Strange Things and Photo Meetup

Lessee…what’s happening these days.

First up…Florida is sliding rapidly into the time of year when the weather sucks…summer is hot, humid and generally only bearable with the invention of air conditioning so that one goes from your cool house to your cool car in the garage to the cool wherever you’re going and then reverses the process coming home. We’re still able to open the doors for a few days some mornings to air out the closed in smells and get some fresh air…but those days are getting more scarce as time goes on. That said…Neil still needs to go biking every other day…and with the heat that radiates off of the pavement heading out at 0900 or later is just miserable as he discovered yesterday…although the good news is that the bike path on US-41 outside our neighborhood is now essentially done so instead of having to ride about a half mile on the shoulder facing traffic (at 55 mph or more) so he can see them and bail onto the grass if necessary he’s only got to cross at the corner and make it about 50 yards or so before he can get into first the St. Therese parish right turn lane and then pretty quickly onto the paved sidewalk/bike path. Anyways…we’ve changed our morning routine a bit…we were setting the alarm at 0530 on bike days (not that we weren’t mostly awake by then anyway) for the winter but we’ve moved that back to 0500 and the coffee fairy will serve up by 0630 so they can eat and he can head out by 0800…at least that’s how the theory goes, but we’ll see how well it works in practice.

Connie finished up her Mastersingers rehearsals that really weren’t rehearsals but auditions for the 4 finalists for the new Artistic Director as the old one is moving to MD…her husband is getting a graduate degree and she and the new baby are heading up there with him. She’s done with them until the fall…and also they’ll only be having periodic choir rehearsals at St. Therese and the choir will be singing through the summer instead of taking it off and only having cantors…and her new director is insisting that he will be the only cantor for all masses despite the fact that he’s not a very good singer…but this is the Joe Show and the choir has been reduced to backup singers.

Nikon introduced as new camera body on Wednesday…the Z8 which is essentially the baby brother to his Z9 with the same capabilities in a smaller non vertical grip body and was what he really wanted when he got the Z9 but it wasn’t available…faster frame rate, superior sensor, and vastly improved autofocus functions were at the time limited to the Z9 which he bought even though he’s got no use for and zero interest in the vertical grip. His smaller non gripped body he used to carry along on photo outings…but it works so differently from the Z9 that he quit carrying it and just moved the better body between lenses as needed. Needless to say…since the new Z8 does everything the Z9 does but in a smaller body…his is on order already (it’s cheaper than the Z9 was but by no means is inexpensive anywhere in the discussion) and he’ll be back to a dual body situation because…it’s a well known truth of wildlife photography that whenever you’re changing lenses or putting the teleconverter on or off is when the animal/bird will do what you’ve been waiting for…so having dual bodies with lenses mounted will cut down on that problem. It won’t help with the second law of photography…which states that when you look away from the viewfinder is when the thing you’re waiting for will happen.

Our friends Bill and Linda will be here Wednesday afternoon for a day’s visit…they’re visiting family and grave sites over on the east coast and are stopping by at the Laubenthal B&B to visit.

Yesterday he had a meetup with a friend of his from one of the forums for a photography outing…details on that in a bit.

OK…strange things.

As you may or may not be aware…the liberals out in the PRC (Peoples Republic of California) passed a ballot initiative a couple years back that mandates that pork and pork products sold in the country (both grocery stores and restaurants) must be solely from pigs raised in humane conditions…mostly bigger pens but some other things as well…and the truth is that…regardless of whether one thinks it’s right or not…pigs in the US are not generally raised in those conditions. Naturally…the pork producers were against this new rule and sued over it because it will cost them money…they estimate $500 million was what we read…to implement those conditions nationwide. The pork producers are generally a few large corporations but they don’t actually grow pigs…those are grown by thousands of farmers ranging from large to small and then the processing facilities don’t have the facilities to segregate the PRC destination pigs from the ‘rest of the US’ pigs…and therefore every farmer would have to meet these conditions. Now this isn’t really about whether pigs should be humanely grown or eaten or whatever…but the lawsuit was over the fact that…according to the pork producers…regulating interstate commerce for the entire US which is not constitutional as that’s a federal constitution congressional and executive department function. Personally…I don’t think that all pig farms need to be modified under the PRC rules…the producers can designate a single plant or a production line at multiple plants to produce PRC bacon and pork chops just like the auto industry does. True…pigs don’t have a VIN on them but it isn’t going to cost $500 million to setup a segregated production/storage/shipping facility so they should have (a) just refused to sell pork in the state and watch the liberals riot over the lack of bacon and ribs…or (b) set up the segregated facilities and jack up the price of bacon and ribs in the PRC to include the extra costs just like the auto industry has done…but I digress.

Anyways…the SCOTUS found against the law yesterday and declined to rule that the law was an egregious burden on interstate commerce…both sides in the 5-4 vote based their votes on previous SCOTUS precedents…and we could have been persuaded that either side was a bit more right…so don’t have a real problem with the ruling which essentially will require that all pig farms get modified (unlikely) or that a few get modified to grow PRC pigs and they get marked (tattoo, ear tag, separate pen, whatever) and be stored and shipped appropriately…the latter seems more likely.

The strange thing was that this vote did not come down to a political/constitutional viewpoint divide but by which precedents each side chose to put their money on…the losing side was comprised of Chief Justice Roberts and associate justices Kavanaugh, Alito…and strangely enough Brown Jackson…so 2 pretty conservative justices, the mostly swing vote (hmmm…auto correct wanted me to  put in swine there instead of swing, maybe that’s a sign of something) chief justice, and arguably the most progressive of the justices.

There’s also a huge outcry in the media the past couple of days…mostly from the left…about the mall shooting down in Texas. The left has been blaming the right…naturally…because the shooter in the event was…their words…a “white nationalist” and a neo-Nazi. The right…speaking absolutely correctly…agreed that he was a neo-Nazi…but stated that he cannot be a white nationalist because…wait for it…he is a full 100% Mexican national and therefore he was Hispanic and not white…and that calling him a white nationalist is an oxymoron. Technically…the right is correct…he’s not white and should be branded as an Hispanic neo-Nazi and general whacko…but the left isn’t letting themselves be confused by the facts…they are insisting that the right is even more wrong for not agreeing that he was a white nationalist.

There’s this “they are good people” article out today about how a bunch of Columbian citizens who illegally migrated to the US and were deported…because they were illegal immigrants…back to Columbia were interviewed about how they were deprived of their “American dream”…which they have no right to. They all were admittedly economic migrants which do not qualify for asylum under the law…but they were discriminated because they were legally deported for being criminals under US law. Nuts. Meanwhile…DHS is insisting that the border is under control even through Title 42 is no longer in effect and the border is secure…despite a report in Newsweek earlier in the week that instead of the catch and release program which required the illegal immigrants to check in periodically through an app on their phones…the administration is working on a memo that will require they just be released and told “report to some other DHS immigration office at some unspecified time in the future that the illegal immigrant chooses”…yeah, that’s surely going to stop them.

In SC last month…a couple was leaving their wedding reception when a drunk driver plowed into the bridal party killing the bride. The driver was doing 65 in a 35 zone when she hit their golf cart heading over to the hotel…bride was killed and husband has 2 broken legs and broken vertebra in his back. Naturally…the driver was arrested, charged with multiple felony counts, and her blood test is undergoing testing to verify the DUI although officers and witnesses at the scene all agree she was drunk. No matter though…her lawyer says that nobody should rush to judgement and when the facts come out she will be exonerated. Yeah, right.

And in the final bit of news…you probably saw how Representative Santos was indicted…with immediate calls from the left that he resign from Congress forthwith. I saw an article yesterday with quotes from numerous senior left/Democratic politicians calling for that resignation…right alongside their similar quotes when Democratic Senator Menendez from NJ was indicted and tried that he should not resign until he was convicted and that he was “innocent until proven guilty”. Personally…I agree with that whole innocent until proven guilty thing and if Senator Menendez was afforded that right then so should Representative Santos…after all fair is fair and all that.

Ok…photo meetup.

