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7309woodyscreamsatblackbird-1res I have very busy birds around here. In the morning, one very bossy woodpecker who thinks he owns the yard, comes to eat . He has a wife and a couple little “Woodys” up in the hole. The babies are demanding a lot of attention lately.

DSC05154res The woodpecker is the first at the stump in the morning when I put birdseed and old bread out. He doesn’t fool around, he doesn’t mind my close ups anymore, even poses for the camera.  The female comes after he gets his bites first.  52809redbelliedwpA-1res Last year they nested in one of the bird boxes, this year they have moved to one of the dead trees still standing.  They seem quite ambitious and move from hole to hole each time they lay eggs.  The babies are now loud and hungry and demanding. Their little heads are out peeping loudly for more food. DSC06283resDSC06298res

At one point they lived in another lower hole, now they have “moved on up” to the second from the top. Next year it might be the top.
DSC06143res The crow loves to harass the woodpecker, the mockingbirds and blue jays then harass the crows, it’s a vicious cycle all day long. When the other birds are chasing each, that’s when the doves and squirrels sneak in. DSC05921res

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It’s great seeing these birds perpetuate their generations inside my dead trees. They bring a three ring circus each day for my amusement, I train them well, don’t I…  7109mockingbirdchasescrow2res

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!

dsc02705 That’s him! The missing baby heron has grown a bit and now he   and his sibling have taken to regular flights back and forth to the nest. I am convinced that is the same one who was rejected. What’s fun is to watch the two babies fly awkwardly around the lake, they stop and eat at different spots then fly back to the nest to compare. They are always competing up there, YAK YAK YAK, their necks go up and down, their wings extend and it’s always competiton.

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I enjoy looking out and seeing their activity from my desk. Yesterday the one baby was here twice and that’s the one I think finally found his way back home.
It’s also quite evident the dragonflies are busy. At the lake they are all over. I also get them on the porch and have to take them outside. They do pinch too! dfAnd of course, the band of brothers and Pekins are here off and on as usual and even Carbs will show up during early evening then take off before the BOB’s pick on him.  carbsresize

Then last night I was flipping through the channels and came across the American network and another winged specimen  the  old Batman series with Adam West and he looked like a little kid!  bmresize

dsc06519dsc06531 The bat mobile looked so cheap, but it was fun watching the action scenes with POP, POW and cartoon effects when our imaginations were so much simpler. We had no bloodshed, only lame storylines and stupid acting that made it work in the 60’s.      I stuck around and saw The Hornet was next and watched about ten minutes and my son pointed out that Bruce Lee was the Hornets butler. How weird! The Hornet was really a great looking guy!

hornetreisix So it was a full day of wings and even Ringo the cat was exhausted and dreaming as his tail seemed to take flight. Was he dreaming of flying, or growing up to become a lion and catching all kinds of things? 42409ringolion

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First of all the clocks ‘sprung’ ahead last night, but I got up at normal time. Bella and Ringo the cat and I went out the back door, (actually Bella is about 3 feet behind Ringo being that Ringo is about twelve pounds heavier than Bella and sometimes looks at Bella as a nuisance animal and pounces.) The first thing I saw was the otter swim by so I turned and ran in for the camera and the otter was long gone. Missed that shot. But did see Elvis the duck was here visiting his buddy Carbs. They posed for me.

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My philosophical and wise neighbor Dee always says if you get one muscovy, a lot more will follow. I am hoping Carbs is keeping a low profile and only entertains once in a while. The worst thing is the duck dung, it is all over the bank and where I fish, I can no longer wear my shoes in the house after fishing, they have to be hosed off! Gross!                                             100_0065

The ducks were all at the lake and when we walked down there, I saw one duck egg on the bank. I walked over to go get it and a big black bird swooped it up in it’s mouth and took off! I am going to get out earlier to see if I can find duck eggs. I often see cracked ones so I assume Daisy and Lily the Pekin, Aflac ducks are on a roll, (ha ha ‘cheep’ humor.) I am going to try and hatch one if I find one whole. It just amazed me that crow could carry it off. I wish I had had time for that photo.

