May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

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When I stopped by the Sarasota National Cemetery this past Friday evening, one other person was there --- a woman solemnly paying her respects.  I really like the human element in this shot.   This is what Memorial Day is about.   The SDP editorial staff considered using sepia or black and white on this photo, but decided the photo stands on its own in its original form.  Remember to thank a veteran today for their service.

May 27, 2012


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What a difference one month makes.  Gas prices have dropped 28-cents since my last monthly post.  We reached a high Easter weekend when prices hit $3.99.  So, within the past 7 weeks, prices have fallen 50-cents.  Let's hope prices continue to go down!

May 24, 2012

Masked Inspection

Masked Bandit

A furry masked bandit was spotted recently at South Lido Beach randomly inspecting the lower portion of vehicles.  This SUV passed the 12-point inspection and the bandit moved on.   SDP posts have been a bit inconsistent recently due to an unusually hectic week.  Unfortunately, I expect that probably will continue until July 4th as the entire staff catches up on special projects.  Hope everyone is having a good week!    

May 18, 2012

Gator vs. Gator

From the time this 13 foot alligator displayed his substantial maw at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, it was clear he was in no mood. Sure, it was Easter Sunday and he was sporting his Easter bonnet comprised of leafy lettuce plants....but nevertheless, Biggie didn't appear inclined to spread any cheer. He seemed antsy, like he wanted to go somewhere. A nearby narrow muddy path connected this lake to another and I suspected he was going to venture there.
So, the entire SDP staff watched and waited for an hour as Biggie slowly plodded his way toward the other lake. Each movement seemed to be a laborious, exhausting exercise but he was determined to get to the other side.  When he arrived, a shot of adrenaline torpedoed him across the lake so fast he very well could have run across it.   He was chasing a smaller male alligator -- a 6 footer.  Naturally, at this captivating moment, my memory card expired and I quickly fumbled to change it.  When I looked up....
...the two gators were running through the cypress forest, fully extended upright on their haunches. What a sight!  A sanctuary volunteer watching the action unfold with us said Biggie is very territorial and doesn't want the little guy to have any fish.   So, the chase was on...deep into the forest replete with Easter bonnet.  It was like watching a tank motor through the woods destroying anything in its path...
Untitled this log.  You should have heard the KABOOM when Biggie powered over it.
The little guy's strategy, apparently, was to traverse so deep into the woods Biggie eventually would retreat due to sheer fatigue.  At one point, the little one tucked himself under the boardwalk.  In fact, he was so close I could have touched him (had I momentarily lost my mind). Standing above him, I pondered whether the wooden boardwalk would hold up under the extreme weight of two wrestling gators.  Fortunately, it didn't come that.  After venturing about 50 yards into the forest, Biggie gave up and slowly returned to the lake where he proceeded to open his maw one more time and smack it so loudly tourists standing nearby jumped.  I smiled and said to a family visiting from Switzerland, 'Bet you don't see that in Switzerland!'  Their wide eyed response: '!'  Great adventure.  This concludes our tour of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

On a completely different note, you may have heard legendary singer Donna Summer passed away yesterday in Sarasota County.  What a loss.   Several years ago, I saw her in concert here -- what an incredible voice.  At the time she told the audience she had discovered Sarasota.  A couple of weeks later, I heard she bought a house here.  She'll be missed.  While she was known for her disco hits, my personal favorite is her rendition of 'O Holy Night'.   It's fantastic.

May 17, 2012

Lake Buddies

Heron and Gator
At first glance it looks like that snowy egret is perched on the tail of a very large alligator going for a ride around Lettuce Lakes at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  If you look a little closer, though, you can see the bird is actually roosting on a piece of wood while his reptilian friend lounges half submerged in  water, muck and lettuce plants.  Nevertheless, the bird's proximity to the gator seems a bit too close for comfort especially when you hear about the gator's wild antics.  Alligator tale comin' up tomorrow!

