May 2, 2016

Anhinga Trail

Everglades National Park
The most popular trail at Everglades National Park is the Anhinga Trail.  It's an easy walk along a boardwalk around an open swamp area.  The vistas are quite nice.  

Everglades National Park

Of course, you never know what you're walking near…or over. It's wise to keep your eyes open…and camera at the ready.

Everglades National Park
This is an anhinga -- the trail's namesake.  These are the birds that many times are seen with their wings spread out, drying, after plunging into the water for a meal.  Since it was late spring when the SDP team visited, I suspect most of the migratory birds, like the pretty roseate spoonbills, had already left.  So, we're already sharpening our pencils and planning a return trip in January or February.

Everglades National Park
Adjacent to the Anhinga Trail is the Gumbo Limbo Trail.   This one goes through the woods around many gumbo limbo trees and others.  We made a point to hit this trail after a particularly helpful National Parks volunteer randomly told me a barred owl nest is located there.  He even marked it on a map -- without me asking.  At the time, I thought it was bit odd.  Why would the volunteer want to direct tourists to a nest?  Well, once we saw the trail, I realized immediately it was so dense with foliage it would be nearly impossible to find an owl nest.  And then…I heard it call!  Again…and again.  Then, it went silent.  Darn!  I've seen several barred owls here in Sarasota…but, I was on a mission to find this particular rascal.  After walking around for a few minutes about ready to give up, amazingly, maybe 30 yards deep into the thick brush there he was….sitting  in a tree watching me.  He was  tucked in so far it was difficult to get a clear shot.  But, we were able to point him out to a couple visiting from Germany who we had met on the other trail -- and they were pretty excited. Success! The Everglades journey will continue...

May 1, 2016

Theme Day: Smell

SDP 5-1-16
We're back from a trip to Houston and settled into the SDP offices in time for Theme Day in the City Daily Photo community.  Today's theme is an interesting one:  Smell.  For me (who can be a bit olfactory system challenged), being at the beach can evoke many, varied scents:  from the smell of the salty sea air, to wet sand, crustaceans washed ashore and, of course, the occasional whiff of suntan lotion being applied.  Sometimes you can even smell a rainstorm rolling in. This photo was taken on beautiful Lido Beach in the Sarasota city limits.  To see more interpretations of today's Theme Day click here.  Hope everyone is well in the blogosphere!  P.S.: The entire SDP staff is looking forward to resuming our tour of Everglades National Park very soon!  

April 17, 2016

Say 'Aaaaaah!'

Everglades
Well, since Everglades National Park is synonymous with alligators, we'll start the highlights of our recent trip there with what can only be described as a "Show off Gator".  This guy really wanted us to see his incredibly large (and pristinely clean looking) maw.  So, how did we get to this point?

Everglades
Well, we were hiking the Anhinga Trail, a very popular walk in the Everglades. At the end of a boardwalk, we paused to take in the beautiful scenery when this guy spotted me immediately. (Note I say me…not the SDP Jr. Editor who was present and accounted for on this adventure.  I suspect I may have been viewed as a smaller, more manageable snack….but, who knows?!)  For whatever reason, the gator made a beeline toward me as you can see in this video.

Although there was decent bit of separation between us (and I was elevated on a boardwalk), there's something a bit unnerving about an  imposing beast like this staring you down and swimming straight for you. It didn't even wait to get on land before exposing it's massive white/pink mouth, teeth and all.  Naturally, I was looking down at my camera at the time -- and almost missed the entire "gaping maw scene" which happened very quickly. Fortunately, the SDP Jr. Editor was on her game and alerted me: "It's mouth is OPEN!"


 Everglades 
This is what it looked like without my long lens -- and no cropping.  Welcome to the Everglades!  It's perfect timing that we're sharing these photos, because it's National Park Week in the U.S.  Although I've lived in Florida for almost 18 years, this was my first visit to Everglade National Park and I really enjoyed it.  We'll be sharing more from this wonderfully wild and swampy area soon.

