Posted on March 27, 2023
Walking in the wetlands is always one of my happy moments and today is no different from any of the other time. I love the peace and tranquility of my walk, despite the speed walkers and the camera groups and sometimes the crowds. I tend to switch off and focus on why I am there.
Getting out clears the cobwebs, opens my eyes, helps me to appreciate that there is more to life than me. There is beauty that surrounds me and it is a joy to see.
The simplicity of a leaf on a railing makes me smile. This is one of go to styles of photography. I love the creaminess of the image. Today I did not get to see too many brightly colored leaves, given that we are coming out of winter, but sometimes that is okay because it is real.
A Little Blue Heron who was confident enough to allow me to get closer to it than it may have liked. I love the feather action in the wind.
Fir fronds lying on the railing still give a very winterish feeling.
I may be wrong but this bird does not look like a Grackle, rather it looks distinctly like an Indian Myna. How do I know that, I grew up with Indian Myna by the boatloads. Grackles are common in Florida. Indian Myna are common in South Africa.
Sometimes its the random things that catch my attention. This case it is a random spider web of leaves and bits and pieces hanging by a thread attached to something my eye does not capture.
A Yellow Rumped Warbler flittered around my view. I don’t capture these little birds too often so I was grateful to see it settle for a few minutes before taking off again. It was long enough for me to capture the pose.
One of my favorite birds is this Little Green Heron. Green you may ask? Absolutely that is it’s name but I am with you because I have yet to see green in it’s coloring. That said, this little bird is a wader and can hold this pose for the longest time as it watches for it’s food.
I was doing my best to get down and low with this little Palm Warbler when someone, something not sure which triggered flight mode. I caught it just as it was about to take off.
The Palm Warbler above is the same one in this picture. It flew into the trees and hopped from branch to branch and it took me a good deal of patience to be able to capture this image. I love the image but I am not crazy about the big yellow blob which is a leaf.
Further around on my walk I came across this colorful leaf. I could not resist taking it’s picture. I always laugh when people see me taking a photograph and then remark “Oh it’s a leaf”. Come on, this is not just a leaf. This is beauty in creation and they just don’t see it.
As I have mentioned Iguana are my friends. I love them. I love their make up. I love their coloring. I love their attitude when you get to close and it flaps it’s neck skin to let you know that it is not happy. They are prehistoric looking and so darn cool. But that is me. Iguana are not popular in Florida. Iguana do not do well over the winter season. On cold days their body temperature can go to frozen mode and they go stiff and fall out of trees. Some to the ground and unfortunately some into water, where they will drown. Those on the ground tend to thaw out as the temperature warms up and then they carry on with life.
The Grebe is super sensitive to people around. For me, getting a photo of this little bird is an achievement. They are super fast, and spend a fair bit of time underwater and will come up so far away from where you expect them to be. This little one had been bathing and so I was able to snap it before it ducked away again.
I happened to find another Palm Warbler in one of the random trees along the walk way.
As I arrived at a water hole, I was surprised to see a host of Glossy Ibis and a couple of Great Egret. The day was cool and this Great Egret looked like it was cold to be honest.
Glossy Ibis are either boring looking or look stunning. When the sun shines on their wings it changes the whole look of the bird completely. They go from a boring looking brown to the pearly colored wing that changes color dependent on the angle it catches the wings.
Talking wings, doesn’t that wing span and it’s intricate formation just amaze you. I am always in awe of nature and it’s creation. Each feather is exactly in the right place so that when they come to fly there is no question that they are going to take off.
Nature is a great place to get out and appreciate the beauty of this world. When the day is tough and the troubles are huge, find somewhere where you can just walk and appreciate the beauty around you. That is what I like to do.
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. Take some time to follow the link to see what my friend and very talented photographer Lupji of Lupji Photography has to share.
You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.
Category: 30 Minutes in the Life, Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay Nature Preserve Tagged: #glossyibis, #greatblueheron, #greategret, #grebe, #greenheron, #iguana, #indianmyna, #nature, #naturelover, #naturephotographer, #naturephotography, #outdoors, #palmwarbler, #sharleenstuartphotography, #southfloridaphotographer, #yellowrumpedwarbler
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 December 31, 2021
I chose to go for a walk. I encouraged Richard to go for a walk with me. Life is a choice and lately I have not wanted to make choices, but I also know that I need to get out of the 2020/2021 rut and start making better choices for myself and for life in general.
So we went for a walk. I needed that. I needed to be out in nature and breathing in the fresh air and just reveling in the beautiful joy of creation.
This park has been closed for about 6 weeks while they did maintenance in preparation for the birds coming in to nest. Already the Great Blue Heron are showing signs of building nests and doing their mating dances. Soon the Woodstork will come in and take over, leaving no space for any other bird to nest. They come in droves and by the end of the season they are just too much. Everything stinks around their nests and I am glad when they start to exit. I remember a time it was exciting to see these prehistoric looking birds, but these days I am over it.
The weather is beautiful in South Florida even though it is winter. I watched Richard go outside today and open up the umbrella so that he had shade. The temperature low was 63F and a high of 83F. I was looking for a little cool weather for winter, but at this rate it will be summer again and I will be wondering where winter was.
Thank you for joining me today. This is a circle blog so look out for my friend Beth of Beth’s Photo Blog and check out what she/he has to share.
Wishing you a wonderful 2022. I hope it improves on 2021.
Category: Tell Me a Story, Wakodahatchee Wetlands and Green Cay Nature Preserve Tagged: #blackbelliedwhistlingduck, #canpn, #commonyellowthroat, #dragonfly, #easternphoebes, #glossyibis, #greenheron, #iguana, #minimalism, #nature, #naturelover, #naturephotographer, #naturephotography, #outdoors, #reeds, #reflections, #sharleenstuartphotography, #southfloridaphotographer, #tricoloredheron, #wakodahatcheewetlands, #woodstork
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 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.