Tag Archives: Photography

I’m Biting You in the Butt. And Other Adventures at Skansen in Stockholm.

Stockholm, as many of you know, is my former hometown. Now spending the month of July here with family and friends is a real treat. The weather is fantastic and the whole city is in ‘summer mode’. Walkers, bikers, flowers and restaurants have taken over many streets in the central parts of the city, like this one where I’m staying.

my street UD164

restaurang gatan 2 UD164The day is 18 hours long, the sun rises before 4 a.m. and goes to sleep around 10 p.m.  The picture below was taken around 10:30 p.m., just after sunset. Unfortunately this night owl is not inclined to get up early enough to offer sunrise pictures.

evening stockholm UD164There are so many places to visit, but first I wanted to go to Skansen, the world’s first and oldest open-air museum. And a place where we took numerous weekend walks when our son was small. So last Sunday my sister and I made plans to go there. I invite you to join us.

skansen tower ud166The Swedish way of life in the past is exhibited in villages of authentic old residences, farmsteads, shops, a pottery, a bakery, a bank, a post office and a large number of specialized workshops and factories, store houses and barns. These exhibitions are manned with people sporting time-typical outfits. They can tell the stories (in many languages) about life in Sweden from late 1600s to early 1900s. Please follow us to the glassblower’s workshop, where the master is working on small animals in brilliant colors. Then we’ll stop at the general store, the bakery, and the pottery still making lergods typical in Sweden in the 1800s and early 1900s.

glass blower ud166

shopkeeper ud166

bakery ud166

krukmakare ud166

krukor ud166Next, let’s take a peek into the life of middle class people at a house where the publisher and his wife lived in early to mid-1800s. Their parlor houses an old piano in a good working order and we can see the weekly magazine they published spread on the dining table. The intricate wall paper is not clued onto the walls, but as customary, it’s nailed on the walls so that should the family need to move, they could take it to their new house.

a publishers house ud166

piano at a middle class home publisher ud166

old magazine ud166The workers’ quarters are not as elaborate, many people used to live in one room in a house like this.  We can also take a peek through the door into the shopkeeper’s room adjacent to the shop.

We walk the cobblestone alleys between the old houses enjoying the beauty preserved from old times.

alley with old houses skansen ud166

window of an old house ud166Next we find a bank and a government office.

bank ud166

old house skansen ud166Skansen also houses authentic old farmsteads and typical farm animals, such as cows, pigs, goats and chicken. I focused my camera only on the smaller, more colorful animals.

old house UD166

rooster UD166

hen ud166Passing a windmill, a belfry and a traditional (now dried out) midsummer pole, we can observe a woman taking care of her cottage garden, just like women had done in the 1800s.

windmill skansen ud166

klockstapel 2 skansen ud166

midsommarstang ud166

skansen gardener ud166From there we walk to see some Nordic wildlife. The huge brown bear is bound to leave a lasting impression.

brown bear 2 skansen UD166

brown bear skansen UD166The lynx appears sweet like a house cat, but appearances can be deceiving…

Lynx at skansen ud166And at the home of the wolf, we are in for a surprise. Mama wolf has three cubs!

mama wolf UD166

a third wolf cub skansen UD166

two wold cubs skansen UD166 16x9

wolf cubs at skansen UD166We stay for a while and watch the cubs play. Luckily they have a large area to explore. Finally our feet decide it’s time for a late lunch at one of the restaurants and we round up our ‘wild tour’ by visiting the moose and the European bison.

mama moose ud166

Vicent at skansen UD166Of course we have to ‘shoot’ some birds on the way too. The Skåne geese have young goslings. (Aww). And finally we have to document the Swedish version of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

Canada geese ud166

gosling skansen ud166

mr and mrs Mallard ud166Greetings from Skansen and thank you for visiting this unique museum with us!

lily at skansen ud166

What a Party!

On Friday morning, I went to the kitchen to brew my second cup of coffee and suddenly remembered I had not yet checked on the Osprey Family. Mr. Dylan and I have been keeping a tight watch on the nest, particularly from the mid week on as the weather started to improve. At sunset time the previous night we spotted Bubbette sitting on her favorite high ‘chair’ in the nest looking out on the bay. She was clearly dreaming of flying.

osprey chick night before fledging ud161I picked up my binoculars and looked out through the living room window.  Just like previous mornings, I found Bubbette in the nest and Mama Sandy on the perch. I was about to put down my binoculars when Bubbette took off. Just like that! I ran to get my camera and discovered my battery was out of charge. Finally found my spare and ran out to the terrace with Dylan in tow. I spotted Bubbette right over the bay. She was at least 600-700 yards away, close to the opposite shore. She was flying low over the water. I couldn’t hear her, but it looked like she was singing her fish-fish-song.

