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.
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.
The rarely seen Yellow Headed Connie in her bush hat and taking pictures.
A different male Cardinal.
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.
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.
Great Egret…less than 10 feet from the one above.
Another juvenile White Ibis.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gator…about 10 feet from the boardwalk…and a pretty big one at that.
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..
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.
Red Bellied Woodpecker.
Juvenile Yellow Crowned Night Heron.
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.
And her male counterpart along with a different female.
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.
Breeding plumage Great Egret.
A different breeding Little Blue Heron.
And finally…right as they left the boardwalk this Painted Bunting was sitting on the feeder by the Visitor Center.
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.
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.
Wonderful! I see the bird but it is nice to know their titles too. Thanks
We always try our best to identify them…but for some we need to wait unt