Beyond the Backyard

Springtime Bird Photography at Fort De Soto

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Red-Breasted Merganser

April is my favorite time to visit Fort De Soto in St. Petersburg, Florida.  The sandy beaches are beautiful, the spring winds are cool, and my toes get to wiggle in the ocean water as I photograph the birds molting into their breeding plumage.  An April visit always has the possibility of a fallout, where migratory birds are caught by rainstorms as they cross the Gulf of Mexico, so they land at the first opportunity – Fort De Soto!  But even if it’s a slow day for migrants, the North Beach springtime bird photography opportunities are spectacular. My husband thinks I’m nuts, but I love to start a good morning at Fort De Soto with a sunrise, even though that means getting up early enough to drive from Orlando and still arrive 30 minutes before sunrise.  Yep, I’m crazy, but at least I’m not the only one.  It was great seeing Michael, Donna, Susan, and Daniel at the park this morning.  We all had the same problem with the sunrise – lens fog!  My early shots were long exposures with my ND filter, but I didn’t move into position with the palm trees in the foreground until well after sunrise, […]

Digital Art

Twist and Shout!

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I feel like this Red-breasted Merganser today, shaking off two looooong weeks of work.  It was literally eat-sleep-work, where I was logging over a hundred hours a week.  I think I’m just about done with the insane hours, so I hope to start blogging regularly again. Today’s image is another Out-of-Bounds effect that I did in Photoshop.  It’s surprisingly easy to do.  This one took a while because of all the water droplets that I had to paint in using a layer mask.  I had envisioned the result to be a little more dramatic than this…somehow the water droplets didn’t turn out exactly how I’d hoped. Shake it up, duckie! Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing daylight for the first time in two weeks, and re-filling the bird feeders that my little piggies had emptied.  I had a pretty high species count for my backyard:  Red-Winged Blackbirds, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Yellow-Throated Warbler, American Goldfinch, Belted Kingfisher (fly-over), Cardinal, Painted Bunting, Brown Thrasher (back for the spring!), Cedar Waxwings (my first-of-season), Mourning Doves, House Finches, Laughing Gull fly-over, and Sandhill Crane fly-over.  We’ll see how long it takes them to empty the feeders again!

Beyond the Backyard

Finally!

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Finally! I got to use The Beast for the first time in almost a month! After hearing friends talk about the great birds at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I went there yesterday. Blackpoint Wildlife Drive was busier than I’ve ever seen it (both with birds and photographers :)). The birding wasn’t spectacular, due to the winds, but I did get to see my first Horned Grebe. He was hanging out by the culvert near the bathrooms on Blackpoint. I was amazed at his bright red eye. After I got home and saw his pictures, I saw that he’s missing part of the top of his beak. Poor little guy. A flock of several hundred American White Pelicans was hanging out fairly near the road. It was fun to see them. They certainly haven’t settled at Circle B this year. I had fun trying to photograph them – there were always lots of birdie butts! I tried to wait until they were all facing the same way. I think this one should be called “the eyes have it!” The terns and gulls flew over the pelicans, trying to steal fish whenever possible. They kept flying away from me, though! I […]

Beyond the Backyard

Sunset at Fort De Soto

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Rich and I visited Fort De Soto for sunset this evening.  It was fun to share the park with Rich, who’s never shared my early-morning zeal for sunrises and golden-light bird photography.  It was also the first time I’d been to Fort De Soto in the afternoon.  We headed to East Beach first, where the light was finally right to photograph the shorebirds at the turnaround.  Then we went up to North Beach for the sunset.  The mosquitos weren’t bad and we had a great evening! At the East Beach turnaround, we found a small flock of shorebirds, including plovers, sandpipers, and dowitchers.  Some of the birds have started to molt into their breeding plumages.  Others are still in their alternate plumages.  I’m not all that good at shorebird identification, and the varying plumages and half-stages make it even more difficult. :-p  (If I’ve mis-identified one of these birds, please post a comment or .) A couple of Red-Breasted Mergansers came up onto shore.  I’ve never seen one of these guys up close, as they don’t come often to the Circle B Bar Reserve or any of the other places where I regularly go to photograph.  I thought it was […]

Beyond the Backyard

Quiet Morning at Fort De Soto

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I drove over to Fort De Soto on Saturday morning in hopes of finding some early migrant warblers.  There have also been a Reddish Egret in full breeding plumage and a Long-Billed Curlew hanging out at the North Beach lagoon.  I had high hopes of some good photography, but unfortunately, it was a pretty quiet morning. When I first arrived, I was on the lookout for the eagle’s nest that’s on the Tierra Verde peninsula before the entrance to the park.  I knew I’d found it when I saw the line of photographers, most of whom were lined up on the side of the road with their 500mm and 600mm lenses.  I pulled over and joined the crowd.  The nest is beautiful in the morning light.  It’s out in the open, one of the most photographable nests I’ve ever seen.  When I arrived, the adult was sitting near the nest, and one juvenile was in the nest.  The adult flew away, leaving the baby to sit in the nest and munch on his breakfast.  Some of the other photographers stood waiting, hoping that the adult would bring in food.  I watched for a while, then left to go to the […]