Posted on January 30, 2023
I have confessed many times over the last 3 years that I have struggled to find my groove and to get back into the passion of photography. With covid slowing and in many cases shutting places down, along with Richard’s melanoma journey, and Mr Luka taking all my time, there seems little time to get out and do photography. However, the end of this past year and into January, my son-in-law’s mother has been visiting from Macedonia. Ljubica and I have done a whole lot of getting around and it involved me taking photo’s while she pushed Luka. Of course, he had to go with. I feel like I may have got the kick start I need for 2023.
Earlier this month I had time to myself and I decided to pick up my 100-600mm lens and go for a walk at Green Cay Wetlands. I have missed getting out with the lens but it is too heavy to carry and push a pram and try and keep Luka happy.
Today is all about getting back into nature, to re-orienting my head and taking deep breaths knowing that there are things I can change and things I cannot.
Nature is an interesting source of photography. Some shots you have control over and you can set it up as you want it, and other shots are on the fly.
This Little Blue Heron while wild, seemed quite comfortable with people getting up close to it. Sadly in the wetlands you have those people who are there to walk, without consideration of what is around them. I don’t mind people walking, I wish I did it better, however, when you see a bird sitting on the railing and folks trying to take photo’s, slow down and enjoy this incredible bird, as you go past. That way you do not scare the bird away. This bird allowed me to get fairly close but it does help to have a bigger lens so that there is no need to be on top of it.
I love birds feet and I especially love this kind of photo where the object is in focus and the rest is a soft blur.
While it is still winter we are starting to see signs of spring (which of course means the hot summer is not far behind. Although I am not going to complain too much as I will get two winters this year, as we head to Australia in May). What I love the the beginning of new life, while we are still seeing signs of old life hanging out. The lens also creates some awesome bokeh for the background.
I loved this particular image because of the contrast of the leaves. The brown underside stands out fairly starkly against the mottled green of the upper side of the leaves. What also fascinated me when editing was the background kind of reflected the contrast of the fern.
I don’t typically catch small birds but for some reason today I was lucky enough to do so. This little bird is called a Palm Warbler. These tiny birds are fast and move around so quickly that I was lucky to catch as many as I did today.
This Yellow Rumped Warbler is slightly different to the Palm Warbler in coloring. I happened to spot it in the tree eating some kind of berry. Fortunately it stayed on the branch long enough for me to capture it’s image. The differences I see seem to be the stripped effect on the wings and body and the yellow on the wings.
Of course, we have the controversial Iguana. I personally love them. They are so prehistoric and so incredible in design. Most people don’t like them because they are an invasive species to Florida. I see them eating the grass in the back garden. I am good with that. As spring arrives so does mating season, and along with that some interesting colors in the Iguana. They can go from muted greens and browns to bright orange, which is pretty cool to look at.
Along with changes in color, the birds start displaying changes as well. The Anhinga get this really cool color around their eyes. Both male and female (above and below) show this distinct marking during breeding time.
Nature includes leaves, new and old, and I love to find leaves and photograph them with this narrow sliver of focus. I just love the blur around it.
This cute little bird is ironically called the Little Green Heron. To date I am still trying to find the Green part but it is a beautiful bird all the same. It can stand still for the longest time and just when you about to give up it will dive for it’s food.
Another sign that spring is on the way. I love the unfurling ferns. The beginning of new life. So symbolic of new beginnings and so many new opportunities.
Today there were about 50 Glossy Ibis that had descended into this watery area. The Glossy Ibis is known as such due to their pearlescent feathers. Dependent on which way the sun is shining on the feathers you either get a plain brown bird or you get this pearl effect of colors. When the sun catches the feathers at the right angle they are stunning.
Last but not least on this walk about, is a critter that I really do not like. In fact I would go as far as to say they creep me out. Spiders are just not my thing. It may go back to being traumatized by a friend chasing me with a giant spider on the end of the stick, or the bamboo spiders we used to get in South Africa. Or it may even be the fact that I know a couple of people, my son included, who have been bitten by spiders and it has taken months of doctors visits, removing dead skin, packing the bite with antibiotics before the wound actually healed up. However, I am in awe of the incredible architecture spiders create. Who builds an amazing home on 4 twigs. Spiders are good when it comes to that, and I respect that, so long as they stay away from me.
30 Minutes in the Life is a small group of bloggers who get together once a month to put thought to paper and share on the happenings of their lives. Hopefully soon I will get back to rest of the Macedonia images, but in the meantime, take some time to follow the link to see what my friend and very talented photographer Kristina of Hello Olivia Photography has to share this month.