Neil participates in several photographic related forums…one called Ugly Hedgehog for reasons he doesn’t know and never bothered to find out and one named Backcountry Gallery. Mostly he participates in the latter as the name calling, tone, fanboy-ism, and generally antagonistic attitudes on the former turn him off. Anyways…he’s got a buddy named Whiskeyman there who lives up near Pensacola but used to live down here in SW FL…and Whiskeyman was on a tour down here the last couple of weeks to get shots of the mating season, nesting, and baby raising…he’s a little late for the prime parts of the season but he probably had good reasons for not coming earlier. Anyway…he talked about it on the forum asking for suggestions in various places around the bottom half of FL and after some back and forth he and Neil met at the Venice Rookery on Wednesday evening. Generally speaking…that’s a great spot in the morning as the rookery is out on an island in a pond and the the photo area looks west to the island putting the sun behind the shooters and thus putting the great Golden Hour light on the birds. Not so much in the evening as the sun is setting on the other side of the island…but there’s sufficient foliage on the island that most of the shots the birds are in the shade so backlighting isn’t an issue and you can sorta get around the side a bit and get some nice backlit glowing light through the feathers shots as well. Anyway…he had other plans for the morning so Wednesday evening it was…he and Whiskeyman (real name Wayne, Neil is known as Anjin-san on the forum base on his being the navigator back in his Navy submariner days and Anjin is the Japanese word for navigator and san is essentially the same as mister) spent a couple hours shooting birds until it got too dark for the autofocus to really lock in on the moving birds.

Glossy Ibis…Ima gonna establish a new rule that I might not identify the species for every image if I’ve already done that…after all a Great Egret is always a Great Egret since I don’t think any of birds have identified as trans-species.

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Male (left) and female Anhinga…probably a mated pair based on them perching together for quite awhile. The female in the background to the right is probably 6 feet away from this pair.

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Great Egret.

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Couple of Glossies arguing over a perch.

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Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron…it’s the orange eyes that tell it apart from a juvie Yellow Crowned. This individual was not out on the island but perched on a tree by the bank about 8 or 10 feet from Neil.

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Dad Great standing guard, you can see his mate a bit to the right…she’s probably brooding eggs at this point.

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Great Blue Heron (GBH as it is known as)…standing in the strange we’ve never seen it until the past year or so despite seeing literally thousands of GBHs Hans and Franz Pump You Up pose.

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Little Blue Heron (LBH) in full mating plumage…the brighter red neck and brighter blue beak than non mating are the clues here.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…what the juvie above will grow up to be. There’s also a less common Yellow Crowned Night Heron…because the top of his head is…yellow instead of black but otherwise they’re pretty similarly colored.

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And then he decided his ear itched.

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Gear down, flaps down, heading for the deck.

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The wave off by the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) of the above landing approach.

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Neil deliberately left this Great Egret in flight shot underexposed in processing so that the glow through the wings is visible…when ‘properly’ adjusted it woulda been a throwaway shot.

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Trying again after the go-around missed approach above.

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And the final flare for landing.

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An illustration of why this is named the Red Winged Blackbird.

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Dad and mom with their neighbor…there were a lot less birds than earlier in the nesting season but still probably 200+ on the island and most were perched or nesting within a couple feet of their neighbors.

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Another female Anhinga who occupied the place of the juvie Night Heron once it left.

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GBH chicks are about the ugliest babies you will see…except for maybe baby vultures or wood storks.

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Another perch dispute between a couple of Night Herons…Neil left out the earlier shot in the burst that shows the one on the right coming in for a landing as both wings were clipped at the e edges of the frame…and he almost left this one out as well but liked the action sequence.

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This is the one in the several landing approaches shots above after he landed…essentially the whole island is populated with birds like this shot shows.

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Don’t know about these two Glossy’s…they were sitting there together for the longest time and occasionally disappeared into the trees to the right together…maybe they’re a mated pair that are letting the little ones alone on the nest part of the time since there aren’t any predators on the island.

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And one last shot of the GBH baby…cuz Connie likes them and says they’re cute…they’re actually ugly but whatever.

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Interesting things found on the net.

More math nerdy…not only is this true if you do the math but the letter rearrangement works as well.

ElevenPlusTwo

Actual listing of a movie in the TV Guide listings.

WizardOfOz

This easter egg is found in a textbook.

TextbookEasterEgg

Obituary

Does a Royal Flush beat a pair?

RoyalFlushOrAPair

BookMadeYouCry

Appreciation

ChooseSomethingFun

SmartWater

AdultEasterEggHunt

WeLostHim

690234 c12

And finally…

ElevenFeetTooShort

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Photography, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | 3 Comments

Wow…Or Maybe Woo-hoo Is Better

Yep…just wow for Neil’s new lens…but before I get to that the usual updates.

It’s been going on 3 weeks with no posts…and Ima sorry ‘bout that…but mostly there just hasn’t been much to talk about. Connie’s been going to some rehearsals for the choral part of our upcoming UK trip and also has been going to some MasterSingers Artistic Director auditions. Shannon (the AD) is leaving the area in July for the DC area as her husband is going to the University of MD for an advanced degree…so the group has been looking for a new director. They had 10 candidates that they whittled down to 4 and each of those gets an in person audition rehearsal…they do a rehearsal blind on a piece the group already knows and bring another piece that the group does’t know and do an initial rehearsal/breakdown/teach how they want this piece sung…and when all 4 are done (2 so far) the board will decide who to hire. Based on who the finalists are…Neil thinks that it isn’t a case of “the fix is in” but is really leaning towards “it’s one of them’s job to lose”…sort of thing. She thinks he’s a cynic…which he freely admits to…but he says that doesn’t make him wrong…just a cynic and that his cynicism is rightfully justified. 

Neil had his final checkup from his retinal repair some 7 or 8 months back…it was one of those laser things…and he’s now free to move about the country as the commercial for whatever car rental company it was used to say. Dr. Warrior did recommend that he come in every 12 months or so to recheck things…he’s gonna have to see if they can do his annual refraction and contact lens prescription at the same time or if she only does the retina stuff. 

And other than that…it’s been pretty much same stuff different day for us. We’ve had the A/C on most of the time for the past 3 weeks but did have 3 days last week with the house open and can open up for a few hours in the morning at least part of the time…did that this morning to get some fresh air and reduce the inevitable “we been closed up too long” smell.

OK…on to the news.

I’m sure you’ve seen in the news the past few days how corrupt the SCOTUS in general is now…and in particular how corrupt Justices Thomas and Gorsuch are…all of this is based on some investigative journalism that ProPublica did…and to hear them tell it those two in particular and in general the 6 conservative justices on the court are barely short of being Lucifer incarnate. Now I understand that just about every media outlet is biased one way or the other…and ProPublica is actually rated as left leaning…and I’m sure that each organizations bias influences their reporting. They don’t outright lie…at least most of the time but occasionally they all do, despite the claims of the left that Fox always lies and MSNBC is the epitome of truth…but they all have a political ax to grind and inconvenient facts are just ignored…and convenient facts are stated in a manner to inflame the folks on the same side of the political spectrum as the outlet. ProPublica does it…Fox does it…and just about every other media organization does it…because the people writing the articles and/or opinion pieces and/or expose articles have a bias one way or the other.

None of that means that the facts they do talk about aren’t facts…but it does mean that one needs to do a little digging on your own to see what facts they ignored because they were inconvenient or whether the wording they used was factual or inflammatory and designed to whip up one side or the other. For instance…Justice Thomas has been accused of accepting a “vacation that would have cost him $500,000 if he paid for it himself”…when a more sober reading of all the facts would reveal that the private jet and yacht are owned by a billionaire friend of his and the Justice would not have gone on the vacation since he could not have afforded it on his own…he would have flown commercial and stayed on the beach in the resort. The Wall Street Journal produced a counter-piece to the ProPublica piece and pointed out the inconvenient facts that ProPublica ignored but in true media fashion ignored the actual facts that they did include. 

Now I don’t pretend to know for sure whether this was an appearance of impropriety or actual impropriety or none of the above…because I’m not in possession of all the actual facts without the politically charged descriptions. Perhaps it’s true that the justices did something they weren’t supposed to do…and perhaps it’s true that they didn’t. As a matter of fact and a point of law…Congress passed a law requiring that the executive and judicial branches of the government to fill out financial disclosure forms…and mostly those branches do so…but whether they’re actually required to follow that law has never been constitutionally determined. The Constitution sets out 3 co-equal branches of government…and it is certainly an arguable legal point that one branch doesn’t have the authority to impose such a requirement on the other two branches…but nobody has yet sued over it and had the case get up to the SCOTUS to determine whether the law is in fact constitutional or not…and such a determination doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

Now…should the SCOTUS have a code of ethics. Mostly the answer is Yes but it’s up to them to determine what is included in that as nowhere in the Constitution does Congress have the power to do so as the SCOTUS was created as one of those co-equal branches. Lower federal courts are constitutionally created by Congress…and as such Congress does have the power to implement rules and a code of ethics for those lower courts…and in fact SCOTUS should create one for themselves. However…this does not mean that no justice can accept gifts or that they’re required to recuse themselves from cases or that they can’t have outside sources of income or investments.

