Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Tag

‘Gator, Resting   7 comments


'Gator, Resting
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It was early January.

We had come to the Okefenokee Swamp to shelter ourselves from the oncoming storm, the ferocity of which we couldn’t even imagine at the time… rain, high winds, bone-numbing cold. (Okay, so the state park at Okefenokee has really nice cabins, you see.)

Late in the afternoon during a break in the rain, we wandered around to see what we could find, and discovered this guy. We were surprised to see him at all, as alligators are markedly less active and visible in the cold weather. He didn’t mind at all as I snapped a few pictures. Good thing: This was taken at 55mm, a rare opportunity to get so close without being chomped.

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Shelter from the Storm   7 comments


Shelter from the Storm

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Yes… monkeys.

“You’re not going to see any monkeys today,” an experienced outfitter told us at the launch ramp before we started out. “It’s too cold and dank.”

My advice is to take local knowledge — usually quite helpful — with a grain of salt. We came across lots of monkeys.

After snapping the cormorant (Cormorants) while paddling the Silver River in Florida, we rounded a bend and found the first troop of monkeys cavorting near the edge of the water. They were creating quite a ruckus deeper in the woods, swinging from the trees and challenging one another.

There were about twenty individuals, ranging from the dominant male and young-buck upstarts, to teenagers, and pairs like this adorable mother and child. Here, the mother is taking a break from grooming the young one long enough to warm him up. Just on the other side of the tree, the dominant male was posing and bouncing up and down on a fallen tree, warning other troop members not to approach.

You might ask: Why are there wild monkeys in Florida?

At the Silver Springs headwaters, you can find a number of attractions, including the famous glass-bottomed boat rides. In the 1930s, the operator of the Silver Springs Jungle Cruise put the monkeys on a small island in the river in order to spice up the ride for customers.

He didn’t realize that monkeys are excellent swimmers.

The monkeys escaped the island, of course, and began to populate the surrounding woods. As civilization approaches closer to the Springs, some monkeys have been seen in the nearby city of Ocala, or raiding citrus groves, or free-ranging on livestock farms. Some people have claimed that the monkeys pose a threat to humans, as they can carry the Herpes-B virus, fatal to humans, though the threat is surely overblown.

An animal shelter worker studying the monkeys once stopped 15 tourists in the park and asked them what drew them there. Fourteen said they came to see the monkeys (as did we.)

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Cormorants   2 comments


Cormorants
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As I mentioned in my previous post Full Retreat!, not all of our recent trip was a downer. On the one day that we did get to paddle the kayaks, we took a trip up the Silver River to the headwaters of Silver Spring.

Now, Silver Spring is an interesting place. It was the location for the “Tarzan” movies featuring Johnny Weissmuller. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed there. The first glass-bottom boats plied the river in the 1870s. “Sea Hunt” with Lloyd Nelson was filmed there. Silver Springs was, and still is, the site of various tourist attractions both active and defunct.

But, we were there to paddle the river. Because Silver River is restricted to paddle boats and idle-speed-only motors, it seems that the wildlife has become accustomed to the presence of humans. This allowed us to get very close to the animals — while still maintaining a respectful distance, of course.

Here, a cormorant dries his wings after diving for sushi lunch. Getting this close let us notice, for the first time, how their feet wrap around and grip the perch. We could see individual patterns of feathers and coloration, each bird a bit different.

This proved to be the case with other wildlife as well, including wild boar, great herons, ibis, and monkeys.

Yes… monkeys.

Here, Susan is doing her impression of a cormorant…

Susan's Cormorant Impression

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I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens   7 comments


I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens

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During the dog days of summer here in the South, backyard critters will still find a way to keep cool, and to be cool.

This Carolina Anole seemed to be singing his heart out toward the end of a long day of catching bugs. We noticed him through the glass doors leading to the back deck, so I grabbed the new Sony NEX 7 with the an 18-55 lens and got right up against the glass.

