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100_6682-1re This was the most colorful thing for most of the day. The promised rain that slammed Alabama, didn’t even fill the bird bath!  We hardly had a thing.
All day I finished up with pricing, bagging, and organizing to have my stuff ready for setting up on Friday.   What a mess I made, finally about 1am I vacuumed and everything put on the dining room table.  100_6745re This was taken around 10pm. Whew, glad it is all put away.
Earlier I had fished. The sky was truly beautiful. The clouds came in waves,
100_6688-1re then it settled into gray woolen puffs stacked in layers.  100_6685re Then patterns of sorts  100_6693re The heron came out to observe –
100_6687re It is the female heron. She watched for about a half hour, but since I was spending most of my time avoiding 4 turtles, she flew toward the center of the lake and chased off an anhinga. I bet she was about 300 feet away when I hooked a bream and it broke through the water splashing which alerted her and she flew right over for a meal.  She stayed on and suddenly the male heron appeared and he is a big one too.   100_6706-1re Much larger than the female.  they still have not gone up to the nesting tree, but I bet it will happen soon. they bwill be lugging branches over my head. It’s fun to watch them fly off with all kinds of sticks for the huge nest they make. I wish they would use one of my trees like they did 3 years ago, but once my red maple fell over, they probably felt vulnerable as it shaded them so well.
It got dark again so early and the mosquitos are terrible. It is still quite warm, though, right now it is about 60 degress outside and is only going to be 71 – now that is cold.
Guess, I will drag my body off to bed, yikes how will I get up on Saturday to be there before 8am, I have to be nuts! Good night, or rather good morning, catch up with you later….

EEEEK! Last night the trap snapped as I was walking down the hallway to the bedroom. I screamed knowing above me was a rodent in a neckhold. But let me back up with some nice photos from the weekend.
First yesterday was rather dreary, thought we might get some rain finally, but nothing but a sprinkle. My lemons are looking good as they start to ripen. 100_6204re and the hibiscus are blooming nicely.  100_6197re and the lake was quiet with it’s graceful lilies.  100_6201re
I would rather be outside than inside with rodents over head. But my brother drove up from the Keys with his wife, sweet Penni, so we got to spend the afternoon together and went to Fuji for sushi dinner.  It’s always great to see my little bro. They left after 9pm and Adam was at home and I was walking down the hallway and heard a sound like something had snapped. I then realized it was the trap and got the ladder and peeked into the attic. I heard a rodent run and looked for the trap, it was kind of hidden by insulation, but could see something in it, didn’t want to stay with one rodent still running around.
After going to bed at 4am, I woke at 8am, that was after waking several times dreaming of rats swimming around the attic. I awoke twice really panicky. Finally I got up at 8am, but waited till Adam was up before I made noise going up to the attic. I pulled the fishing line and on the end was a dead rat in the trap, he died very quickly! Those big Victor traps do the job! So the good news is, one less rat to infest mankind, but the bad news is, there is still another, or possibly more. Tomorrow I will call a critter place and see if I can hire one to put the traps way in the back where I can’t reach.  I want to be rat free! What if they have a family – YIKES!!! I put up two traps today and am going to get glue strips.  Wonder if we will have two snaps up tonight, that would be delightful!
As for today – went outside to weed and heard the heron making a familiar call when it is in the tree where it normally nests.  100_6257re That is always a great sign, and maybe it means Fall is here, though the temps have been record hot all week in 90’s still.  The crows were out this morning too.   100_6245re, even saw two crows kissing.  100_6249-1re
Most of the day was warm and overcast, got two trash cans of weeds for Wednesday and didn’t even go fishing. Through a bit of bread out there and just minnows ate it.  The time change means things will be dark earlier, I don’t understand why we here in Florida even need to “Fall back”? What’s the point? We should get out there with enough petitions to stop this nonsense.
At just about 4:30pm, looked like it might rain, but again, clouds passed on by.
100_6277re Look at that view, my cranes, the little lake, my wonderful neighbors, these are all the pluses, but am feeling that itch for new scenery, maybe it is time for a change, a bigger lake or a lake community with a place to fish. Am thinking seriously of moving on somewhere…

 

