Friday, May 22, 2015

Lioness

Lioness (Panthera leo)


A Lioness resting in her habitat at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL. This image was taken while on a Safari on a bumpy road in a truck, with my Canon 6D and Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. The 28-300 is my go to lens for travel and for just walking around with no particular capture in mind. It's the perfect lens.

Lions (Panthera leo) are one of the five big cats second in size to the Tiger. They are called King of the Jungle for their beauty and strength. The males are easily recognized by their manes that surround their neck, head, and face, which protects them during fights with other males. The female has no mane and looks similar to Panthers. 

They are carnivores and their diet consists of other animals such as, Wildebeests, Giraffes, Buffalo, Hogs and sometimes Rhinos and Hippos. When food is scarce, they have been known to attack Elephants. They will also eat smaller animals occasionally. 

The Lion population has halved since the 50's and are considered vulnerable at this time. Their range is in southern and eastern Africa and the southern Sahara Desert. 

Lions are the only social member of the cat family and live in Prides with up to 15 related females or Lionesses with maybe 2 or 3 males. Males are territorial like most cats. Females do the hunting and will hunt in groups to ambush their prey. Lions inhabit grassy plains, savannahs, open woodlands and scrub country. This allows them to hunt stealthy and hide in the long grasses. 

Males grow to about 4 ft tall and 5-8 ft long. They weigh 330-500 lbs with females being a bit smaller. They live 10-14 yrs and have a top running speed of 50 mph for short distances.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

The other day, while I was photographing the Osprey nest, I think this guy got a bit jealous or maybe he was just curious. He came right over to me and hung around very close as if to say, "photograph me; I want to be famous, too". It was a great opportunity to oblige him, don't you think?

Great Blue Herons can be found all over the United States; anywhere water is; they are not fussy, they like both salt and fresh water. They are tall, stately birds that move slowly and deliberately when stalking their prey. When they decide the time is right, they strike with lightning speed. They are similar to cats on a hunt. The Great Blue Heron's diet consist mainly of fish, but they'll eat anything, snakes, lizards, rodents, other birds and small mammals.

Great Blue Herons hunt alone and it is rare to see more than one of them in the same place. However, they nest in colonies. There may be as many as 100 nests in one tree. They are monogamous during a season, but find new mates every year. 

These birds are very long (38-55 inches) with a wing span of 66-79 inches. Despite their size, they only weigh about 5 or 6 pounds, due to hollow bones that enable them to fly.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cheetah

Cheetah

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is one of the 5 big cats. They are carnivores that grow from 4 to 6 feet in length. Their tails are 25 to 31 inches. They weigh between 77 and 143 pounds.  They live 10-12 years. Their status is Vulnerable.

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, and a record has recently been set at 100mph. Cheetahs can hit 0-60mph in 3 seconds. These cats are day hunters and blend easily into the tall grasses just before they sprint to catch their prey. They especially like Antelopes and Hares.

Cheetahs range in eastern and southern Africa.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ospreys Nesting

Ospreys Nesting

I posted a photo of this family on April 26, if you want to see how much they've grown. I believe the one on the left is one of the chicks and the parents are in the middle and on the right. They only thing that leads me to believe that this is the chick is the one on the left has yellow eyes, while the other two have orange eyes. In the other post, there were 2 chicks and they were both still fuzzy at the time. Now this chick is nearly the same size as his/her parents. I have no idea where the other one is, maybe it's fledged???

Ospreys (Pandion halliaetus) are raptors in the Hawk and Eagle family. They are rather large birds with a wing span of 5ft, 6in and they are 23 inches in length from tail to head. The dark line through their eye is a  good identifying factor. They hover just before they dive for a fish and can be seen flying with the fish head first in their talons, once they catch their fish.

