December 11, 2013

Why We Live Here

Lots of meteorologists have been pointing out that Florida, with temps in the 80s, is the warmest place in the country this week.  For my blogosphere friends Up North…this is our version of a snowman!  The SDP Junior Editor stumbled across this adorable sandman at Siesta Key beach yesterday. Believe it or not, this quality shot was taken with a phone!  By the time, I got to the beach to shoot the sandman with my DSLR it was getting dark…

 …and this was the scene: beautiful night…clear and in the mid-70s.  I never found the sandman. But, with this sunset, it really didn't matter.  Happy Hump Day!

December 4, 2013

Sunset Surprise

SDP 12-413
Rounding the bend at Lovers Key State Park in Ft. Myers is like stepping into a different world.  It's a desolate beach covered with seashells, and seabirds pecking for dinner.  The last thing you'd expect  is for a park ranger to pull up in a four-wheeler and tell you the park is closed…please go away.  ((sigh))  At least I nabbed this sunset shot before my plans were washed up.

December 1, 2013

Theme Day: Looking Out

SDP 12-1-13
It's theme day in the City Daily Photo world!  When I heard the theme was 'Looking Out', I knew exactly what my photo would be:  Ozzie or Harriet, the bald eagles, looking out from their nest keeping watch.  (I think this is Harriet playing the role of watch eagle.)  Last week, I was excited to hear that Harriet layed two eggs this season.  So, during the long holiday weekend, I made a point to stop by and see how everyone is doing.  (This was the first time I visited the nest in Ft. Myers since last spring just before my computer crashed.) Harriet was busy sitting on the eggs, and Ozzie was helping with 'nest-orations', delivering a couple of large branches.   It was nice to see they're doing well.  The eaglets should hatch around Christmas.  Then, the real fun begins -- watching the little ones grow and leave the nest within a few months.  The live eagle cam is functioning well and an additional camera is now positioned in a nearby tree.   Once again, the live feed is sponsored by Dick Pritchett Real Estate.  You can check out the eagle cam here.  To see other interpretations of 'Looking Out' click here.  

November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving Leftovers

SDP  11-30-13
I believe these shoreline birds are sandpipers.  They were scooting up and down the beach last night diligently pecking at the washed up seashells hunting for food.  The bird in the middle of the pack nabbed what looked like a live crab.  But, the crustacean must have put up too much of a fight because after shaking it a few times, the bird dropped it and all three sandpipers quickly stepped away.  I suppose it's just a lot easier to open your refrigerator and select from an array of leftovers.  Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2013

Golden Rays

SDP  11-27-13Let's take a moment to enjoy the peace and tranquility of a sunset before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season gets underway.  I rarely see wild turkeys wandering around Myakka State Park, but the other day I spotted three in an open field.  As soon as I took out my camera, they  scampered away.  Either they were camera shy or they heard people chattering about drumsticks, gravy and other fixings.  

November 26, 2013

Spoonful of Love

It's the most wonderful time of the year!  No, I'm not talking about Christmas (yet).  It's bird migration season!  We photographers who flock toward feathery creatures for photo opps are loving it.  Already, I've spotted some migratory birds including lots of beautiful roseate spoonbills.  I love these guys!  How could you not...with the splash of pink on their feathers…their bloodshot eyes…those rounded beaks…and those long, skinny red legs?!   All in all, the spoonbills are a nice colorful addition to the area right now.  I spotted several flocks at Myakka State Park over the weekend.  According to my 'Birds of Florida' field guide, roseate spoonbills live year round throughout coastal Florida.  But, from what I've seen over the years, they definitely migrate to Sarasota when the temperature starts to drop in the northern part of the state.  We're expecting lows in the 40s by mid-week.  Bundle up, birdies!

November 25, 2013

Secret Life of Deer and Cranes

"Um…Should we be this close?!"

Sometimes seeing what really goes on in nature makes me laugh.  I spotted this deer and sandhill crane at Myakka State Park yesterday and they didn't acknowledge each other at all.  The crane seemed to be looking at his flock to the right…and the deer was sauntering by, trying to meet up with a friend in the distance, without upsetting the crane.  Silly animals!