It’s Friday,  this morning there was a fog over the lake 100_4139-res But that did not stop the cranes and Carbs the duck from looking for birdseed.  The other birds were busy too, lots and lots of cardinals today. 100_4155res I bet there were about 7 at one time!
When it was time to go fishing, the cranes were still here rooting around the yard. The sky was very dramatic.  100_4171-1res 100_4177res across the lake there was this wonderful rainbow patch just above the treeline.  The sky was full of storms to the east.
Most of the day I had been working on my garden. I think I am going to let more than half of it go back to being grass. The weeding is Hell.
That overgrown patch beyond the crane in the first photo is the garden and I have not weeded in a few months. I am really losing interest in keeping it up. The weeds grow the best, so essentially I have a garden of weeds. and maybe I should just let the whole lawn go to weeds and just mow one three foot area going down to the lake?
Anyway, it was time to fish so I chose a lightning rod,  100_4167res and ran to the lake because there was a great full moon last night. DSC01091res How can I ignore this magnetic call from the lake. I did catch two fish, bream,  100_4169res they are really very pretty fish with rainbow colors on parts of them.  The sky continued to turn blues and I could see the rain coming down a few miles away.  DSC01102-1res The cranes finally gathered on the hill and I grabbed my camera. Excuse how messy the image is as I had messy sticky, gooky fish hands and was trying to touch the camera without holding my hands on it too much. But when I saw the cranes all standing straight in a row waiting to take the cue from the father to leave, I wanted to try and get
a video of them flying practically over my head.
I did give up fishing as the turtles were once again making it impossible to throw the bait out without having a turtle charge right for it.
As I looked up, I noticed how beautiful the sky was, it had melded into pinks and blues, and orange my favorite look.  100_4194res 100_4190res It’s one of those moments you wish you had someone out there besides a duck and cat. The colors were spectacular. So, that’s about it. I came in and Frankie was hogging my desk and had knocked over all kinds of paperwork as she sprawled out.  100_4186res And that’s it for today – where does a day go? Where does the month go? Where does a year go? Can it all just slow down for a while, life is just passing by way too fast…. Tomorrow I will report on the garden

It’s my birthday! Thank you very much, but why bother celebrating being old? Let’s just move on – I decided to go visit the Sanford zoo and look for crows as they are always there waiting for discarded food at the concession stand. I want to take more for the art exhibit I am trying to get together for the upcoming Seminole Community College submissions for 2010 and to submit as a proposal for some other galleries.
I first looked for Carbs and threw him some seed.  DSC00630res Then headed on to Sanford Zoo only about 5 miles away. The sky was really overcast, threatened to rain, but figured I’d take my chances.  The Zoo was quiet, they are gearing up for a Grand Opening for the obstacle course with low and high, tree level walkways. I wonder how long that will last till they have an accident and the liability will end that.  100_3663res

The Zoo itself was quiet as the kids are back in school. I came first to a red shoulder hawk on display. DSC00562res After that I headed toward the concession stand and nada, nothing, no birds anywhere! So I moved on to where they were feeding the iguana.
DSC00566res The alligators head was so close to the wall, I couldn’t even take it, so I took his knobby body. 82609alligatorback-1res I passed up on the snake room this time as the sky was darkening and thunder could be heard and I am handling metal. I went to visit the cats and Maude and Mary the old Asian elephants.
The cats were all sound asleep. DSC00580res Except the leopards who were panting away like last time, poor jail birds.  DSC00594res The monkeys were also sound asleep, not one was moving! On to the elephants.  82609trunkup-1res, Maud or Mary, whichever it was was posing nicely. Then she took a massive leak. elephanttakingaleak-1res

And it kept going and going  — 82609peeingelephant-1res

I then wandered on to the butterfly garden,  100_3661res So much of the zoo is built around a natural setting which makes it such a treasure. It is not manufactured like other zoos. The bad part is the cats and elephants, they need a lot more room.  100_3647res

100_3654res 100_3665res The natural flow of water is also a bonus with all the streams hidden among the cages and exhibits.
I made my way to the cheetahs,  100_3656leopardres DSC00602res
One of the cheetahs kept pacing and pacing. he looked so bored.  Finally I saw some grackles at a little pond across from the emus.  DSC00614res The birds frolicked and had fun dipping in the water. I took a good amount and then hurried through a few more paths of animal cages.  82609zoogoat-1res
DSC00619res And the sky looked and sounded like it might open up so I hurried out. On the way back home right outside the zoo was a wild turkey, but I was driving and could not stop to take the photo. I did see a rooster by a house and no one was coming so I pulled over and took it’s picture, 82609roostercloseup-3res – it was quite handsome!
And that’s how my day has gone.  I came back and had more birds in bird bath and eating at feeders. Love sitting and getting side-tracked at my desk.  82609birdbath-1res That’s a mocking bird shaking off the water. And so far, that’s the day. I really love that being this age has brought a real passion for taking pictures. I feel that is me, I can’t even imagine not having a day without a photo!  Thanks to Lee and Andrea for our sushi dinner last night and to Adam who gave the family Journey tickets next month. I’m excited to see that new guy who sings like Steve Perry.