They are resident year long in Florida and can be found near any body of water where they can fish for food. Their diet consists almost exclusively of fish.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill (Aijai aijai)

The Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaia) is a tall bird, about 32 inches in height and a wingspan of 5ft 6 in, with a flat, bluish bill flattened at the tip.

They get their name for how they feed. They use their beak, swiping it back and forth in the water, sort of spooning for their food. Spoonbills feed on small fish, snail, aquatic insects, and shrimp.

They can be found in mangroves and saltwater lagoons or marshes in the shallower water.  They are resident in Louisianna, Florida, occassionally in Texas, and in the American tropics. 

Because of their color, tourists to Florida often mistake them for Flamingos.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodios)

The Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodios) is a very large, tall bird. It stands at around 4 ft tall, and has a wing span of 6 ft. The adult's plumage is a blue-gray, with black shoulder patches and a black stripe from his eye to the back of the head.

Great Blue Herons can be found all over the United States and the Caribbean and South America. They are resident year 'round in Florida, and most have lost their fear of humans. Great Blue Herons can be seen near fishermen, standing within a few feet of them waiting to steal their catches. They can also be seen (like this one) walking around on lawns, waiting for a handout.

It is illegal to feed wildlife in Florida, but many people do, which encourages them to come right up to the door waiting for a snack. Snowbirds (people who winter in Florida) feed the birds, then when they leave to go back up North, the birds sit and wait for them to come back (like this one) instead of hunting for their own food.

In St Petersburg, around The Pier, people have fed the Pelicans so much, that they no longer fish for their food and many were starving to death. They City now feeds  them daily to keep them from starving. It's very sad. This is why it is illegal in this state. People who are feeding these beautiful birds are also not giving them natural food that is in their diet, which is making them unhealthy and threatening the species.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Osprey Feeding Chicks

Osprey Feeding Chicks

It's that time of year again; the Osprey are nesting. Almost everywhere you go in Florida you'll see Osprey nests, especially along the I-4 corridor. This particular nest is in Bradenton, FL where my friend lives. This pair of Osprey have been nesting here for the past 4 or 5 years. Two of this year's clutch is shown in the photo. they're finally big enough to see over the nest.

Ospreys (Pandion halliaetus) are raptors in the Hawk and Eagle family. They are rather large birds with a wing span of 5ft, 6in and they are 23 inches in length from tail to head. The dark line through their eye is a  good identifying factor. They hover just before they dive for a fish and can be seen flying with the fish head first in their talons, once they catch their fish.

They are resident year long in Florida and can be found near any body of water where they can fish for food. Their diet consists almost exclusively of fish.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Salvatore Dali Museum

The Salvatore Dali Museum, St Petersburg, FL

The Salvador Dalí Museum is an art museum in St. Petersburg, Florida dedicated to the work of Salvador Dalí. It houses the largest collection of Dalí's works outside Europe.

It is located on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront by 5th Avenue Southeast, Bay Shore Drive, and Dan Wheldon Way. On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed the building on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Domestic Swan Goose

Domestic Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides) with Ducklings/Gooselings?

I'm very curious about what's going on here. I know ducks, geese, and swans sometimes interbreed, but do they do it within the same species, or do they interbreed with any other close species? This photo, taken at Crescent Lake Park in St Petersburg, FL, has me very confused. This goose appears to be swimming with ducks, as you can see, some are white, some look like immature mallards. Are they hers? Do they just hang around together?

This lake supports so many species. There are Domestic Graylag Geese, these Domestic Swan Geese, Mallards, Moorhens, Grebes, American Coots, just to name some of the waterfowl. There are probably more than I spotted on my two trips there as well. I'm just curious about how some of these breeds got there and if they all interbreed. If you live in the area, check it out.

Here is a little info gleaned from the internet about the Domestic Swan Goose:
Domestic Swan Goose (Anser cygnoides)

Another species of goose that has been domesticated is the Swan Goose, native to eastern Eurasia and sometimes called a Chinese goose. A domestic swan goose usually has a large knob at the base of the bill (the wild form lacks this). It also can show a white patch behind the bill.  It varies from wild type coloring (mostly gray with a dark line down the back of the otherwise white neck) to pure white.