It's been awhile since we've posted and I'm pleased to report we're back up and running (for the most part).  Hip-hip-hooray!  It took some effort, but the Apple Geniuses recovered my photo and movie files and restored them on my new computer with approximately 90% success.  (Some files are out of order, but they all seem to be there.)  I've figured out the basics of Lightroom 5, so I can import and export with few issues.   And, all my files are backed up (although, I still want to establish another back up system.)  All in all:  SDP seems to be back in business!  Having lived with this photo file fiasco for the past seven months, I can't tell you how good it feels to have control of my photos once again.  I now feel ready to get back out there and start adding to my photo library.  Life is good!   I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone in the blogosphere.  Hope everyone has been doing well.

September 28, 2013


Pass-a-Grille remains one of my favorite places in  Florida.  It's a barrier island on a peninsula within a peninsula at the end of Pinellas County less than an hour's drive north of Sarasota.  The first time I saw this view on Pass-a-Grille also happened to be the first time I visited Florida.  And whenever I'm here (which is not nearly often enough), I remember why I fell in love with the Sunshine State: warm spring nights...outdoor water...palm trees and tropical wildlife.  It was so much different than my home state of  Michigan, I didn't want to go home (and potentially face a spring snowstorm).  Well, I did go home...and within a few months, I landed  a job in Tampa and moved here.  This past Labor Day marked 15 years living in Florida and I never have regretted the decision. 

By the way, this is another iPhone post.  No word on my computer...but I'm remaining optimistic a very happy ending is right around the corner. 

September 25, 2013

Uncharted Territory

First, we must announce that SDP is venturing into uncharted territory!  This post was produced solely using an iPhone.  The photo was taken with my phone.  Then, the SDP staff downloaded the Blogger app (free) and used talk-to-text to write the post.  Brilliant!  

Well...there's a reason why I'm relying on my iPhone.  And that leads to an explanation about this photo.  Both my old Mac and my brand new one are in the Apple Store hospital for an overnight stay -- and that's a good thing!  The Apple Genius who helped me seems to have a good understanding of the problem and, more importantly, is optimistic about successfully re-migrating my photo library from the old computer to the new one.  It could take 9+ hours to transfer the files, thus the reason for both computers staying at the Apple Store at least for the night.  Keep your fingers crossed...and feel free to say a little prayer for the SDP photo library!

September 24, 2013

Hootie Hoo!

As promised, we're digging into the SDP archives!  (Well, the archives that are available.) This handsome guy is a great horned owl who took up residency with his family in a park in Punta Gorda, just south of Sarasota. I snapped this shot last spring, then shortly after, the Great Crash of 2013 occurred.  **sniff** (It's our goal at SDP not to write about our photo library woes on every post; however, please note that's a long term goal...and not something that will be achieved today.)  

Photo library update:  I successfully imported tens of thousands of files from my new hard drive into iPhoto yesterday over an eight hour period.  It was thrilling to see all my photos once again as they zipped across the screen while being imported.  But...they were imported into iPhoto helter skelter -- without album titles, dates, keywords etc.  So, photos of my family from the 1950s are scattered in with scuba diving photos from the 1990s.  Not much of an indexed library. photo files are there!   I have another appointment at the Apple Store this week and I'm confident we're going to figure out how to import the corresponding dates etc.  In the meantime, I'm using a free 30-day trial of Lightroom 5.  So far, I like it and expect I'll purchase that software very soon.  Any Lightroom users out there?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  And, Mac users...what photo software do you use?

September 22, 2013

Returning Home

I think I spotted Ozzie and Harriet, the bald eagles, returning home last weekend from wherever they spend their summer vacation. I was driving along U.S. 41 in Ft. Myers and noticed two beautiful bald eagles soaring together and heading in the direction of Ozzie and Harriet's nest. Yes...I think it was them!   (The humidity is starting to taper off and the temperatures are cooler in the morning and evening -- telltale signs that seasonal residents -- feathered and human -- will soon be returning.)  Ozzie and Harriet may very well be inspecting their home right now and doing some renovations before nesting season gets underway. Very exciting! Last year, their two babies were born in January and the webcam documenting their every move became an international hit. This photo was taken just before Ozzie and Harriet left for the summer -- and just before my computer crashed.