Enjoy photos at http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

Poor Michael Jackson, I can totally sympathize with his insomnia, last night I slept two hours, actually it was this morning from 8am to 10am. If I had to go onstage like he did, or held a regular job, I’d be screwed.
I was going to go with Dee-dee and listen to a bird lecture, but I had no attention span for sitting and listening, in fact I had invited her to go with me last week and she ended up going alone, some friend I am…
I could use some liquid coma too a few nights. 71209abbe-3res

I have no idea what 8 hours is, I guess for me it is 4 or 5. Don’t get me wrong, I do like sleeping because I like dreaming, dreaming is so damn cool, you can do anything.  But here I am after 2 hours sleep in a 24 hour cycle and I am still up and fooling around on the computer.  I did see a raccoon on the porch,
RingoandRaccoon71209-1res

I brought Ringo in as I was not sure if he would jump that coon or not, or maybe the raccoon would think it was another raccoon because they share the same tail.
I took a few pictures with me and Frankie:  71109Frank&AB2res
Frankie was outside too, so I brought her in also. It was hot and very damp outside. Then I took a self portrait and worked it a bit,
71209abbe-2res Hey, at least I’m smiling! And I took a few pics of furniture,  SilverLionchair-1res and even cheated and took Andrea’s cat painting she did and worked that too. mussa&fish-2res It should look like this:  mussa&fish-1res Isn’t Andrea talented? She makes the cutest paintings.
Maybe I will go into my bedroom and veg for a while, turn on the news and relax, maybe read. I do want to say a special shout out to Tabbie my blog buddy, get well ASAP!
Maybe tomorrow I will find more wildlife, these hot days the only things I see are birds quickly in the early morning, turtles when I fish, and cats on hot tin roofs and porches. Even the raccoons know better than to be outside in the afternoon. Good night, it’s almost one, cross your fingers for at least 5 hours of deep alphas and dream patterns…

Today was a scheduled maintenance for pumping the septic. Last time I had it done 4 years ago it cost $185. Now, it’s at $230 and that was the cheapest company I could find.
$230? That means crap is worth about the same price as an ounce of gold when you consider it took less then 20 minutes to empty.
They come and look for your tank, and dig around it to open it. I have a ‘slider’ or sectional, it slides open. They didn’t open it as far as the last company.  pumpingseptic1res When they finished, they made me flush all the toilets and gave me the okay. So hopefully that is it for
the septic until another 4 years. I wish they were on public sewer around here. At one point they tried to get all the lake owners to get on public sewer and no one wanted to pay the cost of doing it. It really would have been so much healthier for the lake considering all the sludge is traveling toward the lake in the drainfields on these lakefront homes.
They finish pumping and then slide the section tight and cover it all back again with the dirt they had removed to get to it. It will be a big mud pile this afternoon when the rains come.
The heron came this morning, DSC06224res but quickly flew off when the septic truck pulled up. DSC06225res

The heat is horrible, supposed to feel once again over 100 degrees.
I can see the woodpecker is busy feeding a very noisy crew inside the one tree stump. Tomorrow I will do a more palatable subject…

DSC08718res This is the last time we saw the male, father crane. I told you that the mama and baby have been coming alone for 5 days. But today 3 of them came and I was very excited and had to go take some photos. DSC06201res But right away, I noticed that Papa crane was not acting the same as I knew. The other father crane would let me get very close, this one was skittish,  very worried about me and stayed back. He was also very weary of noise and was looking all over at each ‘whir-noise’ the camera made when taking a photo.  Upon noticing his head, I knew right away this was a different male.  Notice the shape of the head of the top photo and this new head shape of this male.
DSC06206res This male has a more rounded head shape. So I say, a new male has joined the newly widowed female and son. That’s a good thing as a baby should have a father’s influence. The mother seems fine with the male and he also seems fine with his new family. But wonder what happened to the other male? Especially since the male and female had been together the whole 5 years I have lived here. I wish the state would band these birds so I could study them further. It would be a great way to identify them.
I also observed that this male crane did not share the food and ‘snipped’ at the baby if he was getting a morsel that the new male wanted. That was not the case with the other male, who gladly fed his baby. I am pretty sure this is another male.
newmale-1resnew male
papacranefatherofbabiesresfather of baby
Umm, we need some DNA testing – what do you think? I think we have a new family unit combination.

Hope all had a happy 4th holiday, mine was filled with family and too much good food! Hope yours was the same!

7209res This is how the day began around 6am. The sky was beautifully lit with red clouds. It’s in the low 70’s, feels almost cool. I saw both moorhen parents swimming about, but not one baby sighting.  53109moorhenC-1res Yesterday my friends Christine and Richard came over to hang a duck box in hopes that the Black bellied whistling ducks might come back.  DSC08898res I showed Christine the moorhen nest and only an hour earlier there had been 3 eggs. As we stood there, all eggs were completely gone, not one broken shell in sight. Then we saw the culprit, a big black crow flew down and began pecking at the nest. Immediately we knew where the eggs had gone. I have not seen the baby in days, I hope it is hiding.   007res This is a picture on the day it hatched.
Now I am trying to figure why the baby and mama crane are coming without the father? For 5 days now they have come to eat birdseed and Papa crane is not with them which is very unusual. He has been a good daddy for the years I have lived here and NEVER left the baby and mother. This is highly suspect. Do you think maybe he flew to Argentina to find a soul-mate??? I am thinking the worst, that something has happened to him. The baby is taller than the mother. Last night he came and did his goofy dance before they fly across the lake for a good nights sleep.
100_2093res I am hoping the father will find his way back soon. As for me, I am going back to bed, only slept 3 hours so far, time to get some shut eye. I am living in a vampire time zone, the sun comes up, I go back to get a couple hours of sleep…