The mocking bird was singing away on the chimney as usual. His song fills the fireplace and living room with bird music in the early morning.  He is the reason I am not using the fireplace, too much nesting material up there!100_0072

The mama crane came over and gets more rusty looking all the time  – I looked in on her yesterday and she was sitting on nest so did not see if both eggs were present.100_0079And thats it for the morning at least. I missed two good photo opportunities. One day I will get that otter photo! Maybe it will show up tonight when I am fishing. Well, looks like a gorgeous Florida day with 80+ degree temp, I can dig it! The water level is dropping low, can’t see my small meter yet, but it will show soon if we don’t get any rain, it’s too dry.

One more close up of Elvis the muscovy to go- do you believe in reincarnation? This duck wiggles like Elvis too! Later…
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Found it! I had to go on a hunt, but found the nest and papa was sitting on the eggs. He was sitting very proudly on his future family. His nest is nicely built up, but in very easy access to a boater. Luckily the water level is falling and the lily pads so abundant, I am hoping for the next 20+ days that no boaters come by to disturb the nest. My neighbor and I watched for a while as the Papa sat like Horton on those eggs. He was ever vigilant. Finally the mama crane came back to the nest
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She walked up and the father crane stood up  3509malemoveseggs-1and

could see there were two distinct eggs which he moved

around a bit.

3509femalecamouflage Finally mama crane switched places and sat down on the nest. She really blends in with that rusty coloration. It is always a pleasure to have these birds close by and watch the progress of the family. By my calculations we should see some hatching around the 25th-26th of March. So stay tuned….

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The otter was sooo close tonight! Under my fallen tree I heard a huge splash. I thought maybe it was a turtle, until I saw it’s face in the grass where the cranes had nested. I slowly put down my fishing rod, and got my camera, but the otter noticed and went under and I did not see it again until it was half way cross the lake. That’s his face surfacing from a good distance. I love watching them. They are so big and long. It’s more fun when there are two, they have quite a time playing.
Fishing was not the greatest, but look at this  3209gar-1_edited-1

This bad boy is a gar. The gars have a long mouth like a gator with long sharp teeth. This gar did not appreciate being caught and was like landing an enraged pit bull. I have no idea how it didn’t break the line. They are pure Hell to unhook, it is quite a manuver to keep the body still while a chomping mouth tries to take a good piece out of you.  This one was about 3 feet long and feisty. As soon as I unhooked it, it rolled right back into the water without any prodding.

The other thing tonight was the noisy baby heron. I tried to get as close as I could to take a picture, but that baby is way up high and he must have been hungry cause he was screaming his pterodactyl rampage in all directions for his folks. My small heron who had been with me must be its’ mother as she eventually got tired of all the screaming and flew up to calm her baby down. She didn’t stay too long as she knew I was near the lake. I stopped fishing to go try and get a photo of the screamer. I only saw one baby in the nest and it was a big one.  Look hard, the baby is standing to the side of the nest looking forward.
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The day was very cold, only in fifties, and when that sun left the shore, I could not stay out as it was way too cold for me in my 5 layers. But being out there for a while was fun. I encountered egrets, the heron, the ducks, a gar, the daddy crane, the baby heron and the antics of the otter. How can you have more fun in a matter of a couple hours…

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She’s nesting all right, but I can’t find where. The male, Papa crane has been coming here alone for 3 days. I see him all by himself at least 3 times a day. I want to follow him, but don’t want to go marching through the neighbors yards as he wanders.  dsc00450

Carbs the duck is still here with his ever visiting harem. Those Pekin ducks are adorable, I keep waiting to hear them say AFLAC.  This morning there was a feeding frenzy at the stump, lots of blackbirds, then the crane, then the ducks and cats,  dsc004821

There is certainly a ‘pecking’ order, or ‘clicks’, (or “clucks”)  around here. Sometimes the ducks are mingling with the coots, sometimes they are near the crane or heron, though both the crane and heron have no use for the ducks and chase them off if they get too close. The cats don’t bother the ducks either. This morning that funny male Muscovy was here, well, as I look out, he is still flirting among the girls.  dsc00487

Last nights fishing got too cold with the northeast wind blowing over the lake. The sky had a fish-scale pattern to it.  dsc00437 And there were heron wars again – the larger heron came down, but my smaller heron did not put up with it! Will blog about that with photos tomorrow. As for today, it is gorgeous and sunny and a perfect day for nature photography, ummm, where to go….

