Relaxed Poses for Sue’s Challenge.

This week, Sue’s Word a Week Challenge is Pose, and she’s posted some wonderful pics from her trip to Africa.

Here are a few favourite subjects that have unwittingly posed for my camera.

The Lion with its huge mane and majestic appearance, has to be the indisputable King of Beasts.

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The gorgeous Cheetah can run faster than any other land animal, and has the ability to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in just three seconds. This one was just relaxing at the side of the road as we stopped to admire her.

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The exotic Toucan is famous for its brightly coloured bill. It always makes me smile to see nature’s proudest and most impressive schnoz which is about 30- 40% of its total body area. Aren’t you glad that your nose isn’t that huge? 🙂

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This beautiful Eagle Owl was a most inscrutable poser ever. Couldn’t get him to smile for the camera at all.

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The birds are flocking down to spend the winter in Florida. Here you see the Wood Stork posing with his good friend Snowy.

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The Great Egret is always stalking around in my back yard.

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I really think that animals and birds are such great subjects to photograph, because even if they don’t smile and haven’t done their hair and makeup, they always look perfect.

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To see more entries for Sue’s photo challenge, just click here.

 

 

 

 

Monday Bird Blues for Ed’s challenge

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge, is ‘Blue’. He asks us to find something other that blue sea and blue sky, so I decided that the Great Blue Heron, the ‘King of the Pond’, would be quite a fitting subject. He’s almost always there when I look out, and has a few different guises, depending on his mood.

He can look sleek and very regal.

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Sometimes he’s all fluffed up and looking very intense as he eyes his prey.

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“Oh dear, I  just lost a feather; must be the stressful life I lead.”

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Here, he seems to have somehow mislaid his long neck, and looks very grumpy about it.

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He can also look as pleased as punch when he’s just caught the ideal-sized piece of sushi.

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Which of his looks do you like the most?

To see more blue posts, or to participate in Ed’s challenge,  just click here.

Relaxing at Wakodahatchee Wetlands……a feast for the eyes.

A couple of days ago, we took some time off from the painting and decorating at home, and spent a relaxing couple of hours at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands nature reserve, just a couple of miles up the road.

One of the first sights we came upon was a tree absolutely crowded with roosting Double-Crested Cormorants.

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It was a very warm sunny day, and this Anhinga was really amusing to watch, as it panted to keep itself cool.

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A little further along, we saw another, drying its wings in the sun.

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The White Ibis was foraging around in the reeds for snacks,

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as was the Great Egret.

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This Reddish Egret seemed to have a lot to say for himself.

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We caught a glimpse of shocking pink, and it was non other than a gorgeous Roseate Spoonbill.

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The Tri-coloured Heron was in the middle of a preening session.

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If I could do this, I could scratch my own back. What a contortionist! 🙂

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Finally, he was ready for his photo shoot.

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This pair of Mottled Ducks were just hanging out,

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whilst the Common Gallinule was having a swim party with the kids.

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The real highlight was spotting a huge Alligator, having an afternoon siesta. We trod very softly across the bridge, as we didn’t want to wake him.

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Little did he know, but only a couple of metres away, there was a fat tasty morsel just waiting to be snapped up.

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As we were nearing the end of our walk, we saw a Painted Turtle. I read up about it, and was amazed to find that these turtles have been around for 15 million years. It just goes to show that it’s possible to survive for a very long time if you have a hard shell, and can relax like this.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed our nature walk together.  Have a great weekend.

This post is in answer to Ailsa’s Travel Theme, Relaxing. To see more entries, just click on the link.

Sunday Stills: My Backyardigan Birds

Ed’s Sunday Stllls Challenge this week, Is ‘Birds’, and I currently have such a lot of bird pics which I’ve taken at nature reserves close by, but I’ll save those for another post, and just show you the regulars in my back yard.

When we got back to Florida a month ago, Mr Great Blue Heron was the only bird around here, and had the place to himself. Here you see him surveying his territory.

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It wasn’t long before his friend the Great Egret arrived back from his summer holidays up north, and started searching around the foliage for a few tasty tidbits.

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He didn’t find anything worthwhile in our garden, so decided to try next door where there are more hiding places for frogs and lizards.

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A not too frequent, but very welcome visitor, is this Wood Stork, who was just strutting over to start up a conversation with Mr Mottled Duck.

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Suddenly out of nowhere, Mrs Duck arrived to tell hubby it was time to leave, and off they went, sailing across the water.

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The other evening, a Common Gallinule was perched on the roof of our neighbours’ verandah. He was sitting so straight and still that he could have been mistaken for a weather vane.

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Today, as I was typing this post, a merry band of Snowys arrived to try their luck in the neighbours shrubs. I had to sneak this pic through the window, as they are very timid. Maybe that’s why they tend to go around in groups…….. safety in numbers.

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I’m not very good at photographing birds in flight, but I did manage to catch the Great Blue last night as it flew off across the water.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my back yard birds. To see more entries for Ed’s photo challenge, just click here.

Captivating birds for Jake’s theme

Some of you may have noticed that I seem to find the water birds outside my window really captivating, and I must admit, that I spend a good bit of my day, and my blogging time, watching them. I’m sure you’ll forgive me. 🙂

This year we don’t seem to have as many as there were last winter, but there are always the faithful few. The Great White Egret is a regular visitor to our bit of garden, and this morning, I saw him out of the bedroom window, standing like a statue, staring into the distance.

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Great white egret

As he disappeared behind the tree, I caught a shot of his tail feathers.