Looked out at a dark sky crawling in from the west, then went about getting desk cleared off while trying to get bills in order when I glanced out and saw some weird ‘birds’ flying up on cut off tree tops.  BBwd1res Ran out to take a few pictures and luckily they did not fly off as my camera lens immediately fogged up when going from air conditioning to the really humid heat.
DSC06111res Came in and Googled ‘Florida ducks’ and found them to be black bellied whistling ducks, I had never heard of them or seen them.  They were so cute with their long, baggy pink legs and soft gray colored heads.  They looked like book ends on my cut off pine tops.
Then they just flew off, they stayed long enough for their publicity shots, then turned toward the east, away from the storm and headed over the lake and were gone. Oh they made it look so easy to just decide to fly away and go visit another lake,  There was no traffic, (unless you are flying high enough to tangle with airplanes,)  and on a dull day like this, not many flying birds going places.
DSC06114res The wings moved like the mallards as wobbly propellers.
So even though it is dark and rainy, it is always another fun day bird watching while paying the bills in between noticing the ‘bills’. I did see those black bellies, but maybe next time they will stay long enough so I can hear them whistle…

Well, maybe not a butt, but a tree for sure. 100_1744res This tree was down on Lake Blvd. a street over.  100_1741res

Luckily for the owner it missed the house! These summer storms can be produce some big gusts.

Earlier I was thinking about mowing because the clouds started covering the sky. I figured feeling 100 degrees without the sun would be better than feeling 105 with the sun. But as I was thinking about it, the rain started. This storm came fast, and the rain started slammin’ down and the wind was strong. So much for that idea. I watched as lightning struck all over the place.
That tree fell at the right angle. It was a laurel oak which has shallow roots. The tree knocked down the power box too. respower The owner said it was sparking like mad. She was without power obviously, but not for long, the power company guys were out fast and were restringing the line when I drove back from running some errands less than an hour later. She also mentioned she had 5 tree guys giving her bids.
100_1746res the day seemed muggy and gross. The sky stayed gray and threatening. Luckily we all had electricity over here. My friend Beda about ten miles away lost hers and suddenly was realizing how addicted she was to the blogs, emailing, twittering, you tube and all these things that require electric. I know that feeling well – you just take for granted having electricity, try living for a week without it in the heat of the summer after a hurricane and you can only plug in so many things to a generator.
I told Beda we are all now geek slaves to the system, all the little kids are into texting and even six year olds have their own cell phones!  I am trying to figure out how to do a photography web site, but am not saavy enough to try this on my own, I might have to hire a Web designer. It makes me realize how much I need to catch up on while these little kids pass me by! We are now so indebted to technology in order to push our products to the world. Just look at Iran! Despite kicking out the foreign journalists and shutting down the computers by the Ayatollah, the protestors can show us the dissent via youtube and texting and twitters, the Revolutionary Guard can’t stop the technology revolution!
mosquitosres Earlier I had gone to Sanford and stopped by the marina. See all that debris looking stuff all over the ground? Those are midges! They were swarming all over the place. They are also called ‘blind mosquitos’ for some reason. they don’t bite, but instead will swarm all over. It’s terrible — they get in your hair and eyes and if you open your mouth, you have a organic protein meal! I walked near where the ducks were, but the bugs were too terrible. Even the ducks were hiding under the crawl space of the building.
DSC05794res I had to leave,  those midges were too much to take. When I got home the single twin sister Pekin was down near the lake and quacking for her sister. No cranes today, but did have a couple black racer snakes get into striking position when I walked toward the lake. Seems that scary sky had us all on edge…

DSC05328res Woke up and the sandhill cranes had come for a visit. Keep in mind the baby is just about 12 weeks old and he is a monster!  (That’s him in the middle.)  His head is so funny as he is losing his baby fuzz. DSC05218a_edited-1 He’s going to tower over the father. The funny thing was how he loves the water.  The baby crane saw the ducks at the lake, DSC05244res and hurried in their direction to assert his machismo. He scattered them off and jumped in for a bath. I followed from behind and watched the baby as he had the best time waving his wings under the water and making the drops scatter. He would groom and then wave those wings and dunk his head. Then finally about ten minutes later he came ashore spreading his massive wings to dry.
For all the other babies we have had on the property over the years, not one would go in the water deeper than it’s knees if it did not have to. Usually just to drink and of course when they were too young to fly and would swim across the lake. but never have I seen one that spent time having fun like this. Plus he is already flying, it took the other baby cranes much longer to fly, a lot longer! But I will let the photos speak for themselves…
DSC05276cropres DSC05291cropres inwaterres- DSC05296res

