Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Anhinga Drying his Wings

A view of an Anhinga drying his wings in Largo Central Nature Preserve and Park, Largo, FL.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), soars often resembling a flying cross. Rests in trees or sticks over water; holds wings out to dry because they lack oil glands for water-proofing. Anhingas are caled "snakebirds" for their habit of swimming with just their neck and head showing. They stab fish in the side, then flip it up to swallow head first. They nest in small colonies, often with cormorants and herons. They can be found in freshwater marshes, swamps and rivers and are resident in Florida.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wood Duck Couple

About a week ago, my friend, Kathy, who belongs to my Meetup Group (Florida State Photography Meetup Group), and I went to Lowrey Park Zoo in Tampa for the afternoon.

There were so many things to capture there, I could've stayed a lot longer, but, we had to get home before rush hour.

Kathy and I are both passionate about photographing nature. This pair of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) can be found anywhere from Brittish Columbia south to CA, and from Montana east to Nova Scotia and south to TX and Florida. They are absent in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. They winter near the Pacific Coast north to Washington, and to New Jersey in the East. They rarely go further north.

Their habitat is in wooded rivers and ponds, wooded swamps and they visit freshwater marshes in late summer and fall. They nest in cavities, which enable them to breed in areas lacking suitable ground cover. The young leave the nest soon after hatching, jumping from the nesting cavity to the ground or water. Once out of the nest, they travel through wooded ponds with their mother. Snapping turtles take a heavy toll of the young.

I was thrilled to capture this couple. This is the time of year that they form pairs and begin to look for nesting sites.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This Anhinga looks surprised, but actually, he's preening. He was just about to grab his feathers on his lower neck.

Anhingas (Anhinga anhinga), soar often resembling a flying cross. They rest in trees or on sticks over water; holding their wings out to dry because they lack oil glands for water-proofing.

Anhingas are caled "snakebirds" for their habit of swimming with just their neck and head showing above the water. They stab fish in the side, swim to a log to bang it against the log to kill it, then flip it up to swallow head first.

Anhingas nest in small colonies, often with cormorants and herons. They can be found in freshwater marshes, swamps and rivers and are resident in Florida.

I found him while on a meetup with my Meetup Group. You can see more photos from this meetup by checking out this link: Florida State Photography Meetup Group,

I organize this group and we have 166 members. We go out a minimum of twice a month (most of the time more) to photograph events, nature (at nature parks), architecture, etc. Usually, there is an average of 12 people that go out together. As a matter of fact, tonight, 8 of us are going out to photograph the lunar eclipse. It ought to be fun and challenging. By going out with a group, we can share tips and techniques and learn from one another. It's one way to feel safe in this day an age, when it could be dangerous to go out alone to desolate areas with all our photo gear. If you live in the Tampa Bay area, and are interested in photography, or would like to learn to take better photos--or just want to have fun, check out the link and consider joining us. Everyone at every skill level is welcome.

If you've enjoyed this post, and would like to see more of my work, check out my website at Loyce Hood Photo.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Banana Trees

When I moved into this house a year ago September, there was 1 small banana tree near the bank at the edge of the property. The tree kept sending little shoots and before I knew it, there were 5 trees.

The first one flowered about 6 months ago, and produced close to 40 lbs. of bananas. I ate so many, I threw my Potassium levels out of whack. It couldn't be helped, they were soooo good.

Bananas aren't really trees. They're herbaceous perennials that grow from corms (or pseudobulbs). Thick, fleshy stalks (pseudostems) emerge from the large corms and can increase in height anywhere from 1-30 ft. in a year, depending on the selection and location. Each stalk carries spectacular broad, 5-9 ft. long leaves. Each also produces a single flower cluster, which develops fruit; the stalk dies after fruiting, and new stalks then grow from the corm.

There are now 5 stalks. This photo is the latest harvest--it, too, is close to 40 lbs. There are two more bunches of bananas coming out. These bananas taste a bit more sweet than the ones found in the grocery stores, and they have a slight bite to them, but they're 100% organic. Once removed from the stalk, they take about a week to ripen, then they all ripen within a few days of one another.

If you've enjoyed my blog and photos, please visit my website at

Monday, February 11, 2008

American Alligator

If you read my blog yesterday, you'd have seen a closeup of this 'gator. This spot, at the bottom of the bank in my back yard, seems to be his preferred spot for his afternoon nap. I can see him most every day around 3:00 pm.

This one is fairly young, probably only about 4 1/2 - 5 ft in length. I think he's getting used to me, because he doesn't bother to move when I snap his picture.

Poor thing is missing his front leg; but seems to do fine without it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

American Alligator

American Alligator

I found this guy snoozing on my lawn. He must've been pretty tired, because my camera or my movement didn't wake him up.

In Florida, we cohabitate with 'Gators. They're very afraid of people, so when they see us, they usually make a quick get-a-way. Once in a while, due to people feeding them, they loose they're fear of people. This is a terrible injustice to the 'Gators, since they are then considered a nuisance Alligator and they're usually shot. People need to understand that these creatures know how to get their own food, and they we shouldn't interfere with nature.

Alligators are normally quite docile; but can become aggressive when people come up quickly on them, or when people are near the nest.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiens) Alligators hibernate to the muddy wallows in cooler months in Northern Florida. They can be found in ponds, swamps, rivers, freshwater and brackish marshes, mangroves, canals and occasionally in the ocean. They are resident in Florida.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Downtown Tampa From the UT Campus

This is only one of many beautiful views of downtown Tampa that can be seen from the University of Tampa campus.

The buildings, from left to right are, the Sykes building, the Bank of America building and the Regions Bank buildings.