May 16, 2012

Cardinal Couple

Earlier on our tour of Corkscrew Swamp Santuary, I mentioned there are two locations where bird feeders are placed. One is next to the visitor center and the other one is near the pine flatwoods which attracts beautiful cardinals. This is the male with that gorgeous brilliant red. He was hopping on the ground pecking on seed which had fallen. He didn't seem to mind being out and about. His mate, though, was quite skittish.
She popped out of the brush and darted back in repeatedly. She's a nervous little thing, but quite pretty.  I really like the red-orange accents on her wings, tail, and beak.  And, who can resist that cute little red spiked hair?   Although I grew up with cardinals in my neighborhood and my high school mascot was the cardinal, I found this couple to be particularly charming.  It was one of the rare times I've seen a male so close and the first time I've really gotten a good look at a female.  Love this place!

May 15, 2012

Grey Catbird

Gray Catbird
While walking through Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, I was delighted by the constant sounds filling the air: chirping, buzzing, whistling, cawing, pecking. It was a feast for a nature lover's ears.  (At the time I couldn't help but wonder if some of those soothing CDs with sounds of the rainforest are recorded here.)  One distinctive bird call I heard was emanating from a grey catbird.  It sounds similar to a cat meow. But, they're elusive!  They like to hide in thick shrub and trying to get a decent photo was a challenge. Fortunately, this guy showed himself because he was interested in nibbling on those berries.  I had just enough time to snap one decent shot. Such a loud, pathetic call coming from such a little bird!  This was another bird I'd never seen before.  But, I knew exactly what it was as soon as I heard that telltale  See why this place is such a treasure?!

May 14, 2012

Water Moccasin

As much as I enjoy nature walks and taking in the sights and sounds, it's what I don't see that creeps me out. I'm keenly aware there are creatures out there blending into the foliage so well they're basically invisible to me. Take this water moccasin at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary for example. I strolled right by it several times oblivious to its presence as I concentrated on the pretty songbirds flitting to and fro. An Audubon Society volunteer passing by asked if I'd seen the snake. Snake?! What snake?! Even when he pointed directly at it, I didn't see for a moment. This is why one stays on the boardwalk!  Later during our virtual tour, I'll show you another reason why you shouldn't leave the safety of the boardwalk.  (Think big maws in the big sanctuary.)

May 13, 2012

Sanctuary Stroll

Corkscrew Swamp
This is a portion of the wooden boardwalk which winds 2.25 miles through the 14,000 acres of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Collier County.  One of the many reasons why there's an abundance of wildlife here is that there are five distinct habitats:  pine flatwood, wet prairie, bald cypress, marsh and Lettuce Lakes.  This portion of the boardwalk is winding from the pine flatwood area into the wet prairie.  Interesting tidbit:  the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in North America is located right here.  There's so much to enjoy and absorb, the transitions from one habitat to the other are seamless.  By the way, the boardwalk is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and I saw several people making their way around, binoculars in hand, which I thought was quite nice.  I know if I couldn't make it around on my own I certainly would enjoy that option. 

May 12, 2012

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
A couple of bird feeders are strategically placed at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.  One is right next to the visitor center and it attracts the real beauties of the little birds, like this guy:  an indigo bunting.  In person, the blue is so vibrant it's mind boggling.  He seemed to be in constant motion flying, eating, then darting back into the nearby brush to hide for awhile before zipping back to the feeder.  I'd never seen an indigo bunting before so this was pretty exciting.  A painted bunting also made a dramatic appearance (imagine a beautiful rainbow with wings) but it was too quick for me to capture.  Gives me a good reason to return to this wonderful in hand, of course. 

May 11, 2012

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler
The entire SDP staff took a day trip recently down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples. What an absolute treasure!  In the spring, birds migrate there from all over.  If you're a birder or nature lover, this is the place to go in March or early April during migration season. Almost from the moment we stepped foot onto the 2.25-mile boardwalk, which winds through five habitats including grasslands and woods, we could hear and see an assortment of birds flitting around including this palm warbler. Isn't he handsome? The Audubon Society purchased 14,000 acres of land in 1954 and set it aside as a wildlife sanctuary. Volunteers stroll around pointing out birds and other critters to visitors and answering questions, which is how I was able to identify this little feathered beast.  (I'm not that good of an ornithologist yet.)  Since we had such a good time (and snapped so many photos), we're going to take you on a virtual tour of Corkscrew Swamp over the next few days and share some of our wildlife encounters.  No need for hiking boots...or binoculars.  Warning:  watch your mouse...there could be snakes on this adventure.