Swan GooseThe Swan Geese (Anser cygnoides) -- also known as Chinese Geese - are rare, migratory geese that breed in inland Mongolia, northernmost China, and southeastern Russia; and most migrate to central and eastern China for the winter.

Vagrants travel to Japan and Korea for the winter and, on rare occasions, may winter in Kazakhstan, Laos, coastal Siberia, Taiwan, Thailand and Uzbekistan.

Outside the breeding season, they form small flocks. They rarely swim and often forage far from the water.

The large Swan Geese have also been introduced to countries outside their natural range, where feral populations of escaped or released domesticated birds have established themselves.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auitus) grow to about 33 inches. Immature Cormorants, unlike the all black adults are brownish, with whitish plumage from the throat to the breast. 

Cormorants swim with their bills angled upward. Flocks often fly in a V formation. They can often be seen resting with their wings open drying. They nest in colonies in Cypress trees and Mangroves.

They live on the coasts and near large bodies of inland water. Florida has a resident breeding population and there are numerous migrants from northern U.S. from November through April.

This image was taken at Crescent Lake Park in St Petersburg, FL.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Willet

Willet
A Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus) perched on the rocks at the North rest stop of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St Petersburg, FL gazes out over the water probably searching for his next meal.

Willets are commonly seen along the coast of Florida near beaches and mud flats. Willets look similar to Greater Yellowlegs, but can be distinguished easily by their flashy black and white color pattern seen in flight or when their wings are spread out. They are frequently seen foraging with Godwits on migration.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wood Stork

Wood Stork
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), Searching for his favorite foods of fish, reptiles or amphibians at the Thompson Sports Complex in Gulfport, FL.

Wood Storks or as they are sometimes called Wood Ibis, are the only storks in America. They can be found in Florida in swamps, marshes and ponds.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

St Pete Skyline

St Petersburg, FL Skyline

I just happened to glance out my window and saw this the day before yesterday. These amazing clouds were due to a cold front coming in. The light on the buildings in the distance is what I noticed first, then the clouds. I just had to shoot this--it was calling.

There is no HDR or blending in this image. As a matter of fact, other than straightening, and noise removal, I didn't do a thing to this. This is how it came out of the camera.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wood Stork

Wood Stork
This Wood Stork was probing for dinner in the pond at the Thompson Sports Complex Park, in Gulfport, FL. The Wood Stork is the only real stork we have in the United States.

Wood Storks stand between 40-44" tall. Their heads are bare. They fly with their necks extended. Wood Storks can be found on or near the coast, cypress swamps and mangroves. They nest in colonies. Wood Storks are resident in Florida and Georgia and rarely along the coast from S Carolina to Texas.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

I went to my friend's house in Bradenton, FL yesterday looking for White Pelicans. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any, but I did manage to shoot this Brown Pelican. This guy was very cooperative. It actually was pretty easy because I was on a pier where a fisherman was cleaning his fish. This one was just waiting around for a handout, so I was only a few feet from him.

Brown Pelicans have brown heads in the Summer and are all white in the Winter. They feed on fish, alone or in groups. They make spectacular dives, flipping from their backs just as they hit the water, then going in bill first. They swallow huge fish and you can see it wiggling while they're trying to swallow it while it's still in its pouch.

Brown Pelicans nest in colonies in trees or on mangrove islands. They are resident in Florida and are very common near the ocean, bays, estuaries, and a few wander inland.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tricolor Heron

Tricolor Heron

This was shot 3 days ago at Sawgrass Lake Park in St Petersburg, FL. He was just wading around looking for dinner in the shallow water.

