Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lake Martin, LA

I really have a good man with which to live out my days on earth. Nearly every weekend Double D drives me to various swamps, bayous, marshes, etc. to indulge my photography habit. And since I bought him a pair of binoculars, he is becoming quite a birding enthusiast himself. He even went to a hummingbird talk with me one evening last week. What a good sport!

These are from a couple of weeks ago. I've been knee deep in ibises, pelicans, and wrens so these photos haven't had a chance to make an appearance. I think they've waited long enough.
Anhinga - Lake Martin, LA
Lest you think I take only bird photos, here are a few landscapes of Lake Martin.

Marshy swamp filled with algae

A boardwalk at Cypress Island Preserve on the south end of Lake Martin

Gimme a C!

More algae

Notice the little snake peeking from behind the sign. Didn't see that until it was on my monitor.

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Birding From East To West

Double D was good to me this weekend. On Saturday he drove us 45 minutes east to visit Tickfaw State Park and today he drove us 35 minutes west to visit the Atchafalaya (UH-CHAFF-UH-LI-YA) National Wildlife Refuge. Since the weather is nice it's imperative to take advantage. Pretty soon it will be hot, humid, and swarming with mosquitos, so we've got roughly 3-1/2 months at this point to hit all the nature areas. In addition to moving here for my mom, nature was #2 on the list, and since last year was consumed with my mom's illness and passing, we didn't get to visit as many as we had hoped.

At Tickfaw we saw our first yellow-bellied sapsucker. We also spotted red-bellied woodpeckers, and the usual cast of characters: cardinals, chickadees, hairy woodpeckers, and mockingbirds. Unfortunately my pictures did not turn out as I had hoped from Tickfaw. Today wasn't much better, but I was able to get several shots of a carolina wren that was gracious enough to pose out in the open for a few nervous seconds.

Two benches overlooking Whiskey Bay at Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge
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Camera Critters

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ibises Galore

More of the ibises spotted at Highland Road Park. A foot of water on the soccer fields proved irresistible to these birds. The white ones are the adults and the colored ones are juveniles. They eat mostly aquatic prey such as small fish and insects, preferring crawfish. During breeding season they gather in large colonies. Pairs are mostly monogamous, and both male and female care for their young. The chemical methylmercury has impacted the behavior of the white ibis, with reproduction and mating behavior significantly affected. The chemical has also increased the male-male pairing behaviors by 55%. Hmmmm...fascinating. Source: Wikipedia.

This one seems to be saying TIME OUT! 

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Gifts of an avian nature

For the last month I have been under the spiritual direction of my 2nd cousin, Sister Cynthia, a beloved nun for over fifty years. With her encouragement I am becoming more comfortable with who I am, how I relate to God, and how God relates to me. One of the ways God and I "talk" to each other is through creation. I continue to marvel at God's handiwork!
I realize the tufted titmouse is a common sight in many areas, but we don't often see this little cutie. Score!
Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, 1/20/13

A bright and happy cardinal
Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, 1/20/13

Not the clearest shot, but my first ever sighting of an American Goldfinch in this area
Hilltop Arboretum, 1/17/13

Common yes, but my first sighting of a robin this year. Spring is around the corner!
Lake Martin, 1/19/13

Anhinga drying his wings at Lake Martin, 1/19/13

Mockingbird among the berries, Lake Martin, 1/19/13

And now for my exciting encounter! All the rain that I moaned and complained about resulted in something really special. The park I used to frequent as a teenager is currently under a foot of water due to all the rain. Hundreds of White Ibis made a stop-over a few days ago and they're still there. My first time ever seeing this bird in our area. Another score! A big thanks to my bff, Michelle, for scoping this out! I love you little snowflake. :) In the next few days I hope to put up more photos since I have several shots of them flying.

French Kiss texture paper

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gifts of Bluebonnet Swamp

Continuing my quest for all things nature since the weather has been so glorious, on Friday I stopped off at Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, a 200-acre preserve located 7 miles from my house. There I met the resident volunteer photographer who happily showed me all the hot spots, including a pair of barred owls named Barry and Brenda, and a rufous hummingbird. Barry & Brenda blended so well into the trees that I could not pull off a decent shot and the rufous was too shy. Something to shoot for (ha!) on the next visit, I guess.

I had asked God while I was wandering around, if it wasn't a bother, I'd really like something special to shoot. I've never asked God for anything remotely frivolous, and I felt bad even asking, but if you don't ask...
The male cardinals are exceptionally red right now. This has not been saturated in PS.

I would have been happy if this was all that was in store.

A brave little female worked her magic. Little did I know something even more special was waiting for me.

This was cute to watch them sharing, though at first Mr. Chickadee was doing his best to let Mr. Squirrel
know that his presence was not wanted by swooping around his head for several minutes. Didn't faze the squirrel one bit,
so I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

This chickadee posed right nice for me. 

The red-eared slider made an appearance.
Just as I was about to give up, my God-gift was about to be handed to me on a silver platter. Look what greeted me as I approached the exit! At first I thought it was stuffed, like some sort of display. Not taking any chances I stopped dead in my tracks, slowly lifted the camera to my eye, and took a couple of shots, then I took two more steps and another two shots. I repeated this one more time, getting a total of six shots, and then he fled. After emailing the photo to a worker at the center, she was thrilled that I was able to capture this elusive fellow that they had only seen on the critter cam: a gray fox! She shared it on Facebook and I was a little bit of a sensation for a day. :) God is so good.
Gray Fox
Today I had another awesome gift awaiting me. Something I never thought I'd be able to shoot unless I traveled to another state. Stay tuned!