Archive for June, 2011

Travel: The Colorado Plateau Trip Starts Saturday

View from 38,000 feet west of the Grand CanyonThe big adventure to see the Colorado Plateau officially starts tomorrow! After a very warm few days in Las Vegas with my husband, we are setting out for the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning. Sunday we’ll drive to Page, AZ, to visit Antelope Canyon and will then head to Utah to end our day at Bryce Canyon National Park. Monday we’ll start our day at Bryce Canyon and then visit the Kolob Canyon portion of Zion National Park before heading back to Las Vegas for our flight home on Tuesday. It will be a fun-filled few days!

The route from Tampa to Las Vegas includes flying over the Grand Canyon, and after that glimpse I’m more excited than ever to see all it all up close. This photo is with my cell phone and from 38,000 feet, so it’s not my best, but is a preview of some of the landscape to come. We had already passed the Grand Canyon, so all I know is that this is somewhere in Arizona!

Story Behind the Photo: Stellar Jay

Stellar's Jay, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA

One of the things I’m looking forward to in Arizona and Utah this weekend is the opportunity to see all kinds of different flora and fauna.For me, air travel has made it easy to lose perspective about how large the United States is and how diverse the climates are. In just the 8 hour drive from my old home north of Atlanta to my new one in the Tampa Bay area, an entire new tropical world opened up with exotic plants, animals and birds. As I travel through some of the nations most beautiful national parks over the next few days, I hope to see a few new birds and would love to see some of the wildlife indigenous to the area.

As I try to study up on what birds and animals I may see, I was reminded about my surprise and fascination with the new plants and birds I saw in California a few years ago. My husband and I kept seeing beautiful blue birds, but they weren’t the Blue Jays we have on the East coast. After much research, I discovered it was a Stellar’s Jay, pictured here at the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, CA.

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Story Behind the Photo: Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, FL

This week is the big trip out west to see what seems like another planet compared to the white sandy beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. I’ve spent the last few days reading more and more about the destinations for our trip and am excited about all of the opportunities for awesome photographs. While I’ve been worrying about how in the world to pack for 37 degree nights and 85 degree days, I started to think about all of the people across the country that would be heading here to my neck of the woods for their vacation and wonder if there is someone in Arizona planning a trip to my local beach. If you are out there, I hope you enjoy it…the weather will certainly cooperate for beautiful photos, but it will be hot and humid! This photo is of Clearwater Beach, FL, a very popular tourist destination in the Tampa Bay area.

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Story Behind the Photo: Red-bellied Woodpecker

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker, Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, FL

While it may seem ridiculous to most people that I would feed squirrels on purpose, it does keep them off of my bird feeders and they are quite the entertaining bunch to watch. We also have Blue Jays and Cardinals that frequent the squirrel feeder and it ends up being the hub of all activity in the back yard. Yesterday I noticed a new visitor to the feeder, helping himself to a peanut or two. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker not only stopped by, but came back several times to visit and thoroughly inspected our wooden fence for any bugs that might be yummy. This female Red-bellied Woodpecker was photographed at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin, FL.

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Story Behind the Photo: Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret, Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin, FL

Reddish Egrets are considered medium to large herons at just under three feet tall. Common along the Gulf Coast, I had never seen a Reddish Egret until moving to Florida a few years ago. With blue-gray bodies and and reddish heads and necks, it’s easy to see where they get their name. Often found stalking fish in shallow saltwater, Reddish Egrets are truly entertaining to watch as they spin and flap their wings in effect “herding” the fish into the just the right spot before striking. This Reddish Egret was photographed at Caladesi Island taking a break from fishing to enjoy the view.

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Story Behind the Photo: Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, Homosassa Springs, FL

Hawks are amazing birds. Perched high in the tree tops always watching for for thier next meal, I usually am delighted to see a hawk. Lately there has been a pair of Red-shouldered hawks in my neighborhood, making appearances a few times a day. I usually only see one at a time, but know the other is near thanks to it’s shrill call.