I'm always excited when I spot Tricolors. There are plenty Great White Egrets and Great Blue Herons around because they've lost their fear of humans, but I don't see as many of these guys. I'm not saying they're rare, they seem to be more secretive and shy than the others. Green Herons and Reddish Egrets are also pretty elusive.

This one didn't pay much attention to me. He was too intent on hunting. I was lucky to be able to get this shot.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Boat-tailed Grackle

Boat-tailed Grackles are very common in St Petersburg, FL. We have 2 species here, this one and the Common Grackle. The Boat-tailed Grackle  is much larger, up to 16 inches, while the common Grackle is about 12 inches. They hang in marshes and along the coast. They can also be found on farmlands.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Giraffe

This Giraffe was shot at the Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, FL while my daughter and son-in-law were on a mini-vacation last week. He was kind enough to pose for me like this.

Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) can be found in the dry savannahs and in open woodlands south of the Sahara Desert. They are the tallest land mammals with a height up to 20 ft. The also have a long, prehensile tongue that can extend its reach by 15 inches. Their tongue is a bluish purple in color and their primary food is Arcacia leaves. There are nine subspecies distinguished by their coat patterns.

Giraffes give birth standing up, which means the baby's first sensation is a 6 ft. drop. Imagine coming into the world like this! The newborns must learn to run almost immediately by its mother's side, because Giraffes are preyed on by lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, and wild dogs.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

White Ibis

White Ibis

This curious White Ibis came within a ft of me at Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, FL. These birds can be found all over Florida usually in flocks on people's lawns probing for insects. According to a landscaper friend of mine, the probing is actually good for your grass; they are aerating it and keeping the insects down. They can also be found near the shore or on the banks of fresh water looking for small fish, crustaceans, with crayfish being one of their favorite foods.

Males and females look similar, but the male has a longer beak and is slightly larger than the female. Juveniles are brown and white and during breeding, the adult's beak and lores are deep red. Their wing tips are black, which can be seen in flight, but normally when they're on the ground the black tips are tucked under the white plumage. Ibis are both beautiful and friendly.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Greater Kudu

Greater Kudu

This magnificent animal was photographed at the Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, FL. My daughter and son-in-law decided to take a mini-vacation in South Florida and lucky for me, I was able to join them for a couple days.

We had gone to Busch Gardens in Tampa last Saturday and was very disappointed. Most of the animals were gone, or the exhibits were closed due to the holiday celebration and the crowd with school out was outrageous! There was nothing but long lines everywhere. It took 45 minutes just to get through the line to get our lunch. I expected that, but with most of the animal exhibits gone or closed and the ones that were open behind glass, is a factor for me to cancel my long-running annual pass. I've had it since 1988, and have always enjoyed the park because of the animal exhibits. I think I'll be going one more time just to see if all the exhibits remain closed, then I'm going to cancel my membership. If not, I'll hang on to it for another year or so.

Anyway, back to the Lion Country Safari. This place was only $30/per person to get in, and a great place to go. Families in particular will enjoy it, and it's only 3 hrs. (but well worth the trip) to Loxahatchee from St Petersburg. It starts with a car safari where the animals roam free, and the humans are locked in their cars. They give everyone a CD to play as you drive through at 8mph explaining what each animal is and a little bit about them. After the safari, you park your car and go into an amusement park where you can feed several animals, a petting zoo, and fish feeding. From there, you can walk over to the water park. It's small, but one can easily spend several hours there. The amusement park and water park are designed for kids, but we adults enjoyed it as well.

The photo is of one of the animals from the safari. It is a Greater Kudu. They are from Southern and Eastern Africa and the second largest Antelope. They weigh up to 690 lbs. Box sexes have the spinal crests, but only the males have a beard. Their horns curl around 2 1/2 times and average 4 ft long. The are herbaceous eating many kinds of leaves, herbs, fallen fruits, vines, tubers, succulents, flowers, and sometimes varied with a little new grass.

This one came quite close to the car allowing me to get a great shot of him.