Ruffled Feathers

Love how nature shows up when you least expect it. The suddenly’s which strike you to the core. You kinda sense the mystery, the tension in the air as a portal opens up. It’s why I have invested time, study and purchasing technology which will allow me to steal heaven. Ok maybe that is too dramatic of a statement however it’s close to how I feel.

Such mystery in nature, everywhere you look one can find a habitat where your soul soars

Admiring the view spied an Anhinga and fired a shot. Peering down, quickly checking if my exposure was right I get distracted, whacking sound . . . yup a suddenly had happened and a fish was being pounded into submission.

Firing away caught earthquakes of the most amazing sushi dinner being consumed!!

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Visiting Nature you will be consumed with beauty, comedy and tragedy. The tragedy is reflected in the disrespect some have for our environment.

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In the time of Noah, Jehovah found an upright man to preserve nature. Today we too have an opportunity. The nature of man is confused, and the earth quakes. Migration is in the air and the juveniles are feeding.

And we walk, we observe, we capture beauty and pray for balance.

In the midst of the field I see chaff and wheat growing together and breathe in beauty

A meadowlark appears on a post nearby and sings his lovely tune

“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” ― George Eliot

And you ask me why I make time to visit nature?

My prayer is I never forget what she teaches.  I end with a busy little red bellied woodpecker doing what he was created to do.

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Season is here . . .

It’s the time when snowbirds congregate and medical professionals serve in their communities. Local shops and restaurants boom with activity and it takes an extra 12 -30 min to get wherever you need to go. YUP consumption is in the air.

Evenings sip some wine and sift through my photos. No time for Treks so might as well organize recent encounters!

DANG vultures are ugly vicariously ripping through flesh. They pause to look at my intentions and within these moments I see their beauty

Never know what you are going to see while walking down a trail. It’s not always the audible, sometimes you feel someone is watching you this is when you get ready with your trigger. Something is about to happen. See a flash in the corner of my eye…a fly by!

It was bigger than a pigeon and had no idea what it was until it surfaced again with a snail in his talons It was a lifer, a Snail Kite! He announced his Victory catch. This federally endangered species frequents freshwater wetlands where its primary food source is the apple snail.

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Recalling each step of this adventure joy rises. Yes so need to touch the depths of truth and the hem of heaven while never forgetting the reason for this season. Yup stretch out beyond my comfort zone and capture the miraculous yet again

Life has a way of smacking you up the side of the head. Just when you think “ahhh THIS is the place, THIS is where my roots will grow deep” you’re yanked into reality. There is a divine path within each of us, timing is of the essence and sometimes chords need to be cut.

Your heart aches.

Ever live with a critical spirit? Someone who ends each conversation pointing out your defects? Have friends who do the same? Call you when they have a need not really wanting to spend time with you rather want you to entertain or “do” for them.  One needs to see this and say goodbye. If they truly cared they would call back and say hello. Yup tough to swallow!

Met up with a group of gifted photographers this year. To spend time with such masters was a treat!  Learned a great deal as they shared their favorite spots and tips towards excellence.  Hope to return the favor one day and have them all stay with us.  This for me is what life is all about, sharing and caring!

We visited country roads in the crisp cold snap which hit Florida, only the troopers surfaced to brave the 21 degrees and wow were we rewarded! Again, another lifer; the GHOST, male Northern Harrier soared right pass me!

Nothing the same about nature, every day a different presentation, a new gift, yup every day an opportunity to capture and give thanks for the tension

Remembering always; “What’s in the Way IS the Way” !

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Belted Kingfisher, Purple Gallinules and more !

Working in the medical field has challenges, like “SEASON”. This is when population increases due to visiting snowbirds; not birds. My rural area becomes supercharged with human activity. It takes me an extra 3 minutes to pull out onto US 1 and another 3 min. to pull into work! Hospital census climbs and this induction process leaves me hungry for nature. Time to Hit the Trails!!  On my first day off spied a Purple Gallinule.  Oh she probably felt like me; gosh another human in my territory… Always love spying their vibrant blue amongst the reeds. Interestingly enough there is another species quite similar called the Purple Swamphen, saw them today too along with the Common Gallinule. Incredible Mother Nature!

Common Gallinule (Moorhen)

The Purple Swamphen has a red crown and pinkish legs, unlike the lavender crown of the Purple Gallinule who also sports bright yellow legs. Swamp hens are considered an invasive species, “The purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is not native to any State, and competes with native species” So the word has it the Purple Swamphen has been added to the ABA Checklist. (Area Breeding Checklist) This action by the ABA Checklist Committee in 2013. Thankfully one can not kill this species and will not be part of the “exotic hunting opportunity” as in the past. Below you can see both in the reeds, the Purple Gallinule has the bright yellow legs.

Could watch the Great Blue Heron all day long. Here are a few pics captured as they were foraging nesting material. Soon we should hear the clacking of little chicks! Nesting birds could be seen everywhere! Here the lovely female Anhinga graciously incubates her eggs.

