Injured Momma Raccoon

I recently reinstalled our bird feeder with a squirrel/raccoon baffle. We live on the marsh and the local raccoons visit the marsh at the appropriate times according to the tide to get food. With our bird feeder reinstalled, they now take a look under the feeder on their travels to see if their is anything on the ground to eat.

There is a momma raccoon with three babies that we have seen occasionally. Momma is wary and does not hang around if there is movement nearby. I got a video of her and three babies the other day through the window with a screen. I noticed she has an injured back (left ) leg.

Since this video, I have seen momma and her young once and there were only the two older young with her. Perhaps the smallest one was in the vegetation. I do not know but I am keeping watch to see if I can see all three babies. It is a tough life out there for the raccoons. We see injured raccoons regularly. Sometimes we see them again after the worst of their injuries and sometimes we do not. We still see Festus occasionally and that raccoon did not seem to be in good shape when we first saw it with its injuries.

In the meantime, Regis and I have been taking some time to photograph. Life circumstances have limited our ability to photograph as much as we desire, so we have been taking advantage of some recent freedom to do so. Here are a few pics.

Great egret with a fish.
A cloudless sulphur caterpillar.
A brown pelican skimming the waves.
Seed pods from a native coral bean plant.

Regis and I are canon photographers. We almost exclusively use canon bodies and lenses. There are many great cameras and lenses out there, but we stick with what has worked for us. I recently purchased a Canon R5 mirrorless camera and after a few days using it, I am smitten. I still have to get used to it, but the photo above with the caterpillar was taken with the new camera.

Festus, the Raccoon

Festus, our local injured raccoon.

I recently reinstalled our bird feeders and they have a squirrel/raccoon baffle to prevent the mammals from getting to the feeder. The birds knock seed on the ground while feeding, so the squirrels and other critters regularly check to see if there is anything to eat. About a week ago, I saw an injured raccoon show up. The raccoon would not use one of its hind legs and it was very thin. I have seen it show up regularly to check under the feeder and it has been using its leg more. It also appears to be adding some weight. I was seeking a name for it and Regis landed on Festus because he was a character in Gunsmoke who Regis remembers had a limp. Anyway, this little raccoon is now Festus.

I let Dart out tonight to lay on the patio because it has been getting cooler in the evenings. He feels his job is to keep all non-feathered critters, with the exception of crows, out of the yard. He does a good job. This evening we looked out and could not find him. Regis realized he was outside the fence. I apparently left the back gate ajar. Dart had treed Festus. Since Festus is still recovering from its injury, it does not need to be stuck up in a tree but the little raccoon had no choice. Eventually, Festus gave up coming back down and decided to take a nap.

Festus taking a nap high up in the pine tree.

We had another unusually high tide today and got some video from behind our house.

I walk regularly on our street and bird most of the time and log my sightings into eBird under Isle of Palencia. I saw a lot more palm warblers than usual today. I also enjoyed watching one of our dog neighbors who loves to drink out of the sprinklers. The dog must stop by every active sprinkler and take a drink. It is delightful to watch this happy pooch.

A neighbor dog enjoying a refreshment from the sprinkler.

Northern Cottonmouth

We went to the Palencia boardwalk over the saltwater marsh today to get some drone pictures during the King Tide (which is an exceptionally high tide) for the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. We needed to take the pictures at the height of the tide but could see some thunderstorms in the forecast. We went a little early to avoid them. We finished up just as we heard thunder north of us.

We take most of our photos at low tide, so it was pretty cool to be out there at high tide. There were more birds than usual. We saw about 80 white ibises. While walking out to where the trail ends at a pier over the Tolomato River, we came upon a northern cottonmouth sunning on the trail. It did not like us hanging around and left.

Northern cottonmouth sunning on the sand.

As we got closer to the pier, I saw marsh wrens in the grasses. They are hard to photograph and I was hopeful I would get lucky. But, I heard a splash and saw a clapper rail. The clapper rails are more likely to be seen when the tide rises very high because they get on the wrack or the grasses to keep out of the water. Otherwise, you hear them but do not see them. They make a sound that reminds me of laughing. I spent so much time with the clapper rail that I never got an image of a marsh wren.

Clapper rail among the marsh grasses.

Regis took some drone video at the entrance to the pier.

On the way back to the car, we caught up with a great egret who caught a nice sized fish.

Great egret with a fish.
Great egret with a bulge in its throat from swallowing a fish.

Sunrise from the Drone

The sun rises are often stunning in our area. There are trees between us and the marsh, so we have to walk to the edge of the marsh to get unobstructed sun rise pictures. It means making that short walk in the dark. We tried something different today and took the easy route and sent the drone up instead. The picture above looks across the Tolomato River to the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Regis also took a video with the drone.