By the way, we have good news on the computer front:  this photo was posted using the new SDP computer and Lightroom 5. (Thank goodness the Procurement Department came through.)  There will be a learning curve using Lightroom, but the entire SDP staff is looking forward to it. (We're particularly pleased we were able to figure out how to crop, watermark and export this picture in a rather short period of time.)  My entire photo library is still somewhat MIA.   The files are on my hard drive, but my photo software isn't able to open and display them in albums with dates, names etc.  We're diligently working to have them fully restored soon.   In the meantime, the Editor-in-Chief is hesitant to resume shooting fresh photos without having the SDP library restored.  So, you may see some old pics posted...or you never know...a staff member could be dispatched to pick up a fresh photo.  I hope everyone is doing well!

September 1, 2013

Theme Day: Pink

Jack at Hartford Daily Photo was kind enough to remind me recently that September's theme day was coming up and the theme would be pink.  Thanks for the reminder, Jack, and your efforts in helping to pull this theme day together for CDP. Although, we're still limping along at SDP, we wanted to participate in this month's theme day. So, when I was shopping at Costco yesterday without my camera and saw this display of pink capped white zinfandel bottles as far as the eye could see, I thought, 'Aha!' and did what any resourceful photographer without a camera would do...I pulled out my iPhone.  And...voila! The entire staff at SDP is working diligently to get back up and running very soon. Acquisitions signed off on a special order Mac laptop and it's about to be picked up.  Hip-hip-hooray!  There's a lot of hard work ahead to get our photo library in order...but, one step at a time.  I hope everyone is doing well and I look forward to seeing your theme day submissions.  To see more pink pics from around the world, click here.

July 13, 2013


Things remain quite busy. I'm just trying to keep my head above water, like this alligator I spotted recently at Myakka River State Park. We've been getting lots of rain lately in Sarasota and many areas of the park are flooded, which is causing the wildlife to modify its behavioral patterns. Since the plants and brush that the deer and wild boar eat are now under water, the animals are moving inland to higher ground.  My favorite hiking trail is submerged and impassable, but I spotted several deer as they galloped through the standing water last night.  Normally, deer are quite stealth. But, these snorted loudly before racing through the water. They seemed displeased with the situation (I wasn't pleased either, as I was battling a healthy, ferocious contingent of mosquitoes.) Anyway, some of the deer are looking thin and I hope they're able to scrounge up enough food while we wait for the flooding to recede.  As I left last night, there was another heavy downpour. I'm starting to think the only ones out there appreciating all the rain are the gators.  By the way, thanks to those who have been so kind to reach out to us at SDP to ensure we're still alive.  We're hoping to return to regular posts by the end of summer.  **fingers crossed**  Hope everyone in the CDP community is doing well!

June 24, 2013

He Did It!

Sarasota is still abuzz over Nik Wallenda's knuckle-biting, stomach-flopping, palm-sweating, awe-inspiring wire walk across the Grand Canyon last night. What a feat of strength (physical and mental), concentration, balance, fortitude and faith!  The public and most media outlets were kept 5-miles from the walk location. But, an acquaintance, who's a still photographer here in town, was invited by Team Wallenda to have exclusive access.  I cannot wait to see his photos.  Lots of folks turned out for a block party in downtown to watch the event. (Okay...quite a few people were stealing glances at the big screen because it was too nerve wracking to actually watch the 23 minute skywalk, with Nik balancing on a 2-inch cable 1,400 feet above the canyon without a safety tether.)  The community is so proud.  Congratulations again, Nik -- you are an inspiration!

June 19, 2013

Nerves of Steel

Look!  Up there!  High above the cars...seemingly walking on air!  It's....Nik Wallenda!

Sarasota's hometown hero and high wire daredevil, Nik Wallenda, is at it again.  This time he's training to walk across the Grand Canyon this Sunday, June 23rd. The set up for his training actually is somewhat subdued from the standpoint that the tightrope, while thick, is quite low to the ground -- perhaps 15 feet high at the maximum. (Compare that to the pending canyon walk which will be 1,500 feet high.) Without question, Nik knows what he's doing and will be properly prepared for his latest feat.   But, it's going to be a nerve wracking (yet awe inspiring) experience watching him stroll high above the Grand Canyon on live TV without a tether.

During his training session last night, he sat down on the wire and fielded all kinds of questions from the audience. (And, it was a good size crowd, especially on a week night.) Reporters from around the globe have been descending upon Sarasota to produce stories about Nik training here.  From what I understand, though, media access at the Grand Canyon will be limited to invitation only.  We're all proud of Nik and we're praying for his success in Arizona. The walk starts at 8 p.m. EST on the Discovery Channel.   Click here to see a pretty cool promo with Nik sitting on the edge of the canyon.

