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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