I’ve been busy recently learning all about the Raspberry Pi computer and using it on a project for our home. It’s incredible how much capability you can buy today for $35. Anyway, the project (especially learning to code in Python!) has left me with little time for photo excursions. So this week I’ll have to show you some photos I managed to make from our yard.
I made this first photo standing on our front walk, just before last month’s full moon. I like the way the sun was hitting the clouds. It’s a single frame, handheld, and slightly underexposed to keep detail showing on the moon.
Pretty moon tonight
Lynn put a small statue of St. Francis in our front flower garden. This brown anole likes to bask there in the morning sun.
St. Francis and the lizard
And last, an update on our backyard visitors. The cardinal pair built a nest on our neighbor’s patio and raised one chick that’s now fledged and fully grown.
But for the last couple of weeks, we haven’t seen too many smaller birds in the yard. Perhaps it’s due to this:
The hawk on the lamp-post
I’ve seen this Red-shouldered Hawk sitting on the lamp-post on several mornings recently. It doesn’t seem to scare the lizards, but small birds don’t like having it around.
By the way, the basics of my Raspberry Pi project are working, so I should have more time now for photography.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
First, an apology: It appears that a couple of the species names for birds we observed in the Dry Tortugas triggered some people’s spam filters. So if you’re an email subscriber and didn’t get the email with the Dry Tortugas post, please check your spam folder or click here to open it in your browser. Sorry about that. Although there’s not much I can do about it. And it is funny.
Second: Happy anniversary, blog! The first Central Florida Photo Ops post went up on May 7th, 2007 – 6 years and 270 posts ago. Thanks once again for all your encouragement. I enjoy writing the blog, but I don’t think it would have lasted this long if not for the occasional comments and questions from readers. Please keep them coming!
Third: Here’s some info on the rest of our South Florida trip. The Dry Tortugas were the focus of our expedition, but we also visited Blowing Rocks Preserve, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Largo, Everglades National Park, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Brian Piccolo Park. Since these were such short visits, I can’t really provide detailed reviews of each. Instead, I’ll show sample images to give you some background and an idea of what you can see in each place.
I’ve heard that Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter Florida is an awesome landscape place under the right conditions. The morning we were there, the light was harsh and the weather wasn’t ideal to show off the rocks. I think studying the tides and winds (and some luck) are required to make the most of a visit to this place. Here’s one photo I came up with.
Blowing Rocks Preserve – Sand steps, Three sets, Two close, No return?
We stopped at Bill Baggs to look for a couple of birds that had been spotted there. We didn’t have much luck with the rare birds, although I enjoyed seeing the light house and this awesome lizard.
This Cuban Knight Anole was over a foot long, much larger than the anoles we see in Central Florida
We spent a day driving through the Everglades, stopping at each area along the main park road and side roads. It was very overcast, and I found it tough to compose landscapes. I’m sure there are some great spots that people more familiar with the area know about. I guess I need to go back and find them.
Brewing storm, Everglades National Park – A pine tree and grass reflect on the inches deep Everglades “river of grass”
We made it all the way to the end of the road in Flamingo. I was very excited to see a couple of American Crocodiles in the marina there. Only about 2000 of these remain in the wild. They look different and somehow even more menacing than the alligators we’re used to seeing in Central Florida.
We had tentative plans to find some night-time / star trail photography dark sites in the Everglades, but with the long days and cloudy weather, we never got to it (another reason to go back). While in the Everglades we saw Purple Martins (rooming with House Sparrows), Shinny cowbirds, Brown Cowbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Swallow Tail Kites, Red Shouldered Hawks, an Anhinga rookery, Black Vultures (that were eating rubber off of cars!), the American crocodiles, and of course Alligators, Turtles and many other common birds.
The place we were staying in Key Largo had a private beach and boat ramp, and we spent one sunset there. It was pretty – the rocks in the foreground look like a Japanese garden. So much so that I wonder if someone arranged them.
Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset
On our way home, we stopped at Brian Piccolo Park to see the Burrowing Owls. They were easy to find in their marked nests and fun to watch. We also saw a few Monk Parakeets there.
Brian Piccolo Park: Burrowing Owl guarding nest
Other wildlife seen on the trip included Loggerhead Shrikes, Ground Doves, Eurasian Collard Doves, White Headed Pigeons, a Great White Heron, Cardinals, a Northern Curly Tailed Lizard, and Iguanas.
Three of us from the Photographic Interest Group went over to the Canaveral National Seashore yesterday to explore. We entered at the north end near Turtle mound. We could only go about 2 or 3 miles into the park, the road was closed after that.
CNS is a national park located on the east coast of Florida, south of New Smyrna Beach. It’s a very scenic place and there are many activities available. The surf was very high yesterday (due to Hurricane Bill?) and there were quite a few people out taking advantage of it.
In the short time we were there, we also saw people fishing:
There’s a lot of wildlife in the area, but the number of people here at certain times of the year (like yesterday), probably makes it difficult to see much of the animal population, unless you’re here when the people aren’t. We did see some wildlife – here’s a CNS Anole:
And a sandpiper:
We also stopped by the Eldora Statehouse, which is a historic example of earlier life along the Mosquito Lagoon.
Speaking of mosquitoes, make sure you bring some bug spray – they were pretty vicious at times.
Bring what you have. I don’t like to take my expensive DSLRs into the hot sun near the ocean for long periods of time, but you might if you’re careful. Shorebirds can be small (and fast) – so to get prize winning bird photos here, you’ll need to be lucky or a very dedicated and good photographer willing to forgo other activities. It might be a good place to practice "birds in flight" photos in your spare time – Pelicans often cruise down the shoreline. If the surfs up, that can be fun to watch / photograph too.
One non-photo hint: Be careful where you park. The rangers are rather zealous about enforcing the parking regulations. Parking on the grass is not allowed – even when it isn’t specifically posted.
The beach is a nice place to take some photographs and CNS is a very nice beach. We originally went there to explore a new place as a bird photography location. We didn’t find many birds, but we only stayed for a short time. I wonder if other times of the year would be more productive? The surfing would have been an excellent photo opportunity if I had been prepared for it (beach clothes, longer lens, etc).
If you’re here to visit the beach, bring a camera – over the course of of your visit, interesting photo opportunities will present themselves.
I have a few additional photos of this visit posted on Flickr .