June 18, 2013


Sometimes you're the bird.  Sometimes you're the fish.
Here's to a birdlike Tuesday!

June 15, 2013

Daisies & Deer

This meadow is one of my favorite locations at Myakka River State Park, especially this time of year with all the pretty daisies blooming. And, it's a favorite with the Sarasota fauna.  Without fail, every evening I've been here, I've seen deer and wild boar.  I've also spotted turkeys and armadillos.   On this particular evening, this doe was keeping a close eye on me during her stroll looking for dinner. She must have thought I was Mr. DeMille...

 ...because she certainly was ready for her close-up!  (And, she strongly suggested her right side was her best side.)

June 14, 2013

Seashells Galore

Wow -- look at all those seashells! The shelling is always good on Sanibel. But, it was especially terrific last weekend after Tropical Storm Andrea breezed by the island. The storm brought lots of rain...and then lots of shells. These are Florida fighting conchs (strombus alatus), a warm water sea snail.  They were all over the beach early Saturday morning. But, they weren't just pretty shells for a  beachcomber to collect.  They were homes.  And, the mollusks living inside, were wiggling out of their shells onto the warm sand.  Seeing that left me in a quandary. What to do?  Reunite these creatures with the Gulf of Mexico or let Mother Nature have her way? After helping a few return to the sea, I quickly realized I was outnumbered and opted for the photo opps instead.  The New York Times published a good article last summer about shelling on Sanibel.  Click here to check it out.  Hope everyone has been doing well!

May 29, 2013

Myakka at Dusk

Sssh!   Let's enjoy the solitude of Myakka River State Park.

May 28, 2013

Dinner For One

At Lovers Key State Park, near Ft. Myers Beach, a hiking trail runs parallel to Estero Bay. I was walking along that trail over the weekend when the SDP Junior Editor simultaneously gasped, pointed and motioned for me to look up. An osprey was atop a tree devouring dinner!  Serendipitously, the trail forked at that spot.  Quietly, I was able to maneuver around the corner (with the osprey pausing to keep an eye on me) in order to get an incredible close up view of him enjoying his dinner.  Based on his methodical pecking (with the occasional ripping), and the size of the fish, that meal probably went late into the evening.  What a catch!

May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Freedom isn't free. On this Memorial Day, I'm remembering all our men and women who sacrificed their lives.  The more I see of the world, the more grateful I am.  I took this photo last night at the Vietnam Memorial in Ft. Myers.  I was really struggling with the intense glare of the backlights.  But, I like how the final product turned out when I used the sepia effect. (Oddly enough, shortly after I took this, one of the lights illuminating the memorial suddenly went out -- which pretty much left me in the dark for my photo opp.) Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

May 19, 2013

Victory Lap

Talk about being caught with your mouth wide open!  I spotted this osprey last night slowly flying into the wind with this substantial catch at the Gulf of Mexico. I don't know what kind of fish it is; but, it seems to have an of air of surprise frozen on its lips, doesn't it?  I captured this shot with my new 18-270mm lens.  It's really cropped, and I'm rather pleased with the clarity.  I haven't had a chance to use the lens very much yet, but so far, so good!  Hope everyone is having a pleasant weekend.

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

 SDP 5-12-13
How could I not post this photo for Mother's Day?! I spotted this doe giving her fawn a bath early yesterday morning at Myakka River State Park in Sarasota. What a treat to get a peek into Bambi's typically private bath time.  While I'm quite certain Mom was aware of my presence, she was so focused on her morning cleaning ritual, she didn't pay any attention to me.  In fact, bath time went on long enough I had an opportunity to shoot some video with my DSLR (click HD in the viewer for optimum quality):


So precious!  By the way, this is the first time a video has been posted on SDP.  Occasionally, the SDP Editor-in-Chief likes to shake things up.  

Big news here on the still photography front:  the SDP Purchasing Department signed off yesterday on the acquisition of a new lens -- a Tamron 18-270mm. Very exciting  -- I can't wait to take it out for a test run!  Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend.

May 7, 2013

SDP is 3!

