Beyond the Backyard

Nighthawks and a Gorgeous Sunset

Posted on

With our Florida rainy season in full swing, the clouds of our afternoon thunderstorms provide great opportunities for sunset pictures.  One afternoon recently I came home, saw the clouds on the horizon, grabbed the camera, and drove out to some grassy fields where I knew I’d have a clear view of the horizon for sunset. When I saw the sunlight illuminating the grasses and making their flowery tops shimmer, I first grabbed my wide-angle lens. But the detail of the grasses quickly got lost with the wide-angle shot. So I put on my intermediate telephoto and made this image. It’s an HDR composite of three images to capture the full tonal range. I really liked how the HDR emphasized the rays of light shining down on the grasses. It was gorgeous. Common Nighthawks love the open grassy areas, and sometimes I come across one sitting by himself out on the open. I’d love to see his babies! From what I’ve read, the nighthawks nest right out in the open, because they blend in so well that there is no need to make a more sheltered nest. Wouldn’t it be fun to go out there later this summer and see Junior […]

Beyond the Backyard

More Common Nighthawks

Posted on

A few weeks ago I was excited to find my first Common Nighthawk after work one night.  I went back to look for more, and I found them!  Common Nighthawks are sometimes hard to find. They are most active at night, so during the day when I’d normally see them, they are usually asleep in a tree.  Their colors make them blend right into those trees!  I read on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that they don’t even bother to make nests, because they blend in so well with their environment.  I also learned that Common Nighthawks are not yearlong residents of Florida – they come here for the summer only.  I know they have been spotted at the Circle B Bar Reserve upon occasion. This area has a lot of farms, with lots of irrigation posts sticking up.  Perfect for the Common Nighthawks to sit on!  The sunlight that night was very pretty on the birds as the sun set behind me… I take my wide-angle lens to this area because the open grassy region is so pretty.  But I also aimed the Beast at the setting sun and made some images as the sun slipped behind the […]

Beyond the Backyard

Glimpses of a Disappearing Florida

Posted on

I’m dismayed by the recent development in our area. Where pine trees once covered the land, yet another development is going in. Where Sandhill Cranes once flew over John’s Lake, signs now stand advertising multi-million dollar lakefront homes. Scenic drives are cluttered by cookie-cutter stucco houses. The Orlando area is expanding, and as it expands it is eating native Florida. As the habitat disappears, so do our birds. I’ve been so excited to occasionally find Eastern Bluebirds on the backroads, but where will they live once the pine trees are all gone? I hadn’t truly appreciated all the undeveloped areas near our house, until they started to be cleared. So I’ve been driving around after work, trying to find “birdy” spots close to home, and I’ve been happy to discover that I can still find native Florida, if I know where to look! Last night I found my first Common Nighthawk, or at least I think that’s his ID. He was sitting on the top of a sprinkler riser. I had to stack my 1x and 2x teleconverters to get this image. Look at his big eye and tiny beak (yes, that’s a beak on the right side of his […]