Incredible Vision, the Snail Kite’s and More!

On this particular day awoke early for a two hour northerly ride to launch on the waters of Lake Kissimmee. Today’s quest would be the elusive Snail Kites!!  Their population consists of only 400 to 500 breeding pairs today. So to think we might see them in their natural habitat delighted me! In the green lily pads would be the apple snail, the main diet of this endangered species. The blue pools beckoned us as we waited patiently for nature to show up, and show up she did!

If you ever see a bubble gum looking clump on a reed or tree, guess what, this would be the EGGS of the Apple Snail! The proper name is “egg cluster” And as we made our way to my mentor’s favorite spot we spied them. YEAH! A good sign of a natural cycle in progress.

my friend captured this yesterday!! JOHN LOPER such a cutie! Yah he ripped his canadian pants to get this shot!!:)

Many Florida marsh birds were present, the vibrant Purple Gallinule was skipping over the lily pads and also seeking out the snails! And of course my fave Great Blue Heron also ventured so close had to switch to my 400mm to barely fit him in my viewfinder!

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Then they started coming in! Such concentration and a few flew right over the boat! Here you can see their long talons and sharp beak!

What a site, what VISION, they laser in and BAM down they go and up to transfer the snail from their talons to their beak and then dangle on a delicate branch for consumption. They were trapeze artists!

To see them forage for food, gather nesting materials left us rapidly shooting, must have topped over 1K shots this day, worth every moment!

If you ever want to witness such vision contact my dear friend Ron Bielefeld, Whistling Wings Photography and set up a tour with him, whatever the species he’ll get you to them!  His extensive knowledge as an avian research biologist richly adds to the experience! Ron is located in Sebastian, Florida and can also be reached on Facebook!

here is a male, note the slate grey head

Really to balance on these branches and eat is masterful!

Here I caught the transfer!

TRANSFER! Talon to mouth!

We were out on the water around four hours and decided it was time to make our way back to port so to ride into town for some lunch.  A few more passes over the boat just took my breath away.

Such beauty in the sky

It was high noon when we made our way back, strong light and never would expect to see this, a lifer for me. My first Great Horned Owl in the wild and branching!!  The first step before attempting to fledge. Oh to look into those innocent eyes!!! Again keep your camera with you at ALL TIMES! Never know when nature will show up!:)

Mama flew in and to zoom and see her piercing eyes left me speechless. Captured this male spying treetops for predators. It was sweltering yet goose bumps were apparent all over me. Adrenalin rush. To witness the dedication of this pair to see their offspring to safety was an honor. Held my breath and machine gunned the shutter, my 500 mm would not disappoint.

The neck of the great horned owl can rotate up to 180 degrees to provide this species with almost all-round vision!! Just adore their ear tufts. These horned owls can live up to 13 years in the wild. Most mortality is related to man – shootings, traps, road kills and electrocutions.

The only natural enemies are other Great Horned Owls and, occasionally, Northern Goshawks during disputes over nest sites. Peregrine Falcons have also been observed attacking Great Horned Owls. Still haven’t spied the Northern Goshawks, a few Peregrine Falcons have been a delight! They are known to be the fastest falcon in the world! They are able to dive at 200 miles per hour! So yes, these parents were stalwartly on watch.

Waited two hours to catch the pics below of a much smaller and more delicate falcon; American Kestrel  They have double the facial stripes and just as fast.

If you want to capture birds, you have to be patient, you have to be dedicated, and I think you have to love them.

Springtime is a great to find families together, they are so focused on copulation and maintenance of their homes, keep your eyes to the trees and you just may catch the silent owls!  Truly you can not hear them fly. Research found that many owl species have developed feathers which can effectively eliminate the aerodynamic noise from their wings as they cut through the air. If you learn their calls and hone in on their location then you may be blessed with a sighting!