Remember when I said that I am usually delighted to see hawks? Do you also recall that I have an entire neighborhood of squirrels that I feed in my backyard? Per the “circle of life” it seems that my furry squirrel buddies are quite the desirable meal for a hawk. As far as I know there aren’t any squirrels missing, but they don’t exactly check in regularly. This Red-shouldered Hawk was photographed at the Homossassa Springs Wildlife State Park, not stalking any squirrels.

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Story Behind the Photo: Caladesi Island State Park

Caladesi Island State Park

It’s hot out. More than half of the country is experiencing August-like temperatures in the beginning of June, leaving many to wonder where ‘spring’ went. Many of these places were in the 70’s not that long ago and managed soar right past the 80’s and settle in the 90’s this week. It has been hot in Florida for weeks now and every day there are hints that rainy season is due any day now, but isn’t here yet. So for those of you sweltering in the heat, a beach picture from Caladesi Island. As my husband likes to say, when it’s this hot out, there are only two places to be: in the air conditioning or in the water!

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Travel: Heading out West

The fountains of Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV

A few months ago I let everyone know that I’d be heading out west to photograph some of the Colorado Plateau – a whole new type of landscape for me. I have a commitment in Las Vegas at the end of June and am tacking a few days onto the trip to explore the area. My husband will be my trusty companion as we attempt to do entirely too much sight seeing in too short an amount of time, a trend on our vacations.

On the itinerary: the Grand Canyon (south rim), Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park’s Kolob Canyon. While we know there is way too much to see everything in detail, we are going to get an overview of several of the hots spots to help us better plan a longer family trip in the near future. Oh, and I might sneak in a few photos of Vegas, too.

Only three weeks to go now and I’m starting to get excited! I plan to post more than usual on our trip to show some of “behind the scenes” adventures we get into. There will certainly be posts here on the PhotoBlog, but I anticipate lots of shorter updates on Facebook and Twitter. If you aren’t already following, now is the time to start! If you are following, thank you!

Story Behind the Photo: Sunset

Sunset, Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin, FL

I have some really exciting news…my parents are moving to Florida! Let me clarify – not just to Florida, but to my little city, only 2.4 miles away! Only for a short period of time a few years ago have I even lived in the same state as my parents since moving out of our family home to go to college. We’ve all moved several times since then and until today have been 1000 miles apart. To say that I am delighted that they are moving here would be an understatement!

My parents are under the impression that they will get to relax and enjoy the “Florida Lifestyle” when they get settled here. I don’t know if they realize how much my husband and I have planned for them when they arrive. My husband is looking forward to having my Dad as a fishing buddy every weekend until the fall. While the boys are busy, I plan to take my Mom with me to all of my favorite photography spots and we will surely see many sunsets like this one from Honeymoon Island State Park. However we all end up spending our time, it will be fantastic to be spending it together and I can’t wait! Now if I can just get my brother and sister-in-law down here..

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Story Behind the Photo: Eastern Cottontail

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Safety Harbor, FL

A few weeks ago I snapped this photo of our neighborhood rabbit, Peter Cottontail. He is an Eastern Cottontail rabbit and lives in the lush landscaping of my next-door neighbor’s front yard. I thought he was the only rabbit in my little part of our neighborhood which I realize is rather naive as they are known to breed like, well, rabbits. This weekend we met what I assume is one of his offspring in quite an unexpected way!

Early on Sunday morning my husband noticed ripples across the top of our pool, which was odd as the pump was off. It’s not uncommon for a small frog to get into the pool and make it’s way to the skimmer, and we rescue a few a year. Ready to scoop out the first frog of the season, my husband took the top off of the skimmer and found something furry instead. As it turns out, a small bunny had gnawed it’s way through our screened enclosure and ended up in the pool. We think he was in search of water since it’s dry season here and hasn’t rained for weeks, but who knows for sure.

We have no idea how long he was in the pool, but had thankfully made his way to the little floating flap in the skimmer and was perched on top, keeping his face out of the water. After scooping him out of the pool we realized he had hurt one of his front paws and called the best vet hospital in town for assistance. The fine folks at Blue Pearl Veterinary Services do some pretty amazing things, including working with a wildlife rehab organization that was delighted to help our little swimmer recoup from his big adventure.

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