Before I get into that though…Ima gotta tellya that Ima gettin’ pretty darned unhappy with the ridiculous claims, counterclaims, lies, distortions, and completely BS claims of both sides far reaches of our political spectrum. From vaccines to masks to insurrections to peaceful protests to universal health care to rights guaranteed in the constitution to rights that were invented in the constitution to rights that are required to be unlimited to rights that can be reasonably limited to…and on and on and on.
It’s just a bunch of crap…both sides taking political shots at the other side and doing all of the above stuff to rile up people. Over the past couple of decades the fringes have continuously moved outwards to the outer fringes and despite being a significant minority in the country both sides fringe idiots…and that’s exactly what they are, idiots…have an increasingly large say in determination of the policies and nominees of both parties and an increasingly large portion of the people that are middle right to center to middle left have no real say in who gets nominated for election but all too often those folks in the middle-ish who actually determine who wins the election…there aren’t enough fringe people on either side to really matter overall…so we get to choose from between bad alternatives. Makes me think that Neil’s longstanding idea on elections has considerable merit. He says that in every election there should be the candidates and that “None of the above” should also be on the ballot…and if “None” wins then there must be a new election and none of the previous candidates can run. This would encourage bipartisanship and reaching out to voters in the middle and on both sides to elect people who actually believe in doing the job they were elected to do and run the country/state/city/whatever…instead of the current situation which essentially is that an elected official’s primary duty is to oppose whatever the other side wants.
Not going to list all the examples of sheer stupidity and hypocrisy today…ya’ll all know what they are. Connie thinks I bash the idiots too much here but much like our friend Randy Cassingham from
https://thisistrue.com I think I really roast the obliviots on both sides pretty much equally. Speaking of This is True…ya oughta go and check it out. It’s a free weekly newsletter that includes actual news stories from around the world rewritten in a humorous style to encourage people to think…he calls it thought provoking entertainment and social commentary…and if ya like it there’s also a premium version which is pretty cheap that includes no advertisements and twice as many stories. In fact…obliviots is a word he coined…it’s a combination of oblivious and idiot…and Randy is one of the earliest members of the internet related created economy we have today…he’s been publishing it since 1994 and has made a full time living from it since not too long after that. Check it out.
We had a pretty nice holiday…I guess. Connie tripped back before Christmas and bumped her noggin on the floor in the kitchen. No serious damage done and she was mostly fine but had a 1/4 inch or so long split in her scalp up under her bangs. Neil took her down to the urgent care clinic and they put a staple in it to hold it together…then a day or so later she come down with fever and headache. He took her back and they made sure she had not had a concussion and it turned out that she caught the flu from her previous visit to the same urgent care center…fever was too low and the symptoms came on too fast to be covid and we’re fully recovered, vaccinated, and boosted anyway…but he told her to isolate from people anyway until no fever for 24 hours. So there went Christmas Midnight (at 1600) Mass the day before which bummed her out since she really looks forward to the pre-Mass concert. And there went a planned trip up to Midlothian VA to see the human kids and Alex.
Instead…we stayed home and Neil cooked a chicken…smoked it spatchcock style and then put it on the grill to crispy up the skin…it was good. We did nothing the week between Xmas and New Years since she was feeling bad…low grade fever and lots of headaches are the primary symptoms of whatever flu is going around down here according to the docs. New Years Eve we watched Alabama beat Cincinnati in the playoff semifinal…then Neil did a ham for New Years and by early last week she was feeling better albeit really bummed out since we had been doing nothing.
So…Neil scheduled us a trip down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary last Thursday. Corkscrew is owned and operated by the National Audubon Society and is a 13,000ish acre wetlands/pine forest nature preserve down on the western edge of the Everglades. Home to all the usual suspects for SW Fl…gators, birdlife of all kinds, and other critters…it’s $100 for a yearly membership for 2. It’s located about 30 miles south of us and 20 or so miles east.