May 10, 2012

That Time of Year

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Boating season has arrived!  I snapped this shot over the weekend along Phillipi Creek.  The high and dry storage facility was lifting boats in and out of the water nonstop.  Surprisingly, though, I only saw humans. Not a single beast on a boat for my series. Fortunately, there are many more boating days ahead and many more photo opportunities of four-legged friends.

May 9, 2012

Dr. Robin

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As promised, this is the latest mural to appear in Sarasota by an artist simply known as MTO. Although it's located one block away from the 'Fast Life' mural, which stirred up controversy and was ultimately painted over, I doubt this one will create as much community strife, if for no other reason it's off the beaten path. Viewing this in person, you can see dollar signs reflecting in the sunglasses and according to a newspaper article the artist selected the name Dr. Robin to suggest that Sarasota is robbing the community (possibly of viewing 'Fast Life'). MTO is from France and, from what I've read, he does not provide a full name because quite a bit of his work in Europe is done illegally. He was invited to participate in the graffiti art portion of the Sarasota Chalk Festival this past year. Following the festival, he was paid to spray paint murals on some private buildings. You can see more of his work on what appears to be his Flickr page and MySpace page.

May 8, 2012

Growing Up

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Believe it or not, these are the baby hawks! At first, I wondered if a different hawk family had moved into the nest. Then I remembered it's been two weeks since I last saw them. They're now approximately four weeks old.  Aren't they big?
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The little ones were on high alert watching several turkey vultures soaring overhead. They called and called, but neither Henry nor Henrietta responded or appeared. They were in the nest all alone. Suddenly, the vultures disappeared and the distinct sounds of Henry and Henrietta urgently calling filled the air for almost ten minutes. The songbirds stopped singing. The squirrels hid. Something was happening...but, what? Suddenly, Henry stealthily swooped into the nest just long enough to drop off a rodent...
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...and then he was off...leaving the two little ones to fill their bellies on their own.
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But, Henry and Henrietta's offspring do not like to share and this little guy was left without any food. So, he started calling again...and again...and again. But to no avail.
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Apparently, hunger pains got the best of him and he attempted to swipe dinner from his sibling. A fracas ensued with wings flapping every which way.
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The scuffle lasted a few minutes and thankfully no one appeared to be injured. The baby with the food held firm and made his way to the other side of the nest to devour his meal, but not in silence. His sibling started calling for Henry and Henrietta again. This time, though, his calls were much more pathetic sounding. I sure hope Hernry and Henrietta had a successful hunting trip and returned with dinner for him. Survival of the fittest sure is tough.  

May 7, 2012

2nd Anniversary

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To mark the 2nd anniversary of Sarasota Daily Photo, I offer a photo which encompasses a little of everything that most people were interested in based on our recent poll: beaches, wildlife and a surprise. (Thanks to everyone who voted!) This picture was taken on South Lido Beach in the early evening on a week night. Lido Key has the only beaches within the Sarasota city limits.  That beautiful body of water is Sarasota Bay which flows into the Gulf of Mexico (just to the right out of frame). You can run along the beach, go boating, check out the shorebirds and then be in St. Armands Circle for fine shopping and dining within a matter of minutes. The great blue heron tucked in the foliage on the beach is real. He was rather funny because he seemed to act as those he was completely camouflaged and no one could see him people watching.