DSC05282resd resgroom

DSC05317res DSC05324rescrop

It’s hot out there, really hot, but felt like running up to the used bookstore in Sanford.  Wanted to rumage around the shelves and see what was new. I stopped by the marina to see if anything was floating around, water was flat and nothing visible, not even ducks swimming. So I went toward the businesses up on the “island”.  I can’t figure out how this concrete slab is considered an island, I have been to Sanibel, that’s an island, but then again in Florida, we call drainage ditches “ponds”. Anyway, the familiar ducks were out and about and do seem to stay all together. I saw the one with the hair standing up, DSC04937resiz and I saw the baby ducks which have grown. 6209ducklings-1_edited-1 I also saw a duck walking around with a broken wing.  6209brokenwing-1_edited-1 It looked kind of pathetic. When I walked up to where the ducks live, suddenly it looked like a mass march toward the human. DSC04932resiz When they realized I had a camera and no food, they ignored me. I still did not see one muscovy anywhere, even at the pond that is across the street.
The City of Sanford has built quite an elaborate exercise track and have lots of new playground equipment.
The osprey in the nest are flying now. 6209ospreyleavesnest-1_edited-1 I took a few minutes to watch
them fly from post to post.
Upon returning home, I checked the little mother moorhen on her nest. She has at least 5 eggs now,
DSC05012resiz

I got a bit worried as the crows began to gather, and they were digging away on the property.  About five crows bossing each other around. One was digging and digging and I watched  to see what it would extract.
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DSC04979res Turtle eggs! They had found a hole,  DSC04981resize

and I shooed them away and took the shovel and got the only two remaining eggs and buried them in the garden so the birds would not bother them. Those birds were rather snippy about that, and finally left. Now I am going fishing. I hope something is biting, last night didn’t catch anything, if fact, I put down my rod and my son and I went for a walk. Now ask my son how annoying it is to seriously walk with someone who wears a camera around her neck, he will gladly tell you…(wait, when I look at that hole, it looks more like snake eggs, might have to let the crows have their raw omelets)

Went to visit my son’s good friend and his wife as they have a beautiful new baby.  Of course it is always a treat to see  their friends grow into adulthood and begin families of their own.  After that we went to my son’s friends’ brother’s ranch and go see the clydesdales.
We drove the short distance and walked through the wonderful stable to see chickens and goats.
51709goatandbaby-1_edited-1 The baby goats were adorable. We then came upon a very handsome and alert paint stud. He was very macho and quite an anxious horse. His eyes were amazing, blue on the left side, brown on the right.  He liked attention.  may172009 216edit_edited-1 As we doted on him, the friend went to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs. Suddenly, from way out back of the field came a pack of 4 horses and a cow running hard, thundering
through to where we stood.

may172009 212size The young cow was out in front leading the way and believe me, with all that weight you could feel the earth vibrate beneath as they came closer.  They stopped before us and let us rub their faces, (well, not the cow, he stood way off to the side).  There were two clydesdales and they were huge. I don’t technically know how many hands they were for a measurement, but the one male was very tall.  edithorse My son is 6’2″ and look at the height of the head of that horse! The ankles of those horses are covered in long hair.  They are terrifically muscled and
may172009 246edit look how a real work horse should look. The male paint on the other side saw the female horse and got extremely excited and sounded like he might come over the fence to join her and the others.  may172009 224edit

Horses are so cool, their faces and reactions are interesting.  As there was a young colt in that pack, the mother would not let us near the baby and tried to bite my son’s friends hand!  The beauty and strength of their bodies was impressive.  We fed them all a bit of hay and I enjoyed petting those long noses and thick necks.
When we left, my son looked around and wished he had some acreage and a horse. When he was very young we lived in South Carolina in the small town of Camden which holds the yearly Camden Cup. He took riding lessons when he was four and I have movies of him with that tiny body on top of an adult horse as it jumped. He looks like a little doll in a helmet and riding pants and now I squirm when I see it!  I loved having property and when we lived in Davie, Florida when my children were toddlers, we had a house that was surrounded by ranches with horses on all sides of us. We always had horses at our fence and fed them carrots – the neighbors gave us use of one of their horses to ride and one of our neighbors collected Amish buggies and would give everyone rides around our neighborhood on Sundays. So we have fond memories of horses.
Later we got home and watched the Preakness Stakes and cheered the filly winner. But I’ll tell you one thing, that little     may172009 229edit cow might be able to give Rachel Alexandra a run for the money and my bet is on the cow!