Bubbette flies over the bay ud161I discovered that Papa Stanley was circling high up in the sky right above her, but couldn’t get them into the same picture. It was heart-warming to see Papa protecting her on her first flight.

Bubbettes first flight 3 ud161Then she flew higher up and continued her adventure towards the mainland. My heart was racing because I knew the Bald Eagle couple nests at the Country Club on the other side of the bay. Luckily Stanley was close by. Bubbette flew further away and I could hardly see her. Finally she turned back towards our island and I spotted her again.

Bubbettes first flight 2 ud161 I watched her fly. What a beautiful sight. A few minutes later she made a perfect landing almost in the middle of the nest! No second try, no landing on the ground. Sandy watched her proudly from the perch. And her ‘grandma’ on the terrace was equally delighted.

osprey chick makes perfect landing 2 ud161At lunch time Dylan and I went out to see her, after a dog park visit of course. We found Sandy on the perch and Bubbette in the nest. I was hoping she would fly out again.

mama osprey and the chick at the nest june 1 ud161But both of them were busy looking intensely towards the bay. Little did I know that Stanley had planned a graduation party. I had not seen him at the nest since Sandy chased him away from the perch almost two weeks ago. No kissing and making up as yet. But he had been doing fly-overs and checking on his girls every now and then. And he had flown with Bubbette that morning.

Mama osprey sees fish delivery ud161Next thing I knew Sandy started singing and flew down from the perch…

Mama osprey flies down from the perch ud161… and they started a frantic duet, eyes trained on something beyond my horizon.

anticipation of a fish ud161I could hear the wing beats when Stanley flew right over my head. Papa was in the house! Seeing that whopper of a fish Bubbette and Sandy were full of excitement.

papa osprey brings a fish ud161And it was a whole fish solely for the girls, delivered directly from the bay.

Papa osprey delivers a fish ud161Stanley steered to the right, grabbed the fish with both talons and placed his catch perfectly in front of Sandy. Perhaps as a combined graduation and reconciliation gift.

papa osprey brings a whole fish ud161While Sandy grabbed the fish, he exchanged greetings with Bubbette.

Papa Osprey in the nest ud161A few seconds later he took off again.

papa osprey leaves ud161I guess he didn’t want to overstay his welcome. Sandy placed the fish so that both of them could eat from it once she was done with the head part.

mama osprey takes the fish ud161We left them to enjoy their celebratory lunch and walked home.

Mama osprey and chick share the fish ud161That was a great graduation party. Always lovely to see the new generation take flight. Since then Bubbette has been out several times, including over three hours yesterday morning. And she’s out flying this morning too. I guess she enjoys her newly acquired freedom and is eager to learn how to fish. And her Papa is a great teacher. In about a month she will be ready to leave the nest and start her independent life somewhere nearby. We hope you enjoyed the party and wish you a great week ahead.

Bubbette Says Hello. To Alberto.

The season’s first subtropical storm, Alberto, will soon be making landfall on the northern Gulf coast, now packing 65mph/105kph winds. Yesterday it was churning past us about 135 miles out on the Gulf. It didn’t come here, but the “low” associated with it has brought rainy weather and gusty winds already much of last week for us. And although we now see glimpses of sun every now and then, the winds are still very gusty. As far as I know, Miss Bubbette has not yet fledged. I think Mama Sandy has put her under strict orders not to try her wings in this weather. On Wednesday, Thursday and yesterday when we had some dry weather, Dylan and I went to see her.

osprey chick waits for mama osprey ud161On Wednesday we found her alone in the nest keeping a low profile. Mama Sandy was flying overhead and sounding loud warnings.

Mama Osprey chased an intruder ud161I realized she was chasing away a male intruder who had ventured too close to the nest.

Mama Osprey chases a male osprey ud161Sandy soon returned to the nest and I understood she had flown away in the middle of her lunch. She continued eating. Bubbette had probably already eaten, but asked for more so Sandy was feeding her a few more bites from her own lunch. Mother’s love.

Mama osprey is feeding chick 2 ud161After finishing her lunch, Sandy flew up to the perch. Bubbette continued her wing exercises.

Mama osprey is back ud161We walked around the marsh and saw a few friends. Miss Rosa was visiting…

miss rosa ud161

snowy egret and miss rosa ud161… and foraging together with a Snowy Egret. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron was hunting too, which is rarely seen in the middle of the day.

yellowcrowned night heron ud161And Mr. Moorhen was checking out his territory. Otherwise the marsh was quiet.

moorhen ud161On Thursday we went out again quickly between the rain showers. Bubbette was exercising her wings again. She did not take off the nest, but ‘flew’ onto the highest branch in the nest.

