Friday, April 29, 2011


Today is the day of the royal wedding, a day of romance. I am reading where people are saying that after seeing the ceremony, they are very emotional. So I thought today should be about love, passion and romance. But in the world of birds, like the songs says. 'Bird do it, they fall in love!!!' In particular, we will be getting a bird's eye view of the courting of an egret. Every year in the spring, the male egret arrives at his favorite nesting site which is many times a watering hole. This is usually a place where he has been lucky in love before. He will get high up in a tree and wait for the females to arrive.

 When they do, he will start acting all puffy and excited, preening himself and basically showing off.  He  
 will keep trying to get the female's attention.

Because it is spring and he is looking for love, his lores, which is the spot between his bill and eyes will turn from yellow to green and he will grow plumes that are really beautiful. He will then fly around spreading his wings and showing off his sexy self.

   Any of this seem vaguely familiar to you?? It's all to attract the female, to encourage her to come over   
   and sit for a while and get to know each other. 

Can't you just hear the conversation? 
Don't be shy come over here, into the light.
So have you been here before? 
No this is my first time.
Really, first time, well that's interesting. I love your plumes very attractive.  
Why thank you!
Do you want to leave with me and go back to my place? 
I don't think I should, I'm not like that, we just met. 
No, I understand but this place can be dangerous for a pretty, little egret like yourself. 
Sure, lots of mean characters around here, look down there.  
Over in the corner. See those two, their names are Al and Crok, they're really mean.

Oh, they don't look so mean; kind of lazy and tired.
Don't get to close. They will put the bite on you! 
Come on, you're trying to scare me, my friends told me about you!
Me, trying to scare you?  I would never do that to you. I really care for you. Look, right there here comes the big guy, their leader, WATCH OUT!!!

OM MY GOD!!!! Okay, let's go to your place, now, please!!

Off they fly to his place, a nesting site: where love takes over (this is x-rated stuff coming up so if any children are in the room or any really lonely guys, send them out of the room.) 
   Can you here Frank's voice in the background singing, "Some Enchanted Evening."

When this act is over, ( the best 20 seconds of her life), (at least that is what he will tell his friends),
they start building the nest. Yup ladies, they have sex and as soon as it's over, he puts her to work!!!
But in all honesty, he is doing a lot of the work also. He leaves the nest and picks up branches and twigs and flies them back to her. She then incorporates them into the nest.

Now their life as parents is about to start. Next week, we will show you the next step. We have some images of chicks less then 24 hours old. Hope you all have a romantic weekend. 
Remember to be careful out there!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011


At the request of one of our readers, Ma Faye Liana Balatbat, today's blog is on something different, at least for me. Fay asked if I would show some of my flower pictures, the only problem with that is I didn't have any. I just do not photograph flowers. Don't take that wrong. I love flowers. I have had gardens in every home I have lived in. It is just that they do not inspire me to point my lens in their direction. 

As I thought about what I would find interesting to photograph, I saw the magnolia tree in our yard. As I looked out our dining room window, I noticed it was getting ready for its first bloom of the season. We had been living here at the very end of the season and I had noticed that while the flowers are beautiful in full bloom, they only stay that way for about twenty four hours. Then they start drying out and turning a pretty ugly brown. 
Here are some fun facts on magnolias:
Magnolia is a large genus of about 210[1] flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. It is named after French botanist Pierre Magnol.
Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating to 95 million years ago[citation needed]. Another primitive aspect of Magnolias is their lack of distinct sepals or petals.
The natural range of Magnolia species is a disjunct distribution, with a main center in east and southeast Asia and a secondary center in eastern North AmericaCentral America, the West Indies, and some species in South America.

I found the fact that they evolved before bees fascinating and that they developed to encourage pollination by beetles to be equally fascinating. 
Now a flower interested me!!! I wanted to photograph the life cycle of this beautiful flower. That this flower could bloom into this large white beauty and then die so quickly seemed almost romantic. I thought if I was going to do this, I would try and do it in my style. I would not just document it. I wanted to add a little style, a little art to my images. I hope you enjoy them, I would have had them sooner but there is usually a little breeze here in Port Saint Lucie, Florida. I kept waiting for a still day and waiting and waiting. I finally decided to go for it. I used two different lenses: a 105 macro and my trusty 70-200 VR zoom. I also used my tripod, focusing on a flower and then waiting for a lull in the breeze. The lull never really came but I think I captured some interesting images. I am hoping you do too:)

The pod is the first stage. 
                    The bud shows a little hint of the beauty that is coming.
                                  This shows the flower just starting to open.
           A view from the side showing the delicate lines of the flower.
         This flower had a visitor, actually all the blooms were being attacked by bees. Thankfully they left me alone.
    In full bloom this flower is about 4-5 inches across. I think they are really beautiful flowers.
  There is a certain sadness, that its life is so short that within a day the beauty quickly fades.
  It is like seeing a physically beautiful man or woman grow old in front of your eyes in a matter of hours; turning from a young beauty to a very old person. 

