Tag Archives: Humor

Hello There! Wanna See Some Birds?

What do you do when you stumble right into a birder’s paradise with a 50mm lens and both your birding lenses are over 200 miles away? Simple! You take pictures with the lens you happen to have on your camera. This happened to me recently when I was visiting my grandies and their parents in North Florida. On that Saturday morning, my 8 years old granddaughter proposed that we’d go to visit the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine. Hmm. I had seen lots of alligators in Everglades and crocodiles in Africa, but thought we’d have a nice time together watching the alligators. So it was a “yes” from me. Little did I know that we would walk into a zoological park with hundreds of wild birds nesting at its outskirts.

bird trees St Augustine UD160Everywhere I looked, I saw trees heavy with numerous nests, babies, juveniles and their parents, some still incubating. I was a kid in the candy store.

birds and babies St Augustine UD160The air traffic was lively with birds still bringing in additional nesting materials.

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And then there were mothers and babies, little chicks and big chicks…some of them luckily a little closer to the path we were walking.

snowy egrets babies ud160

roseate spoonbill with babies ud160

Roseate spoonbill feeds baby ud160

snowy egret mom and baby ud160

young roseate spoonbills ud160And some colorful scenes of residents resolving differences, which is to be expected in such a tightly built neighborhood.

tricolored heron chases a little blue heron ud160Some incubating moms and protective dads ready to fight off any intruders.

snowy egret nesting ud160And a few birds whom I don’t see very often. Like this Cattle Egret inspecting her eggs.

nesting cattle egret ud160And others, who I usually see at the salt marsh…

tricolored heron UD160

adult roseate spoonbill ud160I could have stayed there for days…if I’d had my birding lenses and a tripod. We moved on and there were some exotic birds to see too, like this Scarlet Macaw from South America..scarlet macaw st augustine ud160

the girls ud160…a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo from Australia…

suphur-crested Cockatoo ud160…and the Black Crowned Cranes from Africa. Lots of wonder for the girls, including this girl.

black crowned crane ud160Surprise, surprise…this Alligator Farm also housed alligators and crocodiles of all shapes and sizes. Here just one lazy exemplar enjoying the midday sun.

alligator 2 ud160And there were caravans of ducks and turtles, small and big.

ducks in A F UD160

turtle caravan UD160

a big turtle ud160We thoroughly enjoyed the park, particularly the nesting colonies. And I promised my self never to leave home without one of my long lenses. You never know where the birds might find you.

nesting birds st augustine 16x9 ud160Speaking of home, we had some business to do earlier this week. My photo assistant in particular. We received 21 proposals for names for the osprey chick and the lottery had to be arranged. But it wasn’t the same procedure as last year. On Tuesday night, in the middle of writing a legal report, I decided it was time to have some fun. The names were printed and cut into long strips, suitable for wrapping around exactly 21 yummy treats.

names ud160

treats ud160While I was doing this at my laptop, Dylan parked himself right next to my chair and paid close attention.

Dylan follows the process us160Then I placed the ‘name-wrappped’ treats in Dylan’s toy basket which was doing service as the ‘hat’. As you can see, the names were on the inside so Dylan wouldn’t be able to read them. Just when I was placing them in the ‘hat’ he rushed close, seemingly ready to grab all 21 pieces. But I shouted “not yet” and he dutifully backed off…

treats in the toy basket ud160…for at least one full hour. He wouldn’t touch the treats. When I moved them closer, even put them under his nose and asked him to go ahead, he moved further away.

Dylan and the treat basket 2 ud160He just looked at me as in saying make up your mind mom. We circled around my office for 20 minutes. He wouldn’t pick a treat. Finally I gave up and placed them on his ‘mattress pad’ and put them on the floor …

Dylan does not want treats ud160…he backed further away. Whatever I said or how much I pleaded didn’t matter, he wouldn’t touch the treats. I moved the pad with the treats into the living room. Same story. I was about to give up and pronounce the Osprey chick “Nameless”. But that didn’t sound right. So I poured the ‘name treats’ into my hand and asked him to pick one. I had my camera in the other hand (sorry for the shaky pictures) and finally he came forward…

Dylan picks the winner UD160…and picked one!