This is exactly what happened and in the below tree are a pair of Barred Owls, can you see them?  And what happened next was nothing more then incredible. You think you’re ready for the “suddenly’s” in life until they happen! 
So there we are looking at them when one fly’s directly toward me! Holy crap is all I could think as I raised my cannon and said a quick prayer; “Please don’t see me as a threat” Unbeknownst to me, concentrating on the one, the other must have flown to a nearby tree and this one flew right after her and OVER MY HEAD!!!

Will never forget this moment as long as I live.

And I teared up when the upload revealed some of the magic caught with my handheld.

Every month I smile wondering what adventure I will get to share with my mom and anyone else who happens upon my blog. Nature is radical! Can’t thank our Creator enough for these moments of refreshing.  And yes, the JOY is in the sharing!

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.- John C. Maxwell

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Hidden Traps

The only control we have are thoughts. Filtered through our heart decisions are made and actions ensue which aren’t always rational. Especially when we are struggling to make sense with the behavior of loved ones!

Why can’t people free themselves from past decisions?  Maybe it’s because we are unwilling consciously or not, to admit to a mistake. We tend to subconsciously decide what to do before figuring out why we want to do it. Certain choices compound an error and this may leave one flustered.

So how do you cope with the shock of abandonment from someone you love?  You know, that long term relationship someone. The someone who was always there and now isn’t returning home. That someone who lived in your heart, mind, body and soul.

Did you know Eagles mate for life? They engage in significant courtship and pair bonding behavior. However, if a mate dies or does not return to the nesting site for the breeding season, studies show that the surviving eagle generally will find a new mate very quickly and will likely use the existing nest with a new mate because of eagles strong nest site fidelity.

Their nest can be nine feet in diameter and weigh two tons! Last year I discovered one such nest near my home. Here is mama with her two little ones. This was the only visit where I saw them peep out their heads. The largest nest on record was 20 ft deep and I suspect this one was similar.

Thinking about nests and care put into making a home.  Fact is even in nature we may find nestseekers; shameless parasites, brood parasites that is, who deposit their eggs in another birds nest to have their young be raised by an entirely different species!

Some humans may nest with you for a season, yet their heart really wasn’t at home with you. Yet truth be told, faith has an odd way of letting you feel safe wherever you are planted, whatever situation you may encounter. It’s just takes time, time to retrain your mind, your perception of reality, your understanding of how life works.

Brown-headed Cowbird; brood parasite

Love jaunts in Nature as she teaches me, reflections of love everywhere and the infusion fortifies.

Made the above film with my handheld 500mm. Forgive the shaking, it was a suddenly, unplanned yet ecstatically documented. The joy is always in the sharing. Strolling in the midst of nature cleanses me.IMG_9118

This day at the canal banks, watched the water gently stream by when caught sight of this lone leaf. Today I was that leaf,  breathing in the beauty all around me, dying to an old belief system.  Love when nature isn’t afraid of me. Love when the animals stroll by and accept, tolerate my presence.

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As I was sitting, observed squirrel stretching for a morsel. So true in life, the cost of obtaining a goal needs to be balanced against it’s benefits. He had done this before, cautious yet agile and fascinatingly fearless.

Then Anhinga flew in. Clumsy in the tree yet so agile in the water. These birds always entrance me. The branch was bobbing up and down and this guy held on, sheer delight to watch.

Did you know they like to make their nests in trees that hang over water? The male collects sticks and twigs which the female weaves into a nest. Three to six eggs are laid and both parents incubate them. The chicks are blind and naked but soon grow a coat of white down.

They grow up so fast that when they are two weeks old they know what to do if danger threatens. They simply drop into the water and swim to a hiding place. Sadly the gators know this too.

After the danger is over they climb back to the nest if they can with all FIVE of their appendages; feet, wings and neck while climbing. After they grow their feathers, at six to eight weeks, they finally are on their own.

