Friday, February 20, 2015

Conjunction Nearly Missed

When I left work at sunset I noticed the moon at a perfect angle. I then remembered it was time for a conjunction. However, I had to stop by the store so I couldn't admire it too long. Maybe I would try to linger tomorrow night. I didn't have my camera remote with me so it wouldn't be worth it to try and mount the camera on the tripod for shaky photos would it?

On the way home, though, I decided I should try it handheld anyway. Florida skies can change to cloudy in no time and tonight was completely clear. Not to bad for no stability. From left to right: Venus, Mars, and that constant companion La Luna.

Moon, Venus, Mars

Glad I took the few minutes. The next night was indeed clouded over. Opportunity nearly missed.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Better View of the Redhead Pair

The Redhead duck pair are still out in the lake with the Ring-necks. This time I caught them awake in more interesting light.


Not a lot of variety this year so I will have to settle for these pretty little waterfowl.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Finally, Another Robin Frenzy!

Cruising through the Greenwood Cemetery to check on the Bald Eagle nest I noticed a bit of bird activity on the ground around the bend. We have had a pretty slow Winter when it comes to migratory birds but I showed up at the right time for one of the annual American Robin feeding frenzies. Before these birds head back toward the North they swarm the trees and landscape for al the fruit they can get to fatten up for the journey. They really like Camphor berries.

American Robin

I took my usual spot under the big Camphor tree and soon the Robins were dropping down to make sure I was no threat before they resumed their feast.

American Robin

Other birds were inspecting the tree like this Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker. This cemetery is my reliable place for this species.

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

A Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler posed for a few seconds in the middle of her search for insects. Yellow-rumps and Cedar Waxwing numbers were way down this season. Particularly the Waxwings that often trail the Robin flocks.

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Myrtle Warbler

This male American Robin barely gave me a second glance as he swooped down directly beneath my perch. I could hardly get him in focus!

American Robin

He soon wandered a few more feet out in the open and started gulping fruit.

American Robin

I am not sure if I will get another chance to find a feeding flock again this Winter. It is almost time for them to go home. Just have to enjoy it while I can.

American Robin

Next year, bring your Waxwing friends along with you, please. Though I love you guys just as much.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Walking Lake Eola

On this beautiful Valentine's Day we had a lot of the family all in one place and decided to take a walk around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. We had yet to see all of the art installations that now ring the lake and its famous fountain and swan-shaped paddle boats. We entered from the west side next to the little noticed Sperry Fountain

Sperry Fountain

What most do notice is the little 'bird island' which is constantly decorated by Double-crested Cormorants.

Double-crested Cormorant

In the past, the only swans at the lake were Mute Swans which the paddle boats are modeled after. A few are still around but so are many other species brought in a few years ago.

Mute Swan

Hanging out in the tree branches over the water were a few White Ibis catching a few rays.

White Ibis

The first art installation we got to was the Muse of Discovery located next to the amphitheater.

Muse of Discovery

I was surprised to find a very tolerant male Anhiga up on the wall next to the sidewalk. Out in the wild, Anhinga usually fly off on approach. This guy let me get within 5 feet!


Soon we were at the piece of art I was looking forward to: Take Flight. A flock of silvery birds soaring over the water.

Take Flight

Just before you reach the pagoda, another fountain sits in a small pond. It has been there as long as I remember and is called Fantasy Swan.

Fantasy Swan

The Sun was setting so the main fountain, the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain was in high glare but still pretty.

Eola Fountain

On the northern edge of the lake property is another installation: Union. It is a kinetic piece that has curved blades that rotate in the wind.


Most of the other introduced swan species were down at this end of the lake. A Black Swan swam up to the wall looking for a hand-out. These birds have actually bred here in the past.

Black Swan

Trailing behind was one of the Black-necked Swans.

Black-necked Swan

Speaking of breeding swans, the Whooper Swans were sitting on a nest right on the edge of the lake.

Whooper Swan

Ah, a common sight for me when out. I end up taking so many pictures and have to often catch up to the family. At least they tolerate my constant clicking.


The next installation is a really cool forced perspective piece called Monument in Right Feet Major. There is hardly an uninteresting angle to shoot this statue.

Monument in Right Feet Major

Just across the way in the roundabout is the towering Cedar of Lebanon made of metal and mirrors.

Cedar of Lebanon

We passed the final installation: Centered and then decided to stop for some pizza.


Bellies full, it was time to make the final leg of our hike as twilight settled in and the Eola Fountain began its light show.

Eola Fountain

A great stroll around the lake. I will try to get back to find some new angles and there are two installations away from the lake that I will have to capture.

Mead Garden Wood Duck

I needed to get out at least one day the the Great Backyard Bird Count so I headed over to Mead Botanical Garden and counted what I could. I was really pretty quiet. So much so that I only took a few pictures and most of them were of this drake Wood Duck that flew into the pond as I was walking toward it. There were a few other Wood Ducks along the creek but I guess he just wanted some alone time.

Wood Duck

That was just fine by me. I love Wood Ducks. Typically they are very skittish and swim away even if you are just driving close in a car. This guy just took his time drifting toward and across from me as I took photo after photo.

Wood Duck

Maybe I was taking too many photos because I got the "Really?" stare as he drew up along the weeds. Yes, really, Mr. Wood Duck. One of those things I do.

Wood Duck

I think he would stayed there for some even closer shots but out of the back of the pond a flock Mallards began to swim towards him and he decided to not mess with them so he bid me adieu.

Wood Duck

Little minutes like that make up for the lack of other birds. Any day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


The latest launch of SpaceX ended up being delayed a bit but it did give some time to figure out where to watch it since I now work at a new location just out of town and where I know where to head for a clear shot when needed. The new schedule was set for not long after I got off work so I knew to head straight to a spot on the way home along Baldwin Park.

Tonight, the launch went off on time as I walked to the edge of the lake and got a few shots just as we headed toward sunset.


The SpaceX engines were at full thrust as it climbed higher in the evening sky.


The fun part about a morning or evening launch is the multi-colored smoke trail left over once the vehicle has cleared the area.


More launches to come this year. Hopefully I can be out there when they happen!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Redhead Makes for a New Winter Sighting

Been a slow year at the local lakes. Everywhere else, too, as I have pointed out in the past. Some years we have hundreds of Ring-necked Ducks and dozens of Lesser Scaup in one spot but this year I might find as much as 70 total. We do have a pair of Northern Shovelers hiding for most of the day but no other interesting things. Yeah, I love a few Blue-winged Teal, but...

I headed out to get groceries and scanned the small flock and finally found a new species out on the lake. A pair of Redhead. Trying to stay hidden while resting but I see you!


Still have yet to get any neighborhood Goldfinches, Gadwall, or Cedar Waxwings. Sigh. Guess I will take what I can get.