Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flowers and bees







Just a handful of flower and bee shots I took at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I could have stayed there all day and taken pictures but it was reaching 96 degrees outside and I was hungry. Above are a few of my favorites.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Frogs and a bird






One of my favorite places to visit in Atlanta is the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. It's funny that in the 17 years I lived in Atlanta I never went there. Now I try and go every time we are in town. My favorite part is the frog pond. You can hear them croaking as you walk down the path. They are really pretty frogs. Not like the bumpy brown ones living in our shutters. They all were posing nicely on lily pads. I could sit there for hours watching them hop around and talk to each other. But since hubby was with me and we were getting hungry, we finally left. I did manage to see a few birds while I was there. The above and a few robins.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Backyard Sky - Skywatch Friday


After days of rain, our boat cover had developed a pool of fresh water. The dove was taking a bath in our boat cover.


Drying off on our boat dock.


The couple preening after a bath.


A wet blue jay sitting outside my bedroom window in the rain.


Most of the rain had moved out and the sun going down behind the clouds created some nice color.


Sun down behind the trees.


Before I went in for the night, I walked around to the front yard to see if my resident frogs had come out and saw the tiny rainbow.

For more skyscape photography from around the world, visit Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kildeer nest at work


Kildeer parent doing his "my wing is broken so come get me instead of my eggs" imitation.


Parent with eggs just behind it's feet.


Hovering over the eggs.

About 2 months ago, my friend Pam from work stopped by my office and said she had been seeing a small shorebird with brown stripes across his neck hanging around the back of the parking lot. I thought it might be a kildeer. We looked it and up and she said "That's it."  On my way out that night I drove over to the back of the area (we have 53 acres at work) and parked. I got out and was walking along the pond side and all of a sudden the kildeer went flying past me screaming. It landed in the pond close by and started acting funny. I thought "there must be a nest nearby." I looked around and in the mulch I saw the 4 eggs sitting there. Pam called Laura, one of the resident bird experts, who put out stakes around the nest the next day. For over 3 weeks I drove by there before work and after work checking for babies. I had my camera in the car every day hoping to see little kildeer running around. Pam's mom and aunt stopped by to get pictures of the eggs and we walked out there and the eggs were gone. No sign of broken eggshells. The parents seem distressed. We asked the property management people and didn't get any answers. We think maybe one of the contracted lawn service people might have seen them and picked them up. Not sure why or if this is what really happened but we were crushed. After weeks of peeking over there it was such a let down. Oh well, there's always next year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

My first redhead in an old cemetery


I saw robins everywhere I went. Atlanta was full of them. I rarely see them central Florida.


My first red headed woodpecker. I saw this flash of red go by. At first I thought it was another red bellied woodpecker and when I started to follow it I realized it was a red head.


It landed on a gravestone statue.


Gone With the Wind is one of my favorite books. When I was a teenager, my grandmother gave me her hard copy that was printed in 1936. I've read it at least a dozen times. There was a sign pointing to the writer of the book so it was pretty easy to find. She's buried next to her husband. She was less than 2 years older than me when she died. She was hit by a car.


Its' really cool the way you can see the part of the skyline of the city behind the old statues.

Old statues.


Oakland cemetery is another place I never went to while I lived in Atlanta. I just discovered a really cool place to take pictures. I had heard about it and always knew there was some old cemetery near downtown Atlanta but never thought to go there until I started taking pictures. It was around 96 degrees when I got there so I didn't stay long. My goal was to get baby panda pictures at the zoo and I knew the cemetery was close by so I finally stopped in. I only walked less than half of the cemetery. You can take tours at scheduled times that gives you more of the history of the place. I might try that on my next trip. It's very scenic and if it wasn't for all of the beautiful old growth trees, you 'd be able to see the whole downtown skyline. You can see parts of it now but in the winter when the leaves are gone you should be able to see it all. I can't wait to get back there at Christmas time.  The highlight of my walk was seeing the red headed woodpecker. In Florida, we just have boring old bald eagles nesting in our cemeteries.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Po at Zoo Atlanta