Thank you merciful Creator of Heaven and Earth. Thank you for letting me glimpse again the wildness of You. Extreme majesty, plumb line of balance, thank you for letting portals of understanding stream in. After all Your Son did declare it; “on earth as it is in heaven”.  Breathing this in, makes living worth while.

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Portals of Understanding

One of my dearest friends snapped this shot of me. She was so patient. My truest desire at that moment was to lay flat and let the surf wash over me. Knowing this would make me unacceptable in her truck, I restrained.  After all I was her guest, every friendship is an invitation to discover yourself.

So I settled to capture a portion and it got me thinking how my passion is bridled, yet thankfully glimpses do escape. Wanton needs sojourned letting me discover the most illuminating paths and even culminate into organic unions.

Funny thing, no one warned me how difficult “two becoming as one”  was.  It’s a gift to be curious instead of reactive, kind instead of judgmental. Not everyone is equipped for marriage as it requires aptitude and grace. It’s where the miracle of “me” becomes “we“.

So why do humans screw up?  Maybe because our instincts have been deadened, making the simplistic, tortuous.

Did you know Osprey’s mate for life?  They will part and fend for themselves outside of breeding season yet find each other intuitively each year. During one of my trek’s discovered what I thought was an abandoned Osprey nest when suddenly a pair appeared flying overhead and a stick was presented and a question came to mind; “Are you ready to start rebuilding?”

She must have liked his stick for as we approached around the bend we witnessed copulation.  The message was received.

Viewing them brought me such JOY! Really the timing was incredible and his sky dance, breathtaking!  Adult male Ospreys arrive at their nesting territories a few days before the female ospreys. Soon after his arrival, the male begins sky-dancing over the nest. During this aerial display, he flies sharply up rapidly beating his wings and often carrying a fish or nesting material. At a height of several hundred feet the bird hovers with tail fanned and talons dangling.

Witnessed rebuilding, displays of courtship and territorial fidelity. Nature is so formidable and glimpses of this couple was actually infusing hope to this human. Their beauty was awe-inspiring.


Let go of your irrational fear. Learn how to work with this and challenge yourself to use this to your advantage.Osprey

As we continued on our jaunt met up with tortoise He was so large, and let me get close without running away. He was adorable!

The tortoise encounter held a special significance this day. Maybe because of my personal situation which was kinda like crawling on damp uncharted soil. The strong message was for me to meet the present with curiosity and compassion, rather then running away or being lost in it.  Looking up scan another stick flying overhead, yes rebuilding was genuinely present.

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This trek was profound. Touching the earth drummed a rhythm and portals of understanding were opening with each snap of the shutter. Wasn’t exactly certain of an outcome however knew gentle reflection would ward off any unkind gestures within my personal arena. My prayers were being answered.

A man’s judgment is best when he can forget himself and any reputation he may have acquired and concentrate wholly on making the right decisions. – Adm. Raymond A. Spruance

Observing Great Blue Heron I smile. It isn’t every day you can catch them sunning so vulnerably. It’s important in nature to let the sun shine on areas not readily exposed, killing deadly microbes and conversion of calcium and phosphorus from Vit D absorption, all from simple exposure to sunshine.  His bones were being strengthened

They say if a Great Blue Heron “visits you” then it is time to look deeper into aspects of your life that will bring out innate wisdom and show you how to become self-reliant. Know it’s time to ask myself simple questions; Are you grounding yourself regularly?  Gosh can the GBH strike and capture the most interesting meals! I feel sorry for this lil snapping turtle, now his life is over.

“Alternatively he could be teaching you how how to become comfortable in uncertain situations and to be watchful of opportunities to arise so that you can quickly grasp them and move on.”  –Heron

And there it was, suddenly I understood. Some friends, some lovers, mates have deep seeded issues of abandonment. And the closer a person is to you, the deeper their rejection can wound you. And then the thought; How do they treat animals? How do they treat their pets?