http://offshoot2.wordpress.com for more pics

Where is it? They keep promising rain and once again in the same pattern for the third year, it seems to rain all around us, but not here.
51409waterlevel-1_editedIf you look at the photo with the water gauge, you can see we have lost all the inches of water since Fay last August. The top of the other small meter is showing. The level is down about 30 inches and each day that sun sucks away about an inch more. The sky will cloud up and look like impending doom above us. 51409stormclouds-1_edited It looks mean and ready to strike, but moves along, just drifts away to storm on someone else. I love a great thunderstorm, all that juice built up in the atmosphere brewing away with lightning to heat it and thunder to give it drama. I was eating lunch with my friend Leslie today in Lake Mary at Toojays where there is no recession.  It’s about 4 miles from my house and as I left the restaurant, droplets began to fall and about 2 miles from the house, it was raining very steadily until I get about two blocks from home and the look was there, but no rain. I went inside and framed a couple pics for an art show and no rain still.  Finally we got a few drops about 4pm, but not enough to even cover the driveway completely.  That meant of course I could go fishing since there was no lightening threat. Too bad the fish were as scare as the rain. All I had were the two pesky turtles that have been bugging me for this past week.    51409turtle&Ringo-1_edited They are bold and chase my bait all over the lake wherever I stand.  Ringo the cat was not sure if he should go after it or not, but decided the slimy shelled red-eared slider wasn’t worth the bother.
The birds too seemed on edge today, they were busy going after each other at the stump. Chasing each other off.  51409blackbird&woodpecker-1_edited 51409trioofbirds-1_edited It was entertaining.
Later, around 7pm, a young raccoon came to the porch. The cats did not care for him, infact, Frankie, the female tried to fight with him, the raccoon did not want to fight thank goodness.

51409Frank&raccoon-1_edited Then Church gave him the staredown  51409Church&raccoonB-1_edited and he finally left.  The night sky changed 51409sunset-1_edited and it looked like a very calming end to the evening. Cross your fingers for tomorrow and for my buddy Beda who just got a new rain barrel who anxiously awaits it filling up. And one last thing, here’s a sight I came across walking a couple days ago,  51409armadillo-1_edited-1 it was a three legged armadillo, he was walking faster than me!

On my second official nature walk where I am supposed to be exercising, I find myself walking on parts of Mayfair golf course which is full of mature live oaks.  mayfairgca-1_edited and sometimes

the hawks and other birds are within a good photo range. What I really want to see are more of what everyone says are fox squirrels.  Well what I thought they were fox squirrels, but according to wikipedia and other sources, fox squirrels are pretty common  gray squirrel looking squirrels.  foxsquirrel So now I had to go pull up squirrel mugs and see what I was really looking for.  The squirrels at the golf course are unique – the first time I saw them I thought they were either prarie dogs or ferrets jetting across the greens. They are larger than normal squirrels, and they have very interesting faces. When I finally got my first photo of one, it had a mushroom stem in it’s mouth and looked like it was smoking.  foxsquirreld-1Today I found two that were quite a distance and I tried to make my way over close to where they were and not get whacked in the head by some golfer, (I heard that more sandhill cranes down here are killed by golf balls than anything else. )  42809foxquirrelsstanding The fox squirrels just might be called Sherman’s fox squirrels, which technically makes them still fox squirrels. I will research further. They certainly were not wanting their faces photographed, one took off and one started climbing a pole that was not too close, so I did the best I could in capturing it’s image.  42809shermansfoxsquirrela-1resix It says they can get up to 27″ long and I believe it, they are big. The funny part is, I only live about a half mile away and they don’t seem to cross the road. They seem to like it on only one side of Country Club blvd. It would be so cool to see these animals in my yard. But then again, if I had all my wishes for wildlife in my yard, there would be a mini Africa around here and probably no room for me.

Did you ever see the sun go down and you are convinced it was like no other night? Well last Thursday when I had to run an errand, it was 7:55pm and the sunset which I normally can’t see because of all the trees around the Loch Arbor area, was closing in over Interstate 4 and was one of the best sunsets I have ever seen! The peaches and dark pinks were astonishing, it had gift wrapped the sun in peach and was there to be photographed and I did not have my camera. I am lucky enough to have the sunrise right pop up right over the lake in my backyard, but I do miss the sun going down.
Last night as I was fishing, it was getting later and filtering through the trees I could see it might be another pink one. So I put down my rods and tackle box, said a rushed good night to my heron and the cats

catsandheron420-small who by now know I am wacky and accept it.  Though the heron does get a bit miffed when I leave early.  In fact, the cats stayed there sleeping while the heron escorted me in.heron420 But I had to see what was unveiling tonight. I grabbed my camera and truck keys and off I went toward I-4 heading west chasing the sunset. But I was just too late, it was after 8pm and the sun had about avoided me by pulling up most of her stakes and taking her light toward California. I pulled into Kohls parking lot and watched the absolutely stunning remnants of the sun pulling her light away and the clouds left by the cold front. The clouds seem to be folding their colors into the fabric of the night. And it was worth it, and though I didn’t have anyone to share it with, that’s the great thing about blogging, you can n see the totally unretouched pics I have. I do have to say, it is worth it to get a glimpse of something that takes your breath away. It is something that brings a lot of peace and a smile, but then again, I am afforded that each day with my wildlife too. So chase sunsets, it’s worth every minute!
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The heron family is rather perplexing. The babies are still living with the folks even though they are able to fly. The question is why? A few days ago they seemed to be gone and the parents were up there alone and were actively searching for them amongst the branches of their tree. There was no noise and when the babies are up there, there is plenty of prehistoric noise emanating from that nest. heronlookingforkidsresize

father in nest looking for kids

Normally the babies fledge, or learn to fly at 2 months, the two up in the nest have been there for  3 months and show no sign of wanting to leave. Why should they? They eat well and have good company and shelter. They are also huge.  dsc02363-resizwWay too big for the nest itself.