Spring is in the air and focus back on capturing the illusive Kingfisher. So up before dawn after copious amounts of caffeine, trek through the woods to where we know Mr Kingfisher dwells, set up the blind and patiently wait. This was my view of his favorite perch from the blind. It’s a bit crisp today, as one exhales breath is like smoke, tips of my nose and fingers cold and the leaves crunch beneath my shoes. Yup a great day to capture the illusive Kingfisher tempting you as he flies away singing that well known chatter. Saw him catch a big minnow and bang it victoriously against a branch. Oh he was knocking it dead, tenderizing for the “big swallow”. Sadly would watch it from afar as my fave bird; Great Blue Heron strutted in and scared him “on high”. Was determined to catch him with the help of my mentor and teacher; Ron Bielefeld. Patience is key ! It’s hard to see captured on film Belted Kingfisher pounding his fish against the pine limb! Was ecstatic knowing snapped a few shots before his ascent. Accompanied by three professional photographers on this day and the blind appeared to work for us however he had no tolerance for walking pedestrians, nor the Little Blue Heron or the Cattle Egrets! Below is an example of the momentary visitations :)

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Sitting here smiling taking in this amazing moment. Yes, true wildlife photographers are patient diligent and massively in love. My new acquaintance filmed one of these frustrating encounters, five minutes before a human and his dog came on the scene, such keen eyesight they have. See the wind blow through his crest and hear nature all around us?  This is the reason we visit nature. Was it worth the wait?  No doubts about it. Now I can share with my family and my mom who would love to join me and now can. Thanking Our Creator for His Amazing Creations, and the gift of dominion. My heartfelt prayer is to always hold life sacred, thankful for this moment in time. Certainly hope you enjoyed a little bit of what we saw, a gift indeed.   “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ― Mark Twain

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Incredible Nature

You ever set out to be the best at something?!  You have a passion and it excites you to share and express your love, your vision and the Joy is in the sharing? Yup this sums it up for me.

Grew up in a small town and knew one had to be schooled to be the best. Learning was essential, being around the best, “the best rubbed off” and of course this is where you meet competition and judgement. Yup the race was on . . . however one must never compete with “the others” or else their voice will rule in your heart. The still small voice of who you are  (and why you are here) will become muffled. This happened to be once in my youth, when my first love announced; “You must earn respect”. 

“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Not sure exactly what his point was at the time, all I knew is I was lying to myself.  A wife, mother, sister, caregiver, daughter and for the life of me,  had no idea who “I” really was. Slated to bring home a paycheck, I now was functioning to maintain “their happiness” while losing my vision.

Did you know Armadillo’s are the only living mammals that wear shells? Happened upon this one foraging on the side of the road. He was actually right in front of me so jumped out of my car and filmed him with my phone. He was PRECIOUS beyond words, long hair on him and claws.

So many people I met said they never saw one in the wild before, it’s a joy to share and then come across my ancestors writings about the Armadillo which I found comforting.

Armadillo teaches you how to protect yourself
and when to let your defenses down.

It is time to define your space

You may have trouble saying “no” and are being taken for granted.
Learn to guard your personal spac

My ancestors trusted Nature to reveal the lessons,  “Nature was sacred and her revelations allow one to see into the hidden wisdom of heaven on earth”  and today would be no different.  An Eagle swooped down and drank from a pond, following her I find a nest and two babies staring down right at me. It was an honor to witness.

We know nature is all around us and like my grandchildren would say “But where are they Granny” my reply, “Just sit and listen and watch how she will come right before you, just what you need to see. Keep your camera ready and more importantly your heart open to see” All of a sudden a tear forms, familiar nose burn, my inner voice was speaking. Sacred seeds were planted.

And they saw, even a blue eyed hermit crab appeared to say hello! Did you know these even existed? I didn’t until now! Didn’t know he was on the rock until I came home to upload and saw those eyes looking right at me!

Was thinking about how much I have missed in life and then chuckled knowing everything revealed was perfect timing as my purpose was being solidified. Encouraging others to see and documenting adventures was just this; letting the light shine  Let the adventure and sacred intimacy, continue!

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Nature Reveals the Hidden Things

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard” ~Standing Bear

limpkin

Read the quote above and immediately uttered “WOW”,  one can not deny the truth, if so then you become  entrapped by misery. Slowly your body responds to mind thought and arteries become clogged. Choices are directed by unseen strongholds.

Thankful to say, been decolonized and it came with a price; the slaying of my ego.  Life’s “readjustments“;  heartbreak, ending of a career, loss of a loved one, disrespected, whomever or whatever on the throne in your heart can be radically dismantled in an instant.

Like my favorite author Mary O’Malley states in her book ; “What’s in the Way IS the Way”   If we stay;  curiously and lovingly kind”   then we have mastered living. Oh and the dismantling will come and the atmosphere will change, yup it may even get a little loud!

Change has a way of shaking things up. It was exhilarating, an honor watching these two battle their position on the pond.