The newest baby panda at Zoo Atlanta is named after the main character in the Kung Fu Panda 2 movie. The movie donated a large sum of money to get to name the baby after their star. I think it's marketing genius.  Po was born in early November and even though he's around 8 months old he still acts like a little baby. Hubby and I drove up to Atlanta to spend a long weekend with his family for the 4th of July. The first thing on my agenda was a quick trip to the zoo. I got lucky on Sunday morning. Po was up and playing around. I stood there for almost an hour watching him. The only downside of going in the middle of summer is that the pandas stay indoors most of the day due to the heat. They were in an air conditioned 65 degree room and we were standing outside in the heat watching. The glass kept fogging up. A volunteer there had a squidgy and was continuously wiping the windows down so that you could see inside. It was a challenge to get decent pictures behind that glass that was also casting awful shadows.

Before I left the zoo, I stopped by the gorilla habitat. The zoo in Tampa does not have gorillas and the Atlanta zoo has a pretty nice one. There were several juvenile gorillas playing around in the grass. Kids were going crazy watching them play.

Then I was off to find a cemetery.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visit to the skimmer colony


"Where's my fish?!!!!!"


"I'll be flying soon."


"Mom, don't leave me."


Am I a juvenile common tern or forester's tern?


"I always sqwuak when I have a fish." said the sandwich tern.


"Storm's coming. We're outta here."

The Sunday after the 4th was a gloomy one. After spending a good bit of the weekend indoors doing chores I had to get out. I just decided to risk the rain. I jumped off the couch, grabbed my stuff and headed across town to check on the skimmer babies. I had been trying to get back there for over a week after work but every night it would rain. How depressing. It didn't rain while I was there but it was dark and gloomy. The skimmer babies were growing up. There were only a few tiny ones there. Most of them were almost as big as the parent but still in their creme and brown colors. They were so cute running around. One kept running way outside the roped off area and I kept trying to herd him back to the ropes. On a sad note, I did see 2 dead ones inside the roped off area. Not sure what happened. Where they abandoned and not fed? Where they sick when they were born?  I'm going to try and head back there a few more times to catch them growing up. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Storms across the bay - Skywatch Friday


Found: lost boat with weird writing on the bottom.


Manatee coming up for air.


Tampa from across the bay.


Storms heading my way.


Clouds over the bay.


Feisty crab shaking his one claw at me.


Two crabs fighting over the same hole.

I decided to go to the grocery store on the way home instead of a park since the rain was moving in. Since I had my camera in the car, I decided to stop at the fishing pier in Safety Harbor. It gives a good view of the storms around the northern end of the bay. I ended up staying a while since those nasty storms were coming from where I needed to go to the grocery store. There weren't any birds around except for a few pelican flybys. There were, however, a few manatees swimming right under the pier. The water was dark from all the recent rain so you could only see them when they came up for air. It's fun to see the reaction of tourists who are seeing manatees for the first time. I don't think people realize just how big some of them are until they are standing over them.

The tide was low and there was no water around the seawall along the parking lot. As I was walking back to my car I noticed movement in the sand. I realized there were tons of these little crabs running around. As I walked up to the seawall, they ran into their little holes. I stood there for a few minutes without moving and they started to come out of their holes. I think they are a type of fiddler crab. They only had one claw. I thought they were cute and loved the pink color. It was starting to get dark so I headed to the store.

For more skyscape photography from around the world, visit Skywatch Friday

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A rare black tern sighting


Royal and sandwich terns hanging out together.


Sandwich terns taking a bath.


Black tern


Black tern turning from breeding (all black color) to non-breeding color.


Another black tern that was in full non-breeding color.

video

Short video of terns taking a bath.

I had read on Pinellasbirds.com that there were a few black terns on the Gandy bridge beach. It's fairly rare to see them in the Tampa bay area. They only come through here for a short time in the summer. Since I work close to the bridge, I stopped over there on my way home from work on one of the nights were it wasn't pouring down rain. There were large amounts of terns on the beach (when a dog wasn't chase them off the beach). I could only find a few black terns mixed in with other terns but I didn't see any that were in full black breeding color. Most of them were just changing feathers. I'm going to keep looking for that all black tern though.

I attached a short video of some terns bathing. I always like watching them swimming around in the water.