Back to Justices Thomas and Gorsuch…as I said they may have done something improper…but ProPublica doesn’t know they did…the WSJ doesn’t know they didn’t…and neither does any other media organization. However…I am surprised that only conservative justices were…selected…by PP to be investigated and its’ very strange to me that the 3 liberal ones were not investigated nor were the 535 members of the Congress…and I’m pretty sure that one would find questionable practices across all branches politically, white males vs black females, and however else you might want to slice and dice them into groups. Yes…there appear to be valid enough circumstances that further investigation is warranted…but the same groups that are demanding the resignation of the justices ignore the circumstances involving the President and his family…those are dismissed by the left as “thoroughly debunked theories” but from the mostly in the middle stance we have at our house…it seems that there’s some smoke in both of those situations and perhaps both should be fairly evaluated to see if there’s fire involved. 

However…given the current political climate and the insistence by both sides that their opinion on every issue is 100% valid and the other side’s is 100% delusion…and that seems to be the case for every major issue we have today from guns to corruption to abortion to climate change too nuclear power to pipelines to etc, etc, etc.…well, it just ain’t gonna happen. There are some folks in the Congress who while right or left believe in bipartisan negotiation and compromise with the other side…but unfortunately they’re all too afraid of getting a primary challenger from the fringes of the party and losing their job…and all of that prevents them from actually doing their jobs. Pity.

Ok, enough of that.

Oh yeah…I forgot that he filed for his Social Security since he’s now reached the highly coveted plateau of “Full Retirement Age” or FRA…so that’s some more bucks coming into their monthly cash flow which means they can spend more on toys and travel. As such…he’s got himself on the short list for some photo tours to Africa and Costa Rica next year…they haven’t been scheduled yet but are in the planning phase and with only a limited number of participants so that the leaders can give Individual attention to everybody ya gotta get your oar in early as they say. We don’t know if any of them will actually come to fruition…but we’re working on it. Connie has no interest in going to Africa…she would be interested in Costa Rica but not for the photo part, she just wants to stay in the resort and lay by the pool and have those tropical drinks with the little umbrellas in them followed by dinner with Neil.

Neil bought himself a new lens for his camera…he sold his last remaining old F mount Nikon body and also the 500PF lens that has been referred to us here as ‘the bird lens’ for a long time…and replaced them with a new Z mount 400mm lens…now that probably sounds like the new ‘bird lens’ has less reach than the old one did and technically that’s true…but if one pops on the teleconverter it becomes a 560mm which is longer than the old bird lens…and the new Z mount lenses are simply better than the old F mount ones for a couple of reasons and in particular there’s really no degradation in image quality with the teleconverter on…essentially the Z lenses have a wider opening where it joins the body which makes the optical design easier, and the optical software and computer power available today as opposed to 5 or 6 years ago means that they’re simply better designs because they’re newer…and in addition to being better optically they’re smaller and lighter than their old equivalents from the F mount line. He’s also got 3 zoom lenses so he’s covered with them from 14mm up to 400mm and then 560 with the new bird lens and he’s mighty happy about that combination…and a secondary factor of the newer design software is that the Z mount zooms are pretty much as good as the old F mount prime lenses and the Z primes (i.e. non zoom)  are better than either the F mount primes or the Z mount zooms. (Yeah, I know most of you don’t really care about details like that…but I gotta talk ‘bout sumtin’ ya know.)

Anyway…after he received the new lens…it was actually only 800 bucks after he traded in the old stuff…he grabbed a couple of shots out back…

Green Heron across the other side of the pond…maybe 35 or 40 yards.

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And he decided to show off his Mohawk appearance.

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Tricolor Heron…this was at the end of the pond closes to him and about half the distance to the Green Heron above.

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It’s hard to really tell on the blog…but those are significantly sharper than the old bird lens was…although to be honest I think Neil needs to brighten them up just a badge in Lightroom…I’ll remind him to do that next time.

Anyway…he’s satisfied and that’s what counts. He’s got himself some new noise reduction and sharpening software as well and all of that goes into making the shots here better.

Interesting things found on the net.

OneSecondAcupuncture

NakedGardening

Yipee WokeUp

No gender bias here…their positions could be reversed and it would still be funny.

WifeBalance

DatingNeighbor

Neil really liked this one.

WhatKindOfWorld

Schrödinger’s cat…for those of you who don’t know who he was…it’s a theory from quantum physics (that’s atomic level stuff) that says it’s not possible to know something in quantum physics without observing it and the act of observing changes it. Essentially…the cat inside the box (the quantum box) can be both alive and dead simultaneously (because that’s the way quantum physics works and I don’t understand it well enough to explain why that is but just take it as a fact) and that looking inside the box to see if it is alive or dead changes the fact that it’s both alive and dead simultaneously. And yes…it seems to me that quantum physics folks might suffer from heavy recreational pharmaceutical use. Anyway…this is what the cat might be doing in the box…and all the equations on the wall are…you guessed it…quantum physics equations…at least I think they are but mebbe they’re just random calculus looking things…dunno.

ShroedingersCat

 

NineMonthsInside

StripDownFacingMe

SeeingEyeCats

And finally…based on some of the arguments by the anti-gun crowd…I think we need to ban high capacity assault cows.

HighCapacityAssaultCow

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

And Even More Photos

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…his real name according to L. Frank Baum (the author of the Oz stories) is Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs…but we’ll just call him the Wizard. Ion sure case…the sizard is named Neil and he’s guy behind the post processing of the photos that I always post herein…and he’s assisted by his loyal minions from Adobe and various plug in and artificial intelligence software tools that (a) produce overall better results than he does because the AI is just smarter and (b) are a lot faster than he can do on his own.

Anyhoo…I got some more photos down below from their trip last week down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary…the ponds and Lettuce Lake are getting pretty low since according to the weather guessers we’re in the middle of “extreme drought” here in SW FL…I thought it was just the winter dry season but what do I know. Nonetheless…the lower water levels do serve to concentrate the bird life just a bit so they did get some nice shots as you’ll see shortly.

In the meantime…it’s been Holy Week this week and there’s still 2 days to go…and as Connie named it “The Choir Week From Hell”…they have lots of services at which they sing during this week and on Easter upcoming…and she’s off again this afternoon (Friday) before they head out to Date Nite…it’s Restaurant Fabio today which is a nice hole in the wall Italian place down on Hancock Bridge Road in a shopping center…they checked and there is plenty of seafood on the menu since it is Good Friday ya know. As an aside…as practicing Catholics they aren’t allowed to eat meat on Friday and this is historically considered as an act of penance during the Lenten season…but I think that modern technology and cuisine has sort of overcome the penitential aspects of the requirement. Back in the day in the years when the requirement was established…not eating meat meant one ate fish…since vegetarian and vegan had not been invented yet…and since there was no electricity nor refrigeration in those days food tended to spoil rather quickly. So…meat was either eaten shortly after it was slaughtered or it was salted to preserve it. Likewise with fish…although fish was typically dried rather than salted. Now I dunno if ya have ever eaten dried fish…but Neil has and he can confirm that while edible and providing of sustenance…tasting good is not one of it’s qualities…it’s like eating fish flavored wood mostly. Smoked fish is better but…again…that hadn’t been invented yet. So…back in the day…the act of eating dried yucky tasting fish as an act of penance was valid. But…fast forward about 2,000 years to the year 2023…and seafood choices have markedly improved. We’ve got sushi including fresh or frozen tuna that might have been flown in from Japan (although mostly it flies the other way these days)…and we’ve got both fresh and frozen shrimp, a plethora of fish choices, oysters, lobsters (which make both excellent pasta toppings as well as being stuffed into ravioli, clams, sea urchin and a whole gaggle of choices that (a) taste really good and (b) are way, way better than the aforementioned dried fish. So…he doesn’t see it as much of a penance since they eat fish/seafood a couple times a week anyway. But…dems da rulz so we just follow ‘em because…dems da rulz. Doesn’t have to make sense I guess.

She got this shot of the rainbow last night on the way home after Holy Thursday mass.