  Alas the beauty's gone but like people the beauty is never forgotten and the cycle starts again.
   The seed pod, the fruit from where new life starts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Last night in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, we had a major thunderstorm. Pounding rain plus gum ball size hail fell on us for over an hour. As soon as it started, I began to worry about the cranes that we wrote about last month. If you remember, we had a rainstorm then that threatened the crane's nest and eggs . The nest and eggs were almost lost during that storm despite heroic efforts by the two adult cranes. But they managed to rebuild the nest although nowhere near as large as it had been but large enough. In the middle of the storm, we drove down to the pond to check in. We could not take any images due to the darkness and the storm but I could see a parent sitting on the nest in the dark, in the rain, in the hail.  Actually they were sitting in the water and there was no sign of the nest. I assumed the eggs were on the last piece of land not underwater. I went back this morning and when I arrived at the pond a great sadness came over me. They were gone!!! 
The nest site or what is left of it.

The nest, the eggs and the parents were gone. I spoke to a gentleman, named Willy, who lives on the pond and he said at 5 am the parents were there walking around but there was no evidence of the eggs. I am not sure if the eggs are at the bottom of the pond or if something ate them. There is talk of an alligator in the pond but I would have thought he would have struck before this. I am guessing that the eggs are at the bottom of the pond.

I know the world has had many tragedies over the last year and compared to them, this is not that big. But in my world, the world of a nature photographer, and in the lives of the people who live around the pond and watched the nest and the cranes desperate battle to save their unborn young, this is a tragedy.  As Willy walked away this morning, he had a sad look on his face and said, "Nature can be hard." 
It is true. We see it on a large scale much too often with Katrina and Japan: plus the flooding in the mid west that is occurring as I write, but this was also real. There was a family that was destroyed and I feel sad for them. I feel sad for all of us who saw their struggles and tried to will the water level to lower. We will not be able to see these beautiful creatures be born, learn to fly and share our neighborhood with them. We, who live in this neighborhood, all lost something in the rains last night. The loss will be felt for awhile and when we drive by the pond, we will feel that loss deeply.

Let me leave this posting with a final images of two brave parents working to save their nest, to help us remember their efforts and their dedication to family. (images taken during the previous storm)

This post was going to end with the above images but before I posted, I went outside to my backyard. Phyllis was doing her editing of my writing checking for punctuation and grammatical errors so I went for a walk. As I looked up into one of our pine trees, I started to smile!! The cycle of life had started. In our tree, a morning dove was sitting on her nest and I assume her eggs. Hope springs eternal in nature and I had to smile.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Good day everyone. First, I want to thank everyone who responded to yesterday's post. Collaborating with Rimly was a great experience, seeing one of my images paired with the words of such a talented poetess. It is something I would like to continue featuring on a weekly or monthly basis. I have added Rimly's blog 'Journey' to my blog list on this blog. I had some inquires on the flashlight we used to light the image used with Rimly's poem. It is for sale from Amazon at our carousel to the left of these words.

As the readers of this blog know Phyllis and I visited the St. Augustine's Alligator Farm earlier this month. We really enjoy photographing the birds in their natural settings. One of the birds that we had the opportunity to photograph was the Roseate Spoonbill. I spent quite a few minutes photographing these colorful and interesting looking birds with their unusual bills. The Roseate Spoonbill is 80 cm (31 in) tall, with a 120–130 cm (47–51 in) 
wingspan. It has long legs, a long neck, and a long, spatulate bill. Adults have a bare greenish head ("golden buff" when breeding) and a white neck, back, and breast (with a tuft of pink feathers in the center when breeding), and are otherwise a deep pink. The bill is grey.

Like the flamingo, their pink color is diet-derived, consisting of the carotenoid pigment canthaxanthin. Another carotenoid, astaxanthin, can also be found deposited in flight and body feathers.[4] The colors can be darker, such as magenta, ruby and carmine, depending on age and location.

 By the way I asked the farm about the leg band and was told the  
 Florida Audubon put it on the spoonbill. 

As I have explained in an earlier post, it takes a lot of patience to photograph in nature. As I was standing around waiting for the Spoonys and the light to cooperate, I started to day dream.  When I did start day dreaming, the songs of one of my favorite groups popped into my head; The LOVIN SPOONFULS, hmm I wonder why their songs started playing in my head.

What a day for a daydream
What a day for a day dreaming boy
And I'm lost in a day dream
Dreamin bout my bundle of joy

These birds are so very colorful it is seems like something out of  Disney.You might be wondering why the name spoonbill. Hopefully this image explains it.