We figured it was a mite early in the year for most of the wading birds since the winter is the dry season down here and the water probably hadn’t really receded enough for the waders to be here…and as it turned out we were correct…but given our increasing unhappiness with doing nuttin’…it was still a worthwhile trip.
We got an 0800 reservation for our free admission…unlimited visits instead of $17/person/day…is included in the annual fee…sunrise is about 0730ish this time of the year and ya gotta be there early if you want to see the birds. It’s about a 2.6 mile hike around the boardwalk…the entire circuit is on a raised boardwalk since all of it is either underwater or marshy/wet for at least part of the year and some of it is wet year round. They’ve implemented some covid restrictions…reservations required and one way traffic on the boardwalk for the most part…but being outside and in the breeze no masks are required except in the buildings. As expected…on the clockwise one way path you start around the left side and that’s mostly the pine forest/plain/savannah sort of environment. Few birds there although we did find some very fresh raccoon tracks on the boardwalk where they climbed the posts and used it to move around. Once you get to the far end and turn around the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock portion of the essentially oval loop you’re into the swamp areas which are always wet…and sure enough…the water was still too high for most of the birds…we’ll make another trip down there next month sometime and expect to see many more. Despite the water though…we did get a few sightings and Ima gonna put some photos down below.
We got back to the visitor center about 1045 and headed home for the remainder of the day.
Let’s see…what else is going on. Nope, I got nuttin’ else for ya…you’re pretty much up to date…so let’s get into the photos from the other day…there are a few included that Neil got out back of the lanai on the pond. I’ll point those out when they come up but it’s probably not necessary as regular readers will recognize the pond. Oh yeah…Neil did buy himself a couple of camera things…a 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter in the Nikon Z mount continuing his transition to mirrorless cameras and also ordered a 100-400mm zoom lens but the latter is back ordered at the moment. Still…the two teleconverters came in handy on the trip the other day. He also bought himself a new noise reduction program…it uses AI to remove noise and enhance sharpness on photos…and is pretty much magic. It gets used early in the post processing process so the noise is gone before he starts adjusting color, exposure, crop and so on. So…on to pictures. These are a mix of shots from Neil’s Z7II and Connie’s Z50…she’s really happy to have a longer lens now so she can get some wildlife shots.
Oh yeah…I almost fergot…our local eagle couple Harriet and M15 have two new baby eaglets…E19 and E20. They were hatched on Dec 27 and 28 and are doing well…ya can follow their progress
here. This was taken on NYE…they’re getting bigger already.
Great Blue Heron and a male Anhinga out back
This little guy…again out back…is called a changeling. It’s actually a Little Blue Heron…which regular readers will recognize as usually being a dark blue bird with a red/purple neck and head area. However…that’s the adult version, juveniles are pure white and then they spend some time as a changeling before becoming adults. We’ve seen this one several times over the past month or so and either there’s more than one visiting the pond or he’s changing into adult plumage faster than we thought they did.
This is the pine savannah/forest/plain area on the left side of the boardwalk. Looking southwest here although the pine section vs the swamp section is a matter of elevation difference and not really anything to do with direction…the difference in elevation is only 3 or 4 feet but that makes all the difference in what grows and thrives there.
A section of the boardwalk in the swamp area.
Raccoon tracks…these were early in the circuit on the pine/sunny side.
These next two require a bit of ‘splainin. Much like the Rock Bears one sees up in Alaska, the Bush Moose up in Maine, and the Stump Birds that you see in the forest a lot…this is an example of what we call a Tree Owl.
Not an actual owl of course…or a bear or bird either for that matter…but out in the woods ya see a lot things that initially catch your eye as being something that on further review as they say turn out to be just conveniently shaped twigs or shadows or scars or fungi or whatever that calls to mind something…hence the aforementioned names. This is exactly the same shot twice…but the second one Neil did some Lightroom magic to highlight the Tree Owl. See if you can find it first though.
