The Lunar Eclipse That Wasn’t. An Adventure into Imagination.

Okay. Last night I was really disappointed. After a fun day spent with friends, I wanted to put the “cherry on the top” by getting a few nice shots of the supermoon that coincided with a rare lunar eclipse. Next time it will occur is 2033, so this would be it, I thought. That was my plan. But as the day progressed the skies got cloudier, and at dinner time it was pouring down. Followed by a thick cloud cover. I went out just before 9 p.m. and could spot the moon every now and then behind passing clouds. I took a few practice shots, like this one, and went back inside.

supermoon 2 sept 27 in cloudsNow equipped with the evidence that the supermoon really was there, I was hoping for some miraculous clearing of the skies. An hour later I went outside again with my equipment. Now I couldn’t even see where the moon was! The cloud cover had gotten much whiter and thicker on the eastern side of the sky. While the western sky, over the ocean, sported clear skies and stars. My eyes were nailed into the skies, and for one spit second I spotted a partial eclipse around 10:40 p.m. I had to accept I couldn’t move the moon westward, and my hope faded as the clock ticked away. Disappointed I returned back inside after 11 p.m. Not one picture. Nil.

So I looked at my pictures of the supermoon that occurred last fall. They were quite nice, but without the rare eclipse.

supermoon last fall 2 oct 9 2014

I decided to swallow my disappointment, and started playing with the partial shots I got earlier in the evening. And created some digital art using many different filters. So here are my pictures of last night’s supermoon. Colorful, and quite rare, eh?

supermoon digital art 1supermoon eclipse in cloudssupermoon art 4

I even recreated the partial lunar eclipse that my artistic eye saw for a split second or so.

supermoon eclipse 2 in clouds

It was fun and soon I forgot my disappointment in the weather gods. May they give us enjoyable weather until the next occurrence in 2033. I hope to post some good pictures then. Hehe. Stay tuned.

I’m sure many photographers will be posting great pictures from last nights heavenly show, like my friend Amy did. I wish you all a super week!

Breakfast on the go. Morning Meditations. And Gardening at the Salt Marsh.

She is a very good gardener, Mama Sandy. She “planted” some greens in the nest about 10 days ago, and they are still green, in fact in great condition as of this morning. And standing tall despite some breezy days in between.

female osprey babysitting the decorated nest.I’d like to know her secret, but she’s tight-lipped, as always. She and Papa Stanley are still molting, but start to look more put together day by day. They both even posed for a portrait photo last weekend.

female osprey sand key park clearwater floridamale osprey sand key park clearwater floridaSandy in the nest and Stanley close by at his resort. But he didn’t look as representable this morning when I caught him coming fresh from the bay with his carry out.

male osprey caught a fish sand key park clearwater floridaI took a swing to the bay side and saw a beautiful Great Egret in the middle of his morning meditation, and several Brown Pelicans flying back and forth in search of breakfast. They seemed to be quite successful.

great egret at clearwater bay floridabrown pelican takes off clearwater floridapelican eating a fish clearwater bay floridaWalking back to the salt marsh, I spotted a Northern Mockingbird. I love their brilliant medley performances, and have smiled many times  at their Osprey imitations. But she didn’t sing for me today. She had something else on her mind.

northern mockingbird sand key park clearwater floridaI stopped to have a gulp of water and saw this little fellow in a tree right behind me. He looked at me suspiciously when I raised my camera, and then ran away.

squirrel sand key park clearwater floridaThe migrating birds have not yet arrived in any big numbers, but the salt marsh was spotted with white birds, lots of Snowy Egrets and White Ibis.

ibis and snowy egret hunting sand key park clearwater floridaI also saw a new juvenile Night Heron busy grooming herself, and an Anhinga stretching out on a branch.

juvenile night heron sand key park clearwater floridaanhinga sand key park clearwater floridaFor those of you, who’ll wonder about the Mayor, I can tell he was there too. But it seemed he was taking an after-breakfast-nap in the high grass, so I didn’t get a picture of him this time. I walked home through the beach and the trail was surrounded by wild flowers, brilliant colors from yellow to purple to pink.

beach wild flowers ud 24wild flowers 2 on the beach ud25The beach was lively, as usual, but I’ll just leave you with a couple more pictures. A Sandwich Tern, who shows us how best to get breakfast on the go. Just dip your bill into the water in mid-flight and you’re good to go.

gull eating on the fly sand key clearwater floridaAnd a Oystercather who was half asleep and let me walk fairly close to take his portrait.

oystercatcher sand key clearwater floridaWith that, I’ll wish you all a wonderful upcoming weekend. Cheers from all friends at the salt marsh ~

Behind the Grid. In the Bird Sanctuary.

