Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lakeland, FL - Pt. II - 21-23 March 2008

21 March - Friday morning rose w/ clear skies and a forecast of 80C. Since we'd be going into Lakeland around 10:30 am I decided to run across the street for a bit and check out the pond. With the sun still low behind the trees, I took the opportunity to digiscope some of the inhabitants roosting on the clubhouse antenna, including this Northern Mockingbird. Some flyover White Ibis, White Pelican and a Black Vulture were nice surprises.

Driving over to Joker Marchant Stadium I walked the grounds and managed to see several Fish Crows sitting atop light poles. This one didn't pose long enough for me to get a nice portrait. A fly-by Turkey Vulture got everyone's attention in the parking lot. Waiting for the Tigers - BlueJay game to start I took the opportunity to capture some flight shots of the many Osprey flying about. Three pair were nesting atop the light towers surrounding the stadium. Between Ospreys and the Tiger game I managed a fly-by Fish Crow.

After the Tigers lost 5-3, we returned home and got some dinner. With the sun still setting, Robin and I wandered over to the pond to enjoy some tranquility. After scoping the Tri-colored Heron that was hunting just a few yards from the dock, an Osprey appeared overhead! For the next half-hour we got to enjoy watching it hover just a few feet away from us (2) before diving head-long into the water to snatch a fish! I managed to capture a sequence of it dive-bombing the water, and created this composite image of the bird literally a microsecond before it splashed-down. Once it hit the water we watched as it struggled to pull itself out of the water and eventually fly off w/o a catch.

Turning our attention to the Tri-colored Heron, which was flexing it plumes, I took several digiscoped images of the bird before it eventually flew off across the water. As it flew away I noticed that it was missing its right foot, and realized that it was the same bird I photographed back in January when I was here. It landed on the far bank, and posed long enough to get a long-distance digiscope image.

After Robin headed back to the house I remained a few minutes longer, and discovered a Glossy Ibis feeding along the far bank. As I scoped it, it suddenly flew across the pond and got close enough for a sequence of images that created this composite. The late-evening glow on the water made for a nice backdrop for this gorgeous bird! Along the far bank I digiscoped this breeding-plumaged, preening Great Egret at full zoom and full magnification. This image required a 3-second delay to minimize vibration. Pushing my luck, I managed a full-mag shot of the Glossy Ibis along the far shore (~70 yds away). A few minutes later the Ibis flew a bit closer (~50 yds) and began feeding along a patch of water lillies. I took several digiscoped images (2) at lower magnification to try to stop its movement, and was successful with a few shots. I really like this pose! Not satisfied with taking long-distance shots, I took a walk along the perimeter of the pond, which is lined with RV's. Lucky for me the 2nd to the last lot on the property was empty so I was able to get closer to the Ibis and digiscope it while it fed (2). Pausing for a few moments, I was able to get those golden-hour portrait shots that really show the iridescence in their feathers. Satisfied, I packed my gear and headed back to the house.

22-March - A mild but rainy day today. Lakeland got almost an inch of rain throughout the day, so we didn't bother to even leave the house. I did digiscope this Northern Mockingbird from the front porch during a brief respite from the rain. We did drive over to the Lakeland Cancer Center to have lunch, and sat in the car and watched a Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher feed in the ponds on the property.

23-March - Happy Easter! He is Risen! (At least that's what Robin said when I finally woke up....). Its still cloudy, but its supposed to clear by this afternoon. Another Tiger game today (against the Indians) so Mom and I went to the game (sans camera equipment). We enjoyed a very close game - which the Tigers still lost, 3-2 - and lots of action at the ballpark. Dave Dombrowski and his wife sitting in the seats just below us, Willie Horton sitting in Hal's (my dearly departed bro-in-law) seat during the game, Jacques Jones losing his bat into the stands and braining an old lady, and seeing another Gary Sheffield homer (his 2nd in two games).
Returning to the house, I went down to the pond and found a Limpkin feeding along the right shoreline. As it picked its way in the shallows and fed on apple snails and clams, I got some nice digiscoped images. The bird was constantly moving and feeding, so getting it to pose long enough was quite a reward. Limpkins are quite a lovely brown bird!

Packing up my things I started walking back to the house, thinking that my weekend was over.
I then spotted this little Anole lizard posing on the hand rail of the deck. As I fired away at it with the Nikon D300 'he' began to puff his throat, and giving me quite the show! Firing away at 8fps I was able to capture his puffy-throat in full extension. Each time he'd move a few feet and put on his display, the background color would change. What a great ending to a nice trip!

1 comment:

Don and Sheryl said...

Great picures and stories of the Osprey, just fantastic.

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