SDP is 3 years old today!  I'd like to say we're celebrating this achievement by proudly strutting around the SDP Headquarters with our heads held high (sort of like that baby sandhill crane), but the activities here are rather subdued.  We've been on hiatus for the past moth due to computer issues.  Now that we're fairly certain in which direction we're going to move (as far as purchasing a new computer, photo software etc.), I anticipate we will be back up and running by next month.  (The issue currently at hand is that we really don't have a mechanism to archive photos.)  As anyone who maintains a daily photo blog can understand, the past three years with SDP have been a labor of love and a blur.  I'm looking forward to posting once again on a regular basis and seeing everyone in the blogosphere.   Now, about this photo:  I went to a state park early Sunday morning in hopes of capturing some wildlife (with my camera only, of course).  Well, I saw zip, zero, nada.  Only when I was leaving a busy shopping center did I spot some wildlife --- a family of sandhill cranes enjoying Sunday brunch at a condo complex.  When I realized one of the birds was a juvenile, I had to stop.  Look at the size of those legs and feet!  Hope everyone has been doing well.

April 10, 2013

Soaring Again (Sort of)

Like the bald eagle, SDP shall soar again!  That's right...we're BACK!  Okay, that was a bit dramatic. We're actually limping along; however, it seems all our digital photo files have been recovered. Hip-hip-hooray!   I lost the corresponding data (names, dates, places etc.), but I have the files and that's what's important, right?

I think have a good course of action going forward: (1) never, ever, ever use iPhoto again for so many files (2) invest in a new computer and photo software (3) set up a raid backup system.   I have a lot of work to do...transferring tens of thousands of files, doing more research etc.  In the meantime, the Editor-in-Chief has given the order to resume posting whenever possible.

Thanks everyone for your kind words, thoughts and input about your computer systems. If you haven't chimed in, I'm still gathering information, so please let me know what works for you.

Regarding this photo, I snapped it just over two weeks ago in N. Ft. Myers.  (Rumor has it the SDP Editor-in-Chief had an uncanny resemblance to Harriet screeching when she learned about the computer crash.  WHAT?!)  So happy to see these guys on my computer again!

April 8, 2013

Still Searching

It's been just over two weeks since my photo library crashed and there's nothing new to report except that I've been spending all of my free time manually transferring 24,000 files.  It seems the problem is the iPhoto application.   Apparently, it cannot handle that many files (especially from an external hard drive).  I wish that someone -- anyone -- at the Apple Store Genius Bar had informed me about this issue with iPhoto the dozen or so times I've visited them over the past several years.  Instead, each employee just commented that I have a lot of photos and sent me on my way.

A few questions:

(1)  Do you use a Mac or PC?  Why?
(2)  What software do you use to edit your photos?
(3)  How do you store your photo files?
(4)  How do you backup your files?

March 29, 2013

Please Standby

I would like to report that SDP's absence from the blogosphere is solely due to a busy spring schedule; however, that's not the case.  After returning from a glorious whirlwind trip to Key Biscayne (mandated by the SDP Editor-in-Chief) for the Sony Open, I downloaded 600+ photos of the tournament:  Serena Williams, Richard Gasquet, John Isner, and more. Good stuff. Then, my photo storage crashed.  (Read:  CRASHED)  Of course, having 24K+ photos, I have a good backup system.   After days of work, though, my Mac repair guy and I have been unable to restore my photo library.  While cautiously optimistic, SDP is now reluctantly preparing for catastrophic crisis mode.   Please keep us in your thoughts.

March 22, 2013

Play Ball!

Welcome to JetBlue Park in Ft. Myers, the winter home of the Boston Red Sox. The ballpark opened last year and this was the first chance I had to attend a game here. We sat on the outfield berm for a chilly night game but, I must say, compared to other stadiums in the Grapefruit League, this place seems to lack ambiance.  (Gosh, Red Sox fans...please don't think less of SDP for this review.)  It was quiet, with few vendors...overall, it just didn't seem to have much character. Perhaps you have to be a diehard Sox fan to fully appreciate it.  Nevertheless, we had a great time. Well, the good thing about being so busy recently is that I have lots of photos from the past few weeks stockpiled:  owls, eagles, beaches...oh my!  I prefer to post pics shortly after I take them (it's the old news hound in me constantly considering timeliness), but, with the SDP Editor-in-Chief's blessing, some of them will be rolled out over the next several weeks.  TGIF...and I'm linking to Skywatch Friday.