IMG 3468 topaz denoise enhance sharpen

Not much else is new…Neil sent off his last of the old DSLR and F lens mount Nikon equipment to the camera dealer and will be replacing them (once the Jewish owned place in NYC that is owned by devout religious people opens back up after Passover) with a better lens that’s in the new Z mount used by Nikon mirrorless cameras. And he got himself a new photo backpack with all the features he actually needs…he bought a ThinkTank bag a year or two back and while it is a nice bag it’s really more of a take it on the airplane bag and not a I might want to carry this on the hike and have equipment more easily available bag…the new one is from a Swedish company named Nya-Evo (although to be honest only the founders live in Sweden, the corporate HQ is in Belgium and the goods are made in and shipped from Hong Kong)…it holds more stuff than the old one does, still fits into the airline carryon limits (since nobody in their right mind wants to check $10,000 plus worth of photo and computer equipment if they get on a plane, and allows equipment to be removed for use without taking off the backpack and putting it on the muddy ground…since it has a waist belt to transfer the weight to your hips you just slip the shoulder straps off and rotate it around the front then open the back into the photo equipment storage area. Pretty darned neat.

Neil’s got a duck breast in the brine for Easter…it will get pulled out tonight and left in the fridge unwrapped so the skin can dry out…then on Sunday he’ll smoke it to 130 degrees, sous vide it to make sure all the fat is rendered, and grill it for a couple minutes on blast furnace level on the grill to sear and crispy the skin. Honey bourbon sauce (well, actually it will be Irish whiskey because that’s what he has and it is essentially the same as bourbon but better) to go on top, some latkes made out of sweet potatoes with blueberry sauce and goat cheese on top of them…and some Mexican flavored corn on the side for (a) fiber, cuz they’re old and (b) something hot/spicy to cut the sweetness of the other two dishes. And Connie brought home some Petit Fours from the Publix last night so he’s not making dessert. 

And that’s about it…so let’s get on to Corkscrew images.

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Male Cardinal.

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The rarely seen Yellow Headed Connie in her bush hat and taking pictures.

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A different male Cardinal.

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An almost mature Great Blue Heron…it’s somewhere between the juvenile plumage and being sexually mature since it doesn’t have the little white feather extension behind the head that adults have.

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Juvenile White Ibis…you can see how they pull their toes together when walking through the water…the narrower foot makes less of a splash and then the toes spread out before it gets to the bottom to support weight on the typically mushy swamp bottom.

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Great Egret…less than 10 feet from the one above.

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Another juvenile White Ibis.

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And at the sanctuary they have what is known as a Ghost Orchid…species is Dendrophylax lindenii. Native to Florida, Cuba, and the Bahamas…it is leafless except for when it blooms…hence the name Ghost Orchid. It is an endangered species throughout its range and Corkscrew’s sole individual is colloquially named the Super Ghost Orchid since it’s much higher on the tree (about 50 feet) than most of the species. Along the boardwalk there’s a photo of the tree it’s on and marked…here’s that image.

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Neil got a shot of the location of the plant…but as you can see it’s not blooming right now so there’s really nothing to see…if it was blooming then you would see the flower visible in the image following this one…this one was borrowed and credits to the Corkscrew Audubon web site. Neil’s shot was taken with a 500mm lens from about 35 yards away…so either they had a really, really long lens on the shot on their web site or they cropped in a whole bunch…like to 10% or 20% of the frame. We’ve looked every time we are go down there but haven’t seen it in bloom yet…it usually blooms year round at random intervals and the bloom is there for 1-2 weeks…

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Connie has been working a lot on her BIF (birds in flight) technique…now that she’s got a long enough lens it’s just a matter of being able to pan the camera to keep the bird in the auto focus area while using burst mode on the shutter. She’s getting a lot better than when she started…nice shot of this Great Egret about to land, but the remaining shots in her burst (8 or 9) were all either out of focus or the bird was clipped by the tree or the edge of the frame. Neil normally only gets 20%-25% keeper rate but then he’s been at the BIF game a lot longer than she has.

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They spotted this Black Crowned Night Heron across the pond…first shot is from Connie and the second one from Neil…he’s got more lens but that’s because she won’t carry the longer and thus heavier one. She also has a crop sensor which gives her effectively 1.5x the actual focal length of the lens but she’s still at 375mm maximum while he was at 500…both shots are cropped to about the same percentage of the whole frame.

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Green Heron…they shot at least 25 frames between them of this little guy but this is the only one that didn’t have too much of the bird obscured. And it’s not nearly as short necked as it looks…when fully extended its neck is a bit longer than its body.

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Juvenile Little Blue Heron…although this one is what’s called a Changeling as it’s in between the completely white feathers on the juvenile and the blue with reddish neck breeding plumage on the adults.

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Gator…about 10 feet from the boardwalk…and a pretty big one at that.

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Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron…Connie got this one and Neil never saw it…he was off doing something else at the moment I guess..

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Breeding Little Blue Heron…I think this one is a female based on the blue color on the beak while the male has a dusky red/maroon cast on the neck.

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Red Bellied Woodpecker.

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Juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron.

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Barred Owl…this one was sitting about 8 feet from the boardwalk but was mostly obscured by the branches. Neil pointed it out to a couple from up by Tampa and the woman said it made her day as she wanted to see owls.

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Female Anhinga.

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And her male counterpart along with a different female.

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A different Black Crowned Night Heron in a much better position to get a really nice image…about 15 feet away. You can guess why it has the name it does…they’re normally pretty shy and hide during the day but the swamp at Corkscrew is so dark that they come out a bit more.

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Breeding plumage Great Egret.

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A different breeding Little Blue Heron.

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And finally…right as they left the boardwalk this Painted Bunting was sitting on the feeder by the Visitor Center.

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With that…they were done and as it was getting hot by now (it was going on 1030 or so)…so they headed home for lunch.

Interesting things found on the net.

CatProblems

This is the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland…it’s one of the entrances to area of the Jungfrau (a mountain there)…there are supposedly 72 waterfalls there (which means Neil needs to go…but not until after Iceland which has 15,000)…and was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Elven Valley of Rivendell…at least that’s the way the story goes but none of us have read any of those books so I dunno. Neat looking place though.

LauterbrunnenValley

And finally…

KnewWhereItWas

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, Photography, WIldlife | 2 Comments

Come and Listen to my Story About a Man Named Jed

…except, well…his name ain’t Jed at all so I guess I need some better lyrics. You know the tune…it’s one of those catchy things from a TV show in the 60s…

Come and listen to my story about a man named Juror 275

A medium well off bum easily able to afford to jive

And then one day he was hangin’ out in courtroom 5B

And along come a clerk who came to set him free.

 

Well…obviously a songwriter I ain’t…but then as I dun tol’ya before…Ima a bear so just deal with it.

Anyhoos…we got some pictures from Fort DeSoto in a bit but first some general news updates.

Connie’s completely recovered from her surgery back in February and is fully capable of all her normal duties, wants, needs, and whatnot now. She had her spring concert with the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers on Sunday…and Neil was amazed by a couple of things about the pieces that they sang. First…he was amazed that the piece they sang after intermission that was just composed in 2022 was actually good as most contemporary classical music pretty much sucks to be honest with ya…composers today mostly do atonic so called music but it really just sounds like noise to us…no recognizable melody or harmonies…and this one was actually good. Second was that the new piece was actually the highlight of the concert…they sang a Ralph Vaughn Williams piece in the first half…and it was well performed but was a simply terrible version of the Dona Nobis Pacem…there are a lot of pieces named that…and most of them she actually likes to sing…but not even she liked this one.

The adults finished up their season of concerts up at the Sarasota Symphony and will be renewing for next year…looking at the schedule there are some good things on it so they’ll be happy to get up and hear them. A couple of them might interfere with her scheduled concerts with the Mastersingers for next season…she’ll attempt to find out the dates at the annual meeting next week and just swap our Sunday matinee tickets for Friday or Saturday night tickets…that happened for the one last Friday as she had her scheduled concert on Sunday…and it reminded them of why they changed to the Sunday afternoon performances as they got home pretty late

So…Juror 275.

Despite having had a drivers license since 1960…which is how they pick potential jury people…neither of them has ever been summoned until this week, Neil had to report Monday morning for potential service along with about 130 of his closest friends. They had to be there at 0800 naturally even through court doesn’t start until 1000…and even with the swearing in and how to be a juror movie there was still a lot of wasted time there. Then along about 1015 they started calling numbers to report to courtroom 8B…and continued calling numbers until every last person in the room was in the jury pool. We got up to the courtroom…got cautioned…again…to turn our phones completely off, take our hats off, and not to put glasses on top of our heads before filing to be instructed by the judge handling the trial they were potential jurors for. Not to worry though…everything Ima telling ya here is public record and since he wasn’t selected for the jury can be talked about. Essentially…it is a case of capital first degree murder of a local on duty police officer with aggravating circumstances meaning both capital punishment and a whole bunch of other charges included…and the defendant has chosen to represent himself. Apparently it started out as some sort of robbery inside a car…which then escalated somehow to the police being involved…which then escalated to a shootout resulting in the death of the police officer and assault/attempted murder/ wounding of at least one other officer…along with all of the felon in possession of a weapon, robbery, and whatnot.

