Friday, December 27, 2013

Marco Island I

About 50 minutes from where we stay in Naples lies Marco Island.  Like some of the other small islands on the Florida coast to Marco is very 'developed'.

However the island does have it's treasures.  Scattered around there are still plots of land yet to have a house plonked on them and amazingly these were the source of my favourite snaps from the holiday.  I had heard about the burrowing owls on a previous visit and an email to Nancy Ritchie City of Marco Island Environmental Specialist gave me a steer to some nest sites.  In fact as I was to find out the owls are doing well and even before I went I had found some other sites as well - all will be explained later!

In all I had 2 trips - one visit instead of a morning fishing session, and then a second on a day when Kay, Simon and Angela all came down to join me.  On day 1 the light wasn't so good, but I found the owls, they were very confiding with a little care (it seemed some sites were more used to people than others) and I couldn't wait to visit in better light.

Trip 2 saw better light, but the dawn glow didn't last and  I was soon reminded how strong sunlight can be, creating harsh contrast,  Still I got more snaps of a very relaxed pair of owls.

In general pics of wildlife look better if the object is looking in your direction, but in contrast to appearances most of the time I was ignored and the owls scanned for other threats - large birds overhead provoked some concern, ............

and whilst people strolling past didn't seem to worry them there was more of a reaction if they were walking dogs - or a large noisy lorry went past.

My visits were still quite short and I didn't get much chance to snap behaviours other than scanning the neighbourhood.  I had to giggle though when one of the pair started to do some housework.

At least at home I don't run the risk of being blinded if I get in the way!!

I said I found more nest sites before I visited - the power of Google maps.  You see the nest sites are protected by the City Council, each resembling a crime scene marked out with orange tape - and you can see them on satellite view!  I later found that not all the taped sites belonged to owls, but that's the next post.
More owl snaps in the web album HERE.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Naples - Park Shore and the Preserve

So long since my last post - partly due to a brilliant holiday in Naples Florida.  Not too much in the way of photography, but a lot of sun and fishing!  That said the 5DIII did come with me and continues to meet my expectations.
A change of venue this year to the Park Shore Resort.  In the centre a small lake - the fence meant you couldn't get down to water level and at most I spent about an hour with the camera but there was a bit to see.

Moorhens squabbled with the Muscovy ducks,

various dragonflies used the reeds to rest or watch for territorial invaders

and freshwater turtles cruised around - Florida soft shelled

and the non-native red-eared slider.

I could have spent more time searching the trees and shrubs for birds, but I always feel a bit conspicuous wandering around hotel grounds with a camera!

For the first time we also went to the Naples preserve - a small oasis of  'wild' land lying next to the Tamiami Trail.  We went to see a talk about a blind raccoon - Trouper - a victim of an assault with a golf club when a kit which left it blind with no sense of smell.  He feels his way around, and has learnt to swim. He's been raised by 'Miss Dot' a licensed rehabilitationist (made up word?) who takes him into schools to teach about wildlife.  Kay and Miss Dot  .............. and yes that's a rare view of me at the end!

A wander around afterwards led me to pay an early morning visit hoping to snap a gopher tortoise. 

The woodpeckers looked good in the low sun,

and more dragonflies patrolled,

but I waited in vain at the most obvious burrow for the resident to give the view I wanted (head on).  I did get some views but better were to come later in the holiday.

Americans mostly call tortoises turtles, and I think this last (rubbish) shot is a 'box turtle'.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quiet Times

A slow few weeks, with any decent weekend weather failing to coincide with my free time.

I did have a couple of hours down at the saltmarsh in the vain hope of finally snapping a male wheatear.  Not for the first time the only bird to make it in front of the lens was a meadow pipit, and even it didn't pose where intended!

A few snaps of things fungal.  As usual the names where given are best guesses.

To start, I think, chicken of the woods.  That was my first thought although the picture in my book looked quite different.

Velvet shanks (?)


Parrot waxcap

Some form of bolete species?

Something white in the fields!

To close, common puffball.  I feel you see in comparing this range of pictures taken over about 30 minutes what the right light can bring to a snap - warmth and texture in the last 2.