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.


Actual listing of a movie in the TV Guide listings.


This easter egg is found in a textbook.



Does a Royal Flush beat a pair?








690234 c12

And finally…



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
This entry was posted in Critters, Photography, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Strange Things and Photo Meetup

  1. Cat White says:

    Thank you. I’ve missed the Venice bird island and really enjoyed the photos.

    • Neil Laubenthal says:

      It was sort of dead compared to earlier in the nesting season…and overall for photos it’s a lot better in the morning as the nice light front lights the birds…in the afternoon the sun is the far side of the pond from the viewing and parking area so only the birds sort of shielded by the foliage are easily photographable. You can walk around the far side even in the afternoon…but there are fewer birds nesting on that side and it’s 2.5 times as far from the shore to the island so we didn’t bother going around…even with the long lenses we had the birds would have just been dots.


  2. thesimlux says:

    Fantastic captures! Thank you for sharing!!

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