 As you can see, it is appropriate, it looks like a long spoon. They use this bill to scoop up food from the shallow coastal waters they walk in. Many times they fish in groups swinging their heads back and forth scooping out crustaceans, bugs, beetles and even small fish. These colorful birds look almost magical with their red feathers glistening in the sunlight. I could watch them all day, and did!!! I wonder could you??

I'll tell you about the magic and it'll free your soul.
But it's like telling a stranger about Rock and Roll

The Spoonbills were there to meet, court and mate. You could see the males flying from one tree to another, trying to convince a female that he was the right one for her. You ladies know what I am talking about right? Just another night at a club, listening to some guy's sweet talk.

You're one of those girls who seems to come in the spring
One look in her eyes and you forget everything
A younger girls keeps rolling across my mind
I remember your eyes, soft dark and brown
A younger girls keeps rolling across my mind

As I finish today's blog, I again want to thank all you readers for your very kind words and support. You didn't have to be so nice but it sure is great that you are.

You didn't have to be so nice
I would have liked you anyways
If you had just looked once or twice 
and gone upon your quiet way
Today I said the time was right for me to follow you
I knew I'd find you in a day or two
And its true

Monday, April 25, 2011


One of the things that amazed me when I first started reading other blogs was the amount of really talented poets and poetesses that were out there. From all over the earth these ladies and gentlemen are writing beautiful poems for all of us to read, feel and enjoy. Their ability to transform words into imagery literally amazes me.  Alpana Jaiswal, Tameka Mullins, Sweepy Jean, Sulekha Rawat, Roy Durham, Rimly Bezbaruah and many others are all wonderful writers from India to Utah with stories to tell. They entertain us, they make us think and they touch our emotions. But most of all they make us feel!!

I have been thinking for awhile how much I would love to collaborate with one of these talented people. To combine one of my images with their words would be such an honor for me. I hesitated asking because I thought that it would be too much to ask of them. Then last week, I read a poem written by a lovely talented writer named Rimly Bezbaruah. Her blog, titled ; "Journey, I write when my soul cries."  is one of my favorite blogs and I look forward to this talented lady's imagery, eagerly anticipating her next
creation. On impulse after reading it, I wrote her that collaborating on something might be interesting. I fully expected a polite thank you, yes that would be nice and then nothing lol. I could see her sitting there thinking, "Go take your little pictures and leave me alone':) But that is not what happened. Instead Rimly expressed a genuine interest in working together. 

It was determined that I would supply an image and Rimly would try and write words to match it. She explained that it would take some time to finish it and I understood completely, guessing a few weeks at least. So naturally in a few days, on Easter, Rimly sent me her creation. I felt like a kid again who had just found the most beautiful Easter egg of all time. I was so honored to have Rimly's words attached to an image of mine, it was a dream come true.  The fact that she was able to convey in her words, exactly what I saw when I made this image, a fairy tale come to life, is amazing. It's a true testament to this women's talent, heart and soul. I will be forever thankful that she honored us with her talent.

The image I choose for her to be inspired by  was one of a bride and groom whom we had the pleasure of photographing and is one of our most asked about images. Wendy and Antonio are a truly lovely couple in many ways. When we met them, we knew the were special and after spending some time with them, we felt like old friends. We were very excited to photograph their wedding day and eagerly anticipated it. When the day arrived it was a perfect wedding day almost like a fairy tale. These two physically and spiritually beautiful people had a storybook glow around them as if Disney was producing this day. She the fairy princess and he the charming prince were ready to ride off into the sunset together to a life filled with love and joy.

The ceremony was held outdoors under a trellis at sunset and presided over by Wendy's father. This was a wonderful day!! As the day turned into night, I happened to look out at the trellis. I saw that in the dark of night it was lit by tiny little lights that gave the area a wonderful look. I knew I had to make an image of the two of them under the trellis with the twinkling lights surrounding them. I wanted to use a lighting technique that we had just started developing. It involves lighting the couple with a  flashlight. This would allow the twinkling lights to be seen and give us the ability to cast a light on just Wendy and Antonio.

I love this technique because I think the lighting is reminiscent of the light used in the movies of the 1930s and 1940s. After we saw the finished image, we were pretty happy; feeling we had captured the image we were looking for. A fairy tale image! When the then married couple picked it for their album and told us how much they loved this image, well we could not have been happier.

Now to see one of our favorite images accompanied by the wonderful words written by Rimly, we feel so honored to be able to do what we do and meet the people we meet. We hope you enjoy this first time collaboration between us and Rimly. By the way Wendy, and Antonio are very, very close to welcoming their first child into the world. This will be one lucky child; to be born into a family filled with love.