In the bird sanctuary many of the injured or otherwise handicapped birds live in enclosures. Behind the grid. Like these two Blue Jays, siblings brought up by humans since they were nestlings. And then abandoned. They don’t know they are birds, and cannot manage in the wild despite best rehabilitation efforts. They always return to their little row house in the sanctuary. It’s home.

two blue jays scbsThe Seabird Sanctuary here on Florida’s west coast is the largest non-profit wild bird hospital/sanctuary in the US.  On average, 15-20 injured birds are brought into their medical facility on a daily basis, and up to 5,000 are admitted annually. Unfortunately about 90% of their injuries are related to human activity.

snowy egrets SCBS

Luckily most of these birds (over 80%) only stay here for a little while. First in the hospital and then, if required, in observation and rehabilitation. Once healed, they are released back into the wild, usually in the same area where they were found. All baby birds born in the facility are also released into the wild as soon as they have gained independence.

young great blue heron SCBSBut quite a number of birds have injuries that make it impossible for them to live in the wild. They’ve lost parts of their wings and can no longer fly, they are blind or partly blind, or have injuries to their bill so they can no longer fetch food. Birds with a permanent handicap are offered a forever home here, or in another reputable facility.  Like these pelicans who enjoy splashing in the many small swimming pools. Or just floating around on a lazy afternoon.

pelican bath SCBS GThe oldest permanent resident is a Red-shouldered Hawk. She is blind in one eye, and almost blind in the other. She is over 20 years old, and has called this sanctuary home for quite a while. She lives in her little studio apartment, but is also able to enjoy the park and the beach thanks to a volunteer, who comes and takes her for regular outings.

Red-shouldered hawk scbsred-shouldered hawk on outing scbsThe day of my latest visit her human friend had just arrived. She turned around towards the back door in anticipation of her walk. barred owl SCBS G2And it was a great outing. The weather was fabulous, and I could see how much this old hawk enjoyed it.

Among the residents there are also two owls. They have wing and eye injuries, but are well taken care of here.The Barred Owl insisted on sitting in the attic so I only got a shaky portrait of him. But the Great-horned Owl was very curious about me (or the camera?) and posed nicely for a picture.

great-horned owl 2 SCBSThere are many other residents, like this Cormorant, who all have large and remarkably clean enclosures.

cormorant at scbsIn the surrounding park, I found other birds, old and young, who call the sanctuary home. Like this old Black-crowned Night Heron who was waiting for lunch time right in front of the hospital building when I arrived. And this buffed up youngster on the roof of the education center.

old black-crowned night heron at scbsjuvenile blackcrowned night heron An old American Vulture also hangs around in the park. He might be a former patient, who just feels comfortable staying close by.

american black vulture at SCBS I have made it a habit to visit this sanctuary every now and then. Just to offer little support as I don’t have the time to volunteer. They depend solely on donations, and you can imagine the amount of food that is needed here on a daily basis. And medicine, medical supplies, materials for the “homes” and equipment to keep the place clean and comfortable. Wonderful work by staff, volunteers and caring donors.

I wish you all a great week ahead.

This post is also my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge “Grid”. You can find other responses here.

Fall. Salt Marsh Kindergarten. And How Mama Osprey Tricked Me.

It’s mid September. The weather here in Florida is still very much summer like. But the fall activities have definitely started. Migrating shore birds have arrived in hundreds. The beach is swarming with large flocks of Sanderlings and Dunlins, mingling with Willets, Black Skimmers, and all kinds of terns and gulls.

sanderlings and dunlins on the beach ud24Some of the Sanderlings must’ve been practicing with a marching band over the summer up north. They still have the rhythm.

sanderlings 2 running ud24 16x9Pelicans, old and young, are also present in much larger numbers than usual. Their waterskiing, formation flying and diving presentations are highly entertaining.

theee pelicans ud24

And I love watching the antics of the Royal Terns.  There is always something happening in their large community. They fish, chase each other and take breaks for contemplation and rest. And their landing styles are highly varied.  From clumsy one footers to gracious gliding.

royal terns return home ud24tern coming home ud24The Black Skimmer community is also lively. Lots of talking. Low bark-like calls, occasionally loud. And skimming for food at the water’s edge at sunrise and sunset.

black skimmers ud24Some “snow birds” have arrived at the salt marsh as well. Like the Mallards, who haven’t been here for months. And many more Great and Snowy Egrets than usual.

a male mallard duck molting into breeding plumage ud24great egret on the top ud24 snowy egret ud24The newly hatched Moorhen chicks have started in kindergarten. They are just tiny balls of fluffy black baby feathers,  but already bravely exploring the pollen-filled shallows.