After the judge read the indictment…and it actually made the Palm Sunday gospel (for those of you who are churchgoers) seem short (and for those of you who aren’t churchgoers the Palm Sunday gospel is about 5 pages long in the book, takes 20 minutes to read, and is the only gospel you’re allowed to sit down during)…well, anyways then they started the voir dire portion of the proceeding which is where the prosecutor, defense counsel, and judge ask questions of potential jurors and then they either get peremptory challenged (which means somebody kicks them out for no reason other than because they want to, but they have a limited number of these challenges), challenged for cause (which isn’t limited but the judge has to agree that the person can’t be unbiased because of knowing somebody involved in the case, bias for whatever reason) or because of hardship imposed on the person by the length of the trial, having to take care of kids or elderly…but convenience isn’t one of the valid reasons and the judge has to agree. Anyways…voir dire continues with potential jurors in batches of (in this case) 10…and once those 10 get excused or put on the jury (12 plus 4 alternates chosen after those 12) they bring in the next batch of 10. Each group takes about an hour to hour and a half to process and based on when the numbers were called in the morning Neil would have been in about batch 9 or 10 which means that he would have come back on Tuesday to continue the circus.

Anyway…around 1600 they were in the middle of batch 4 and batch 5 was sitting in the on deck circle (actually the jury section in another courtroom)…and they are in and dismissed everybody else except batch 5. They didn’t say why they did that…but since batch 5 wasn’t dismissed obviously they had not selected the 16 in total…so either they were getting close and figured that with the remaining 20 they would fill out the jury…or the judge figured that the 20 would take until the end of the day’s court time and if they needed more they would just pick some more batches from Tuesday’s (the next day) pool.

Too bad…Neil’s obviously not sure whether he would have been excused or accepted…but it sounded like an interesting case and if you have to be on a jury it might as well be something interesting instead of a minor lawsuit over spilled beer or something. But the good news is that he got his “I was there” certificate…and that means he’s got a “Get out of jail free” card for a year…although given he’s been called once in 50something years he’s not holding his breath to get summoned again anytime soon.

And I think the defendant has an idiot for a lawyer since he’s representing himself…he’s got a standby counsel but I’m pretty sure the judge has a low opinion of his courtroom etiquette…giving the judge a thumbs up for a positive response and a hand wave with a “Nah…” for a negative one while standing for neither of those and actually facing away from the judge in both cases…well, it can’t be good for his rapport with the judge. However…representing yourself is your right in a criminal trial…and while I think it’s dumb and anybody with a 5th grade education probably thinks it’s dumb as well…it is your right so he’s exercising it. He did have 3 fully armed officers that remained between 5 and 10 feet of him the entire time he was in the courtroom…so his incorrectly buttoned sport coat, dockers, and ratty sneakers were probably a change from his normal orange jumpsuit (or whatever they wear in jail since I’m pretty sure you’re not getting bail for 1st degree murder of a police officer.

On a “Ripped from the Headlines…Dum…Dum” momentary tangent…I do have a couple of questions about the indictment of the former President today having just read the actual indictment. There are 34 separate counts all of which are felonies and all 34 essentially say the same thing but have different check numbers and other minor details. Each count says that they are felonies because of the intent to aid and abet an underlying crime…which elevated the what would have been misdemeanors to felony accounts.

First question…what is the underlying crime as it’s not mentioned in the indictment? Previous news articles and speculation have indicated that the underlying crime is a violation of federal election law…but there are a couple problems with that…the NY DA cannot charge for a federal crime, the feds have already declined to prosecute it as a crime, and the statute of limitations on the supposed federal crime has run out anyway.

Second question…the misdemeanor counts of business record falsification have already passed the statute of limitations from what I’ve seen on the web…the statute hasn’t run out for the felony counts but without the underlying crime which doesn’t appear to exist they can’t be felonies…and the misdemeanors can’t be charged based on statute of limitations.

Third question…supposedly the payments from his organizations to the lawyer were labeled as “legal fees” which is the supposed false business record being charged. The problem with that is…your lawyer would normally bill you for both the legal hush money which he legally paid on your behalf and his services on the same bill expecting a single check…so it seems that calling them legal fees is legitimate, especially if you’re giving the money to your lawyer to solve a potential legal problem…calling the hush money not legal fees seems like hair splitting.

Overall…it seems to me that Mr. Bragg has a very weak case…perhaps even a non existent case…which sort of lends a bit of credence to the claims by his supporters that this is a political prosecution…but then of course it is a political prosecution…exactly as the Hunter Biden one and the Clinton ones and the Cuomo ones were…the fact that there may or may not be any legal justification behind them doesn’t mean they’re not primarily political prosecutions…both sides are and have been over time guilty of this over and over…so calling a spade a spade seems fair to me by his supporters…although then the other side calling the Hunter Biden thing politically motivated is also 100% correct. I wonder when his defense lawyers make all these arguments about underlying crimes and statute of limitations to the judge what he will say…because (and I’m not a lawyer so there may be some weasel words that haven’t been fully explained in the media)…because he’s gonna read the actual law and at least from what we’ve seen the actual existence of all those crimes may not be so. Note that this doesn’t mean that I support the former President or think he should be reelected…I’m just looking at the potential legal ramifications of these charges.

And that’s about all the news that’s fit to print…so let’s get on to some pictures. Neil was up at Fort DeSoto State Park near St. Pete Monday before last and got some pretty good shots.

Right off the bat less than a minute from the parking lot as he walked to the beach…he spotted this osprey with breakfast about 18 or 20 feet off the ground.

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Then headed to the beach and took a side jaunt away from the tidal lagoon into a somewhat isolated tidal pond.

Snowy Egret strutting his stuff.

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And then a few seconds later as he got up on land…high stepping like the return man after a long run for a score.

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Great Egret.

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A pair of Roseate Spoonbills…they were close together so are likely a mated pair…but as far as he knows the male and female look the same so who knows for sure.

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The Snowy after climbing up onto a mangrove.

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And a different spoonbill in flight…Neil really likes this shot for the motion blur in the wings even though he actually clipped the left one which would normally have given this shot a one way trip to the bit bin. The Z9 grabbed focus on the head/eye just like it’s supposed to but the shutter speed was too low to freeze the wings…but he likes the motion blur in them.

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As she walked towards the beach this pelican flew by.

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Sandpipers

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And a Greater Yellowlegs…can ya guess where the name came from?

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He then spotted the catch of the day as both he and the 2 other fellows who watched the half hour show agreed…but I gotta give you a little background to set the scene first.

It’s a Reddish Egret…which is normally a solitary hunter that stands still and arches it’s wings to both shadow glare off the surface and to attract prey to the shaded area…usually they look like this and basically don’t move around…this shot is not from last week but is one he pulled out from a year or so ago to show the ‘normal’…although common might be a better description…feeding posture. As you can see from the lack of ripples around the legs…it’s just standing there and typically doesn’t move much, maybe every 20 or 30 seconds it might take a step or twist around or something but mostly it just stands there like this.

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Not this baby though…he put on a spectacular show for about 30 minutes jumping around and dashing and hopping and feeding…and was pretty successful at it as you’ll see.

This first shot is an animated GIF file…Neil doesn’t do much video which would have been at least 24 frames per second because doing that means you extract any still shots from the 4K or 8K video…and you lose a lot of the still photo resolution the Z9’s sensor provides if you do that. He can shoot up to 20 frames per second in full quality and can get to 30 and 120 per second if willing to accept lower resolution images since the camera can only write to the card so quickly and a full resolution image is 50-55 MB each…so 20 per second means writing about 1 GB per second to the card…there’s a buffer in the system that fills up after about 80 or 85 full resolution images and then you don’t get 20 anymore, maybe 10 or 14 or something smaller until the buffer writes to card and then it speeds up again.

The real problem with the high frame rates is that you just get a really big number of images to sort through…so he normally just shoots at 10 frames per second and occasionally bumps it to 20 for really fast action…but shooting in bursts means that even if he really only wants to take a single shot clicking the shutter gives him a 3 or 4 shot burst at minimum…and he came home with over 1,000 frames from his 2 hours at the park that were sorted down to the 30 or so here.