You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.
Category: 30 Minutes in the Life Tagged: #anhinga, #fern, #glossyibis, #ignuana, #leaf, #littleblueheron, #littlegreenheron, #nature, #naturelover, #naturephotographer, #naturephotography, #newbeginnings, #outdoors, #palmwarbler, #sharleenstuartphotography, #southfloridaphotographer, #spiderwebs, Canonusa
Posted on November 6, 2022
Nature for me is the wetlands. I haven’t been a lot lately because Friday has become my Luka day and it’s been too hot to take him in the wetlands until recently. However, it is our get out time, before sleep time. I cannot carry my big lens and push the stroller, so I have had to stick with the 70-300mm. Maybe next time I will give it a try. In addition, every time I stop, he grumbles. Our last walk we had to stop halfway around to have breakfast, and then a bit later for his bottle of water. Overall he is so good. Walking past someone I got the comment “he sure looks chilled”. There is Luka resting his feed up on the food tray. Gotta love this boy!
Nature is everything that has life around us. It is getting away from the bricks and mortar and breathing in life. It’s the smells, the fresh air, the wildlife, the scenery that always captures my attention. Working on this blog makes me want to get out and go for another walk.
This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Janet of @wiredtothemoon_ is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Instagram page. Definitely check out her incredible art.
Come and share your images to Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_nature
Posted on June 6, 2022
Well this month has passed and I have done one walk. I have struggled to get out on my free day as I have had Luka and for the past 6 weeks he has been sick. Last weekend when I did plan to go out, I ended up with him spending 3 days in our home. Amy had bronchitis and she did not feel at all well, Daniel was working night shift, and honestly we did not want Luka to catch something else. As it was I took him to the doctor for a check up on his cough and discovered he had another ear infection, and subsequently received another antibiotic. Poor guy spent a good bit of time in my arms.
So I looked through what I had not edited this past year and pulled images for light from there.
This image caught my attention because of the bokeh and the light shining through the wings. This poor Anhinga has clearly had a run in with something, probably an aligator, given the loss of feather. I have to wonder how it is flying to be honest.
Whenever I go to shoot the sunset, I always take my lensbaby, but for some reason I never pull it out. This was one of the light images that I had not edited 2 months ago. This is my favorite spot to get some nice pond reflections. What I like about this image is the reflection of the son on the leaves of the reeds.
Out in the garden and just after the rain. The light was dullish but I was able to capture the waterdrop at the tip of the leaf.
Out on my walk recently I spotted this Iguana in pockets of light. He was on a berm surrounded by trees and there are odd spots that get lit up along the edges. The Iguanas are in mating season and this guy clearly has been fighting as he has a bloody spot on his back that looks like a claw snagged him.
Sunsets are my favorite and sometimes they are average and sometimes they light up the sky. I loved the different shades of light in this image.
Moody kind of light found along a secluded walkway. This are my favorite kinds of images.
This is a circle blog and as I mentioned, we have some very talented ladies in the group. The sneak peaks are stunning and I cannot wait to see the rest. Take some time to follow the links and see what they have for you this month. My incredibly talented friend Janet from @wiredtothemoon next is up next. I can’t wait to see what she has to share. You can see more of her work by clicking on her Instagram pages. Definitely check out her incredible art.
Come and share your images Facebook and Instagram tagging #sharesix_light
Posted on September 30, 2021
We have had so much rain that getting out to walk is challenging when you work most of the week. I did get out one Friday in the middle of the day. The wetlands was hot and so humid. However, I was predominantly photographing dragonfly and that takes a lot of patience. Aside from the dragonfly I got to see some interesting critters along the way. I was having some frustrations along the way. My camera needs a service. The dial is not working properly. I hate the thought of having to send it off to Canon, especially now when I am not sure when I will get it back.
The walk is 2 miles long and is all along a boardwalk. The plus of that is you are not at the same level as the gator but you can get relatively up close to them. A zoom lens helps to get it a lot closer without actually being any closer lol.
So dragonfly were on my agenda today. I find them amazing. If you want to see more of the dragonfly I managed to photograph click here.
I always enjoy the Comorant, and both wetlands have at least one that is super friendly. It is not afraid of humans and I was able to get quite close to it.
I am not sure who named this bird but the Green Heron really does not have any green on it. This one popped up on the boardwalk railing as I was taking the Comorant. Of course birds have no shame, and I managed to photograph the poop shoot. Post that he flapped all the water off it’s wings and hung out for a while. I felt like today was angry Green Heron day, and you will see a few more images a bit later.