Yep, there on the tree…looks a lot like a Barred Owl which is either brownish or grayish depending and they perch on trees a lot so their coloration conveniently…for them but not so much for their prey…blends into the background of the tree. He’s highlighted the section…you can see the whitish area on the face with the darker beak in the midland the mottled body below that with the whitish underside of the tail feathers at the bottom. Fooled him for a few seconds as he pulled up the camera though.
Red Bellied Woodpecker from the back…this particular species has the black and white checked back and the bright red cape/cowl on the back of his head but not the front. It would have been called…probably…the Red Headed Woodpecker except that name was already taken for another species that has an entire red head like it was dunked in the paint can.
Woodpecker nest…we think.
Great Egret fishing.
Black Throated Blue Warbler…and yes…I know it’s neither black throated or blue…but this is the female which…just like the Red Wing Blackbird…is considerably less colorful than the male of the species. The boys need to be pretty to attract the ladies ya know.
Male Anhinga…the female has a brown neck and head but is otherwise similar.
Pileated Woodpecker…about twice the size of the Red Bellied above…you’ll recognize it as the namesake of Woody the Woodpecker cartoons from your younger days. There were actually a pair of these in the same area as another Red Bellied. Unfortunately…neither of them really came out into the open for a really great shot but these are better than average poses for them…they’re not all that common.
With the exception of the couple of ‘what it looks like’ shots at the beginning…the wildlife shots are pretty much in order as we went around, the squirrel and female warbler were up at the far end turnaround just before we headed into the swampy section of the boardwalk.
We were pretty tired by the time we got back…haven’t done much hiking for the past almost 2 years due to the covid and we really need to get out more and do cool stuff…and not the least because Neil will get me cool pictures to post. He’s scheduled already a trip back up to Black Point Wildlife Drive and Lake Apopka Drive for next month……and we’ll do a day trip to Venice Rookery and get back to Corkscrew as well…it’s mating/nesting season down here now and you get both a much higher concentration of wildlife as well as they’re all dressed in their finest mating plumage in order to impress the ladies…or guys in the female case.
Interesting things found on the net.
No one is immune I guess.
Just in case you ever want to be able to find the state of Kentucky on a map of the USA.
A few interesting map comparisons…
The US vs the size of India.
And compared to China…although at 1.5 billion they have over 4 times our 330 million population.
Everybody knows that Texas is pretty big…the largest state outside of Alaska but how does it compare to Africa?
And a couple example of why the founding fathers insisted that our country is a union of states and not one large company…just in case the name United States of America doesn’t give you a clue.
Fifty percent of the US population lives in the red shaded area. Notice that it’s heavily slanted towards densely populated urban coastal cities.
The orange area and the red area have equal population.
These last two maps illustrate why the Electoral College is a good idea…it keeps a relatively small area of the country from imposing whatever political will they have on the larger portion…it was the same idea back when the EC was invented by the founding fathers although for a different reason…back then they didn’t want the cities of NY and Boston to run the country despite what the more agricultural states with fewer people per square mile thought should happen. I’m not opposed to the idea that some folk don’t like the idea of the EC…what I am opposed to is attempts to end run around it because they don’t like how it works. There’s a way to get rid of it…way back when the aforementioned founding fathers included in the constitution a way to amend it as times change…but by design they made amending it really hard because they thought that any changes to the founding law of the land should require buy in from most of the population…hence the requirement that 2/3 of both houses of Congress approve it…that’s 67 Senators and 291 Representatives then it must be approved by 3/4 of the states…or 38 states. It’s supposed to be hard.
There go those silly mathematicians again…this week’s installment is something known as narcissistic numbers. That’s any number that is the sum of the cubes of it’s digits.
Now I understand the concept here and it’s not really surprising that some numbers exist such that this rule holds true…but it’s another in a long line of utterly useless trivia that those nerds come up with.
Ima still waitin’ on somebody to ‘splain to me just why all these numerical concepts exist. Some of them have uses but there are way too many that seemingly exist just to get the discoverer’s name out there or to impress the other nerds with what they figgered out.
And finally…since it is…er, was…the holidays ya know…