Anyways…he took some of the burst shots and made this animated GIF from it…each frame in the GIF is displayed for 0.1 seconds which means you see 10 per second…so this is essentially real time speed of how this individual was dancing and bouncing around. All of the action in this clip took place in about 20 seconds but the individual frames are 10 per second…pretty amazing how fast it was hopping around.

ReddishEgretDance

Here’s another sequence of it flying to reposition itself to a different section of the pond…again 10 frames per second animated GIF and a total of almost 4 seconds of flight.

ReddishEgretFlight

Man…what a show. Mostly it continued doing the jump/dance/hop thing above and only rarely did the more normal feeding behavior…here are a bunch of regular still images. I’ll get him to take some video next time and extract some frames for stills…at least I might but will have to have him shoot some test footage and see how it looks before wasting time on a decent target before going that.

However…even with just the stills you can get a great sense of what it was doing…but I figured the quasi video of the animated GIF would give you a better sense of the actual speed of the action. I’ll point out the actual classic feeding behavior shots when we get to them…it used wings to sort of jump/fly 8 or 10 feet a lot and for balance as it moved and landed.

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Literally running here as you can see from the spread in its legs.

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Sort of hop/fly here…did that a lot.

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This is sort of the classic Reddish feeding behavior but it was still walking instead of standing still so I guess it likes to eat this way.

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These next 3 were all from the same 2 second burst of a successful strike, shortly after the above shot he turned towards Neil and dove in.

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Another successful strike against a larger target a minute later…he actually caught about 5 or 6 over the 30 minutes or so he watched it.

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This one is sort of a continuation of the 3 shot sequence above.

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Running again…note the wake and splashes around the legs.

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Another skip/hop/fly.

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And finally…it flew down to the far end of the now isolated tidal lagoon…he could still see it but it was a good quarter mile down there so he didn’t walk down to get more…it was getting on to 0930 by this time and Golden Hour was gone (sunrise was about 0715)…given the increasingly poor light, the distance down to where it was now, and the spectacular results he and has 2 buddies had gotten so far…they decided to quit while they were ahead and headed back to the car.

Another seagull flew buy as he was headed off of the little point they were on.

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Just before exiting the park…he spotted this osprey in a tree off the left side of the road.

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Turned out to be half of a mated/nesting pair as about 30 yards to the right of this tree its mate was sitting in the nest. Must still be incubating the eggs as none of the shots I got showed any li’l heads poking up.

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And with that the morning’s excitement was done…he headed home for lunch with Connie.

Interesting things found on the net.

This is a Green…note the Green in the name…Tree Python.They live in New Guinea, some Indonesian islands, and a small portion of Australia. They are about 6 feet long at maximum. Hatchlings are yellow and change over to green in about 5-10 days when they’re about 2 feet long.

GreenTreePython

This is a Nunantek mountain…that’s actually the type of mountain and not its name…Nunanrtek means it sticks up out of a glacier. This one is in Antarctica and Neil was stuck by the quite flat and angular shape…maybe it’s got something to do with the glacier passing by as it journeys to the ocean and eroding it into this shape.

NunantekMountainAntarctica

PostNoBills

And since Saint Paddy’s Day is past…here’s the last Irish joke from it.

LastIrishjoke

Credit for this one goes to Alan McFadyen from Scotland who set out to get what he determined was the perfect shot of a Kingfisher…he wanted a perfectly straight down dive, no splash, and a view of the entire back of the bird…and because they dive for fish wherever they want he had to be in the perfect position when the perfect dive happened. Luckily for us…he was both a perfectionist…and very, very patient…as this shot took 6 years, 4,200 hours, and 720,000 shots to capture. He would typically take 600 shots in a session and throw them all away as “none were any good” as he says.

Kingfisher 720K

This was one of his “failures…since there was no splash and all that other jazz…but it’s hard to really call it a failure I think.

Kingfisher 730K fail

Seen on a church bulletin board and/or announced from the ambo/pulpit near you.

ChurchBulletinBoard

DogShake

For our vegan and/or vegetarian readers.

PlantBased

And finally…

TeslaRoadTrip

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, Learn Something New, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Update on Status

Well…I have to tell ya that Neil went to Fort DeSoto State park on Monday…Connie had a lunch thing so she didn’t go…and got the most spectacular display of a Reddish Egret feeding that either he or the two fellas photographing it with him have ever seen…it was truly outstanding…and he’s got about 1,000 photos he hasn’t processed yet…but they’re acoming… I promise ya that.

And…tomorrow we’re off to Corkscrew…and Ima sure he’ll have some more photos to show ya from there…but then that’s tomorrow and he’s gotta process all those before I can blather on about them. 

And…lessee…what else. Sunday April 2 is Neil and Connie’s engagement anniversary…it’s been a long time since 4/2/1976, 47 years to be exact…and as the song says “She’s still the one.” Ya know what I mean Vern.

And…well, she’s really busy with various singing things this week and next. It’s almost Holy Week…or the “Choir Week From Hell” as she frequently calls it due to all of the choir commitments. And she discovered…yesterday…that the choir is singing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah (the Shirmer edition if ya have any inkling what that means) on Easter…and that means it’s both good news and bad news. The good news is that she’s sung the piece numerous times before. The bad news…is that she’s singing soprano now in her choir and previously she always sang as an alto…which means she needs to learn a new part. Actually…she’s always been more of a mezzo-soprano than a true alto as she can get to the high ranges the most altos just can’t reach…but she has always preferred singing alto as it’s normally not the melody line and her interests have always been in learning and singing something *other* than the melody. But…she’ll persevere, adapt, and overcome…and Ima sure that by Tuesday she’ll be ready to go.

And adding into the choir stuff next week…Sunday…before they have their anniversary dinner…she’s singing the spring concert with the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers…so she’ll be going into the restaurant afterwards in her sparkling floor length skirt and top that is the uniform for the Mastersingers…but he’s planning on buying her a nice dinner afterwards.

And finally…although we never really suffer for food since Neil’s a pretty good home cook and the “leftover king” as Connie calls him…but both of them agreed that he pretty much hit it out of the park today. Technically…it was chicken day (we rotate beef, chicken, pork with interspersed seafood or pasta)…and today was chicken day but she really wasn’t interested. So…he looked in the freezer and pulled out a package of frozen winter squash ravioli…then decided what to do with it.

After some thinking…he sez to himself that he usually pairs winter squash with nuts and maple…it came to him. So…he fried up some bacon to make crispy lardons…then set them aside. Browned some thinly sliced shallots in the bacon grease and set them aside. Toasted some pecans in the skillet and set them aside after roughly chopping them. Put the ravioli on to cook in some salted water…and added some flour and olive oil to make a roux. Added some white wine and let it cook off…then added thyme, sage, cinnamon, white pepper, salt, and Italian herbs and some half and half (I said it was good…not lo cal…he don’t cook that way). Once the sauce came together…he added some maple syrup so that it was maple-ey and sweet…but not actually sweet. They tasted the sauce and added a bit more maple, salt, and white pepper and declared it excellent Tossed in the now cooked ravioli and let it coat and thicken a bit. Served it up with the toasted pecans and bacon lardons (that’s a high tech French word meaning fried crispy bacon)…poured a couple glasses (well, they were well past a couple by then) and it was outstanding. They frequently tell themselves how good dinner was…but today I think they actually meant it because it was delicious.

Last night…while having tacos at Date Night…they discussed photo backpacks and lenses for Neil…so he’s ordering some new stuff soon. Details to follow of course.

No images today…or even interesting stuff found on the net…cuz he’s out of gas and still needs to do dishes…so…

Cyas.

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Been A Slow Coupla Weeks

So I figured I oughta give ya a report from plague central here in SW FL.

Connie was…emphasis on was…getting to be feeling better after her surgery last month and by Friday Feb 24 she was feeling pretty good so they headed out to Date Night…it being Lent and her not really being up to long car rides yet they went up the road to the Tamiami Tavern arriving just a few minutes before they opened…which is necessary if you want to get a seat at the bar. We had a nice evening, ate some seafood, and all was well.

Saturday she had a rehearsal for her upcoming UK choral trip and wasn’t cleared to drive yet so he took her down to rehearsal, met the director who’s leading the tour he’s being the groupie for, and sat in the back while the singers did their thing then they headed home…she was still tiring pretty easily so that was it for the day.

Sunday after Mass/choir they went to Sarasota for the symphony concert…then stopped by Longhorn’s on the way home for dinner and again she was pretty tired by the time we got home…but that’s not really surprising since it was less than 2 weeks post surgery.