Dylan picks the winning name ud160I was going to remove the ‘name ribbon’ from his mouth, but he did that very aptly himself. And I could see Jackie P. at the end of the ribbon when it landed on the rug. When he retreated, the name of the new Osprey girl came in full view: Bubbette by Jackie P. from To Breathe is to Write!

jackies ticket ud160

the winning ticket ud160Congrats to you, dear Jackie! The beach towel will be on its way next week. I am sure it will arrive in time for summer weather in Canada. I love that whimsical name. This osprey girl is very energetic and bubbly ūüôā So… let me present to you Miss Bubbette as captured on Wednesday night on our evening walk. Both her parents were in the nest with her…

Bubbette with parents UD160…but she wasn’t shy to do her flying exercises. Sandy ducked as her wings swept back and forth right above her head. You go girl!

Bubbette wingersizes UD160This weekend my assistant and I will start our fledging watch. We’ll bring you the breaking news as soon as she is airborne. Sorry for the oversized post and thanks for visiting. Miss Bubbette and the rest of us wish you a wonderful weekend.

 

Adventures of the Three Amigos.

Hi there! This is Dylan again. I’ve been itching to talk to you and I’m grabbing the opportunity now that mom is too busy to watch her laptop. If you ask me, her priorities are not quite right. She prefers to work when she could be blogging! And to travel when she could be giving me belly rubs right here at home! Can you imagine?

The national mall ud150She didn’t take her camera, but yesterday I saw this picture on her phone. She must have been very far because it doesn’t look anything like Florida. It’s dull and foggy and there’s no sun! But from what I can see, this site would’ve been potentially interesting to explore. Sniffing around that big stick in the middle and the large house in the background would’ve given me lots of information. And perhaps even revealed some secrets, had she brought me along. But to be honest, I think I had far more fun than she did. I stayed with my dog park friend Saki. She is a beautiful Shiba Inu girl and we get along very well. But I have to confess there was one tiny mishap on my part. You see, she got a little jealous when I was trying to teach her how to snuggle. Really close to her mom. She may have misunderstood my intentions.

Our mutual friend Eli, who lives next door, came to visit. And that’s when the fun started.

the three amigos ud150_edited-2Eli hatched a plan. He’s such an adventurer. He suggested we’d play the three amigos. And we’d travel south of the border. To the neighbor’s yard. I thought that was a great idea…until I discovered the wall. But Eli showed us how it’s done and jumped to the other side. Just like that! So I decided to follow. I ran really fast and jumped really high…but reached only half way up the wall. What a bummer.

Saki was wiser. She looked at the wall and concluded right away it was too high. She is such an independent thinker. My sombrero off to her. When we didn’t follow, Eli came back. And Saki suggested we’d go to the dog park instead. Although familiar territory anything can happen there. And the three amigos were ready. Saki must have twisted her mom’s arm because she took us there twice (!) that day. I got to ride in a BMW. You know, like UberBLACK. It was so much fun.

Dylan relaxing UD150_edited-1I have to admit I was quite exhausted from all the excitement when mom came to pick me up the next day. I tried to be attentive to her, but I think she noticed. I skipped following her to the bathroom. Truth to be told, I spent quite a bit of time relaxing on the memory foam mattress she bought me last week. I can highly recommend it. Great for aching muscles. Five stars.

mama and papa osprey at the nest feb 9 UD150Mom missed a lot goings on at the salt marsh and at the dog park. I filled her in on the hottest park rumors and the latest marsh news, including that the Osprey couple now spends most of their time at the nest. My assessment is that Mama Sandy will lay eggs any day now. Papa Stanley hardly leaves her side. He’s a trooper. Always on guard so Sandy can take all the naps she needs.