March 21, 2013

Lunch on the Go

Talk about lunch on the go! I think, though, this actually is a thief in flight. Just before I took this shot, this egret was standing on the fishing pier on Sanibel which was quite busy with anglers catching lots of fish.  Next thing I knew, the bird suddenly had a large fish flailing in its beak --- then it took off.  (Looking rather guilty.)  That's when I got this shot.

SDP  3-21-13
I was pleasantly surprised when the, bird...landed relatively close.  Heck, that fish was so large, the egret probably couldn't carry it very far.  Anyway, it didn't stay here too long, which was okay because watching a seabird swallow a fish whole isn't for the faint of heart. **gulp**

March 20, 2013

J is for Jogging

With a view like this, who wouldn't want to go jogging? Usually, I prefer shots of people coming toward the camera but I didn't really care for any that I took. Instead, I liked this one. Perhaps it has something to do with looking at where the joggers are going, rather than where they came from.  Anyway, this beautiful beach is on Sanibel island located on the Gulf of Mexico a couple of hours south of Sarasota.  It would be an understatement to say it's gorgeous and relaxing here. This year the entire SDP staff stayed on Sanibel during our annual whirlwind spring training baseball adventure (with a Michigan tourist who was thrilled to see the sun).  We ventured into nearby Ft. Myers for an evening Red Sox game as well as a daytime Twins game, since both teams are based there in the spring. And, we're getting word that the SDP Editor-in-Chief will be ordering another mandatory respite -- this one for the Sony Open on Key Biscayne.  Management!  I hope everyone has been doing well and I'll see you sporadically over the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I'm linking to ABC Wednesday.

March 14, 2013

Spring Break

It's spring break here in the Sunshine State. College and high school students as well as families have all descended upon us to enjoy the sun and sand. I always ended up working in college through spring break (and summer break and winter break). But, when I was in my early 30's I finally went on spring break -- to Florida! Naturally, I hit the beaches, stared at the sun, toured Disney and did all the things tourists do.  The morning I was preparing to return to Michigan (in a rather depressed state knowing I would be facing more of Old Man Winter) it suddenly dawned on me that I could move here. It was quite do'able. The search was on...I landed a great job...and moved to Florida four months later.  And, I've never looked back.  (And, who would with beautiful waterways like this to enjoy while others are enduring snow?)  This is Stumps Pass Beach State Park on Manasota Key. It was the first time I went there and it was a terrific getway -- a slice of Old Florida.  More on that later. Hope everyone has a terrific Thursday!

March 13, 2013

I is for Ichthyology

The brain functions in odd and mysterious ways. The first time I read the word 'ichthyology' (probably in Prof. Peeble's nat sci class at Michigan State University), for whatever reason, it stuck with me. I've always remembered ichthyology is the study of fish. In my previous life, when I was working on a news story, I was chatting with a guy who had sharks delivered to his house so he could dissect and study them. I nonchalantly said, ', you're an ichthyologist.'  His eyes widened and his jaw popped open as he exclaimed, 'Yes! Yes...I'm an ichthyologist!'  And, that, more or less, is the extent of my nat sci knowledge.

I encountered John Miller at Hart's Landing in downtown Sarasota as he cleaned a haul of fish that he and his wife, Lydia, caught. They ventured 26 miles into the Gulf of Mexico in somewhat choppy waters and caught 40 perch. John was skillfully using an electric knife to fillet his catch, which I thought was rather clever and quite effective. 

As you can see, I wasn't the only one interested in what he was doing.  The egrets and pelicans were close at hand studying the fish, and John didn't mind if they quickly darted in to snatch a small piece for dinner, like this egret.  Gosh...they're quick!   And, when John tossed a carcass into the bay -- look out!  It created an instantaneous pelican feeding frenzy. The Millers split their time between Sarasota and Indiana. (The fishing is much better here right now, isn't it?) Nice meeting you and thanks for the photo opps.  I'm linking to ABC Wednesday.

