Sunday, March 30, 2008

Birdsong Nature Center near Thomasville, Georgia

My friend Abby recently posted photos of a trip she took to Birdsong, and it reminded me that I had not been there for a while (since November 2006, actually). Yesterday was a warm sunny day so I headed out there.

I first walked on the trail that circles Farm Pond. This gator was sunning along the edge of the pond.

I walked over to Big Bay Swamp. Last time I was here we were in a drought and there was very little water anywhere. Now there's a lot of water! This swamp looks so primitive.

This place lives up to its name, and since they had just done a burn in part of it, the birds were really out and about. Lovely to listen to, difficult to photograph from the trails!

The trees are flowering and everything is greening up so nicely.


I walked to the Listening Place, which is a lovely building overlooking more swampland. I lingered there awhile and then headed back to the entrance. On the way back I passed the only other people I had seen on the property all day, despite this being such a gorgeous Saturday.

The house at the entrance has a "bird window"--a large clean window that looks out on an area designed for the birds--there are feeders spread around, both manufactured ones and natural ones (seed spread over a tree stump, etc.). There is a large bathing area for the birds with a misting device at the top that constantly sprays a fine mist of water over the bath. Along the bottom of the window is a gutter that is kept full of food--this window is coated with something that allows us to see out but the birds can't see in very well, so they will come to feed only inches away. While I was there most of the occupants were redwing blackbirds, this one at the edge of the bathing area:

And others looking for food on the ground.

I'm not sure how visible we are to the birds outside--this cardinal did seem to be looking right at me.

Meanwhile, this one was busy splashing in the tub.

Birdsong is a little out of the way but well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Friday, March 28, 2008

True Miscellanea II

Just some random photos. I wanted to try a new setting I have been tinkering with on the camera with a different lens than my usual. April was lying in the windowsill bed so I decided to start with her.

Works okay. I went to a pond in a nearby town, hoping to get some photos of shorebirds flying to see how the lens does with action shots at this setting. The only birds there were ducks.

And they want their bread crumbs. NOW.

I didn't have any, so I left.

We have an amaryllis growing in our side yard that neither of us remember planting, and which usually gets mowed over before it gets close to blooming (since neither of us remembers that it is there). This is the first year it has made it all the way to blooming (since we have been lax with the mowing, I guess). It's very pretty.

Those are the photos of the day.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Back to Cedar Key!

I'd been wanting to return to this town ever since I took a daytrip here while camping nearby. There was a bit of a scheduling glitch with my reservations and I ended up in a condo rather than the cottage I had reserved. As I drove from the occupied cottage to the condo, I had my doubts about how well it would work out but in fact it was fantastic. Both the cottage and the condos are managed by Nature's Landing. That website shows better photos of the lay of the land around the buildings than I could get. I was in a room on the first floor, directly over the pool, with a perfect view of the channel right in front of the property. (I have already made my reservations for a return visit, next time on a higher floor. When it comes to this particular property, I am a condo convert, I guess.)

I was invited to a "Low Country Boil" scheduled for the day after I got there. It was held in the park, which is right across the street from the condos, and of course situated on the Gulf. It sounded like fun, and the tide was too far out to easily launch the kayak, so I planned to go to the boil. In the meantime, I walked along the inlet and watched the birds fishing in the very shallow low-tide water.

The low-country boil was great! Fresh clams steamed open and poured over corn on the cob, potatoes, and sausage.

That's JD, property manager extraordinaire (I assume property manager is the correct term?) lifting the steaming clams.

The clams are open!

Cedar Key is a very cool little town. Many of the locals get around in golf carts. Here's one you often see--a very sporty cart with a comfortable passenger (the driver was nearby at the boil when I took this).

The gulls were also interested in the clams, and are regular daily visitors to the park.

By the time the tide had come in sufficiently to get out in the kayak, it had become too windy. So I decided to stroll around the town to walk off all those clams. This egret must have also been walking off a large meal...

I went back to the condo to read for a while on my balcony before dinner, watching all the pelicans and gulls and egrets (and an osprey) fly by at eye level. In fact, I noticed just how many pelicans fly by--I estimated from 1-3 pelicans every five minutes. I didn't get that much reading done, I preferred watching the birds. Here's one that passed by me as I sat there.

One of my favorite restaurants, a very short walk from Nature's Landing, is Seabreeze. It has a large dining room right over the Gulf and a full menu. After dinner (stuffed shrimp) I walked some more near the water and then circled back on the other side of a channel to return to the condo. The restaurant was looking picturesque from this perspective. The Gulf is on the other side.

There is a walkway at the condo property that is adjacent to the inlet and provides access to some docks and a fish-cleaning station. Beyond that it continues through the mangroves to more open water. I walked out there as the sun was setting. Here's the view looking back toward the condo property (you can see the roof of Building C just over the trees on the left).

I'm looking forward to my next stay there. This is also a perfect paddling destination, and photos and more info on that can be found on Paddle Tales.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

St. Marks Lighthouse

I was recently at the St. Marks NWR and took some photos. Everyone who goes there takes photos of the lighthouse, and they all look basically the same.

Lately I have been having fun experimenting with making gallery prints. I decided to do some manipulating of the lighthouse photo I took and then present it in gallery print form.