Osprey chick bubbette practices flying UD161And she was hungry. She had, indeed, learned the most common osprey song: Gimme Fish.

And she knows her “head bob”, so typical for ospreys. Mama Sandy just sat on the perch. After a while she took a short flight towards the bay. Perhaps to check if Papa Stanley was somewhere close by eating the head of their lunch fish. You see, I had witnessed a small brawl between Sandy and Stanley the previous night when watching the nest from my living room. Stanley had brought a fish and was sitting on the perch when Sandy suddenly flew up and literally pushed him away. I had no idea what he’d done, or if he would still bring in fish for that matter. I have not spotted him at the nest since.

mama osprey returns ud161The sky had filled with clouds and we left Bubbette and Sandy to wait for their lunch.

Osprey chick perching on the highest branch in the nest ud161Yesterday I went out to the terrace to take a picture of the nest through the rain. I was thrown off balance several times by the strong wind gusts. No wonder Sandy doesn’t allow her girl to get airborne as yet.

osprey chick and mom in the rain ud161Later in the afternoon when the sun came out, I looked at the nest again…and could not spot Bubbette! I thought the poor girl might have taken off in the gusting wind, which made it difficult to fly even for experienced fliers. I took my camera and went out Dylan in tow. The wind hit us hard.

Mama osprey UD161We arrived at the nest, but could only see Sandy on the perch. The wind was blowing so hard that it forced three Anhingas on their way to the bay to land at the marsh.

Anhinga 1 ud161

Anhinga 2 ud161

anhinga 3 ud161Still no Bubbette in sight. This ‘osprey granny’ was starting to get worried. We walked around the marsh and spotted Harry, the younger Great Blue Heron.

Yoiung great blue heron UD161And a tiny, juvenile Green Heron, who was trying to keep her balance on a low branch.

Juvenile Green Heron UD161A male Red-winged Blackbird had to flap his wings to stay put on his sturdy tree stump. Normally he would land in the middle of the marsh on one of those slender bushes, but I guessed he didn’t like the idea of ‘swinging’ in this gusty wind.

redwinged blackbird male ud161When we approached the nest again, pushing against the wind, I still didn’t see the osprey chick, but a pregnant Mama Moorhen walked by.

mama moorhen ud161Suddenly I heard a faint song…fish, fish. It was Bubbette! But where did the sound come from? Dylan and I stayed quite a while close to the nest looking around. Finally we gave up and decided to walk home. When on the side-walk, I looked out to the nest again, and saw her. Phew.

Bubbette ud161She had been lying low in the nest cup all along, probably ordered to take shelter by Mama Sandy. It is windy today too…and the fledging watch continues. Thanks for visiting. Happy Memorial Day and have a great week.

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 🙂 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.

 

Papa Osprey’s Fake Wings. And a Flying Mattress Delivery.

It’s good to be away, particularly if you can spend some quality time with your grandkids. And then happen to stumble on a bird photographer’s paradise. But that’s for the next post. Here only one picture of last weekend’s adventures. As a ‘teaser’.

nesting birds st augustine ud160But first things first. News from a place where I belong.  There have been some new developments at the salt marsh since we last spoke, and a quick update might be called for. The youngest member of the Osprey Family is now over seven weeks old. Dylan and I went to check on her yesterday morning and arrived at the nest right after the family breakfast. Papa Stanley was sitting in the nest with the chick but Mama Sandy was nowhere to be seen.

papa osprey and the chick ud160Stanley greeted us with a friendly nod, but the little one was busy observing the skies. Then she realized it was time for her daily exercise routine. Stanley suddenly got wings sprinkled with white feathers, typical for osprey chicks. Those ‘fake’ wings made me smile.

papa ospreys fake wings ud160The chick should be fledging in less than two weeks and I was happy to see her ‘wingersize’ vigorously. That’s when Sandy’s head popped up from the back of the nest and I realized she had been there all along. She was busy working on something.

osprey family ud160Soon Stanley decided it was time to retreat onto the perch. Or maybe he just wanted to show the chick how it’s done. Actually flying.

papa osprey flies to the perch ud160And Sandy decided it was time to run errands. She flew away in the direction of the bay.

mama osprey flies away ud160The chick was alone in the nest, but under tight supervision by Stanley on the perch. She was looking into the distance after Sandy.

osprey chick ud160And I was focusing on taking pictures of her. Suddenly I felt something fly right over my head! And a second later Sandy landed on the nest. With a new mattress for the chick. Lightning fast express delivery. No lines at the mattress shop as the whole trip took less than two minutes.

mattress delivery by mama osprey ud160I was not the only one taken by surprise. Typical Sandy, always fast and efficient. When she wants something she goes and gets it.