Anyway, I also spotted the Mayor. He flew across the marsh and then settled in his office on an islet close to the dog park. He was focused on his work. Not even one glance in my direction.

the mayor UD150Then I saw a Night Heron who was wide awake. I wonder if he was jet-lagged and had lost his circadian rhythm. Like mom does when she comes home from her long trips. She messes up my rhythm too. I never know if or when we’ll go to sleep. And in the morning I can’t get her up. Hello! It’s bathroom time! Nothing.

night heron ud150_edited-1I have to tell you my patience was tried when I came across a family of White Ibis. They walked deliberately along my trail. Like begging for attention.

ibis family ud150But I stayed put and let them go. In my book, that’s heroic behavior worth many treats. Chicken to be exact. I hope mom will compensate me later. Now that I’ve been transparent and told the story just like it was.

Dylan 2 sits still ud150That’s all for today. Mom is back and we’re slowly settling into our routines. Unlike mom, I love routine. Up, out, eat, nap. Repeat. Simple, safe and very pleasant.

Be good now. Lots of love, D.

The Natural Order.

I have come to the conclusion that expressions of order in nature are captivating. Much different from any man-made order, however neat, and more beautiful. In my book, order in nature is of higher quality and its many manifestations are fascinating. I have been digging in my photo archives to show you a few expressions of order in nature as I see them through my lens – with some humor.

Flying in formation: Six White Ibis (featured image) and five Brown Pelicans.

five pelicans in formation UD129Standing in line: Four Willet all standing on their right foot.

four willets on one leg ud129Marching order: Mama Mottled Duck with her ducklings.

mama duck and ducklings ud129Tight formation swimming: Mama Mottled Duck and her ducklings.

mama mottled duck with ducklings ud129Pecking order: 2015 season’s Sand Key Osprey chicks (from the left) 3rd born Sindile, 1st born Lofty and 2nd born Aspire.

three osprey chicks May 27 2015 ud129Landing lineup: Royal Terns’ approach to landing in formation.

royal terns landing order ud129Departure lineup: A group of Wood storks departing in the Everglades.

three wood storks departing ud129Above and below: Four Brown Pelicans flying in “layers”.

four pelicans in flight ud129_edited-1 Backorder: father, mother and baby elephant and three zebras on the savannah.

three elephant butts ud129

three zebras ud129Side order: Two Black Skimmers and two Brown Pelicans flying side by side.

two black skimmers ud129

two pelicans flying tandem ud129Front and back: A Roseate Spoonbill and a Great Blue Heron upfront and a Wood Stork at the back on a small islet.

wood stork blue heron and roseate spponbill ud129_edited-1Law and order: A Reddish Egret chases away a Great Egret, who didn’t have a fishing permit.

Reddish Egret chases a great egret ud129_edited-1Taking turns: One Great Egret eats first, the other one eats second.

two egrets ud129Even disorder in nature can be beautiful: Three White Ibis, one standing on the left foot, two standing on the right foot…

three white ibis ud129…and Monarch Butterflies on a tree in no order at all.

butterfly tree ud129And finally, for our regular readers, there is the current order: The Osprey chick joins her parents to enjoy the sunset glow at the sailing center after a good meal on Marriott’s roof.

osprey chick eats on the roof ud129_edited-1
Arlene has supper on the roof at 7 p.m.
osprey chick hanging out with Mama osprey ud129_edited-1
Arlene and Sandy at the sailing center after sunset around 8:30 p.m.
osprey chick enjoys sunset ud129
Arlene looks for a small “dessert fish” in the water below
mama osprey after sunset ud129
Mama Sandy proudly watches Arlene
papa osprey looks at chick ud129
Papa Stanley lovingly watches his family

I hope you agree that order in nature has many amazing expressions. Have a great weekend!

Surprises. And Almost a Heart Attack.

