Splish Splash, Taking a Bath

Male eastern bluebird (Sialis sialis) taking a bath.

I’ve been healing nicely after my surgery to have cancer removed from my face. I stayed home most of the first week and tried to organize my photos. I made great progress. We had a particularly nice sunrise at the beginning of this week, so I put on my long sleeve shirt, long pants, and snake boots and walked out to the marsh to get a picture. Regis made a nice path for me to do this, so it wasn’t too bad. The mosquitos managed to get through my shirt and suck a couple pints of blood out of me while I watched the sunrise. At one point, I heard a rustle behind me and turned to see a possum. The possum didn’t seem disturbed that I was there and just kept about its business.

Sunrise over the marsh in St. Augustine, Florida.

Regis noticed a lot of activity at the bird bath later in the day. He counted at least 8 bluebirds coming and going and got several pictures.

Female eastern bluebird (Sialis sialis).
Male and female eastern bluebird taking baths.
Male eastern bluebird drinking.

Shortly afterwards, he saw a bald eagle flying over the house and got this picture after it landed in a tree down the street.

American bald eagle near our house in St. Augustine, Florida.

Hanging around the house all week was productive but I got antsy. We decided to go camping in Stark, Florida which is about 25 miles north of Gainesville. That will be covered in the next two posts.

Female eastern bluebird bathing.

NANPA Blog Post

Three juvenile double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus) standing on a log on the Silver River in Florida.

I wrote a blog post for the North American Nature Photographers Association that came out today entitled: “A Favorite Place to Photograph Wildlife: The Silver River in Florida”. It can be seen here.

The Gifts of the Day: Where’s Dart?

We just published our second book The Gifts of the Day: Where’s Dart?

The eBook and paperback versions are available on lulu.com.

The book is an adaptation of travel blogs we posted on landrtravels.com while making this journey.  On seventeen occasions, we placed Dart, our blue-merle sheltie, in or near a national park, took a picture and asked our readers to guess where he was located.  We and our readers had fun with that, so we included those pictures in this book.  Dart gets around!

Book Description: Linda and Regis believe that life brings gifts every day. A gift could be seeing swallow-tailed kites as they gather in large numbers before their journey to South America, enjoying a pleasant rain, watching Native Americans dance at a powwow or viewing salmon jumping over waterfalls on their journey upstream. While traveling and camping around the United States, they keep their eyes, ears and minds open looking for those gifts. In this second year of travel, they exchanged their truck and 5th wheel camper for a motorhome and a Jeep Cherokee and went from St. Augustine, Florida to Seattle, Washington and back during the summer of 2016. This book, with over 100 photographs, is about their journey.

Route of our 2016 Adventure. Campgrounds are listed in the book.

Sups and Pups

Dog surfing.

The Guy Harvey Resort in St. Augustine, Florida sponsored a Sups and Pups event today which was a dog surfing contest to benefit K9s for Warriors. Dart would never do this.

My favorite was this young man bonding with his dog while waiting their turn.

Young man and his canine surfer friend.
Young man and his canine surfer friend.
Dog successfully surfing.
The end of a successful surf.
This pup is getting a little help from his friend.

I walked the beach in Anastasia State Park with a friend earlier this week and saw this sailboat that unfortunately did not make it successfully through the inlet.

My friend checking out a beached sailboat.

Momma Squirrel

Squirrel carrying her baby up a tree to her newly made nest.

Yesterday, Regis noticed a squirrel frantically making a nest during the day. Later in the afternoon, he saw a squirrel running across the back of the yard with what looked like a boa around its neck. He realized it was a squirrel carrying a baby squirrel in its mouth. He watched the squirrel deposit her baby in the new nest and then return in the direction she came. Regis figured she was getting another baby so he got the camera ready and was able to capture a picture of the mother squirrel climbing the tree with the baby to the new nest.

This morning, she was back at it and took at least two more babies into the nest. It was my turn to get the photograph.

Squirrel carrying another baby to the nest.
After the mother got the one baby to the nest, she stopped to watch me take her picture while her little ones climbed all over her. Very cute!

What a gift!

More Salt Marsh and a Plea

Palencia salt marsh located on the intracoastal waterway in Florida.

My plea is to ask people to use balloons and fishing gear responsibly. Regis, Sooz, and I tried to help a bird that was entangled in fishing line. St. Johns Audubon Society was notified about the bird via Facebook. We were unable to find that bird but I found a bird entangled in the remains of a balloon. We could not help this bird since it is still able to fly. We will keep an eye out for it this week. If it can’t eat, its health will deteriorate and we may be able to save it.

Royal Tern entangled with the line that was attached to a balloon. You can see the remains of the balloon below the bird.

On a lighter note, the salt marsh is looking particularly beautiful lately. I spent a lot of time in front of the computer this week wrapping up our second book, so I was desperate to get out with the camera. I went to the Palencia salt marsh this morning to take sunrise pictures. The sky wasn’t as beautiful as it can be, but the marsh grasses were beautiful. Florida may not get the stunning fall colors you see in other places in the country, but it is beautiful nonetheless!

Boardwalk on the Palencia salt marsh
Looking south over the Palencia salt marsh.
Palencia salt marsh.
Palencia salt marsh.
Boardwalk over the Palencia salt marsh.
Palencia salt marsh.
Palencia salt marsh.
Palencia salt marsh.
Great egret taking off at the GTM Reserve. Regis and I went there to look for a bird entangled in fishing line and I saw this beautiful egret.
I was taking pictures of bumblebees again and Dart decide to enter the patch of flowers. Was he smelling the Salvia?

Palencia Salt Marsh

Before Dorian made a swing by off the coast of Florida, Regis and I went to the boardwalk over the Palencia salt marsh to check it out. In our last post, we posted some pictures of the clapper rails from that trip. Today I went back to the salt marsh late in the day while the sun was bathing the marsh grasses in a golden light. I took the following panoramic picture.

Palencia salt marsh during the “golden hour”.

I went back to my picture from before Dorian in order to compare the water levels. When we went to the marsh before Dorian came by, the water was very high, probably because of the early storm surge, as well as the king tides. The following picture was taken in the same general area as the panoramic picture above.

Palencia salt marsh prior to hurricane Dorian. This is high tide with a storm surge thrown in.

I got a picture of a green anole. (Technically a Carolina anole, Anolis carolinensis). They are native to the area but are being replaced by the Cuban brown anole (Anolis sagrei). I don’t see green anoles often so I’m glad this little guy let me take it’s picture. In my Florida Master Naturalist classes I learned that the green anoles are moving higher in the trees as the Cuban brown anoles take over. This is their attempt to survive the invasion and takeover of the brown anoles and it seems to be working right now. They are adapting as best they can.

Green anole. This anole may not look to green in this picture, but it is different than all the Cuban brown anoles we regularly see. When I saw it running across the boardwalk, I noticed the green color although it looks more brown here. The little anole posed briefly for me before running away.
Little blue heron (Egretta caerulea) in the Palencia salt marsh.
Tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor) in the Palencia salt marsh.
I think this is a Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus). If you think otherwise, please post a comment and correct me. I love that you can see it’s “tongue” in this shot.