When I was at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico last November I met a nice couple (from NM) with ties to the Lake Panasoffkee area (about 25 miles from my home). I suggested they get in touch if/when they came down later in the winter.
They did and since Bob is an avid photographer he suggested we rent a boat and go out on the river to see what we could find. Great idea! Fortunately he is familiar with the river and outboard motors and was willing to navigate. As we started out there were osprey working on a nest. We started out on a small inlet into Lake Panasoffkee and headed west towards the Withlacoochee River via Princess Lake.
We saw quite a few birds, but getting sharp images was a challenge since the boat was in motion 99% of
the time, either because we were going forward or drifting in the current. It called for fast shutter speeds and a steady hand (no tripod). I got many more blurred images than sharp ones but it was a good day over all. We saw only a couple of other boats, fishermen.
There was a good variety of wading birds and many Red Shouldered Hawks.
Red Shouldered Hawk
Some of the birds were very skittish, others much less disturbed as we went by or slowed to watch them.
Black Crowned Night Heron
Black Crowned Night Herons are very difficult to capture so we were very pleased this one didn’t take off immediately when we slowed and circled near it.
We also ventured into a couple of sloughs looking for birds, didn’t see any
other than a few ibis in among the cypress but the waters were very still and we took advantage of that to get some nice reflections.
We were rather surprised that the only osprey we saw were right at the start, none along the river or small lake and we only saw 3 gators. I suppose the gators were there but staying down in the water nice and warm since it was rather chilly.
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I left home the evening of the full moon so the next morning heading west on I 10 I got a photo of it above a serious cloud bank.
Fortunately it never really rained that hard and I got to see a lovely rainbow.
The second night I stopped at a Cracker Barrel in LA near the TX border and was treated to a glowing sunset. I hope that is an indication of things to come.
Heading west through Texas, angling northwest to get into NM pretty much east of where I was headed meant
taking a new-to-me route. Boy oh boy, there are oil wells north of Odessa!! From horizon to horizon in every direction. There were some cotton fields, too, with some oil rigs in them. Unfortunately one of the side effects of that many oil rigs is eau de oil.
As I got more into New Mexico I finally saw
some snowcapped mountains. The weather was very sunny and clear but starting to get nippy.
The last night before I checked into the RV park in San Antonio, NM, I stopped at Valley of Fires Nat. Recreation Area. Very good place for an overnight. The US Senior pass means 1/2 rate and they have some campsites with electric & water hookups. I opted for a dry site (no hookups) and it worked out fine. All the sites are paved and have picnic tables with shades. The area gets it name from the lava beds. These are not so much the results of a volcano but of lava coming up through cracks in the earth.Very nice paved walk around so you can get a good look at the lava. Lots of cactus, too.
It was very clear that night so I got some images of the Milky Way, too.
Our trip was cut short and I’m sorry to have ended the posts rather abruptly. We got home OK and I’ve helped Donna get some great mods done on her Casita.
Milky Way at Shell Mound, Lower Suwannee NWR
Fortunately we’ve had a couple of decent nights out, the first was an extremely clear night a good friend an I went to Shell Mound. It was about the best view of the Milky Way we’ve ever had.
We watched as a storm grew over Cedar Key and caught some of the lightning.
Milky Way and storm over Cedar Key, FL
Even the north end of the Milky Way was clear.
A couple of night later I went to Yankeetown with friends. The Perseid Meteor Shower was supposed to peak and we were hoping to
Storm over Withlacoochee Bay, FL
photograph a few. There was a big storm north of where we stopped and we got to see some very interesting cloud formations lit up by the lightning.
Very late the storm subsided and the clouds cleared a bit. The next morning I discovered I had captured a meteor after all.
Late afternoon image of mangroves in Everglades NP
This month I ventured down to south FL to Everglades National Park and then to Big Cypress National Preserve. Though I had no idea what to expect I found them each very unique in different ways. The wide open spaces of the Everglades reminded me a bit of the West, but there the similarities ended.
Taken near Mahogany Hummock in Everglades NP
I didn’t find the wildlife or birds I was hoping for in the Everglades but Big Cypress was rocking with birds and gators.
The Visitors Center at Shark Valley is the place to take a 2 hour tram ride into the wide open spaces of the Everglades, a park volunteer narrates the trip, providing lots of info about the Everglades and the birds & gators. Before or after the tram ride you can spend quite a bit of time just watching and admiring the birds and gators in & near the canal next to the parking lot.
At canal next to Shark Valley Visitor’s Center
This GBH was standing on the canal bank and lunged into the water after a fish (unsuccessfully). He got out of there in a hurry because there were gators just waiting to get him.
At canal next to Shark Valley Visitor’s Center
Big Cypress is the location of several cypress swamps, one with a long boardwalk into it, another has a gravel road through it where you can stop frequently to see birds and gators.
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in Cypress Swamp
Night Photography is both interesting and challenging. Soon after I got home from the trip out west a good friend and I went out to try to capture the 4th of July fireworks.It was a good thing we went to the local ones on the 3rd because the ones on the 4th were rained out.
July 3rd, 2013
Summer Storm over the Gulf
We’ve found a “local” spot that except for a large power plant is relatively dark, making for some nice night images. This one includes a storm over the Gulf and the Milky Way in all its glory. Sure makes the storm look insignificant.
We couldn’t pass up the chance to try to capture some meteors during the recent Perseids meteor shower. After 4 late nights and many hours we did get a few but I suspect viewing was much better further north in the States. Star trails are a new adventure for me and this one includes 2 meteors.
August Perseids Meteor
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