I am here in Tampa spending however many days I feel like spending. There is always fun to be had with my oldest son and his girlfriend. In fact, I have met my latest grand-kitty Sasha, sashaedit-1

She is a chinchilla type persian wih big bubbly green eyes and absolutely so friendly. And she and Bella get along fine! though Bella does try and protect me from the cat every so often growling at the kitten if she gets too near to where I am sitting. bellasasha My son is totally smitten over this kitten!

he is also crazy about his fish tank and we had to go to LifeOceanic and take a look which resulted in the purchase of 3 fish, well, two and a lobster tail!  He bought a larger puffer fish, 2puffersnow there are two, though at first the small one kept trying to take a few bites out of the new arrival, but he finally calmed down and now they swim near each other. He bought a damsel that is wonderfully neon, but swims too fast to take a photo of and also a lobster, a spanish variety that looks like a giant cockroach and scurries about looking for places to hide. the-spanishlobster The fishtank is a wonderful adventure in itself, and I am hoping we might be tourists today and go check out the Tampa Aquarium. I want to see the big picture.
Meanwhile, yesterday when we were out doing real estate stuff, we saw gators in retention ponds and I had no camera with me, bummer.  But we did go by the gulf of Mexico near the ports and watch the shrimp boats roll in and see the vast ship yards with boats big as football fields.  Life is busy in this city, the roads are packed. Tampa is not a place where I would like to live even though the Gulf of Mexico is beautiful.  I am still sticking to my home base for now.  Roger – over and out – hope to have touristy pics later or tomorrow…

That’s Valentines Day for all you kuckleheads who have tuned in to see something related to a health issue! Actually on the radio yesterday I heard it called SAD Day, Singles Awareness Day. But it was awonderful day! The sun was high in the sky. I went to Mennelo’s Folk art festival with Pam and saw the booth of our mutual friend Madeleine  100_5016 who makes these adorable “nicchos”, small hand painted, Mexican tin boxes with adorable things inside them. Then on to Winter Park for lunch at Chef Justin’s, (excellent salads and great french fries topped with parmasan cheese.)  Thank you Pam! We went back to her home so I could see all  the work she has prepared for her in-frared and manipulated  photography for her exhibit in downtown Orlando at The Office on Robinson Street March 16th.  It will be a stunner of a show!
Then rushed out to pick up wine and candy and hurried home to catch a forty-five minute fishing session with the usual crew and off to Valentine’s Day dinner with my daughter and her boyfriend at his very swank home.  AND WOW – did they threw out a bang of a VD dinner! There was shrimp, lobster tails, chicken and crab legs, vd-1

Also salad, fettachini alfredo, garlic bread, fruit, chocolate mousse, cheesecake and a huge personalized frosted sugar cookie. And after that I felt like I had died and gone to heaven! It was the bomb! Then we had asti-spumonte to drink with lots of strawberries and vd2 then we watched a movie and I went home at 11pm. My younger son had come home with a huge bouquet of flowers waiting for me! dsc05408

What more can a mother ask for! I even had leftovers so I didn’t have to cook at all today! JT, my daughter’s guy sent  me home with a big solid chocolate shaped fish and a heart shaped waffle maker, so this morning you can imagine what I had for breakfast! Waffles with chunks of melted chocolate and some with blueberries too. When I have stroked out, you won’t be seeing anym0re blogs! As for my other son, I will go and make him reciprocate this week when I go to visit him in Tampa,  I know I will get treated like a queen there too. How lucky am I?!!!!!!!!!!

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And this is how most mornings start, sunshine smiling down and birds and cats waiting for a handout! The cats like to eat on the back porch, the birds like their breakfast table stump and birdseed.
In the background ducks swerve through the water and sometimes a heron can be spotted on that little island of grass beyond the sandhills if you look hard enough. The cardinals actually are the first birds I hear in the morning darkness and the last birds I hear before going in when it is almost dark after fishing. Mooches all of them!  All day there is something stirring. Ringo the stripe tailed cat can be bad at times, attempting to nab a bird, but the other cats don’t bother.
And this is how my day starts always with a smile, how can you beat that…

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