It started innocently enough. On¬†Tuesday afternoon, just¬†around dinner time, husband asked me if I had seen ‘the birds’, aka the Osprey family.¬†My nose had been clued to the computer all day, so I went onto the terrace with my binoculars and my super zoom.¬†And¬†almost got a heart attack. The Osprey nest was empty! I mean, no adults around.¬†A little head was sticking up from the nursery. What an earth had happened?

empty nest ud119I waited. No parent came back. And suddenly the first-born got very anxious, flexed its tiny featherless wings and screamed from the bottom of its lungs. Ma-ma!  The second-born lifted up its head as well. They were alarmed.

two osprey chicks alone in the nest ud119Then, after several minutes, one of the parents landed on the perch. It was impossible to tell which one. I assumed it was Papa Stanley because Mama Sandy would have landed in the nest. All kinds of thoughts flew through my mind on what might have happened to Sandy. You see, normally she would not leave the chicks alone before they are six weeks old, and these chicks were hardly three weeks old last Tuesday.

a parent is back ud119Right after finishing my dinner I checked on the nest again. Someone was feeding the chicks! It looked like Sandy. And – surprise, surprise – she had three chicks in front of her! The two older chicks are bigger and¬†‘darker’ and the youngest chick (in the middle) is¬†still very small and much lighter in color. That was a much nicer surprise.

mama osprey feeds three chicks 4 ud119But I couldn’t be sure it was Sandy until I saw¬†her much closer – from the ground. So out we went, Dylan and I.¬†He knew his mom was on a mission and sat down every time I took pictures.

Dylan at sunset ud120It was late in the day, almost 7:30 p.m., but I was able to confirm Sandy was back with her chicks. That was a great relief.

mama osprey 2 ud120Perhaps Sandy had gotten tired of waiting for dinner and had decided to go fishing herself. For a change. And in the process almost gave me a heart attack.

That evening I was treated¬†to¬†yet another nice surprise. Miss Rosa was back! I had not seen her¬†in about six weeks, and it was great to see was fine, beautiful as ever. Perhaps she too was on¬†a ‘mommy break’ from nesting activities on the bird island in the bay.

miss rosa at sunset ud120And the Mayor was there patrolling the waters, as always.

the mayor at sunset ud120And just before the darkness fell, I spotted a Red-winged Backbird. I know he is nesting at the marsh right now, just like last year.

red-winged blackbird at sunset ud120On the bay side, walking back home, we saw a Willet utilizing the low tide to get herself some supper.

willet ud120Yesterday morning I took a quick walk around the marsh, mostly to check on the Osprey chicks. The whole family was gathered. Sandy was feeding the chicks, who had grown a lot since Tuesday.

osprey family ud120I could only see two of them, but it doesn’t mean that the last-born wasn’t there. The first-born and the middle chick are almost the same size, born only a day apart, while the last¬†chick was probably born two days after the middle chick.¬† At this time in their development four days make a huge difference.

osprey chicks siblings ud120The oldest chick is just over three weeks old now and has already learned a lot, like mimicking Sandy when she sounded a warning to a pelican flying over the nest.

pelican in flight ud117

mama osprey and chick sound alarm ud120I had to smile. It has also discovered its wings and is trying to flex them a bit already. In the picture below, Sandy is probably feeding the little one, whom she wisely keeps a bit separated from the two older ones. I am hoping the tiny last-born will survive. Its chances to fledge are statistically only about 38%. But then, Sandy is an exceptional mother and Stanley is a great provider.

older chick has discovered his wings ud120When walking quickly around the marsh, I got a fourth surprise. Henry, the mischievous young Great Blue Heron, who used to attack the Osprey nest in 2015, was back. He is still much smaller than the Mayor, and was keenly watching the nest from the north side of the marsh. Not again, I thought.

the younger blue heron ud120I was trying to¬†move closer to get a clear shot when I heard heavy wing beats. The Mayor was approaching, fast. I was so surprised that I didn’t even get a clear picture of him chasing away young Henry. But here is¬†the end tail of that action.

major chasing ud120Happy being firmly in charge of the city again, the Mayor settled at the far end of the marsh.

major ud120Everything was good again. When I left to go home, the courting Mottled Duck couple cruised the calm waters just below the Osprey nest.

mottled duck couple ud120We all wish you Happy Easter.