When I make a commitment to an animal, to a friend…..a SPOUSE, it’s for life. I saw the difference. I understood why it was so easy for them to castrate me from their lives, at a time when my need was at it’s greatest, my weakness was too profound. Now it meant walking down this path called life, alone.

Silly me, I wasn’t really alone!! Had someone walking next to me this jaunt!!! Guess during a moment of insanity, (rejection can do that)….I FORGOT! Joy always walks with us.                            

Took a deep breath and exhaled all the negativity. THIS is what walks in nature does!!! This is my church. And as I meandered down this one part of the trail I smiled. Saw them entering into a portal, and me?  Well I was following right behind.

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yup, everything was finally making sense. Transformation had begun, ahh think it’s time for another walk!

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Invigorating

Trekked around the Wetlands today, crisp weather in Florida. Sweet pair of white winged terns started fishing in front of me. WOW are they persistent. One must be if they want to survive in nature

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Even later I spied these two attempting to mate, though I don’t think she was in the mood to receive, looked like she just wanted to eat and was chirping out orders

Today there would be no leisurely driving, had to work for these shots. Roads had pot holes from the rain so I was a bit edgy knowing there was no metal between me and the snakes or gators. Cautiously crept in the grassy knoll areas.

They looked humongous, around 12 ft of slate absorbing the suns rays. One looked as if he was smiling, good, they weren’t hungry!

One spot seemed safe enough so after inspecting for fire ant mounds safely sat my butt down. First visitor was a fly by! Eagle !! He was so high up but his white tail gave him away. Was hoping he would come down for a bite however after upload see why he hadn’t, lunch was in his talons.

Then a dancing Snowy Egret skimmed on pass and a Tri Color heron attempted to walk on the waters too! Reflections were pristine and breathing in their beauty soothing.

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Delicate balance indeed and then the wood sinks, he looked a bit confused but meandered for a bit which was great! Snapped some more shots

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It didn’t take long for him to fly off. Think he felt to uncomfortable just standing in the middle, though secure, maybe instincts made him fly away from the unfamiliar, off the hidden branch.

The forceps of our minds are clumsy things and crush the truth a little in the course of taking hold of it. ~H.G. Wells

A couple pass me and converse, they’re from Missouri and were sharing about their visiting Eagles. Eagles, yes the proud display of our Nation. I use to say “Great Nation”. This present election saddens me. Maybe personal living has skewed my discernment. However know actions speak louder then words and I am sad. Just don’t like any of them so I am not going to vote.

Did you know Eagles steal??  Yup it’s true. They steal from the Osprey and even eat dead things. Not the Hawks tho, they announce their presence and eat only fresh meat. A red shouldered hawk delighted me with her presence. She was magnificent.

I sat right where she was in the tree, just calling out. Wondered what she was thinking. During this time a flock of Robins descended in the thick brush and started feasting on the berry’s. Such chatter and excitement. They must have been famished!

Love this spot, it’s full of life and the cool breeze makes my cheeks taught. Red shoulder hawk looks right through me, I know she can see me, I feel her presence and she is a good 400 meters away. She knows I am no threat.

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Look at the situation from a different perspective” HAWK

Only solace are times like this, reading, painting and of course contemplating the Holy Word. I agree, don’t think we are meant to be alone. Today I miss my husbands presence. Miss his hugs, miss our unions, miss his LAUGHTER. My CAG Yoshi laughs like him in the morning, sighs like him too. Absence is a perception.

Life sometimes doesn’t make sense and yet, look how simply they live. NATURE!!! Nature of man is complex because we make it this way.

Had one of my dearest friends recently state; “The only happiness you have or thing you get excited over are BIRDS ….you’ve extracted yourself from humans…yes you take beautiful photos of them but you can’t relax breathe and embrace human kindness or reality. Yet you run to wetlands beaches and woods and smile laugh and get the most pleasure from that.”

It kind of floored me. Guess I have changed and cock my head thinking, I relax in nature, embrace it’s kindness. Sure maybe would like to break bread with friends, definitely like nature’s fermented grapes and coffee beans in hot water!

