Love Those Loons

I keep trying to take loon photos and being unhappy with the results. My new camera, a Canon Powershot SX20is has the zoom needed for capturing the loons, but I’m leary of taking it out in the boat where it might get wet or dropped or damaged.

I did find some great loon photos on Zazzle and other loon gift items on Amazon, so I created a webpage for anyone looking for loon gifts. Check it out if you love loons too. I put some interesting loon videos, links and lots of gift items featuring loons (mugs, t-shirts, mousepads, woven throw, books, plush stuffed toy, figurines, etc.)


Lots of Gators

It’s not uncommon for us to see an alligator cruising down the middle of the small lake behind our house. Well, really it’s a retention pond for all that rain that Florida gets, but I think “lake” sounds nicer. When we have visitors, we hope that the resident alligator will show himself for their benefit. What’s the use of traveling all the way to Florida if you don’t get to see an alligator at least once.

Our visitor this week was escaping the chill temperatures in Missouri. Maybe he would have been satisfied with just Florida sunshine and dinner on the lanai. He hit it lucky though, getting sunshine, 80 degree days, and THREE alligators. First we saw one, just barely showing its head above water. Then we spotted the second one further down the lake. A short while later, the two of them looked quite cosy resting on the shore across the lake. I took my camera with its 20X zoom down to my neighbor’s yard to get a closer photo of the pair. They appeared to be at least 6-8 feet in length. It’s hard to judge.

While looking for a good angle, I noticed a small alligator just a stone’s throw away from me on my side of the lake.  Quickly I snapped a picture of it, then tried getting a little closer. Splash! He hit the water running and was gone in no time. Oh, well, I still had the two larger gators to capture. With the zoom, I could see them pretty well and took several shots. Here are the three alligators that were in our lake:

Cold Day for the Cranes

Undeterred by the chill weather we’ve had this week in Florida, the sandhill cranes wandered by looking for food. I assume it’s grubs they’re finding as they poke about in the sandy, soft soil below our St Augustine grass. Those impressive beaks penetrate the soil quite easily.

I wanted some fresh pictures, so I grabbed my Canon SX20 IS and hustled out through the lanai despite the low temperatures. Last night it was 28 degrees in Central Florida. Ugh.

Anyway, the cranes posed nicely for me. It amazes me how close they will let me come. I almost don’t need that 20X zoom. Perhaps being such large birds, they don’t find people that intimidating. If they stare intently at me and croon/purr deep in their throat then take a step towards me, I back carefully away. Often they let me come within 6 to 8 feet of them with my camera. It may be that our retirement community serves as a sanctuary for them where no one bothers them, so they feel secure and complacent around people here.


Limpkins are an odd sort of swamp bird in Florida. They walk with a rather halting gait which led them to be named limpkins. They’re a good sized bird but not flashy like the egret and blue heron.

Limpkins are brown with white spots and have a call that will wake you right up at 5:30 from a sound sleep. Here are photos that I took in my backyard this morning.

In this series of photos, you see the limpkin wading in the lake, dunking for a mussel, carrying the mussel back to shore, then putting it down to break it open.

Dance of the Cranes

Yesterday I saw the sandhill cranes dancing. It was right in my backyard and a family of cranes came poking along. Their focus was on extracting grubs from the ground, so they poked and poked with those long beaks into the St. Augustine grass. Then one of them noticed me in the screen room. He, or she approached the screen, looking fixedly at me. Probably someone has been feeding them grain, which you aren’t supposed to do. Anyway I feared it would poke at the screen, so I moved away abruptly.

At that point, the crane turned and flapped his wings. Another crane in the group responded with a wing flap and a hop. They both hopped and flapped for several minutes and then the young cranes joined in. These were the cute twin cranes from the spring, but now almost indestinguishable from the adult cranes. The four of them postured, hopped, flapped their wings and ducked their heads at each other with open beaks. Quite a display.

I wish I’d had a movie camera at hand. Since they kept up their dancing  for awhile, I hastened in for my camera which was just inside. When I came back out, they had settled down and returned to grass poking. As I stepped outside the screen room to take a better picture of the group, they noticed me again. Two of them gave a token hop and wing flap which I captured on camera. That was the end of the show.

I’m not sure if the activity was from being startled by my original abrupt movement or what. Previously I’d thought the dance was supposed to be a crane courtship activity. Since this was a family group of four cranes, that didn’t fit unless the young cranes were just practicing in response to their parents’ behavior.  Anyway I felt quite priviledged to have seen it.

dancing sand hill cranes
Florida Sandhill Cranes Dancing

Wild Turkey

Solivita, FloridaSomeone needs to tell the turkeys in my neighborhood that it’s almost Thanksgiving. They had better make themselves scarce. As you can see, it’s well-fed and would make a nice holiday meal.

Of course, with frozen turkey on sale at Wal-Mart for 89 cents a pound, it’s hardly worth trying to capture one of these wild ones. Just think of trying to get all those feathers off.

I made several Squidoo lenses for the holiday. One is called An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving and the other is It’s Turkey Day.