Owl and Hawk

Regis recently won a yellow ribbon in the 2021 3rd Triannual digital competition with the Florida Camera Council for the above photograph of a great-horned owl.

Yesterday, he went to the beach to get pelican photos. Here’s the thing. You often do not get what you want, you get what is there. He got some cool red-shouldered hawk pics.

We have been hearing a pair of great-horned owls hooting in our area regularly. The picture Regis got is one of them.

Regis and I either bike or walk regularly on our street and we have seen Topaz, our released blue jay, regularly. I saw the bird again today. We released the bird in May 2020 and the bird is thriving in our area. It is always a pleasure to see it. It used to come near to us and display begging wings, but now it makes noise and passes by when we are near it but does not stay. It is heartening to know that we successfully raised this little guy even though we are not blue jays.

Sunrise

Morning over the Tolomato River.

It has been a couple weeks since we posted. We have had a lot on our plates. Yesterday and this morning were our best photo opportunities. Last evening, we went to the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve in search of a reddish egret that was reported to be there. We found it! The light was beautiful and we got some bird images and landscape images.

Reddish egret at the GTM dam.
Reddish egret.
Female boat-tailed grackle.
Wood stork.
Landscape view of the GTM Reserve.
Landscape view of the GTM Reserve.
Blue Heron.

This morning, Regis went behind our house and took some sunrise pictures. The skies can be amazingly beautiful here.

Sunrise over the Tolomato River.

Spoonies and a Frog

After our wonderful trip to Seattle, we arrived back home in Florida to hot and muggy weather. I saw 12 roseate spoonbills in our local pond one day after our arrival and I was in a hurry and asked Regis if he would get some pictures. He was willing. Yeah! I have not seen this many spoonies in the local ponds in the 2 1/2 years that we have been here. They did not stay long. Most of the birds were adults but there was at least one juvenile. There were no banded birds.

Roseate spoonbills.

I loved this picture of a great egret in the middle of the spoonies.

Great egret.

Regis also got a nice picture of a wood stork. They have been arriving in increasing numbers lately.

Wood stork.

The little frogs have been showing up more often and I tried to get a picture of one of the tree frogs on our lanai this morning. The little guy was very patient while I worked through camera settings with the flash and the frog finally said “I’ve had enough” and started to walk away. I took one last picture of the frog’s departure and left it alone.

Tree frog.
Tree frog.

While I was in Seattle recently, I walked long distances on non-flat terrain and had no issues. Yesterday, I went to the grocery store to get a flu shot and pick up some stuff and when I got out to the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, the battery was dead. I knew Regis was in the Tesla at that time and texted and called and he did not respond. I needed a jump start and had no cables and the local Racetrak had only food. We use our phones to activate the Tesla, so I did not understand why Regis was not responding. I grabbed my groceries and headed home on the 4 mile walk in the excruciating heat and humidity. After being in Washington state, it was a cruel mess.

Eventually, Regis drove by and wondered what the heck I was doing walking home. He had already packed the car to take his mom back to Pittsburgh and she was in the car with him. There was no room for me. I told Regis the Jeep was dead and waited for him to go home and drop his mom off and come back. The total walk I did in the heat and humidity on flat elevation was only 2 miles, but I would trade it any day for 4 miles in Seattle with varying elevation. It turns out that Regis still had his phone in airplane mode because of our recent trip.

I got a new battery for the Jeep today and I hope all will be well moving forward.

Being a Seattle Tourist

Seattle Aquarium

Today I took advantage of staying in Seattle and did local tourist stuff. I got a ticket to the Seattle Aquarium for when they opened and I was the first in line. They now have timed tickets. The last time I was at the aquarium it was so crowded I had a hard time seeing the exhibits. Today I got to see everything. I spent time with the giant octopus. He stayed splayed against the side of the tank, so I did not get to see him in motion. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to see how flat he could make himself against the side of the tank. With the reflections on the tanks, most of the pictures did not come out well. I include a few below from some of the other exhibits that I took with a cell phone.

After visiting the museum, I walked to the Seattle Center which includes the space needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass among other options. I visited the glass exhibits in the Chihuly Garden and Glass and was mesmerized by the beauty of the glass pieces. I worked it to get some decent photos and a few favorites are below.

I then went up in the space needle. The views were beautiful and I include one from the elevator ride up.

I was hoping to take the monorail back to the Westlake light rail station to head back to where we are staying in Columbia City. The light rail was under repair, so I had to walk. By the time I got back home, I had walked over 16,500 steps.