Everything comes with a price, especially for the emerging wildlife photographer.  Had to get up at 0400 hrs to prepare for a trek in the dark and it was a brisk 42 degrees!  We are talking FLORIDA here, my blood is thin and the cold creeps right into my bones. However the passion of capturing a natural moment in the wild fuels me. So into the blind I went.

Ron Bielefeld

Knew this was going to be a challenge as a woman, have no problem peeing in the woods and will admit have a bit of penis envy in this respect, squatting is humbling.  Oh boy and this morn the temperature was intimate!

As my fingertips numbed while gripping my mono-pod, finger on the trigger ready for the perfect moment, I heard crinkly plastic ripping noises.  Later found out it to be this, yes a great tool to have, however timing is everything!

The above gentleman who was making all the noise for survival sake, warmed up and nature left, it was perfect timing for a pee break.  We all got right back to business and gosh were we blessed. Nature has a way of showing up and all you have to do is “be ready”.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”Mary Oliver

Fact is you never know until you get out there who you can “shoot” with.  True die hard Wildlife photographers have their heart and mind set on one thing only. For me it’s about “connection“,  this portal opens, you capture the moment, hear the message and of course the joy is in the sharing!

The greatest compliment I have experienced is having nature rest in my presence. This is because you aren’t a threat and they can be who they are living in the moment. 

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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And when they see you and they don’t go away, nope they stay awhile and sometimes you even see them smile. My heart melts.

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” ~William Shakespeare

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Trail through the Mangroves

Spending time in Nature is exhilarating, especially when you can share your adventures. One such Trek delivered a lasting memory and can still hear his voice through high winds.

“Honey how did you find this place?”   

Memories from my youth or maybe it was the strange exhilaration, undefinable as the turbulent wind on my cheeks,  the feeling ignited me. Earlobes numb, tip of my nose rosy and now heat escaped from my chest as laughter. Twigs were snapping and it wasn’t from my body! Yup, one had to humble themselves to enter into the joy of it all.                          The path was getting brighter and now one could see as well as hear the surf.

Grabbed my phone and filmed

At first there appeared to be no visitors, sat down and in flew some Willet’s, Sandpiper’s, Brown Pelican’s, itty bitty crabs and a lone Osprey. They have amazing eyesight and eye contact was profound Each creature appears to have intelligence and their very own personality Osprey definitely was checking us out and came in close, wish I had my 400 with me, missed the full wing span, however captured that gleam in his eye! and the sun contrasts of a brown pelicans pouch! Didn’t know Brown Pelicans were on Florida’s endangered species list. A magical day indeed and the best part?  Sharing all with hubby! “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.” ― Thomas Henry Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley – Volume 1

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Let’s take a walk . . .

It’s a rare moment when children can escape the rigors of a fast-paced work environment to be with their parents, when this happens it’s nothing less then a Victory!!  Especially when this means a Trek through the wilderness with zones of precision captured via a view finder.  And this is totally what we did!!  “Let’s take a walk” I said.

He knew he was in trouble when I stated:  “Humm last week there was a trail through these woods, the foliage must have grown over” He looks at me with the raised eyebrow like “Spock” from Star Trek and shares a thought; “In the days of old they would use machetes” I started chuckling as I fastened my lens hood on and off we went on a Trek towards the ocean.

Looking back at him he gives me that look like; “What the hell have I gotten into”,  which TOTALLY had me giggling as I had given him a camera to take his own pictures.  His response; “Mom, you know I don’t like taking pictures”. “Why?!” I retorted.

“Most photographers I have met are arrogant, pompous and rude” 

Now I was laughing like when my ex fell down the stairs in a cast (don’t ask)  and stat responded; “Well now is your opportunity to change all that Mr. Photographer” and ran up the trail. He captured the moment.

It wasn’t a long hike explaining to him this is what I do on my days off, explore areas just like this so to; “capture nature in action”.  My son knew this was my passion and respected my exuberance.  WOW what a concept!! However I almost peed myself taking the picture realizing he may have been wondering just what the heck he got into.

It was sheer joy sharing my romping ground with my son. After all his recent jaunt with nature was something to share! He definitely was initiated into the realm of communication He was recently charged by an alligator on a golf course!!

With permission I share his story; (in his very own words)

“so no one is going to believe this and I am ok with that. Between my apartment and nearest convenience store is a golf course. Seeing I was walking I decided to go through the course. On the way there, no problem peaceful lovely. On the way back however I encountered a rather large alligator. It screams its alligator scream at me and charges. An alligator screaming sounds like a car failing to start mixed with demons. As any brave man would do in this situation I jumped six feet in the air, and landed on its jaw, narrowly missing landing in its jaw. I then proceeded to punch it on the head about 5 times in 1 second. I guess that was fight over flight winning. Then I proceeded to run home looked back and the gator had the same idea it ran back into the water with a splash.”  “I will never cut through a golf course at night again.”

Well we cut through the woods and made it to the shore, it was breathtaking!

And he held a camera . . .

And well……what he captured took my breath away . . .
(achem…i helped him focus..that’s all)

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Yup we took a walk….

Choose your priorities and eliminate all distractions. -Hawk

 

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