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Usually they herons breed in colonies. I have been here 5 years almost and the babies seem to leave and don’t come back. We are still lucky that we do have this couple that likes being here year after year. Maybe the new inhabitants will start a colony close by since they like it here. Maybe it’s because the mother feeds them so well? haha

dsc02607-resize But, why ponder? My female crane is walking up to go fishing – she will be near my door soon looking for me to get my rods. I’d ask her if she feels it a burden having the kids at home, but she doesn’t like to talk when we are fishing…

The baby crane was left alone today, but only for a few minutes. The folks had come to the stump to eat some seed.
dsc02483cranefamily-1resize the baby found some crevices that it could stick it’s head into and find seed for itself. They are now coming very regularly as before. I so love when I see them coming.
And as the heron and I fished, the papa crane came and ran toward the heron charging at her and sending the heron flying off for a while.  The male crane also threatened Ringo the cat too, but Ringo knows better and gets out of the way.
The crane parents must have had some nostalgia to visit their old nest in the little marsh just off my property. The water was lower last year, low enough that they hatched a baby there over a year ago.
The Papa crane flew over first and began looking  at his ‘old digs’, then the Mama followed him.    dsc02528-1parentsresize

The parents left the baby standing on the seawall crying out. It was so upset and ran back and forth shades of that sad heron baby, and this baby is way too small to be able to  jump off the steep seawall to the water below. It was distressing to watch. It’s big black eyes were frantic as it looked at me and its’ little high voice was peeping away a mile a minute.

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That seawall has seen it’s share of bird trauma, guess I might as well refer to it as the “wailing wall” instead. The folks finally flew back and the baby’s demeanor changed in an instant.  I was rather surprised that the parents would fly off and leave the baby crane so close to Ringo, but I kept an eye on the cat, and Ringo was preoccupied with his eye on the fishing pole. The fishing was great, lots of small fish and even a couple small bass. The heron, the Pekin ducks, the anhinga and even some osprey were keeping me distracted tonight.  The water was flat, no turtles and the air was a calm 80 degrees. It did look like clouds were coming in and the strong odor of smoke was thick about an hour later. Again like last year there are some wildfires close by  and the wind was blowing smoke in this direction.   As it got darker, the cranes went back to their nests, the Pekin twins went to sleep on shore possibly dsc02556resizedreaming that Carbs would come back and be with them again. Meanwhile the female heron waited for me to leave the water first, she’s polite that way.  When I walk back to the house clutching my camera bag, tackle box and 2 rods, the heron will follow me sometimes, she seems to be upset when I am going inside, but then she turns around and flies back to her nest where those two big heron brats are. Tomorrow I will address the heron and their overgrown babies who refuse to leave home. Certainly in these times, the kids ARE coming back home to live with the folks, but these big big baby herons seem to know a good thing when they see it and don’t seem to have ambitions to take off. Again, these birds are all very smart and calculating.
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I think we might get rain tomorrow, I sure hope so, the lake is way down again, the little water gauge is still covered by the water, but should be visible in a week or so if no water comes. My lawn is still mostly
dead weeds, but that’s fine, I don’t have to water dead weeds. As long as the lake is there, the wildlife will be abundant. One problem is that our county just a permit to pump 5.5million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River. it sounds like a quick fix that might in the long run ruin the upper part of the river and bring more sea water intrusion down the road and not only that, but it sounds like the next thing you know, other Florida counties will demand their share of the water. Our fresh water is a a precious commodity and our commissioners are very easily swayed like many politicians, by things that benefit them and their pockets. The suits should hold it up for a while I assume. It is great we have strong environmentalists who go out and protect our resources. People should be made to pay a higher amount for water, especially the golf courses and big estates who have way too much grass that demands too much water usuage! At some point during the decades to come, one wonders what will happen to our water supply. We take for granted we have water at our disposal. One day there might be serious rationing, thats the way things work, they never have the foresight to figure things to conserver, only when it gets critical!
There are ways to have gorgeous landscaping without so much grass. Too bad in Florida we do not strive for making that mandatory now, that subdivisions and their developers should be required to put in responsible landscaping that does not require constant watering. Also instant hot water in every house so people don’t have to waste a gallon before it is warm!  There must be ways we can do much more to conserve!

