here.   Of course a few people probably wanted to smash them since they were snake eggs.

Nope…not on my watch!  Just because you don’t personally like snakes, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to exist. 


After several hours, the crew finally had the home ready to move, but the tires had made a rut, and they were stuck.  The big truck tried and tried, but he couldn’t get the house to move.


They finally decided to have attach their other truck to the big truck, and give the big truck a little assistance.


They finally got the little house moved onto the street.


They were finally on their way some time after 2pm, and the party broke up.

Here is the after picture of the empty lot.   That’s us on the left.


The park is going to make a campsite out of this site, which will require adding some concrete. 


and our new “view” from the living room window.


Someone said they saw a little mouse scurrying around underneath the park model. I sure hope he went into the woods and not into our rig!


I spent some time  later on, taking some picture of the locals.

The blue beak on the Little Blue Heron showed up nicely.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

LIttle Blue Heron

These pictures are all taken with my little Canon.  My new lens for the big Canon will arrive today.  I’m anxious to see how it works.


After our rains last week, the frog population really seemed to multiply.  Before the rain, we could hear a few bull frogs and some tree frogs, but not too many.  After the rain, it was obvious they had multiplied.  It was almost too noisy to sleep at night for all the croaking! 

Not too good of a thing for someone that’s deathly afraid of frogs!

The otters may have been around before, but we’re thinking they moved in after hearing all the noisy frogs.

They certainly seemed to be feasting on something and now the frog songs have drastically diminished.  I don’t think I’ve heard the bull frogs at all for a few nights.


They were really busy on something on the bank, but I doubt it was a frog.


I have a feeling the otters will move on when the frog supply is gone.


Mr. Cardinal looks pretty posing in the greenery of the bald cypress.


Monday, May 27, 2013

New Wildlife


Happy Memorial Day to all the veterans out there.  Your service and sacrifice is much appreciated. 



Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 87, low 65)

We took a drive over to Tarpon Springs yesterday afternoon for a little photo opportunity.  We lugged both the “big” Canon Rebel, and also the “little” Canon SX50.

With the exception of the picture of Al and Baxter, these are all taken with the "little” Canon.

We went to a park on the Anclote River, found a nice boardwalk trail and just wandered around for a while.


We ended up at the marina where we used to store our boat.  That sure brought back some memories.  Of course, being the Memorial Day week-end, the place was packed, and just the kind of day we always avoided going out in the boat.

The following was a very long distance picture of Anclote Key, which was our favorite offshore island.  We spent many, many hours on this island.   This was just a small portion of the island and there were hundreds of boats docked there.  When we would go, we usually had the island to ourselves.



We drove around a while, snapped a few photos and then headed home.


Later that afternoon, a neighbor came by to inform us that there was a family of 4 otters frolicking  in the little pond behind us. 

Actually, the action was a few sites down from us because the portion of the pond  directly behind our site is dry.

I got a few pictures with my little Canon.  My big Canon is still waiting for it’s new zoom lens.

Notice the sharp teeth on this guy?

otter at Quail Run

otter at Quail Run

I have some work to do to get both the dark water and the sun reflected grass, properly exposed.  At that time, I was more interested in capturing the fast moving otters.

otter at Quail Run

otter at Quail Run

otter at Quail Run

A neighbor that lives right behind them, got a few shots of them out of the water and walking on the bank of the pond.  There were so many people around watching them, that I think they got a bit nervous.  I’ll be checking back often.

There is also a bird nest box that was nailed to a tree, directly behind another RV.  Apparently, there is a Bluebird next inside, which surprised me because that’s not supposed to be the kind of location they prefer.

Al says we’re going to get a Bluebird box.  We left all of our boxes in Georgia because we felt the boxes belonged to the birds, not to us.  (even though we paid for them, installed them and kept them safe from predators)


More birds from our “back yard.”

Mr. Cardinal posed nicely for me.




This is Baxter playing with his new (and favorite) toy.


and this is the end


Friday, May 24, 2013

Back Yard Birds


Wesley Chapel, Florida (high 88, low 69)


Al has been busy all week doing his pest control accounts.  We are looking for someone to buy the business and as soon as that’s done, he will be completely retired.  That will make it much easier to travel without having to worry about getting back here to do his monthly accounts.

While he’s been working this week,  I’ve been working around the house, cleaning, organizing, and learning how to use my new cameras.  A really good learning video was included with the “big” camera (the Canon Rebel EOS T3i)  and I’m slowly going through it to learn how to use all the features the camera has.   There is a lot to learn.

The “little” camera (the Canon SX50 HS) has a crummy little manual that’s not the easiest thing to understand.  I’m trying to learn a little more about how to use it and not just stay with my old tried and true settings.

We sat outside on our patio for a few hours last night.   We haven’t seen the deer lately and so far we’ve not seen the foxes that live behind us.

The birds were active though, so I had something to photograph.

First things first.  Al had to fill up the bird feeders to keep the birds happy.

Our rain this week sure did green up our back yard.


Our first visitor was a little Dove.  They are supposed to be ground feeders and a friend of mine keeps telling me they won’t come to feeders.



Notice the seed in her beak?

She sat there for the longest time, but there was someone waiting in the wings.


We have two feeders.  One is squirrel proof.

This one isn’t.



There were a lot of birds last night, including a family of Tufted Titmice.



I got a cute picture of a male Cardinal feeding a female youngster. Unfortunately, it was too blurry and I had to delete it. 

The moon is almost full, so I had to take a few shots.



I took some moon shots with the Canon Rebel with the 250mm zoom and all I got was a little white blob in the sky.  I really need my new lens!

We haven’t decided where to go for our anniversary.  We’re debating between Kissimmee Prairie Preserve and Red Coconuts Rv park.  One is right on the beach and the other is in the middle of 54,000 acres of prairie.   Maybe we’ll do both?   We hesitate to make any firm plans, because it seems that every time we do, something comes up.