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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?   4 comments


Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

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One evening, I was wandering around the garden with my new D600 and a sweet hunk of glass, the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, when Susan told me of a bee sleeping in a nearby purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), a plant with many uses not the least of which is… attracting bees.

Now, I don’t know what they put in that stuff, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen bees passed out after collecting a load of pollen. One time, we witnessed a bee waking up on a flower, stumbling around in a bit of stupor, then clumsily flying away to what we presume would be his home base.

Gardens are lovely because as you spend more time in the relatively confined space, you begin to focus in on little things that you might ordinarily miss. And if you sit long enough, nature comes to you, and you begin to recognize the patterns that individual creatures take through the landscape.

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Another Way To Hide If You’re A Moose   6 comments


Another Way To Hide If You're A Moose

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Yesterday, we learned the first lesson of How To Hide If You’re A Moose. Since our friend’s technique wasn’t very effective, he decided to try a new tactic – hiding behind a big pile of road sand.

I hated to tell the poor guy that it still wasn’t working very well. The antlers were a sure giveaway.

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(Note: In all seriousness, we were just tracking the moose’s activity from a safe distance as he wandered around the location, browsing and looking at these two-legged creatures with idle curiosity. All moose images were taken with a 300mm lens.)

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How To Hide If You’re A Moose   4 comments


How To Hide If You're A Moose

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It’s not a very effective technique, if you were to ask me.

Moose are pretty amazing creatures. They can be huge, gangly, and somewhat threatening when close by, especially during rutting season in autumn. Despite their size, they can turn into the woods and disappear after taking only a few steps. Yeah… they blend.

As we entered the area where we were going to camp for the night, we saw this bull at the side of the road. Two other people had already drawn him out of the woods by making various moose sounds and calls – again, not really recommended during rutting season unless you like surprises. But their efforts gave us the opportunity to shoot a number of frames of this beautiful beast, a rare treat because most bulls stay deep in the woods during the rut.

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Oh Yeah, You Blend   4 comments


Oh Yeah, You Blend

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Stealthy little dude, isn’t he?

While shooting bees working over our new lemon trees (Too Loaded to Fly), I noticed this guy tucked in deep among the flowers.

It’s nice to see that in addition to the lemon trees providing fruit and the most delightful aroma you could imagine, we’re also feeding the local wildlife. Bees are having a tough time of it, lately. Symbiosis rocks!

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Where Do Hummingbirds Go During a Hurricane?   8 comments


A hummingbird works a hyacinth flower shortly after Hurricane Irene hit North Carolina

Where Do Hummingbirds Go... ©2011 Rob Hanson Photography.com

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We’re back up and online… at least for the moment. As you may know, our town in North Carolina was the first to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irene on 8.27.11 We took a direct hit, as we so often seem to do, and it has taken this long to clear the debris and get power restored, although service is still a bit spotty. We lost all the trees in our yard save for one.

While the storm winds were not a severe as we’ve taken in the past — NC seems to be a hurricane magnet — the size and duration were larger than I’ve ever seen. Winds started picking up on Friday night, we lost power in the middle of the night, and landfall occurred on Saturday. Even toward sunset on Saturday, the winds were still whistling through the shingles.

The combined effect of heavy rain and extended strong winds caused a lot of tree damage in the area. Fortunately, most structures stayed intact, but the number of downed trees and power lines is just stunning. Even as of Wednesday morning, there are still quite a number of people without power.

We might have been the lucky ones. Up north in New York and Vermont, the damage from heavy rainfall is incredible and sad. I think they fared much worse up there. It goes to show that with these tropical storms, you never can take them too lightly.

Shortly after the storm, we went out to inspect the area and were pleased to hear birds chirping, as well as a pair of hummingbirds that have called our yard home.

We were left wondering: Where do hummingbirds go for protection from 90MPH winds? They’re so light and fragile, it seems impossible, but the next day, they went right back to work. Incredible.

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