April 16, 2016

Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber
One last post from the Miami Open before we move on to other topics.  Some players are more fun to photograph than others because of their expressiveness on the court.  This year my favorite player to shoot was Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion from Germany.  This was first time I saw her play in person and she didn't disappoint. Whether she was unleashing a forehead from the baseline…

2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber playing on the Grandstand Court during the Miami Open on Key Biscayne.
  …or prowling at net -- she was all business and it showed!

Angelique Kerber
  How would you like to face that intensity just a few feet away? ((gulp))

Angelique Kerber
"Come on," Angie yelped after winning a point when she was down a set to a relatively unknown Dutch player in the seering Miami heat.

Angelique Kerber
After she stormed back to secure the victory, Kerber's intense on-court demeanor was tucked away and she happily paused for photos and autographs with fans.  What a champ!  From what I'm hearing, the Miami Open will remain on Key Biscayne for at least one more year -- great news!  Next up on SDP:  highlights from the entire staff's big adventure to Everglades National Park. Hope everyone is doing well in the blogosphere!

April 10, 2016

Swamp or Mountains?

Myakka Sunset
Spring is lasting a bit longer than usual here in Sarasota -- yes!   We're still enjoying beautiful days with fairly low humidity which translates into cooler evenings and remarkable sunsets.  The entire SDP staff just returned home to Sarasota and we were able to catch up enough with housekeeping matters etc. yesterday to make it out to Myakka River State Park for this nice sunset.   A surprising number and variety of birds were out -- which the entire SPD team is looking forward to sharing at some point.  So, where were we….?

Nevada!  This was my view earlier in the week.  I was in Reno for a few days and was fortunate enough to have a few hours to explore nearby Lake Tahoe.  All I can say is … wow!  What a gorgeous part of the country -- very pretty with the tall pine trees and snow capped mountains (I even spotted quite a few people sledding, cross country skiing and downhill skiing). I definitely would like to return to explore some more one day.  Which  leads to the question:  swamp or mountains?  Actually, I love both!  Each has its own unique environment and natural beauty.  As long as I can be outdoors exploring, I'd be happy as a clam.  Hope everyone is doing well in the blogosphere!

April 5, 2016

Baghdatis vs Kyrgios

Marcos Baghdatis

If possible, I like to see Marcos Baghdatis play in person.  "Baggy" hasn't experienced a big breakthrough on the ATP circuit, but I've always appreciated his easy going demeanor and infectious smile -- although his smile was tucked away during this match. 

Nick Kyrgios

It could be because he was being pushed around the court by this young up and comer, Nick Kyrgios, from Australia.  This photo, I think, captures Kyrgios' demeanor on the court.  While I wouldn't call him a modern day tennis "bad boy", the word "flamboyant" is used frequently by tennis announcers to describe him and his non-traditional style. I would also add the words "edgy" and "intense".

Nick Kyrgios

Kyrgios sailed to a straight sets victory.  Not sure what was said at the net when Baggy gave Kyrgios a congratulatory pat on the chest, but Kyrgios -- who's 10 years younger than Baggy -- seemed to appreciate it.  Kyriogos is currently ranked #20 and, ultimately, lost in the quarterfinals at the Miami Open.  The entire SDP staff will be on sabbatical for a bit.  We'll be back soon.  In the meantime, have a nice week!

April 4, 2016

Wawrinka vs Kuznetsov

Stan Wawrinka
Swiss player Stan Wawrinka is ranked #4 on the world tour and is known on the circuit as "The Stanimal".  I love that nickname!  He has a nice one-handed backhanded, which he was getting ready to unleash when I snapped this shot. Unfortunately, though, it wasn't his day on the grandstand court at the Miami Open.

Stan Wawrinka

It was especially hot (even by Miami standards), and The Stanimal looked overheated and tired. He quickly found himself down a set and a break to #51 Andrey Kuznetsov…and looking for answers (and perhaps shade) in his towel.

Andrey Kuznetsov
Kuznetsov pulled off the upset in straight sets -- possibly the biggest victory of his career. And, he pleasantly basked in the limelight taking his time to autograph every tennis ball and hat put in front of him following the match.

Andrey Kuznetsov
And, even though perspiration was dripping down his face, Kuznetsov was happy to pose for selfies. Very polite, nice young man.  I hope his success on the courts continues!