The expression "Peace Out" is often used to say goodnight. So when I left the Osprey Trail on Honeymoon Island in Dunedin, FL tonight and saw a peace sign that someone had left on the ground at the end of the trail I was reminded of this. It was a fitting sign at the end of a walk through one of Florida's great State Parks.
I had never been to the Honeymoon Island State Park before but had heard that it was a great place to photograph birds and collect shells. So I went up there today and saw Osprey, Armadillos, two Bald Eagle chicks and numerous shorebirds. It was a good day.
Here's a few shots off the trail.
A few days ago I posted a little note about the value of patience, and a little good luck, in wildlife photography. Today, as I was walking along the fish pier in Clearwater Beach I think maybe I saw the reverse of that! Wildlife being patient! A fishing boat had just come in to port and the Brown Pelicans were waiting, patiently, for the fresh Bonita! Sure, they scuffled a bit when a fresh piece was thrown their way but basically they just sat there in a tidy little row, waiting for the handouts! "No, please, you first..." Wow! Being from Boston maybe I'm just not used to that sort of civility...but I certainly didn't expect it of Pelicans! I'm used to seeing the wild and crazy "feeding frenzies" of pelicans as shown on the nature channel. But these guys were just "chillin"! Waiting their turn. They could have just as well been wearing "Life Is Good" T-shirts!
Anyway, the Pelican "feeding frenzy" turned out to be a nice opportunity to photograph a few other birds that joined the crowd. Here's one of my favorites... "Egret on the Runway"!
Over the past month or so I've met quite a few itinerant craftspeople on my Florida excursion. Turns out that many, if not most, of the folks doing craftshows are "from away". This past weekend in Bradenton I met folks from Michigan, Maine, Virginia, Pennsylvania and NYC. There are a few "rookies" out there like me giving Florida a trial run, but most are fairly seasoned in the adventures of doing shows in the winter. They are veteran "Snowbird Craftsmen" I guess.... sort of like a bunch of traveling orphans....a little pack of "Annies"...some possibly hoping to find Mr. Warbucks along the way, but most just trying to "make a buck" in the winter when there are few shows up north! And although it feels a little juvenile to be drawing parallels with the musical Annie at my age I find it quite irresistible. So be it. The musical Annie is really about optimism. And I find that as a group craftspeople are generally a very optimistic lot. Last weekend was a nice little test of that.
For me the weekend started on Saturday around 4 AM. It was a 5:30 set up. It was a nice day and all was going well until around mid-day when the wind started picking up. And by late afternoon many of us were hanging on to our tents and discussing what to do about the evening since there were "wind advisories" for the area (on a two day show tents are usually left up overnight and security watches over things). So although a few craftsmen took everything down most of us lowered the tents and hoped for the best. As I drove home over the Sunshine Skyway bridge I thought of my little tent as I looked down at the whitecaps below.
There's a line from "Its A Hard Knock Life" that goes..."Don't it seem like the wind is always howlin?" It certainly did on Saturday night.
It was 36 degrees outside when I got back to the show on Sunday morning. Fortunately, my tent and the stuff in it survived just fine. But a few others, like one of my neighbors in the brown tent didn't fare quite as well. Although her tent got displaced by about six feet she said "lifes too short" to worry about a little tent blowing away! And by late morning she had put everything back to rights again. And so had most of the others.
..."The sun'll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow. There'll be sun"
The sun did come out on Sunday but unfortunately not too many people. The wind had died down but the temps were still a little chilly for Florida. Nonetheless, we sat on the sunny side of the street and said things like..."of course it could have been much worse"..."there's always next week", etc. One craftsman noted ..."I don't worry too much about individual weekends. It's the total at the end of the year that really matters". And as most of the craftsmen packed up and left Bradenton they were already talking about next week. "See you next weekend in Dunedin....I hear its a great show"!
I just checked the forecast for next weekend for Dunedin. Rain is predicted for Saturday! But Sunday is supposed to be nice. Guess I better get some trivets of the sunflower painting I finished last week printed. If its going to be sunny in Dunedin I may need of whole bunch of them!
Postscript to Tomorrow:
Dunedin turned out to be a good show. But a few weeks later, in the Villages, another storm with 40 MPH winds blew up in the night and took out the tents of 12 craftsmen! One guy said that a tent ended up on the top of his camper! Fortunately, mine was spared and the sun did come out again on Sunday. But as Forest said " Life is like a bowl of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get".
I saw a post on Facebook yesterday by a photography website called Lightstalking. It was a nice little piece about photographing wildlife in an urban setting and one of the comments that struck me was the following: "Be trustworthy. Although any wildlife photography is about being as unobtrusive as possible, wildlife at 50 mm is about intimacy. It’s impossible to do that without getting close. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time together before you start shooting. Accept that sometimes an animal doesn’t want you to come close(r). After all, being trusted by a vulnerable animal is somewhat of a miracle".
So when I went out for a walk today to photograph birds at Clearwater Beach, FL, I was mindful of this advise, especially since I was planning to use a 14-42mm lens.... and needed to get up very close and personal. I took a lot of photos of seagulls and other local birds but wasn't able to get up close enough to anything for a good shot. Everything just flew away as soon as I took the camera out. I felt like I had failed the "intimacy test" with the birds of Clearwater so I put the camera back in the bag and headed home.
But like many things.... when you stop trying too hard your luck changes. As I was walking back home I saw a white Egret near the shore. I slowly walked toward it. And as I got closer and closer.. and closer.. I couldn't believe that I was being "trusted" enough to get within 6 feet of this beautiful bird! It felt really intimate. How did I get so lucky? This Egret just stood there steadfast...almost begging me to come closer. Well, as the Lightstalking piece said, it really helps to be patient and "unobtrusive". But I should note that it also really helps when there is a tasty little bite sized fish dangling off a fishing line just a few feet over your shoulder! Turns out that some kids were fishing off a nearby ledge and had caught a fish just as I was walking up and moving in on the Egret. Maybe the Egret "trusted" me but I think he was really looking for a quick and easy dinner. Yep, miracles happen.... especially if you are in the right place at the right time!
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