Thursday, January 30, 2014

Naples Pier

One of the joys of our annual trip to Florida is the chance to go fishing.  I struggle to fit this in at home and photography takes priority - hard enough to fit that in.  Most mornings see me down at the pier in Naples at sunrise for a couple of hours.  2012 was a struggle, but 2013 was great.  It wasn't just me though.

Most days an osprey called in  - herring gull like in terms of it's tolerance of people.

Looking vaguely hobbit like - smaller than you would think but look at the size of those feet (yeah I know, perspective, but they were big.

The reason it called in was soon apparent

when one of the locals tossed a fish onto the roof of the shelter!
Lovely views.

The real spectacle this year though was the sight of huge tarpon (100lbs +) smashing into the shoals of baitfish.  If you watch the video make sure you have your sound turned on - the sound was as striking as the view.

naples pier from Brian's 'Wobblecam' Videos on Vimeo.

Other birds joined in - you can see pelicans on the video, as well as dolphins.

There was a downside - if you weren't careful a pelican can snag the hook, and several got snagged while we were there.  most got sorted, but the pictures below reveal the sad sight of some with hooks or almost certainly hook related wounds.  Basically when the fish were really smashing into the baitfish the pelicans joined them and you just had to stop casting to avoid snagging.
Still a stunning place to spend some time

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kissing under the Dung Branch

The winter after we moved down to South Wales I noticed unfamiliar ball shapes in the bare trees.

Mistletoe isn't something I remember seeing 'up north', but down here, and especially in Gloucestershire and Somerset it is quite common.  This year hasn't been too good, but last winter there were berries everywhere.  As you likely know, although probably wouldn't couch in such terms, it's an obligate hemiparasitic plant - although it does photosynthesise it can only grow attached to a tree.  Once developed you can hardly see the join ......

but it is clearly completely different to the host.

The tree in the first shot had a fabulous crop of berries last year and really I should have tried to get some snaps of the redwing and fieldfare that visited, but the branches were high, the birds flighty and I don't think even a hide would have worked assuming the farmer tolerated it.  Still with rainclouds behind the tree looked good.

Dung branch?  The sticky seeds spread in bird poo, and one theory about the name is that it stems from the German words mist (dung) and tang (branch).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Marco Island III

After the sun got to the point where contrast was unmanageable I left the owls and wandered down to the reserve at Tigertail Beach while I was waiting for Kay, Simon and Angela to arrive. 

The tide was slowly coming in but it was too early for most of the waders to put in an appearance.  I'd left the camera kit in the car, other than my pocket Panasonic, so all these pics are with that.  I've said before it's not a bad little camera, and it was good enough to snap a ghost crab (one big claw) and a Wilson's plover.
Once the rest of the crew arrived we had a cracking day.  Canoeing on the lagoon is always fun, and I swear one of these days a big mullet really will jump into the canoe with me.  Some really are quite a good size - maybe next year Simon and I will actually get around to trying to catch some.  In the meantime we were content to drift along watching the egrets - least blue and reddish - as always they some more relaxed when you are in a boat.

Then we paddled to the far side and wandered along the white sand beach - good spot for shells, but just a great spot full stop.  A few more waders - a weakness of mine naming wise.  I think these might be short-billed dowitchers - if you know differently let me know!

After a fabulous veggie wrap (I'm not a veggie, but this is so unusual for the US I have to mention it!) the others wanted to see if any owls were around.  There were a couple still showing but the other denizens of the orange taped holes were also about - gopher tortoises, and this time one posed more happily.

If you are ever out this way do visit Marco Island and Tigertail in particular - there's even a bald eagle nest a couple of blocks away.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Marco Island II

Thought I'd add in a short video of the owls.  As usual shot on my pocket compact.

Burrowing owls of Marco Island from Brian's 'Wobblecam' Videos on Vimeo.