mama moorhen and one chick ud24 two moorhen chicks ud24I’ve seen Papa Osprey only from afar, either in flight or scanning for fish at Marriott’s roof. But Mama Sandy is spending lots of time at the nest right now. You’ll notice (in later pictures) the greenery she’s brought in to make the bare nest more cozy.

papa osprey at sunrise B ud24

Yesterday morning Sandy was still wet after a dive, but as far as I could see there was no breakfast.

mama osprey wet ut with no fish ud24

I thought she’d already eaten, and after spending some time with her, I walked over to the bay side. It was a beautiful morning, and the young Great Blue Heron (GBH) was there too, looking for breakfast.

bay sunrise ud24the young blue heron ud24That’s when Sandy flew in from the nest. I had high hopes to get my first picture ever of her catching a fish! I’d be patient. I’d pan. I’d follow her every move.

She circled over the water. Back and forth for ten minutes, sometimes almost disappearing from sight. She hovered over several spots, looking intently down into the water. But she didn’t dive. And I waited with my camera ready to capture the drama. My arms started to hurt.

Suddenly she turned around and flew towards the ocean. A bit disappointed, I decided to walk home through the salt marsh to see the rest of the birds.

A few minutes later, just when I was passing the nest, Sandy came speeding in. With a fish!

mama osprey lands with a fish ud24She had tricked me. Ten minutes of circling over the bay, and five minutes to fetch a fish from the ocean, including the commute. Ha!

mama osprey sees something ud24She shook off the water, but had her eyes fixed into the sky towards the bay. The young GBH was approaching. Flying straight towards the nest.

young blue heron coming in ud24Sandy gave him a series of stern warnings. She hasn’t forgotten his blatant attacks on the nest last spring. The youngster circled around the nest once, tempting his fate. But then landed at the far end of the marsh.

young blue heron in flight ud24young blue heron lands ud24And Sandy could finally concentrate on her breakfast without interruptions.

mama osprey eats breakfast ud24I wish the young GBH would get some counseling with the Mayor. That gentleman knows how to live in peace at the salt marsh.

the older great blue heron ud24That’s it for today. We all hope your week is going great.

Connection – A Poem

It’s in the evening I see them. The sand crabs. Hurrying home from the day’s work. When the voice of the wind has become a barely audible whisper. And the ocean is almost still. I watch Mother Nature go to rest.

black skimmer in flight Ud24

As the birds arrive home from their last flights, I sigh. Exhale all my worries. Dip my toes in the water, and feel the peace. Soul-deep gratitude to be alive. At this moment of connection to pure love.

Exhibition At the Salt Marsh Town Hall (WPC Connected)

The older Great Blue Heron, the Mayor of the marsh, is always hatching plans to tighten the community connections at the salt marsh. Permanent marsh residents will need to manage the soon upcoming bi-annual migration conference as a team. Without a hitch. He’s expecting big crowds, like last year.

So he’ll be throwing a Labor Day party at the town hall, with a special exhibition in the tree gallery. Under the theme “Connected”, he wants to show portraits of all those residents who’ll be sharing the salt marsh smorgasbord with migrating visitors, and others just stopping by for a snack. I volunteered to help. And to ensure timely delivery, persuaded this older gentleman to accept digital paintings.

Here my friends, you’ll get a sneak peek of these portraits before we’ll hang them up later today.

older great blue heron paint
Martin, the Mayor – the older Great Blue Heron
portrait of the young great blue heron paint
Billy – the younger Great Blue Heron, also known as the culprit (particularly by the Osprey family)
Harry – the Green Heron
portrait of little blue heron3 paint
Lilly – the Little Blue Heron
yellowcrowned night heron portrait paint
Norbert – the Yellow-crowned Night Heron
black-crowned night heron portrait paint
Nelly – the Black-crowned Night Heron
tricolored heron
Trina – the Tri-colored Heron
great while egret portrait paint
Gregory – the Great Egret
portrait of a reddish egret paint
Rudolf – the Reddish Egret, also known as the clown
snowy egret portrait paint
Sally – the Snowy Egret
nanday parakeet portrait paint
Polly – the Nanday Parakeet
papa osprey portrait paint
Stanley – the Osprey, also known as Papa Osprey
mama osprey portrait paint
Sandy – the Osprey, also known as Mama Osprey
roseate spoonbill portrait paint
Rosa – the Roseate Spoonbill

I’m hoping it’ll be a nice exhibition. And I’m planning to join the party despite allergies that have hit me this weekend. Let’s stay connected, and thanks for visiting 🙂

You can find other replies to this challenge here.