Suppose I need to work on this, yet this picture she captured of me well, in all the world, this is where I am most at home, observing their nature, not the nature of man. Maybe it’s because I have been caring for the ill in the work arena since I was 16? My heart is tired.

Medicine is like drywall. Fake walls. Seeds a sense of physiological normalcy however without it you’re left with your true self. Your body can not lie, after all it’s where the demons hide.

Well you know what the cure for all of that is right? TOTAL IMMERSION!!! Lets go FISHING! I think I know how it’s done now, ready to take the plunge? Looks like FUN!

“Fishing provides that connection with the whole living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.” – Ted Hughes

 

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Celebrate what is Right

Well we can all celebrate what is right once we get out of our ego, because celebrating truth will castrate you. One must face it and then not forget the reality of what is seen.

Standing for truth can be this way, absolutely walking on the waters with sharks all around you trust the unseen, or else be swallowed up. Rather be free like this lil bumble bee, taking flight and seeking out the fragrant places.

Went to visit one of my favorite ponds and was really taken aback by the lack of wildlife, maybe it was too humid and they were all hidden in the foliage.  Trekking around the bend pausing on an embankment was this bird in the distance.  So I focused on him and then lo and behold he was right over my head; AN OSPREY and now there were FOUR! I was in my glory! They were SO CLOSE!! Thank you God for all the “suddenly’s” !!  Yes all of them as they were allowed for “my good”, making clear destiny’s path.

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They are amazing hunters, keen eyesight as they hover and forcefully plunge! What an honor to watch them and after the upload see it was a family of Osprey’s!  This was revealed by the noticeable differentiation of eye colors.  Adult ospreys have dynamic yellow eyes, however when they hatch, dark blue eyes and after a few days starts to change to a dark orange brown color and remains like this until their migration to Africa.

Note mama’s eyes here

Here is her Juvenile

Its amazing to be plunged into a world of “presence”…the realities of visual yes, however words can’t describe but my lens can capture the action. It’s like hearing the pounding rain, or seeing the delicate flight of a butterfly or the silent setting of the sun. A rush of love which is totally unrelated to any medication or any human actually, well maybe an orgasm. A union of two souls fusing energies.

A communication right to your heart, illuminating your soul. A whisper which says You are my love” and in that rush you see dying is not a scary place at all. It’s the stench of not living which magnifies all that is wrong with this world…yes all that is wrong within me.

So as I circled the wetlands it was incredible as always. Female Northern Harrier so alert as she excavated her landscape. Could have watched her all day, her and the amazing water birds concentrating for their meals. This in itself is a message well worth receiving, we must stay focused in this life. Sometimes we miss our target, just try again!

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My personal life has been one of chaos these last few months. Lost my spouse of 15 years, after his mental breakdown he emerged with no memory of any sweetness towards me, nope only bitterness. Tears roll frequently off my cheek onto my blouse, skin…my skin is lonely for his embrace. I will miss him.

My brother Eric said; Get out in nature, get away from the sociopaths and narcissist’s as they are devoid of empathy, “they pretend emotions” be free from their manipulation. He was so right. As I contemplate his words, on a dirt road, I see him.

What a GLORIOUS SURPRISE. Jumping out of the car, avoiding fire ant mounds and hopefully snakes hidden in the grass, zoom in and capture his beauty.

He’s just looking right through me like saying “What do you want”? Want a picture of you precious wisdom raptor, so I can share with all my friends your beauty. And………he grants my wish.