Fish Trouble for the Tern Couple. A Photo Story.

I spotted this Royal Tern couple on the beach in the middle of all the spring break activity – and just couldn’t leave¬†their story¬†for my next post. I hope you enjoy.

tern couple 1 UD114
You brought this fish for me, right?
tern couple 2 ud114
Go on, give it to me!
tern couple 3 ud114
Hey, I’m waiting…
tern couple 4 ud114
I mean it…give me the fish already!
tern couple 5 ud114
…I’m waiting…don’t make me angry…
tern couple 6b ud114
NOOO! What you doing? I want my fish!
tern couple 7 ud114
Ha! You won’t get away from me…
tern couple 8 ud114
Okay…we can sit and sulk here at the water’s edge …¬†until I get my fish.

 

I’m Not Spoiled. But I’ve Trained Mom Very Well.

Donk-glonk-thud. That was not the sound of a piece of cheese falling on the kitchen floor or dad opening the lid of his Greek yoghurt. No, this was something else. I had not yet figured out what that noise could be when I heard mom yelling. *&#@! And she doesn’t yell. Or even raise her voice. Not normally. Alarm bells went off and I rushed into the kitchen. I found mom sitting on the floor holding her right foot, or rather the toes of her right foot. Doggy 2 ud111And I got it.¬†One of the noisy machines¬†she’s been using had fallen on her toes. Poor mom. That’s what you get when you don’t listen. I had told her it was completely unnecessary to clean the house. She could have¬†been massaging my ears instead and nothing like this would’ve ever happened. But I didn’t say I told you so. I just couldn’t. Instead I gave her a lick right on the cheek.

Anyway, she’s not been¬†the only one suffering. Since last week, my walks have been cut short. Initially I could only get out onto the yard. To sniff the same trees over and over. That was boring. Eventually we walked on the sidewalk and I could read some of my newspapers in the grass. But then mom started limping and we had to turn around. After half a mile! And not one trip to the doggy park in the last 10 days.

I was living in the hope that I could skip my grooming appointment. But no such luck. I like my groomer a lot, but I don’t like the cutting, washing and drying. Luckily mom sat and waited for me. She was busy shooting the new dog paintings¬†on the walls of the Grooming Shop.

But I have to admit, it always¬†feels nice when it’s over. The clean smell is good. So coming home, I thought the worst was over. And it was – for a few days. We had family and friends visiting. I was basking in all the attention and enjoying frequent tummy rubs. All was good until early this morning, when mom told me I would need to see my doctor to get my teeth cleaned. And to get my shots. Not good news. I didn’t even want to look at mom¬†after she told me this. Why would I need to go through such an ordeal? Why me?

dylan before tooth cleaning ud111Somehow mom managed to get me into her car and off we went. On empty stomach and all.

I have to confess I don’t remember much of today. I only remember the nice staff at the vet’s office before I fell asleep. It seems I was sleeping for a long while. But I¬†can’t say I’m¬†feeling rested.¬†Or great. I’m groggy and I’m hungry. And my mouth hurts. I hope mom will make me a soft Cr√®me de poulet for dinner. After going through all this I’ve earned something special, don’t you think?

Dylan after anesthesia ud111In fact, I’m still so confused that I don’t even want to jump up on my favorite sofa. I might fail. And that would be embarrassing. I’m just laying down on¬†the hand-me-down bed in mom’s office.¬† No pictures please. I know this too shall pass.