This is a female Anhinga. They fish for their food, and then once they have finished they will fly to the closest dry spot and they spread their wings and wait for them to dry. The way I understand it, they cannot fly to far with wet wings. I am always in awe of creation and how each wing interlocks with each other to enable a bird to fly. The male of course is far more interesting with white and black wings.
I always love to see an Iguana. This one was hiding out but if you look close at the body you will see signs of orange. To me they are so impressive. To others they are invasive.
A Glossy Ibis is fantastic to see when the sun is reflecting off it’s wings. Todays pic you get a little sense of it but not enough.
Every so often there is a covered walkway and a respite from the heat. If you look up there is a good chance you will find tiny little birds flitting through the trees. They are too fast for this lens. It seems like the lens takes forever to focus on the bird and by the time it does, the bird has flown off.
It’s in the walkways that I love to capture my favorite style of images. There were no leaves along the boardwalk but there were these pine fronds.
The White Ibis is chilling in my favorite tree. It is a great resting place for many birds and in the past I have managed to capture some Roseate Spoonbill in this tree.
I spotted this little Green Heron and took the top pic, then turned away to photograph dragonfly. When I turned back it was stalking across the water with this interesting Mohawk. Look like there is a new barber in town.
Tri-colored Herons are fun, and they normally fly around in pairs, especially the juveniles. There were 3 of them, this one on the railing and 2 in the water. It is almost as if they play tag.
I am sure you are wondering what this is. It’s not a gator. There was an Anhinga fishing in the water. As I took the shot, it dived down again to fish, and this is all I got of the bird.
Last but not least, I spotted this pensive looking Anhinga drying out in a tree as I was getting ready to leave the part. It really spoke to me. It looks like a juvenile based on the color of it’s feathers.
Thanks for joining me today on my walk. If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home in February after his melanoma Stage 4 diagnosis. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. While the medication has shown some positive signs of working on reducing the melanoma, we have to be aware that melanoma is very unpredictable and you honestly need to take care.
Thank you for joining me this month. This is a circle blog so take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Beth of Beth Williams Photo Blog is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.
Posted on June 8, 2021
I left off at the Brazilian section of the gardens in my last post. Today we venture into the Caribbean Gardens.
The garden shows off the plant life of the Caribbean plantations rich with fruits such as banana plants, papaya plants. There is also succulents and cacti. Richard found a bench to hang out on while he was waiting for me.
Walk with me through this gorgeous garden and enjoy the beautiful creation of nature.
This Anhinga was set perfectly out on the lake sun tanning his wings. Anhinga are interesting. The are often known as a snake bird because that is all you see when they come up for air while fishing for their food. Once the bird is finished fishing it needs to find a place to dry it’s wings before it can fly any distance.
I spotted this pair of Osprey high up on the pole.
While I was busy taking photos, Richard walked ahead to find a shady spot to sit and wait.
Cacti that we found along the way.
As I mentioned before, Roots appear to be the artistic theme in the gardens right now and this is just another beautiful example of what we got to see.
The Caribbean gardens has this beautiful oolite pergola which held me up for a while.
Moving through the garden, Richard was diligent to keep his hat on and look for shady spots to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Before we headed out to the gardens, he lathered himself with Factor 50 sunscreen. We wanted to be able to enjoy this time together in the gardens.
If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. At this point we have no idea if the medication Richard is on is working, so each day has become a memory making day.
Thank you for joining us. Look back for postings of the previous days.
You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.
Category: Travel Tagged: #anhinga, #flora, #nature, #naturelover, #naturephotographer, #naturephotography, #osprey, #outdoors, #sharleenstuartphotography, #travelphotography, Canon
Posted on April 30, 2021
Whoops this month crept up on me, and I am so late getting this done. I finally feel like we have some order in our house. Richard had his second infusion with no dramatic results, and I felt more comfortable leaving home and not have to worry about anything happening with him. He is having to deal with a rash on his body as a result of the immunotherapy.
This day I decided to go out and walk in the wetlands again. It’s been a while and it felt so good to get out there again. I took a long walk and 3 hours later when I got to the end I felt so less stressed.
I hope you enjoy the walk around the wetlands.
Thank you for joining me this month. This is a circle blog so take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.
Posted on March 29, 2021
Welcome back to another 30 Minutes in the Life. February was a difficult month for our family and heading into March I just really needed to get out and do some walking.
