How many times have you been out and about, sans camera, and unexpectedly spotted a photo worthy subject? This time I was lucky because, although I did not have my camera in hand, I was preparing to go to the park and had my camera packed in my car nearby when I spotted a moorhen in a neighborhood retention pond (my trusty Birds of Florida refers to the species as a 'common' moorhen…but, really, what's common about a little duck with an orange face and bright yellow beak?). So, I dashed back to my car and put on my long lens to get some shots of the aforementioned moorhen having a bath. And, that's when I realized she wasn't alone. She had a brood of three tucked in close to her while she splashed around. She must have sensed me nearby because she swam to the other side of the pond, and dispatched her little ones into the tall grass. Can you see them? Look directly above the mama moorhen's head…then to the right. 1…2…3! I love the orange splotches on their heads.
And, here's the other decorated bicycle that is on public display and is randomly moved from one location to another in downtown. The backstory with this one is interesting. The artist, who refers to himself as Dr. Nik Gapeto, said he begrudgingly was shopping at Walmart and saw a display of fake doves. He realized they were intended for shooting target practice. Being vehemently opposed to guns, he bought all 60 or so doves (calling them 'killing mechanisms') … and eventually came up with the idea for the peace Dove Bike. Surprisingly, I've never seen Dr. Nik in person -- just his creative bicycles. This shot was taken at Bayfront Park where it was locked up and on display. One of these days, when I spot him, I'll do my best to get a portrait. In the meantime, here's a video interview he did recently with one of our many local media outlets:
When I posted this portrait recently, I mentioned that I was photographing a flamingo bicycle and promised to share it. Tah dah! It's difficult not to notice something this bright, creative and unusual. (Although, from a photography standpoint it was a challenge to capture.) A local artist, who goes by the name Dr. Nik Gapeto and works at the Florida Studio Theatre in downtown, is the man behind it. (Oh, how I would love a photo of him riding this bicycle! Perhaps a directive needs to go out to the entire SDP staff to keep their eyes peeled and cameras ready.) I've heard Dr. Nik likes the idea of the Flamingo Bicycle getting people's creative juices flowing. It certainly is an unexpected sight. You never know where it will pop up in downtown. The first time I spotted it, it was chained outside Whole Foods. This time, it was two blocks away at Five Points. And, this isn't Dr. Nik's only art bike. We have another one on tap for tomorrow. Hope you have a terrific Saturday!
When I downloaded this photo, I wondered why I shot the dolphins from this angle, jumping away from me. Then, I remembered! I liked the clouds, the Ringling Bridge in the background (lower left hand corner) as well as the buildings on Golden Gate Point. It sure was a beautiful day at Bayfront Park last Saturday. The last time I photographed this fountain, I shot it from a different direction and submitted it for the CDP Theme Day --- back in February 2011. I can't believe it was three years ago! Check it out here. Which do you prefer?
I mentioned recently that we're seeing an uptick in construction projects in the area. And, this is the granddaddy of 'em all: a $315 million upscale mall, called University Town Center, which is getting a lot of attention. (Construction was supposed to start during the recession, but was postponed for years…then, the plans were modified to accommodate different anchor stores.) Last week, I noticed the Macy's sign was installed and lit up -- and the mall isn't scheduled to open for another five months (on my birthday, to be exact!). Today, Crate & Barrel announced it will be a tenant. Another big name -- Apple -- also is moving in, which will be nice for me because my drive time to an Apple store will be cut by one hour. Many people are concerned about the increased traffic the mall will generate. I live nearby and I'm not overly concerned. Yet. (You can't tell from this photo, but the mall is going to be quite large.) Others fear the new mall might prompt shoppers to abandon the retail stores in downtown Sarasota and St. Armands Circle. But, isn't a mall experience much different than being out and about in a bustling downtown? By the way, for those keeping track, this reportedly will be the only new mall to open in the U.S. in 2014.
I checked in on the sandhill crane family recently, and Baby had grown quite a bit within just two weeks. (You can see my first post here.) While I was there, Baby was testing its ginormous feet, walking around the nest and swimming to shore then back to the nest. Both parents were there, including this one who was taking housekeeping to a whole new level. I couldn't help but think this was the female, as I watched her diligently move branches, grass and piles of mud onto their island nest. She was very intent on maintaining that soggy home as best she could. It seems a mother's work is never done, whatever the species. The apparent father was standing guard nearby, most likely watching for predators. Check out the short video I shot to see what I mean.
At my day job, we recognize employees when they hit a five year employment milestone. So, whilst attending one of these celebrations recently, I started thinking that longevity is really becoming less common -- for many things. I read that the average existence of a blog is two years. Thus, I'm proud to announce the SDP longevity is twice that! We're 4 years old today.
As I was standing in downtown contemplating what I would post for the big four year anniversary, I realized I was surrounded by quite a bit of change. The building featured has changed hands three times since SDP started…and now it's about to reopen as a running store. This intersection was one of the oddest and most dysfunctional crossroads (for motorists and pedestrians alike) that I had ever encountered, with five streets intersecting with one little traffic signal dangling overhead. A few years ago, the traffic light was removed and this roundabout was put in its place -- a roundabout that many people said wouldn't work…that drivers would be too confused. Just the opposite happened. Residents love this roundabout and, believe it or not, a dozen (yes, 12) roundabouts are planned around the city over the next several years. Throughout these changes, SDP has plodded along. Despite the Computer Crash of 2012 (and the subsequent painstaking resurrection of an our complete photo library), the entire SDP staff is doing well. (Occasionally, though, threats of a walkout arise due to creative differences and/or the lack of purchasing approvals, but fortunately, as Editor-in-Chief somehow I'm always able to employ my diplomatic skills and smooth the ruffled feathers.) While I'm not able to spend as much time blogging as I'd like right now, I find myself missing my friends in the CDP blogosphere and returning when I can. The past four years with SDP has been great and I look forward to many more anniversaries.
I met James in downtown Sarasota Sunday afternoon when I was taking photos and he excitedly asked me if I had gotten a shot of talk show host Jerry Springer who had just driven off in a Bentley. Nope. I was focused on a pink flamingo bicycle. (Photo forthcoming on SDP) But, I mentioned that Jerry lives in Sarasota and I've bumped into him in that area of downtown at a business he frequents. James said he really wanted to see what Jerry Springer was like in person -- so, he knocked on Jerry's car window as he was starting to drive away. (That would be the Bentley car window.) You know what Jerry did? According to James, he rolled down the window, said hi and shook his hand. That made James' day! Which is nice because he ended up telling me he's going through some challenging times with housing and work. He moved up here a couple of weeks ago from Naples expecting more opportunities, but after coming up empty on job leads, he plans to head back south. When I asked him which of our many charitable organizations and programs in town he'd contacted (he had no way of knowing he was talking to SRQ), he mentioned many that I would have put him in contact with --- but, he said he's ready to return to Naples, where, he says, jobs are more plentiful. It was a nice, unexpected Sunday afternoon encounter with someone who was engaging and seemed quite sincere. I wish James all the best!