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I always thought that unlike myself, birds never have a ‘bad hair day’, but yesterday, it was really windy, and his feathers were flying every which way. I was wondering whether I should swim across the lake and offer him some of my hair spray. 😀

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Another bird which is really captivating to watch, is the Anhinga, also called the Darter. When it sits looking across the water, it really sticks its neck out, and looks so funny, like a nosy neighbour.

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Anhinga

They can sit for hours, just drying their wings in the sunshine. It’s a very relaxed life here in Florida. 😉

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Anhinga

As some of my regular readers may have guessed by now, my favourite bird and the one which I find the most captivating, is Mr Great Blue Heron. Sometimes he looks really sleek and tall, like here.

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Great Blue Heron

At other times, he looks all hunched up and decidedly grumpy, probably because of the unusually cold and windy weather. It’s fascinating how different he can look; almost unrecognisable.

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Of course the sweet little ducks are always captivating, as they lazily float around, also doing nothing of any great importance.

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Florida ducks

If you’ve enjoyed my captivating birds, please go across to Jake’s Sunday Post to see his wonderfully captivating graphics. Maybe you too can join in the challenge.

The secret of longevity.

Tomorrow we will be up very early to leave for the airport at the crack of dawn. I’ve been madly packing today, and have almost done. My Mom-in-law says that she’ll really miss us, but she has so much to keep herself busy, and so many friends, that I’m sure she’ll get back into her normal routine in no time.

The Sunday lunch was really great, and we all had more than enough to eat, including my cheesecake which went down a treat.

Whilst we were busy eating and chatting, Luca was sitting watching out for rabbits. She did spot one, playing with the black cats, but when she made a dash for it, ‘Brer Rabbit’ disappeared into the bushes in a split second.

Much of the conversation was about plans for the upcoming 100th birthday celebration next year. It’s going to be a great weekend, with partying galore, and family attending from all over the world. Some of the bloggers have asked me what her secret to longevity is, as she’s so fit and active. Here she is after laying the lunch table on Sunday.

She told me that her secret is really no secret at all. She thinks it’s really important not to stress about things, and to show tolerance to other people’s views, ideas, and way of doing things. She fills her day with watching her favourite programmes on TV, whilst knitting hats, mittens and scarves for the ‘Shoebox appeal‘, which sends prettily covered shoeboxes, filled with useful goodies, to needy children in Romania. She also knits beautiful garments for herself, which she embroiders with flowers and beads.

She does the most amazing tapestries.

Whist and Scrabble competitions are high on her agenda, and she attends talks at the village hall, and concerts organised by the Women’s Institute, and the Friendly Club. She keeps up with the news, politics and the stock market, and never refuses an invitation, believing that life must be lived to the full. She has devised a little exercise programme for herself, which she does religiously every day, and goes for walks around the local playing fields when the weather is fine. She also walks over a mile to the shops and post office, carrying her two bags of shopping home with her. She told us, “I’ve been spotted doing this, and told off, but I just tell them that I have to keep myself fit.”  I think that this is absolutely amazing for someone of her great age.

Well, there you have it. The secret to a long life. Of course, the daily use of Oil of Olay, is credited with keeping the wrinkles at bay. Who knew? 🙂

Next time I post, it will be from my home by the lake in Florida. I’m looking forward to seeing my old friends again.

and especially………

I’m off to bed now. Chat again soon.

 

 

Packing to leave, beautiful birds and a flying lizard.

Hi again everyone. Yesterday we got out the suitcases which need to be packed for our return to South Africa on the 24th. I have very mixed feelings about leaving here. Undecided

On the one hand, I’m longing to see my family over there. I spoke to my Mom last night, and she’s ‘beyond excited’ at the thought of seeing me again. I’ve missed my sister a lot and also can’t wait to see our daughter and family at Easter. Then of course there’s our home which  is probably wondering where on earth its occupants have disappeared to. I guess I will be excited when our plane flies over the KZN coastline and I see the Indian Ocean twinkling way down there, signalling that we’re almost home again.

On the other side of the coin is the wonderful lifestyle we also have here in Florida, the fantastic friends we’ve made, and the very relaxed lifestyle we’ve become used to, not forgetting our house which we’ve almost finished furnishing and remodelling to our liking. I’ll  miss the lake view just outside our windows and the multitude of bird life which we find fascinating to watch as we sit having our meals. Yesterday we saw several large water birds up close.

Earlier in the day, this Anhinga was sitting drying its wings after a fishing expedition.



Then we spotted a Limpkin standing very statue-like at the water’s edge

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Suddenly, a Giant Blue Heron jetted past at great speed, and we almost missed getting the photo.



A white Egret stalked around, foraging for bugs in our neighbour’s jungle.



It was almost dark when I noticed this Cormorant trying his utmost to get a big fish down his gullet. Sorry the picture quality isn’t better, but you can clearly see that poor fish’s tail. Cry

He battled with it for quite a while, shaking his head this way and that and making weird gargling noises, but in the end he gave up, dropped it and flew away without his evening meal.

I’ve been trying to get a shot of the flying lizards we get here, and yesterday, I was successful.

Actually I’m just tricking you, as of course they can’t fly anymore than pigs can. Laughing  They loved to climb up the insect netting around our verandah, and from a certain angle it looked to me like they were flying up in the clouds. This was my last chance to capture this phenomenon, as later in the day the workmen arrived to take down the netting in preparation for enclosing the room with glass and patio doors to create an extra sitting room. I suppose Lizzy has now moved on to the house next door; I’ll miss him, as he’s been with us ever since we moved in.

I guess that every place has interesting things to do and see, and they do say that “a change is as good as a rest,” so I’ll look forward to renewing my acquaintance with our life in Durban soon and will find lots to blog about there too. Wink

Have a great day everyone. Chat again soon.