March 12, 2013

R.I.P. Ringlings

Behind this gate, rest John and Mable Ringling.  (So does John's sister, Ida, although we don't hear too much about her.)  John is in the middle and Mable is on the right.  The plots are tucked away on the grounds of the Ringling Muesum of Art in a beautiful flower and statue garden known as Mable's Secret Garden.  It's a short distance from Sarasota Bay and the Ringlings' winter home, the Ca d'Zan.  (Although they also owned homes in New York City and New Jersey, the Ringlings wanted to be buried in Sarasota.)   John died in 1936 from pneumonia when he was 70.   He's the person who is credited with envisioning Sarasota as a place that would be developed and become a fashionable place to live and visit.  Mable passed away in 1929 at the age of 54.  Although she died two years before their art musuem opened (and John subsequently married and divorced) Mable was listed as a director and vice president.  I'm linking to Taphophile Tragics.  Check it out here.

March 11, 2013

Going Vertical: Rooftop

We're still on the roof of the Palm Ave. Parking Garage in downtown, but we've moved around the corner from last week.  This is another one of my favorite murals simply because of its creativity.  As you may recall, this is the theatre floor.   This mural shows a stagehand at work and incorporates an air vent into the artwork -- how clever.  Plus, there's a 3-D effect with the rope strung through the faux window.  It looks like the rope really is dangling there, doesn't it?  I also really like the patches of red brick which are reminiscent of an old theatre building.  Local artistist Skip Dyrda was the man behind turning this otherwise drab wall into something fun and memorable.  Check out more of his work here and check out more interesting murals from around the world at Monday Mural.

March 10, 2013


We all feel like this occasionally, don't we?  Here's to a relaxing, weight-of-the-world free day.  (I snapped this yesterday afternoon on the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota while thinking about what I need to get done before taking some time off.)

March 9, 2013


Hope and Honor, the eaglets in North Ft.. Myers turned two months old last weekend when I was there.  It's hard to believe they're that young, yet so big.  I had to laugh because they did what human youngsters do when the parents are away: play, test their boundaries and be rambunctious.  This is Honor valiantly exercising her wings.  She's the older of the two by just two days and when she spreads her wings like this and flaps them, she smacks her sibling in the head. (The nest just isn't big enough for all those wings.)  So, Hope was bouncing up and down and flapping and flapping and wouldn't you know it...she actually got airborne a few inches.  Right after that happened, Harriet appeared quite literally out of the clear blue sky, silently swooped by the nest and left.  That was one heck of a flyby communication because both Honor and Hope sat down in the nest immediately!  Yesterday, I heard that Honor hopped onto a branch for the first time. You can check out the video from the webcam here .  It's pretty cool, especially if you've been following them closely. It's hard to believe they're going to be flying within a few weeks.  We've had quite a few bird pics this week, so I'll see if I can scare up something different for you tomorrow.  (No promises, though.)

March 8, 2013

Where Ya Goin'?

This was another 'I can't believe it' moment with Ozzie and Harriet, the bald eagles in North Ft. Myers. I visited the nest last weekend and it went from being absolutely quiet with nary a winged soul to be found to suddenly bustling with activity. In this shot, Ozzie had arrived a few minutes prior. Harriet was minding her own business up on a higher branch with her back to me and the two eaglets were tucked below in the nest.  With most birds, you can sense when they're getting ready to take flight. They twitch their feet, wobble a bit, ruffle their feathers...give some kind of indication they're about to do something.  But, not the American bald eagle.  Almost always, they catch me off guard because they take off without warning.  Well, this time I was staring through my viewfinder hoping to take a family portrait when Ozzie took off unexpectedly, prompting Harriet to look that way along with one of the eaglets.   I held my breath and pressed the shutter.  **click**  **click**  **click**   What are the odds the eagle family was just as interested in what Ozzie was doing as I was?  (Look closely at the bottom of the pic and you can see one of the eaglets watching Dad take off.)  The little ones were quite active before their parents got home.  More on that this weekend.  In the meantime, I'm linking to Skywatch Friday and I hope everyone has a terrific day!