I want to leave you all with a quote I found¬†at my groomer’s.¬†Something I want to encourage you to ponder. It just might have a useful message. I will discuss this with mom more in-depth when I feel better. And she is back to our normal routines. Hopefully tomorrow.

quote 3 ud111Much love, Dylan

Breaking the Law. But It’s Complicated.

Friends, I have¬†a confession to make. I’ve been breaking the law at least on one occasion this past weekend. But before you judge, I need to tell you it’s not that straight forward. It’s complicated. I’m guilty, but not guilty. You see, last week mom was very busy with work. That means she didn’t have the time to go on what she calls ‘photo walks’. In plain English, walks without me to wherever she pleases.

So on Saturday, she said it was a good day for a walk. Everyone walked on this Saturday, she said. And in solidarity, we should walk as well. Even if it meant a walk to the doggy park at the salt marsh. Although it was windy, I was all for it.

dylan-in-dog-park-ud104The doggy park was quiet. Only two other dogs. On the ‘large dog’ side of the park. A Pit Bull and a Golden Retriever. I sniffed at both through the separating fence. But otherwise I was running solo, and that was fine. Lots of news to ‘read’ in the grass.

dylan-2-at-dog-park-ud104On our way back home through the salt marsh, mom was walking very slowly. I had to sit all the time. She was spotting one ‘friend’ after another, and photographing them. Oh, there’s the Reddish Egret, she would say. Sit.

reddish-egret-2-ud104And there’s the Tri-colored Heron! Sit. I did. Although I could’ve made a run for this bird. She was so close to the shore. But I’ve learned¬†mom doesn’t want that. Happy mom, happy dog. And bird.

tri-colored-heron-ud104We walked around the marsh. And there she was, a Little Blue Heron who was curious about something. Her neck all stretched out.

littel-blue-heron-1-ud104Of course mom would need to investigate. And she found it! A bird hiding in a tree. That’s a Green Heron, rarely seen at the salt marsh, she said. I had to respect that. So I sat before mom even asked me to.

green-heron-ud104And that’s when we arrived at the Nest. I sat. And tried not to breathe too hard. You see, when I pant mom says¬†her hand holding my leash is shaking. That means no good photos. Unhappy mom. So I sat still for one whole minute.

papa-and-mama-osprey-at-the-nest-ud104Mom’s always talking to the birds up there. That’s¬†silly because they never respond. They just look at her.

mama-osprey-ud104And she’s all happy for the acknowledgement. So be it. I get to run at the doggy park and she gets her photos.

But yesterday it got worse. Let me explain. You see, on Saturday mom had discovered that some people were kiteboarding on the bay. I assisted her in taking some shots from our terrace.

three-windsurfers-portrait-ud104And yesterday she discovered they were back. The weather was really stormy. No weather for a walk, but I take what I can. So she took her camera and out we went, onto the bay side. I looked down from the sea wall and saw the water splashing high up, almost up to my feet. And white hats everywhere.

bay-before-the-stom-ud104A few tiny¬†boats were struggling against the wind on the bay. Someone had already fallen into the water. You could offer me¬†ten chicken biscuits and I wouldn’t go there!

young-sailors-2-ud104And that’s when it happened. Mom took me right onto the bay beach. You see there’s a sign that says dogs are not welcome there. Although the dog symbol is hardly recognizable, I can see there’s a red cross over it. Earlier we’ve always turned away right there. But not yesterday. Mom spotted this kiteboarder and that was it. We went just a little bit on the sand. She made me break the law. And sit on the sand.

kiteboarder closeup ud104.jpgI tried to be invisible, while she took her shots. But couldn’t help marveling about the man who flew high above the waves…and the buildings on the other side of the bay. Almost like a bird.

kiteboarder 2 ud104.jpgLuckily there was no enforcement of the law and we could run home pushing against the wind. I told mom this was an one time incident. It would not be repeated. I hope she listened to me.

dylan-december-2016-ud104In any case, I’m safe and relaxing at home. I wish you all a week filled with goodness. Love, Dylan