Article below just in case you would like to read:

Seminole gets OK to pump from St. Johns

PALATKA – Seminole County is ready to forge ahead with construction of a $90 million plant that will siphon 5.5 million gallons of water a day from the St. Johns River, having won the last permit needed Monday night.
The governing board of the St. Johns River Water Management District approved the controversial plant on a 5-4 vote over strong opposition from Jacksonville-area residents concerned that the withdrawal of water will harm the quality and quantity of water downstream. Hundreds of people packed a meeting in Palatka to oppose the project, and thousands more sent e-mails in opposition.  The Yankee Lake facility, to be built near Sanford, could be expanded to pump 50 million gallons of river water a day, potentially making it a major water source for Central Florida.
Joe Forte, Seminole’s deputy county manager, said several cities in Volusia and Seminole counties could take part in a future expansion. For now, the county will focus on getting the plant up and running. As early as Wednesday, the county will begin preparing the project for construction bids. Seminole’s plans for pumping from St. John’s:

“This is the big move, the big step,” Forte said of Monday’s approval. “And this now gives our partners more hope the project will be a reality and we can move forward.” Decision seen as difficult Susan Hughes, chairman of the St. Johns district board, said it was the most difficult decision she has had to make as a member of the nine-member board but said this won’t make it easier for other river projects to follow.  “I don’t think it’s a free-for-all or the river is open game. That is clearly not what the board said,” Hughes said. “Every project will have to be reviewed on its own merits.”
Water managers have long warned that the underground river known as the Floridan Aquifer cannot be the sole source of drinking water as Florida grows and that utilities must tap into other water supplies. Florida’s largest river, the slow, north-flowing St. Johns, is considered a key future source for Central Florida.
Seminole County now pumps 21.7 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer for 109,000 customers. The county requested a 20-year permit that includes the additional water to be pumped from the river, starting in 2013.

However, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, a nonprofit grass-roots organization, several environmental groups and Jacksonville and St. Johns County led a legal challenge to the water plant.  Reviewing the evidence and testimony from a long, trial-like hearing, an administrative-law judge earlier this year supported Seminole’s bid for the plant, finding that the county had given “reasonable assurances” that the quality of the river would not be harmed by the withdrawal.  At the point where Seminole County pipes into the river, the St. Johns flows at an average rate of 2 billion gallons a day.  Attorneys for Seminole County told district officials Monday that the board doesn’t have much leeway to veer from the administrative judge’s findings. Hundreds showed to oppose plan.  Still, hundreds of people packed Monday’s meeting, urging the board to reject the permit. Many opponents drove from Jacksonville and northeast Florida, complaining that if Seminole County can take water away, it will harm them downstream by reducing the river’s flow. Several people pointed out that the lower river flow allows more seawater to push through the mouth of the river at Jacksonville, harming the ecology of the river.
“The public interest of a large portion of this state is being trampled in order to provide water that is the easiest and cheapest for a small part of one county,” said Katherine Van Zant, whose husband, Charles Van Zant, is a Republican state legislator representing Palatka.  Many of the 100 people speaking out against the project also said approval of the plant will make it easier for future projects to tap into the river. However, the current permit would allow the withdrawal of only 5.5 million gallons a day.  The water district received thousands of e-mails, the vast majority of them in opposition. Because the project is tied up in litigation, district officials blocked the e-mails from voting board members but did announce during the meeting that more than 19,000 e-mails had been received.
Opponents may push the issue back into court with an appeal, said St. Johns Riverkeeper leader Neil Armingeon. His organization will be discussing legal options with its attorneys. “We have pledged to protect the river. We take our mission seriously,” he said.

Of course I feel quite honored as the folks brought the baby by, hard to believe it is almost a month old. I don’t have to add much, will just show the photos:  But look to my nature photography blog to have many more today, link below

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For a much more in depth look, come to my photo blog:
http://offshoot2.wordpress.com

Waiting to get pounded – under tornado warnings. All around us are straight line winds and maybe some hail. Outside it is as dark as night almost.   resize41409meter

We are now getting pounded, lots of rain and wind battering down. No thunder, no lightning. The aluminum roof over the porch is singing with the rain. The heron was here earlier as I had mowed and I’m sure she thought I was going to fish also. She sat in a tree for a half hour grooming.

41409heronb-1resize The woodpecker too is snug in his tree hole. earlier he was watching the sky. I fully expect to lose electricity anytime before I am through. I am hoping there is no tornado coming out of this, but maybe I should unpack the linen closet just in case, it’s our only safe room here that has no window or sky light.
Now the lightning has started. Ripples of competing thunder trailing close. The television news blaring reports.  Sounding like the war of the Gods out there! Lots of thunder in all directions, but rain has slacked off a bit.   Feel really bad for anyone in a car stuck in the middle of one of the cells they show on television. Funnel clouds have been sighted west of here. Will publish for now and hope to be back a little later, cause I’m not going anywhere unless I am blown away, literally…
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P/S — It’s almost 11:am, the storm seems to be fizzling out, but can feel a slight coolness to the air. The bulk of storms are now headed east. Still have storms around us, but weather nothing like what is headed toward the east coast! The rain is falling at a  perfect rate for absorption and boy do we need it. Will do a comparison meter at very end of blog tonight!
I should take a cue from the cats and go take a nap, they are not the least concerned, and are still on the porch, don’t seem to care about coming in. Sometimes I think the wisdom of cats is a better predictor than the weatherman.
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And of course, the damn Band of brothers is skirt chasing the Pekins at the lake.

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