March 7, 2013

Twice the Fun

We're returning to Punta Gorda for some more owl action.  Earlier this week we saw the two adult great horned owls.  Now it's the wee ones' turn.   Yep, two babies.  Aren't they adorable?!  Gosh, I'm so happy I actually captured a shot of them looking at the camera.  Before this, they had fun playing games with me.  Whichever way I pointed the camera, they would face the opposite direction. So, I walked (in high heeled boots, no less...don't ask, it's just how it worked out) all the way around the cordoned nest area to the other side.  By the time I arrived (it's a long walk -- maybe 75-100 yards) they swiveled the other way.  This occurred one too many times.  Finally, I caught up with the SDP Junior Editor who regaled me with one story after another about the fabulously entertaining show the two little ones had put on.  They bobbed...they danced....they wobbled...they flapped their wings...and overall were extraordinarily cute.  And, I had missed it all trundling back and forth.  I decided to give them just two more minutes to cooperate for the camera --- and **presto!** --- they suddenly popped up from the bottom of the nest facing toward me and bounced their little fuzzy heads up and down and back and forth like fuzzy bobblehead dolls.  So cute!  One is flying a little bit -- up to a branch and back. I suspect these two won't be in the nest much longer.  I'm thrilled I got to see them when I did.  I'll probably try to visit them again....but, who knows if they'll still be there?

On yesterday's post several people inquired if I'm going to 'Les Miserables'.  Unfortunately, it's not in my plans.  I heard, though, opening night was terrific and the cast has incredible voices.  

March 6, 2013

H is for Huge Production

Welcome to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, affectionately known by some as the 'Purple Cow' and located right on Sarasota Bay. (That's the Ringling Bridge in the background.) I've never show the Van Wezel before on SDP, and we're starting with the rear of the building, where there's been a lot of activity -- much more than usual.  'Les Miserables' opened last night and will be here for eight nights.  The touring company rolled into town with nine semi tractor trailers full of props and equipment to make the shows comes alive. Usually, one or two semis will arrive for a show and they're here for just one, two or three productions.  Awhile ago, six semis unloaded for the production of 'Mama Mia' and that was considered a lot.  But, nine?  That's a huge production -- the biggest in at least six years.

So, now all the trailers are lined up near the Van Wezel waiting for the production to finish so everything can be loaded up and the touring company can head to its next destination.  By the way, between the production crew, cast and management, the touring company consists of 60+ people.  As I said, it's a huge production.  I hear sales at the Van Wezel are going quite well.  If you're in Sarasota and are interested, check out for more info.  And, don't forget to visit ABC Wednesday for other interpretations on the letter H.

March 5, 2013


As promised, we're back to the great horned owls in Punta Gorda.  After seeing the little fuzzy baby, I discovered not one but two adults roosting in the same tree next to the nest.  Do you see the second one?  I'll give you a chance to look closely. In the meantime, based on sheer size, I believe this one (standing out so prominently) is the female.  After I quickly snapped this shot, she swiveled her head away from me and never turned back for the remaining 30 minutes or so I was there.  Well, that's when I spotted the second owl.  See him yet?  Okay...look all the way down to the very bottom of the limb the big owl is sitting on...then look up a smidge through the pine needles.  He's camouflaged really well, isn't he?  I was so excited that I captured both in one shot -- without even realizing it at the time.  What a hoot!  These guys, with their huge eyes and cute ear tufts, are quickly becoming a favorite with me. 

March 4, 2013

Going Vertical: 6th Floor

For today's mural we've moved up to the roof of the Palm Ave. Parking Garage, which is known as the theatre floor.  This little mural is tucked in between two elevators and cleverly incorporates the panel with the down button (and emergency fire instructions) by having the attendant peek her head around the panel.  Those theatre tickets are on fire!  To see other murals from around the world visit Monday Mural.

March 3, 2013


It's another first! Yesterday I showed you my first kestrel sighting and today I'm sharing my first great horned owl. This is an adorable baby peeking over the edge of his nest in Punta Gorda, located between Sarasota and Ft. Myers.  See his cute little ear tufts?  The last time I was visiting the bald eagle nest in North Ft. Myers, a freelance photographer tipped me off to this nest. The owls took it over in December when a bald eagle couple, which built the nest years ago, failed to return.  That's the modus operandi for the great horned owl -- they occupy unclaimed eagle nests, which is rather smart, I think.  Who wants to build a nest from scratch if you don't have to?  I knew exactly where this nest was located because I visited it three years ago and took these photos of the bald eagle family.  Back to the owls.  This little guy was such a treat to see.  He was just a big poof of fluffy feathers -- just adorable.  Unfortunately, I don't have much time to write, so I'll leave you with the promise of more owl pics to come.  That reminds me.  We're wading into March which is the busiest month of the year for me. So, if the SDP appearance becomes sporadic just know we'll eventually get back to posting as usual.  Happy Sunday!