I've enjoyed blogging for the past two years and meeting so many different people in the City Daily Photo world and blogosphere.  Through your terrific posts and thoughtful comments, I feel as though I know many of you although we've never met in person.  One of my goals with SDP was to improve my photography.  Some days I think that's happened. Other days I don't know what I was thinking when I snapped a picture!  My ornithological knowledge definitely has increased as I try to figure out what the birds are that I'm shooting. Without SDP, I never would have had the fantastic experience of documenting Henry and Henrietta and their family (a SDP follower tipped me off to their nest) or the bald eagle family.  Thanks to everyone who visits SDP and comments.  I wish I could post every day, but unfortunately, Sarasota daily life gets in the way.  I've read about some CDP bloggers who quit posting because they become overwhelmed with trying to continually find good photo opps and write about them.  I don't want SDP, which I started as a fun hobby, to turn into a chore.  The content ultimately would suffer.  So, if you don't see a post for a few days or don't see me commenting in awhile, please know I haven't disappeared for long.  Happy blogging!

May 6, 2012

The Garabage-Men

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Meet the Garbage-Men!  They're a group of ingenious young guys in Sarasota who came up with the idea of making musical instruments using recycled items.  For example, one guitar is a cardboard Froot Loops box with a yardstick and some kind of string and the other guitar body is made from a Captain Crunch box.  The drums are comprised of garbage cans and lids. Somehow they've engineered the instruments so they can be amplified.  I started hearing about the band a year or so ago -- and they're a hit! If you go to the Farmers Market downtown you'll see them.  I saw them playing before an Orioles spring training game and this photo was taken last autumn during the Chalk Festival. Their music is fun and recognizable.  I've heard them play The Beatles, Led Zepplin etc.  They sound good.  And, now they're going national!  Turns out one of my neighbors is the aunt of one of the Garbage-Men.  She announced that the guys will be live on NPR's "Talk of the Nation Sci-Fri" this Friday (May 11th) from 2-4 p.m. (I believe EST)  Tune in and check 'em out.  Or  visit their website to see some of their performances.

May 5, 2012


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Why am I showing you a blank wall on the side of a building? Well, until recently a mural was here. This mural:
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It was spray painted on a building in a transitional neighborhood last autumn and immediately many people were concerned about what it might represent and the potential impact on the community. (To read my post about it at the time click here.) The controversy swelled to the point that after so many requests to remove it, including a letter from the City Commission, the owner of the building quietly had it painted over. I noticed it was gone one evening. Then, about a week later the local newspaper picked up the story. The international artist, simply known as MTO, returned to town shortly afterward and spray painted another mural on the side of a building about one block away. And...a new controversy seems to be percolating. I'll try to show that one soon. In the meantime, what do you think? Should the 'Fast Life' mural have stayed or gone?

May 4, 2012

Black Skimmer

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A new bird!  I went for a stroll last night along South Lido Beach and spotted these birds which I'd never seen before. After consulting my trusty Birds of Florida field guide, I learned they're black skimmers also known by ornithologists as razorbills or scissorbills. They happen to be the only bird whose lower bill is longer than their upper bill.  Look at that underbite!

May 1, 2012

Theme Day: Bakeries

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It's the first of the month again already and that means it's theme day in the City Daily Photo community. With the theme being bakeries, I thought I'd post something a smidge out of the box. Welcome to Sniglet's Dog Bakery!  More than a dozen doggie goodies are created right on the premises.  Delicious sounding things like apple treats, pumpkin cookies, peanut butter cups and chicken cookies. It's all baked fresh with ingredients edible for humans, according to the owner Jennifer, who opened the shop almost 2 years ago. So, what's a Sniglet?
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This guy is! That's his name -- Sniglet. He's a 4-year-old maltepoo (a maltese and poodle type mix) and he's an absolute sweetie. He's a savvy sales representative quickly making friends with customers with his carefree uninhibited demeanor.  Perhaps most importantly, every baked item must meet his approval, as he is the bakery's CTO - Chief Tasting Officer.  Sniglet and his bakery are located on University Parkway and Tuttle. You can also purchase goodies  online:

Click here to view thumbnails for all theme day participants. Also, today is the last day to vote to decide the SDP 2nd anniversary photo.  Look to the right and vote!