It’s late winter, the beginning of spring and the wetlands is slowly coming alive with birds. Mating is happening, nests are being built, in some cases eggs have been laid and in other, the chicks have hatched and are demanding food. What I love about this time of the year is the beautiful feather displays and the gorgeous mating colors that you see. The Snowy Egret develops these beautiful wispy trailing feathers that are used to attract the attention of the males. The coloring around the eyes is just beautiful.
As per the last number of years, the Woodstork fly in and take over all of the mating areas. I used to love it when I first saw them, and the chicks are really cute. However, they arrive in droves and take over the area that the Great Blue Heron would use, and by the end of the season, it is really smelly.
The male Anhinga develops this beautiful coloring around their eyes, and this almost mohawk like feather display on the back of their neck.
If course the result of the mating is typically 2-3 chicks that totally harrass the mom for food. The first time I saw an Anhinga chick feeding from the mom, I almost gagged. Seriously that head goes right down the mom’s throat while the other two are trying their hardest to get in there as well. It really does not look like a pleasant experience at all for the mom.
Quite often you will find the Woodstork pairs hanging out together, but this time of the year, the male will head off to the trees to find sticks to bring back to the nest.
Anhinga love fishing for food. However, once they have fished, they have to hang out in the trees to dry off their wings. Neither the Anhinga or Cormorant seems to fly far before they need to stop and spread their wings.
Lurking, and I say lurking because that is what they do in season, is the Alligators. You tend to find them hanging out below the nesting areas in case a chick falls out. If the birds are stupid enough to hang out on the lower branches they could easily become food for the gators.
This gorgeous Snowy Egret is in its mating finery. I love the wispy feathers and the lime green eye make up that they sport.
This is often why you hear of so many kills by an Alligator. They hide in the reedy water so that you can barely see them. The Moorhens are a common food source for the Alligator, as are turtles. Even so, you will see them take out bigger birds as well.
I am with this Black Bellied Whistling Duck. All it’s buddies were in the water. This one not so much. I can hear him thinking “I am not putting my feet into that water, who knows what lurks below”.
Sunning itself in the trees is the Green Iguana. The Green Iguana is not native to South Florida, but they sure do love the climate. Typically they are found in South America. Somehow they made their way to the States. While I love Iguana, many do not. People find them invasive and they breed like crazy. A really cold winter will affect the Iguana populations, with many of them dying. Other times, crazy as it sounds, the Iguana goes into a frozen state and will fall out of the trees. As the weather warms up so does the Iguana. During mating season the male Iguana can turn a bright orange.
I happened to capture this beautiful display of feathers by the Snowy Egret. It flew into the trees and tried to balance itself in the wind.
Last but not least is the litte Cattle Egret in it’s mating colors. I love the orange mohawk, and the fluffy tail feathers. He had a mate sitting higher up in the branches on her nest.
There is such beauty in nature that always amazes me and with all the chicks about to hatch I can’t wait to take another walk in the wetlands.
Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life.
This is a circle blog. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Meagan Dwyer Photography, she is about to get the party started. You will definitely love what she shares.
Posted on January 31, 2021
When I first started walking in the wetlands, many years ago, I loved to see the Great Blue Heron’s nesting at Wakadohatchee Wetlands. You got really close up to the nests in spring when the babies were being born. Fast forward some years and the Woodstork started coming in. The Great Blue Heron struggled to maintain their nesting areas against this colony of birds. They came in droves and took over. At first I was impressed with the Woodstork. They are definitely interesting to look at, but over the years I’ve kind of got annoyed with their take over routine. The Great Egrets used to nest in the trees as you first entered the wetlands and now the Woodstork have taken over that area as well. The Great Blue Heron’s have moved to trees at the back of the park which are much further away. The amount of Woodstork that move in means by the end of the season the area is super smelly and I am so over them.
My first sighting beyond these smelly, take over birds, was one of the resident Alligators who is probably looking forward to Spring as well. They tend to lurk below the nesting trees, when they aren’t sunning themselves out of the water.
Holding tight onto their spots in the trees the Woodstork have taken over is the Anhinga. Towards the end of winter the birds fly in and start to build their nests. Mating season is happening and one of the most incredible birds during mating season is the Male Anhinga. The eye color of this bird is stunning and it develops a very fluffy neck. The female however, does not change color. When the chicks are born they are the cutest things. The have these tiny bodies and these long necks. They feed like scavengers and it is incredible to watch them doing they. The chick puts it’s whole head down the mothers throat. The first time I witnessed I had a gag reflex. Yikes the poor mom.