Now read and enjoy the imagery of a  " A Mid Summer Night " created by a talented poetess Rimly Bezbaruah

Written by Rimly Bezbaruah

A mid summer’s night... 
Above the sky like a cape 
Is adorned with thousands 
Of twinkling gems... 
The moon looks down 
As pure and white 
Like never before... 
The forest is alive tonight.
 Silky winged fairies 
Light the forest night 
With their tiny wands 
Every bush and shrub 
Glow with a magical sheen
 With tiny lanterns Hung by elves... 
The air is filled 
With the sweet scent 
Of blossoms that 
Dance to the 
Sway of the trees
 Every creature 
Every living being 
Await in awe... 
She glides towards him
 Her Antonio
Handsome and regal 
She is Wendy 
In her gossamer gown 
Beautiful almost ethereal 
Their eyes meet... 
The moment is electrifying 
A hush descends... 
Only the tinkle of bells 
As they are gently 
Caressed by the faint breeze 
And in the distance 
The strings of a harp 
Strum this magical night 
He takes her in his arms 
And as his lips descend 
On her upturned mouth 
The world is enraptured 
As it witnesses 
Another union... 
Another coming together of one
In mind, body and soul 
Of two lovers

Friday, April 22, 2011


I really love watching egrets fly. Of all the birds I have seen in Florida, the egret seems the most graceful. Even if they are just sitting in a tree, they have a gracefulness about them. There are more than just one type of egret. Some of them are the Cattle Egret, the Snowy Egret and the type featured in this posting; the Great Egret.

The Great Egret is a large bird with all-white plumage that can reach one meter in height, weigh up to 950 grams (2.1 lb) and have a wing span of 165 to 215 cm (65 to 85 in). It is thus only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season. In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance; juveniles look like non-breeding adults. It is a common species, usually easily seen.
It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, which extend their necks in flight.
The Great Egret is not normally a vocal bird; at breeding colonies, however, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cook cook.

When we arrived at the alligator farm, we saw only one nest (of which there were many) with newborn chicks. I was told by one of the staff that the chicks were 7 - 10 days old. As you can see, they still have that downy white look..
There were three chicks in the nest and at least one parent the entire three days we were there.  I have read that egret chicks practice siblicide. The two eldest chicks will often attack and kill their younger siblings and toss them out of the nest. Where is the parent while this is happening? They are standing right there preening, seemingly not interested in this gruesome act.
Thankfully, we did not witness this extreme form of sibling rivalry.
What we did witness was three chicks calling for food and calling often!

These chicks like all newborns are so cute and a little bit awkward looking. Their bills look almost too large for their small heads. Each day we were there, I was drawn to this nest. Looking at the chicks and the parent interacting seemed to have a special effect on me.  It was so darn interesting watching nature and this compelling story of survival; to see these cute little chicks in their nest and then looking down about thirty feet below them to the swamp area and sudden death.

Hundreds of crocodiles are swimming or laying around waiting for a chick or adult bird to fall out of the nest or fly just close enough to be reached with these jaws of death. As I walked along the boardwalk, I did wonder about the construction of these structures. They seemed strong, well built and they have been there for many years. Ahh, many years wood beams standing in water?? Okay, so after that thought, I stopped leaning against the railings. But in all seriousness, they are very strong and well put together. Looking down at all of these alligators, I had to keep reminding myself of that fact!!! 
Let's get back to the egrets. They are so much more graceful, cute and safe. 

There were some difficulties in photographing these birds. First, when there are three chicks and one or two adults in the nest, it is very difficult to have them all looking in my direction. Most of the time, I would get one or two chicks' faces and one of their backsides or the adult would be preening and have its head stuck under its wing. 

Another problem was the light. The sunlight was coming through the branches and the adult was so much taller then the chicks that often they would be in different light. The chicks were in bright sunlight and the adults' head was in dark shadow. During some moments, one of the chicks would be covered by the adult's shadow, thus creating a problem in getting the correct exposure for all at the same time. That is what nature photography is all about. You cannot dictate all the circumstances, cannot move the light and in many cases you cannot get any closer to the subject; at least not without putting the animal or yourself in danger.
After a while the other adult flew into the nest and the young ones really starting getting vocal about food!! We were lucky to capture this image of the adult sticking its bill down the throat of the chick and regurgitating a partially digested fish to feed the chick.

It is an amazing act to witness look how far down the baby's throat the adult's bill is!!!
When I started looking at these images on my computer, I was amazed at the nest image. 
At first I thought I just had a great image of the three chicks all looking forward and no chicks' butts lol.. But as I looked closer, I saw that one of the chicks had a partially digested fish in its bill.

You can see the fish in the bill of the chick in the middle. I was a little excited at capturing this image, actually more than just a little lol. Does that make me a geek????
Please remember you can click on the images to see a larger version.
Have a great weekend!