I have been watching the squirrels gathering nuts where we are staying and tried to get some pictures yesterday. If I am in the yard, they are wary and stay hidden in the trees. To get a picture of them in their regular routine, I had to photograph from the window.

Port Townsend

Deer in downtown Port Townsend.

Last Monday, Regis and I had a 6:40 a.m. flight out of Jacksonville to Denver and then on to Seattle. The flight was delayed until 2:34 p.m. The airline gave us $20 in food vouchers and we took advantage of it to get a late breakfast. Southwest Airlines ultimately gave us $600 in travel vouchers for future flights, so it lessened the pain of the delay. They were delightful and efficient in handling the situation. I got pretty good at Sudoku by the end of the day.

We stayed overnight with our son, his partner, and their 14 year old Bedlington Terrier in Seattle and then headed to Port Townsend for a couple nights. The weather was beautiful for a ferry crossing on Puget Sound.

Seattle from the ferry.

We stayed at the Waterstreet Hotel which is old and has no air conditioning or elevator. Lugging the camera gear and our suitcase to our third floor room was exhausting. The air was cool at night, so we had no trouble sleeping with the windows open. The seagulls began their raucous calls every morning before sunrise which woke us up in time to head out for sunrise pictures.

On the first morning, we got lovely views of of the colorful clouds over the Olympic Mountains.

Sunrise at Port Townsend with the Olympic Mountains in the background.

A family of river otters delighted me by briefly hanging out at the nearby pier and making eye contact with me. They were successfully catching small fish for breakfast.

Curious river otter.

We spent the rest of the day on the Glacier Spirit from Puget Sound Express searching for wildlife on the way to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and back. We saw resident orcas on the way to Friday Harbor and transient orcas on the return trip. The captain of the boat said it was the first time she saw transients and residents in the same day in two years. We had the best view in town while lunching at Downriggers. The weather, view, and food could not have been more perfect. September in Washington state can not be beat.

View from our table at Downrigger’s restaurant in Friday Harbor.

A favorite sighting on the way back was a Pacific Lion’s Mane jellyfish.

Pacific Lion’s Mane jellyfish (Cyanea ferruginea).

After the seagulls woke us up on our final morning, it took me a long time to get myself out of the hotel room to catch the sunrise. I had trouble getting my contacts in and I find them to work better for me than glasses when wearing a mask and using the camera or binoculars. My glasses fog up easily, so it was worth the struggle to get the contacts in. I was bummed that we probably missed the sun coming up but we came outside to a foggy morning so we did not miss anything. After taking some pictures in the fog, we headed to a coffee place and encountered several deer along the way.

Deer in downtown Port Townsend.

Hummingbirds and Bats

I recently had an opportunity to attend a hummingbird photography workshop in Arizona with Langell Photography. It was an amazing experience where I got the opportunity to photograph hummingbirds and bats. The humidity was much lower than my residence in Florida, so I kept the windows open in my room and enjoyed the fresh air.

Following are a few pictures of the hummingbirds.

Broad-billed Hummingbird (Cynanthus latirostris).
This is a broad-billed hummingbird with pollen on its head and bill. The flowers were in bloom as a result of recent rains and the hummingbirds were taking advantage of it.
A high key image of a rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus).
A low-key image of a broad-billed hummingbird.
A Rivoli’s hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) also called a magnificent hummingbird.

And some bat pictures.

While I was there, I took the opportunity to pick up birds for my life list. The Santa Rita Lodge in Madera Canyon had bird feeders set out which resulted in a great opportunity to easily see birds. I enjoyed the acorn woodpeckers feeding from the hummingbird feeders.

Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus).

On the last day, I headed back to Tuscon to spend the night in a hotel next to the airport. Before heading to the hotel, I stopped at Saguaro National Park. It was very hot and I did not see much wildlife stirring, but I got a chance to use my super wide-angle lens to get some landscape pictures. In the following image you can see some cumulus clouds in the background beginning to form. The clouds got bigger and were spectacular later in the day. I missed the opportunity to get a good late evening picture.

On my flight back home, we hit some cumulous clouds as we arrived in Jacksonville. It was the worst turbulence I remember experiencing in my many flights. It was not fun and I was glad not to be the pilot. The woman in the seat in front of me prayed out loud and said “Jesus” in about every other word. I think it was the first time that I trembled on a flight. Although I was mostly sure everything would be okay, there was a small part of me that was petrified. Once we landed and got to the jetway, I got the following picture of the sky and the clouds we just flew through.

Clouds and sun over Jacksonville airport.