mama osprey returns ud160She landed in the middle of the nest, right on the spot where she wanted to place the mattress. Then she had a mother-daughter moment with the chick. Nothing needed to be said.

mama osprey and the chick ud160But the chick understood mama would like to see some more exercising…and she went for another set of wing flaps. She still looks quite tentative in her movements and stands with her legs wide apart. She’ll need several practice sessions a day if she’s going to fledge in the week after next.

osprey chick flexes her wings ud160She is  a beautiful osprey girl and she’ll need a name. So Dylan and I will do the ‘same procedure as last year’ and have a lottery. The prize will hopefully be worth putting on your thinking hat: a 60″/152 cm round beach/picnic towel featuring Sandy and Stanley. And the drawing itself, to be conducted by Dylan on May 15th, promises to be exciting…and super fast. We’re talking about treats here.

Mama and Papa Osprey beach towel UD160

Rest assured that the names already submitted by some of you are safely in the hat. Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend. We hope to hear from you. Much love.

It’s a Girl! And Other Breaking News from the Salt Marsh.

It’s been a busy two weeks since we last checked on the Osprey Family. The week after my last update, Dylan and I went by the nest late one evening, but it was really windy and Mama Sandy was covering the chick. Nothing to be seen. Other than the waxing moon. Presented here for evidence.

evening moon ud159Yesterday, after I had returned from my latest work trip on Friday night, we went to the salt marsh twice. We found the Osprey Family all gathered in the nest for some late-morning family time.

Osprey family ud159Papa Stanley took a nap on the perch, but his sleep was interrupted by Sandy reminding him it was time to fetch lunch. And that’s when I saw it. The chick is a girl! She looks just like her mom, with a ‘necklace’ already at six weeks of age. She had grown beautiful feathers and was as alert as ever.

all three ospreys in the nest ud159Stanley is quite funny. He never leaves on a fishing trip right away when Sandy asks for food. He  flew down from his perch and parked himself in the nest for a while. Sandy continued her “we-want-fish-fish” song and the little one chimed in a couple of times. It was obvious she had learned to talk.

papa mama and osprey chick ud159Finally Stanley glanced at his watch and saw it was lunch time. He left for his 3rd fishing trip of the day. Both females observed his departure. Better late than never, they seemed to think. And then they settled side by side to observe the life at the marsh. Sandy soon nodded off, but the chick was watching her environment. Perhaps already dreaming of flying.

sandy and osprey chick ud159She could see the ‘Clown’ down below. He was playing peek-a-boo with the chick.

reddish egret 2 UD159

reddish egret ud159And little further away Papa Moorhen was inspecting his territory.

mr moorhen ud159We went home before Stanley returned. But when we walked back in the evening it was like we never left. Stanley had a newly caught fish. He was eating the head on ‘his’ lamp-post, like he always does before he gives the fish to Sandy.

papa osprey has dinner ud159But then I discovered an Osprey flying high above the street. It was Sandy.

mama osprey in flight ud159So who was with the chick? Nobody! She was lying low in the nest all by herself while mama was stretching her wings and flying around just for the fun of it. Now that the chick is six weeks old, Sandy is free to do just that…and even go fishing should she feel for it.

osprey chick alone in the nest ud159After a few minutes of pre-dinner exercise Sandy returned to her chick. She was watching the setting sun and waiting for Stanley to drop off the fish.

mama osprey at sunset ud159We walked to the dog park passing right below the nest and discovered several familiar faces. Harry the trouble-maker, the younger Great Blue Heron, was hiding in the high grass.

younger GBH UD159He didn’t want to be seen and I soon understood why. The Mayor was marching around at the beach end of the marsh.

GBH the Mayor ud159Usually there’s not enough space for the two of them at the marsh, but this time Harry was not spotted. A Yellow-crowned Night Heron could see both of them from his sun-soaked islet, but he didn’t tell.

night heron UD159Dylan sat down as in waiting for some drama to occur, but there was none. A Mourning Dove sat on a branch just above my assistant and enjoyed the peace of the evening.

Dylan at sunset ud159

Mourning Dove ud159We went to the dog park and when we returned the sun was setting over the salt marsh.

salt marsh at sunset 2 UD159It was almost dark, but we saw some movement in the water. Miss Rosa was out and about getting her late night snack. I didn’t think the light would be enough to get anything but a pink blob, but in one picture you can actually see her. A little.

miss rosa ud159Soon there was only the full moon.

full moon april 28 ud159 I’m sure that Dylan, keeping with the tradition, will invite you all to provide name suggestions for the new osprey girl and reveal the lottery prize in the next post 🙂 Thank you for visiting and have a wonderful week.