Monday they both had appointments with our primary care doctor…and since space was at a premium they put us both in the same room and essentially made it a double…his was just the annual thing and hers was the post surgery followup…all was well on both of those. Tuesday she saw her surgeon and he released her for full activities.

And that’s when the fun started. Tuesday afternoon he started feeling lousy…tired, achey, and maybe just a touch of fever…and looking back afterwards his symptoms really started a bit Monday evening. By the evening she administered one of our home Covid tests and he was positive…so 5 days in Covid jail at home for him followed by 5 days of out with the mask. They really tried hard to keep her from getting it from him…no touching, lot of hand washing…and thought they had dodged the bullet even though she started having ear pain in her bad eustachian tubes Wednesday or Thursday…but by Friday she had symptoms as well and another test revealed that their eradication efforts for her had failed. The good news is that since they were both positive all of the excessive precautions weren’t necessary anymore.

As of this morning (Monday) he’s feeling pretty much better…still some lingering coughing and sinus drips going on and somewhat tired but not exhausted like last week…and she appears to be 2-3 days behind him so she’s still feeling pretty lousy. As a result…she skipped choir yesterday (he was still in Covid jail so was gonna skip anyway) and just did the TV mass instead. She’ll do her Mastersingers rehearsal this evening via Zoom and they’re mostly going to stay home until they feel better. It’s still undetermined whether she’s got an ear infection as well or if that’s just part of her Covid symptoms although it’s not generally one of them but with her eustachian tube issues maybe the blockage of them by the congestion is causing the pain…he’ll take her to the urgent care clinic if she wants but she hasn’t decided to go yet.

In other news…after about 50 years of being eligible…Neil finally got summoned for jury duty today…he’s due to report April 3 for 1 day or 1 trial whichever takes longer…I’ll make sure he takes notes to blog about later.

Other than that …not much is new here. The pond out back continues to get lower as we are in the dry season…it’s probably 2.5 to 3 feet lower than it was after the rainy season and storm seasons were over.

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Medical | 1 Comment

I Finally Got Him To Do His Job

…that would be processing the photos from their visit to the Venice Rookery back on Feb 2…but in his defense he has been sorta busy with Connie’s surgery prey, surgery, ER visit, hospitalizations, and assorted goings on ‘bout all of that so I’ll cut him a break.

Speaking of Connie…she’s continuing to improve…albeit not as fast as she would like it. She’s still sore some and taking her antibiotics and Tylenol for the soreness and she’s getting tired of hurting. From the outside though…Neil can easily see the day to day improvement…so this is good. She’s got follow up appointments with both her primary care doctor and surgeon early next week so should be released to drive and full activity to do as much as she’s comfortable with then…and full recovery expected in another 3-4 weeks back to normal. That’s good because Neil needs to make the plane reservations for their trip to the UK in the summer…I haven’t talked much about that yet because he was waiting until we are sure that the surgery had no complications and recovery was progressing nicely…but he needs to get the tickets by the first week in March to make the tour people happy.

As sort of an adjunct to her work in the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers…she’s signed up with a tour to London headed up by the fellow who used to direct the Mastersingers. They’ll sing 2 concerts in London including one with John Rutter in Bath Abbe who’s a big deal in the international chorus world and a second one in St. Pauls in London. The tour along with rehearsals and some touristy stuff takes about 10 days and then they’ll spend another almost 2 weeks touring up in the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales districts…if you’ve watched the BBC series “All Creatures Great and Small” it’s set in and filmed in those areas with all the cool stone arch bridges and narrow roads. Both are among the most popular of UK vacation destinations and while we’l see some wildlife there it’s mostly landscapes, buildings and the like…but Neil’s good with that from a photo standpoint. They had originally talked about doing Scotland in addition and then about doing Wales in addition instead of Scotland…Connie especially wanted the two districts and either Scotland or Wales would have extended the trip longer than they wanted for their first international trip in awhile and also turned it more into a vacation speed thing…so instead they’re spending 4 or 5 days in each district to do things more leisurely and then a couple days in Oxford to see some of the sights there.

They did have Date Nite on Tuesday after choir practice…she was amazed that after the hour singing she actually felt better than when she started so they went to Applebee’s down the road…they’ve got a nice outside bar and the food there is actually pretty good. Our bartender was terrible though…surly and screwed up both cocktail and wine orders so her tip properly reflected her performance. They had sat at a high top with a waitress the last time and she was excellent…and had not seen this bartender before so hopefully it’s just her and not a trend.

Ok…on to our photo trip early in the month…but before that a little sad news to report.

As you know…we’ve been following the eagles locally at their nest for years…first with Ozzie and his mate Harriet and then after Ozzie was killed her mating with M15 and raising several subsequent sets of eaglets. As of today…their current brood of 2 is about 50 days old, but Harriet flew off 2 weeks ago today hunting and has not returned to the nest. She hasn’t been seen and no reports of finding her body have been made…but a mother eagle being gone for that long means she’s not returning. She was at least 25 years old and either had an accident or medical issue or fight that killed her it looks like. M15 is doing so far a great job of still providing for his offspring…he’s been joined by another eagle number R23-3 for rogue eagle, third one of 2023. It is not sexually mature yet and since M15 has accepted it to his nest site the eagle folk believe it’s one of his earlier female offspring. At this point…it’s stealing food that M15 brings to the nest and he is allowing it although the eaglets are now big enough that they’re taking pieces of the food from her despite warnings not to do so from her. She’s not old enough to mate and it is likely that M15 will re-mate once this nesting season is over…but whether he and his new mate continue to use this nest is unknown…but if not it is likely that another eagle pair will take possession of the nest next fall. Here’s a screen shot of the eaglets and M15 Neil got yesterday…as you can see they’re almost as big as he is and should fledge in the next month or so. It seems really strange that M15 hasn’t driven R23-3 off…but maybe he’s too busy getting enough food to the nest for himself and the two eaglets so is prioritizing that over defending the nest…or maybe she is helping keep predators and other eagles from the nest as well.

No one has reported any sign of Harriet…so the likelihood of her passing is getting pretty close to 100% at the point…but it is strange that no trace of her has been found…but since eagles can hunt up to a dozen miles or more from the nest that’s a pretty big area to look in and a lot of it is pastureland or otherwise undeveloped. She could have had an accident that rendered her unable to fly but if so she’s likely close to starving to death at this point…but there’s zero information on what might have happened. Eagles mate for life and she is a mother…so obviously something catastrophic happened to keep her from the nest…and so far M15 seems to be defying the odds in successfully raising the eaglets alone…luckily they were old enough when she disappeared that he could safely leave them unattended while he hunts and then again perhaps R23-3 is helping keep them safe as well. I will let you know if any further info on her comes up.

Eaglets

They got up early on Feb 2 and headed for the Venice Rookery. This is strangely enough located pretty much in the middle of downtown Venice…it’s a pond with an island in the middle so the nesting areas are safe from predators…we’ve always been amazed both at how many birds nest there as well as that they would nest in such a crowded urban location. The goal is to get there right at sunrise…which they accomplished…then Neil put the bird lens on the tripod and did his thing while Connie walked around the pond taking shots both of the general environmental sort and some closeups as they presented themselves.

Great Blue Heron with an Anhinga in the background and a Great Egret barely visible on the other side of the island…the pond is. About 300 yards across and the island maybe 30 or 40 yards in diameter.

20230202 VenRook Z9 8761 NEF

Great Blue and Great Egret disagreeing over landing rights.

20230202 VenRook Z9 8769 NEF

Great Egret in breeding plumage…they’re really a white bird but at that hour with the sun just barely over the horizon they end up looking more orange due to the light.

20230202 VenRook Z9 8881 NEF

Great Blue Heron family and chicks…mom and dad are having a little PDA here.

20230202 VenRook Z9 8932 NEF

Dang those chicks are ugly at this age.

20230202 VenRook Z9 8983 NEF

Great Egret coming in for a landing.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9038 NEF

Green Heron.This first one was down in the water fishing and Connie got a better picture than he did…he was too close to the bird and looking right down on it with too much lens installed while she was a little over on the side for a better angle.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4374 NEF

This is actually the same individual but he flew over their heads and was up in the sun. The shot above she had the sun at her back and the bird flew about 20 feet towards them an over their heads and about 20 feet to the right based on the picture above. This is a nice illustration of what us photographers call Golden Hour because of the character of the light.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9070 NEF

Male Anhinga.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9120 NEF

Black Crowned Night Heron…again in mating plumage which for him is just the couple of white feathers extending backward behind his head. He flew around a bit and Neil got a couple of shots before he landed.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4406 NEF

20230202 VenRook Z50 4418 NEF

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Incoming Great Egret.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9232 NEF

And he landed with some unhappiness by the Anhinga in the background.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9256 NEF

Another Great Blue brining in some nesting material.