As I continued along the walkway I spotted this Great Blue Heron wading in the water looking for lunch. I love them, To me they are majestic birds. We used to have one come to our back garden. Clearly someone had been feeding him and he was looking for that. I did not want to have him become dependent on me feeding him, but I would throw bread out for the fish in the canal so that he could go fishing. He would come by every day for the the summer and then he just disappeared. I used to call him Big Blue. Hanging out in the same waters sunning itself in the sun, fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, was another of the parks Alligator.
On the opposite side of the walkway there were a few Great Blue Heron, and surprisingly early, were two Great Blue Heron chicks. I am not sure if the first bird was protecting eggs or just trying to cool down. We have had interesting days down south right now that are sometimes warm and sometimes cold. This particular day was warm. The second photo is the chicks. When they are born they looks so cool. All head and beak with a mohawk. I am so disappointed that the Woodstork took over their nesting place.
And then I come to the walkway. I have committed to taking 1 image a week using my different lensbaby optics and so today I had the sweet 35 and I created a portal through the walk way. So come and join me with the second half of my walk.
Hanging out in the walkway trees are typically the tiny birds and this Palm Warbler was so challenging to catch. I probably took about 15 photographs just to get this one. The flit from tree to tree.
The Swamp Hen fascinate me. They are so rich in color and very similar to the Purple Gallinule. What fascinates me with these birds is their feet. They have the longest, possibly ugliest toes that I have seen on birds. They utilize them like fingers holding on to the reeds that they pull out of the ground to eat. Normally you will see a group of them wading around.
The glossy Ibis is another beautiful bird that hangs out in a group as a rule. This one had moved away from the group and started digging for food in a slightly different area. They are named glossy Ibis because of their stunning feathers. In normal light they look brownish but when the sunlight catches them their feathers become glossy and a different array of colors.
In the last stretch of my walk I spotted this Little Green Heron in the reeds also looking for food. This is a small bird of incredible colors and I love to watch them look for food. They are patient and they will wait probably longer than I am willing to watch them to catch their food.
Of course, I could not resist the tiny bit of fall colors in the wetland. When I spotted this leaf lying on the railing, I had to capture it. This is one of my favorite ways of shooting leaves.
Always a favorite for me is the Iguana that we find in South Florida. Not native to this region, they are often unpopular with local inhabitants. However, I think they are pretty cool. They are so unique in their markings and as seen below, quite vibrant in their mating colors. Of course, the are prolific in repopulating the area which leads to them being disliked. These Iguana live in the southern states due to the climate. During cold spells in winter, the Iguana freeze and will often fall from trees. Sadly some of them fall into water and drown or become gator bites. Others, surprisingly enough, seem to thaw and get up and start moving again.
And with that I am back to the smelly Woodstorks again, and heading back out of the park. I always enjoy this mile long walk out in the fresh air. I am going to need to get back out again soon.
Thank you for joining me this month. This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.
Posted on November 30, 2020
If you read my previous post, you will have learned that I bought a new camera lens that I have aptly named “The Beast” simply because it is so heavy. I decided to have a second attempt out with my new friend. I have to be honest I love that I can pull the images up so much closer. I walked in the smaller of the two wetlands not expecting to see much but I was pleasantly surprised.
I don’t often get to see hawk in the wetlands and when I do they are pretty far away, but this guy was up in the trees. Fortunately I looked up and then spent some time watching him and hoping he would turn to face me, but he did not.
It was around this time I got caught in the rain. Oops, I did not bring my bigger backpad and a lens this size does not fit easily under my shirt. This was a warning lesson for me. Fortunately, with a bit of a run, I was able to get to a small gazebo to hang out under until the rain was done. It was a little hard to social distance with 6 other people, however, they were all wearing masks.
I saw this Cormorant from a distance and hoped and prayed that the walkers would not frighten it away.
Meanwhile I had to stop and check out the Alligator while I was passing by.
So I think this Cormorant must be the park’s mastiff. He did not move, hardly blinked an eye, in fact just continued to pose for me.
Leaving the park and heading to the parking I spotted this tiny little Palm Warbler flitting along the fence and then dropping to the pathway. What a cutie it is.
Thank you for joining me this month as we spend time sharing another day in our lives. This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog. Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next and I can’t wait to read what he has to share.
Category: Tell Me a Story Tagged: #alligator, #alligatorflag, #anhinga, #birds, #blueheron, #cormorant, #greenheron, #nature, #naturephotographer, #naturephotography, #outdoors, #palmweaver, #redshoulderedhawk, #sharleenstuartphotography, #southfloridabirds, #spiders, #spinyorbweaver, #wakodahatcheewetlands, #walkinginthewetlands