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Annual Search for My Pole-Vaulters

I haven’t been to the Circle B Bar Reserve in ages.  I used to go so often, but it’s very different these days.  Lots of people, not as many birds.  I can’t wait for my upcoming visit to the Lake Hancock Outfall Wetlands, where I participated in a Christmas Bird Count last year.  I’m hoping to see lots more birds there!  But one thing that Circle B is really good for at this time of year is Purple Gallinules.  I call them my “pole-vaulters.”  You see, the alligator flag plants grow tall, and all the adult and juvie gallinules climb the reeds to eat the flower seeds.  They inch out farther and farther, with those big long toes wrapped around the reed, until snap!  The reed gives out under their weight and the “pole-vaulter” takes a ride to the ground.  This process repeats itself quite often and is very entertaining.  As a photographic bonus, the early morning light is perfect on these guys!

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

So it was with great anticipation that I returned to Circle B in search of my pole vaulters.  I did see a few, but not nearly as many as in years past.  They also stayed out in the plant clumps that were pretty far away.   None ventured out for nice isolation shots.

Green Heron

Green Heron

It was a pretty quiet morning.  A few Green Herons ventured out to say hello.  The one above would have been perfect if I could have shifted a little to the left to avoid the reeds in front of him.  He didn’t pose for long, as another Green Heron flew in and he had to defend his territory.  I guess there weren’t enough reeds to go around!

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule

This Common Gallinule was jealous of all the attention that the Purple Gallinules were getting.  She started fussing, very loudly, and so I had to stop and take her picture too.

Yellow Flower

Yellow Flower

You know it’s a quiet morning when you start using your long lens to photograph flowers.  The yellow flowers are starting to pop up all over Circle B.  It won’t be long before the marshes are covered in burr marigolds.  I can’t wait!

Which Image Made Rich Go “Wow”?

It’s been a slow couple of months for photography.  For one thing, I’ve been working crazy hours (again).  For another, it’s been HOT.  The birds aren’t as active in late summer, and I just haven’t had time to get out with the camera.   But I have had fun playing with some old images in my “digital lightroom.”  It can be fun to apply filters and effects to images.  Usually Rich looks at them and says, “that’s nice.”  (Translation: he doesn’t like it, but he won’t say so.)  Occasionally, he looks at my screen and lets out a “Wow!”  (No translation required!)

So here’s the challenge of today’s blog post: identify which photo(s) below made Rich go “wow!”  Leave me a comment if any of these tickle your fancy. :)

Summer Sunrise

Summer Sunrise

This was a summer sunrise from June, taken on the beach near St. Augustine.  I experimented with a combination of Fractalius and Nik Color Efex Pro to create this artistic rendering.

Purple Hydrangea

Purple Hydrangea

These were some of my purple hydrangeas from the backyard this summer.  Hydrangeas will bloom either pink or blue depending on the pH of your soil, and I’m fortunate to have flowers in all colors: pink, blue, and purple.  I think this was an in-camera multiple exposure using my 5D Mark III.  I enhanced the color tones in Nik.

Green and Purple

Green and Purple

It’s been a while since I processed some of these!  I believe this one was an in-camera blur in my backyard.  I panned horizontally as I made the image.  Then I processed the image in Flaming Pear’s Flexify filter.  I think there’s a round of Fractalius in there, too.

Dahlia Multiple Exposure

Dahlia Multiple Exposure

This Dahlia was an in-camera multiple exposure using my 5D Mark III.  I love that camera!  I enhanced the colors in Color Efex Pro.

Burrowing Owl on Watch

Burrowing Owl on Watch

I loved this image of the Burrowing Owl, but the background seemed to dominate in the original.  So I ran it through Topaz, then added an overlay to mix it with the original, then ran the whole thing through Fractalius.  I liked how it de-emphasized the background and brought out the bird.

African Iris

African Iris

Finally, this African Iris was done using so many filters that I don’t even remember them all!  I know Nik “Solarize” was in there somewhere, and some Topaz too.  Rich loves to make fun of me photographing the African Irises.  Every time he walks past a flowering bush of them, he whispers to me, “Freeze me!”  (alluding to my early frozen flower experiments, in which more than one African Iris met a very cold end for the sake of my lens).  Come to think of it, maybe it’s time to start another round of frozen flower experiments.  Maybe some cold ice will help bring on the fall weather! :)

Breaking News! First Painted Bunting Sighting!

I saw our first Painted Bunting of the fall this afternoon!!

First of Fall Painted Bunting!

First of Fall Painted Bunting!

This bird is right on schedule.  Last year I saw my first-of-fall Painted Bunting on October 11.  This year it was October 12 (although I thought I heard buntings in my yard yesterday morning, but I didn’t get visual confirmation).  Isn’t it amazing how these tiny birds who fly thousands of miles in a year end up in the exact same spot at almost the exact same time?

Welcome back, little birdies!  I can’t wait to sit out in my new bird blind and photograph you!