20230202 VenRook Z9 9342 NEF

Meanwhile…Connie was on her walkabout and came back to show Neil this Red Winged Blackbird she had snapped…while he really liked it he did ask her to find him one with a better looking perch than a chain link fence.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4247 NEF

She also got this Mockingbird.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4270 NEF

And some very strange looking birdhouses ‘round the far side of the pond.

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Cattail.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4279 NEF

Moorhen.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4289 NEF

I told you the island was crowded…this is probably about 10% of the total island mass and the entire thing is this full of birds.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4433 NEF

Then the Black Crowned took off on another circle around the pond but landed on the other side afterwards.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4463 NEF

Great Egret breeding plumage again…but different individual.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4500 NEF

Male Anhinga bringing in some nesting material for his mate.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4528 NEF

Really excellent flight shot Connie got of one of the Great Egrets…caught the pose just perfectly for feather and wing detail.

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Black Bellied Whistling Ducks…Connie caught this flock of them as they went by.

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She was kinda smug when he brought him this second Red Winged Blackbird…said how is this for a better perch? He agreed that it was quite excellent.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4608 NEF

And finally…another male Anhinga drying his wings out after fishing…we saw a bunch of males but no females, guess they were all brooding eggs or babies I guess, and none were on the side of the island towards us.

20230202 VenRook Z50 4625 NEF

By this time they were getting a bit tired from standing…gotta bring beach chairs next time I guess…so they headed home.

Interesting things found on the net.

TRexAndiPhone

WelcomeToHooters

FrankAndFido

TreeHatesNeighbors

Polkageists

This kid understands politicians very well at an early age.

KidParkingBike

HusbandLecture

CatWillItBounce

RomanticMovies

And finally…words of wisdom from Confucius.

SolutionsWithoutViolence

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Medical, Nature, Photography, Travel, WIldlife | Leave a comment

It’s Like Deja Vu All Over Again

Yeah…I know that Yogi said it first…but it works here so Ima borrowing the phrase from him.

After our almost 12 hour overnight stretch in the ER Connie was admitted again and made it to a room shortly before Neil got to the hospital to visit about 0900 or so on Friday…and the surgeon decided to keep her at least overnight for some IV antibiotics…they put her on a broad spectrum one to kill whatever bugs were in her system.

Saturday morning her white blood cell count was back down to normal, no fever, and the surgeon stopped by about 0900…he told her that he was going to discharge her with oral antibiotics. They finally made it out of the hospital a bit after 1400…the hospitalist said that he and only he could discharge her and the surgeon didn’t have anything to do with that step…sort of a who’s is bigger pissing contest between the doctors I guess…but I digress. 

Just after we left the hospital we got the notification from Walgreens that her oral antibiotics…Augmentin which doesn’t tear up her stomach nearly as much as some of the others…was ready so we picked that up along with both of their cholesterol drug refills on the way home…and she’s happy to be resting in her recliner…again.

Hopefully it will stick this time…but with 10 days of antibiotics that should make sure that whatever it was is gone. She’s already got her post op appointment setup with the surgeon and her PCM wanted to have an appointment with them as well…Neil’s already got his annual scheduled and since Connie can’t drive yet they scheduled hers at the same time as his so only one trip over there will be needed that day.

Still havne’t gotten him to do the images for me…but in his defense he has been sorta busy…so I’ll cut him some slack I reckon.

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Medical | 5 Comments

And I spoke too soon…

And I spoke too soon…

Well, not about the surgical success…that is still valid. 

But after getting home from the hospital about 1900 Wednesday night…Connie’s fever spiked to 101.6 in the late afternoon Thursday and per instructions from the surgeon we called them for direction. They said to go to the ER. So Neil finished cooking the potatoes he was going to mash for dinner and put them in the fridge along with the steak and we got to the ER about 1700. Got taken back to the Overflow in the hall seating/treatment area about 1030 and they had ordered a CAT scan. She had some blood work done before that and her white cell count was 15. Normal is max 10 and it was 12 before she was released and 15 a day later…that means some sort of infection. She had to drink another 28 ounces of contrast and wait 2 hours for the scan…which happened about 0130. The scan showed nothing abnormal and the Anastomosis which is the place where they sew/staple/glue your colon back to the discharge orifice after they remove the broke piece wasn’t leaking. Still though…the surgeon said that bowel surgery is…messy is the word he used…even with the prep the inside still has bacteria and some of that leads out during the surgery…so obviously she had a post op infection. The ER doc said it was minor as did the radiologist and the surgeon had her admitted and started on IV antibiotics. At that point…it was about 0300 and they told her that she likely would stay in the holding room in the ER until the morning shift came in to move her to a room…so Neil headed home and slept in the recliner dressed for about 2.75 hours before getting up, getting the house ready for today’s maid service cleaning, and headed back to the hospital. She dozed a bit in the ER and was moved to the room by the time he got there. 

But both of them were pretty toasted…took a nap in the afternoon and he came home about 1545, cooked the previously thawed steak and had part of it and some of the mashed taters for dinner. I think both of of them will have an early night of it…he’ll be up at 0600 or so for Bike Day and then head off to be with her again.

Cyas.  

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Surgical Success

Just a quick update…as I noted in my last post Connie needed surgery to remove a bad portion of her colon that causes her repeated bouts of diverticulitis. So after spending the weekend doing the bowel prep for it…a feat that makes the colonoscopy prep look tame…we arrived at the hospital at 0500 Monday morning for her 0700 surgery. She got checked in, pre-op’ed, and got some happy juice via her IV and headed for the OR with Neil adjourning to the waiting room. She was out of the OR about 1100 and in the “wake them up” room (it’s got some cool medical name but he never got told what it was) and then she was moved once she was awake (well, she actually might have appeared to be awake but that was just a trick) they moved her into the PACU or Post Anesthesia Care Unit. After she was in there a couple of hours they brought Neil back about 1300…he had gotten a call from the surgeon about 1100 with details of the successful and pretty much normal surgery results. After an hour or so in there…they needed the PACU spot for another patient but her room wasn’t ready yet so they moved her (thanks Kevin) over to the pre-op section again. While in there she got a dose of oxycontin to go along with her IV Tylenol and that was the only narcotics she had. Another hour or so later they moved her (thanks again Kevin) up to her room and Neil stayed with her until about 1800…by that time they were both falling asleep so she did so and he went home and did so.

Tuesday he went down, walked with her through the day, and came home about 1900 or so.

Wednesday they had her back on real food again…and finally about 1600 she accomplished her last remaining goal before she could be released…the repaired bowel needs to produce output as they say before you can leave. That milestone reached…they figured that she would probably get released Thursday AM…until about 1800 when the nurse with the surgeon on the phone with her said she could go home tonight…she said SOLD!!…and 90 minutes later we were on the road home.

So…60 hours after major surgery she’s up and about and actually feeling pretty well. They gave her a scrip for oxycontin if she needs it but she’s been taking just Tylenol so it’s unlikely she’ll take any of it. Best of all…she’s home and has her recliner and her bed and is back to eating our normal food with a few restrictions until she sees the surgeon again in a week or so.

Neil’s got a bunch of cool medical stuff he learned about the procedure she had and surgery and anesthesia over the past couple of days…but he’s too tired to tell me ‘bout ‘em right now and being a bear Ima not a mind reader so that part will have to wait.

He does have the first cut done on the 800 images they shot a week and a half ago up at the Venice Rookery…deleted about half of them as being bad shots (pretty normal), and of the remaining 350 or so he picked the 100 or so blog candidates. He need to go through them again and whittle them down to 15 or 20 before doing the post processing for the blog…but between all the surgery prep and hospital visiting time just hasn’t gotten it done yet. But there’s hope now that she’s home and I’ll keep after him to finish up so I can put ‘em up for ya.

So…no pictures tonight…but just a couple of…you guessed it.

Interesting things found on the net.

You’ve probably heard about these large cats called Black Panthers…but they’re actually just regular cats (leopards, jaguars mostly) that happen to be black…but if you get real close you can still see the spots in them. Here’s a shot that looks like a leopard and it’s shadow…but in actuality it’s just a female leopard and her black panther (which is really just a leopard in disguise) mate.

BlackPanther

Ima just wondering’…how do you sample this?

HowDoYouSampleThis

And in celebration of Groundhog Day a week or so back…

HappyGroundhogDay

HearYourHeart

GlassOfWine

CastleThenMoat

Cyas.

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