And another day ends…with the hope of promise I close my eyes. So much beauty I saw this day, wondrous nature.  As the sun sets wishing my beloved was by my side, knowing I will go home to an empty bed  a strange place without my man. I loved him so…. and now must adjust to a new life, a new place. Wasn’t happy about this celibate state however if it meant being rid of all pretense, all facade, all emotional vamps, well there ya go, hug my pillow I will, knowing in my weakness I was being formed strong. Yes, this unintended aloneness, if it meant birthing who I was destined to be, let me wake NEW and never allow myself to be devaluated again, especially by me.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8

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Butterfly Garden

Our daughter called, my lil passion flower; “Mom let me take you to our favorite Nursery” and there she graciously showed me their haven, where the secrets of how to create a thriving garden was conceived.

We entered into a screened area; reminded me a bit of Butterfly World, so breathtaking and larvae EVERYWHERE, learned about milk weeds and passion flowers and my very first vine was purchased. Joyfully chose seeds and pretty potted flowers… thinking “If I was a butterfly …. “  with delight the soil was tilled my very own garden was planted and lo and behold the bees, butterfly’s and critters came!

It’s so peaceful watching nature show up while watering. During one of these encounters spied this dangling brown thing. The day earlier a caterpillar so thoughts of having our very own personal pupae enthralled me! 

Posted it on my Face Book Wall and thought well I had at least 14 days before it hatched as it was newly discovered. This is when I was educated “14 days? That butterfly is coming out in the next 24 hours!” Well kept a dedicated vigil and the next morning saw the lil thing was indented and thought maybe a lizard bit it.

Again educated with the most dreadful news; “Brenda I am so sorry but everyone in the group agrees that its already dead. There is some debate on whether or not you should put it in the freezer which will kill OE spores”   WTH? OE SPORES!!! I was freaking.  Recently enthralled learning about the male vs female butterfly, male have the black spots, the visitor below in my garden was female.

and NOW THIS!  A disease called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha,  has been affecting Monarchs since 1960, this spore disease discovered in Florida of all places. A protozoan parasite that has infected every Monarch population to date including North America, Australia, Cuba, Central and South America and Hawaii!!

The education of this brought me to tears!  Why?  1. I was viewing this discovery symbolically NEW BIRTH relating to my personal life. 2. This infection maligns normal growth, disfigures and kills. There would be no new birth now.  With tears I laid this dead lil pupae to rest. My FB family encouraged me saying; I’m so sorry. I was really excited for you. Plant some milkweed if you haven’t already and I promise you will have more next year!” 

Today while watering, viewed little visitors however still felt pang in my heart for the one who never emerged. Thinking about spore infection in nature and in man. Thoughts take root and give birth to actions. And this protozoan invasion is so unfair, little guy didn’t have a chance. He ate, digested and even had energy to make his chrysalis yet was wrapped up with this dark intruder and was consumed to death. There was nothing I could do to help, except mourn for what could have been.

“An unresolved issue will be like a cancer with the potential to spread into other areas of your relationship, eroding the joy, lightness, love and beauty”–Joyce Vissell

Father, oh Creator of our souls, Oh Holy One who graces mercy towards the fallen. Clinging, as tears slice flesh, knowing you love deeper, release “needing to know why” so to trust you with the unseen,  knowing you’ve got this……..every one of us, submitted to Your Holy Will, now and forever more..of YOU…………amen. 

Addendum:YOU CAN NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP …CAME OUTSIDE AFTER WRITING THIS BLOG .. after writing this prayer. Listening to Adele’s new song HELLO go to put my feet up talking to my roommate AND I SEE THIS YES I AM CRYING  A POP OF GREEN can you find the new Chrysalis?

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And for two weeks the winds and rain came a d then the temperature dropped leaving water droplets on “Rex”

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Spoke with “Rex” every day and even visitors would hear about his story. As the vigil continued, around 12 days, we found we were all growing quite attached wondering if he was going to make it!?!

Today 11/28/2015 with coffee in hand went to greet my lil buddy and lo and behold emergence was a success!!!!!!!   I wasn’t allowed to see it …sigh….however THRILLED he made it!

 

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“Life is about change. Sometimes it’s painful, sometimes it’s beautiful, but most of the time it’s both”  Lana Lang

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