Tallahassee Trip Day 2: Part 2 – On Light, Refracted Natural and Bright Artifical


On our way home from Tallahassee it rained.  Poured.  Stormed.  Dad and I were in a gas station and BOOM! Lightning struck quite near us.  So, intelligently, we climbed into our metal box and drove away. Just kidding, we have rubber tires. 🙂

Anyhoo, while we were driving along we saw the faint traces of a rainbow forming near us. I started getting pictures.

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It started becoming quite prominent, and then turned into a double.  That in itself was cool, but then we


And the front, too, but that was behind us.  Depending on where you start from, I suppose.
It was so cool!!! We could see the start of the vibrant arch in the meridian, and pictures don’t do it justice.


Here’s the “front”.

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Later on I decided to experiment with lights at night from the car.  That was… interesting.

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That’s it for Tallahassee!  I think I’ll just throw a few pictures from Ohio on here, not do long sagas like this one.  So, until next time,


Tallahassee Trip: Day 2, Part 1 – St. Marks

This is my extremely overdue post on my second day in Tallahassee which was spent mainly at St. Marks National Wildlife Preserve.   Sorry about the delay, but I hope the pictures are worth it!

I loved the hills in the Panhandle of Florida!


Bagworms in the sunlight.


As soon as we got into St. Marks we stopped on a little bridge and looked for some birds. We found some!  My friend Gabriel says this is most likely a White-eyed Vireo.  My first one ever! (that I know of) Yay! We were pretty far away, and he was a small bird, so good luck finding him! 🙂

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Thorny vine-resembling plant. It was growing straight up from the ground with no support.  Anybody know what it is?


We then stopped at the visitor center and saw a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher in a tree! Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera on, but it was a great first bird to see!

We drove around for a while and found a trail to walk.  On it we saw this vibrant dragonfly which might be a Red Meadowhawk.  Anyone know for sure?


Big black bumblebees on large thistle-like flowers. (are they thistles? Anyone?)

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I am almost confident that this is a Halloween Pennant Dragonfly.


I liked this osprey flying overhead.  The original picture was quite bleached, but Picasa saved me! Now it looks artistic, don’t you think?


We saw crabs!

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These flowers were beautiful!

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Not pictured, 2 Belted Kingfishers. 😀
Since we had heard from the man at the visitor center that someone had reported a Pygmy Rattlesnake the day before, we left the tall grass and headed back to our car.

Surprisingly, our next find was a Great Egret in a dead tree in the middle of a pond/lake.  When we drove back past him many hours later, he was still there!  It was a bit odd, but pretty funny!


We went to another trail which was located behind the restrooms.  There we spotted this Great Crested Flycatcher.


And a Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

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This is a test of your eyesight.  Can you find the tiny bird? Mwahahahaha It might be a Titmouse or Chickadee… What do you think?


Another woodpecker, this time either a Hairy or Downy.


Back to Mr./Mrs. Flycatcher!

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Prairie Warbler!  Another first for me! (Warblers are hard to find, sorry if you can’t see him)

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Another first, a Mississippi Kite! Sorry the picture is so noisy, (photographer lingo for grainy) I had to crop this because he was so high in the sky.


When Dad and I first saw this bird we really hoped it was an Ovenbird, (we’ve never seen one) but it wasn’t.  It may be a juvenile Eastern Towhee, Gabriel thinks, but he’s not sure.

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Now this is definitely a Carolina Chickadee. 😀

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Our first Yellow Warblers of our life and day!  We’d see more later on in the day, but that might be in a later post.

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The Mississippi Kite circled back over us again.  They are a type of hawk, so he was most likely hunting.

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There were LOTS of Cardinals around.


That trail was full of mosquitoes, deerflies, horseflies, and yellow biting flies, so we left.

While we were driving along we saw an otter try to cross the road in front of us!  It ran back into the bushes when it saw us, so we stopped and backed up slowly to not frighten it.  We waited for about, I don’t know, 1 minute, and got tired of waiting.  So we started to drive away.  As we passed the place where we saw it go in, it darted across the street behind us!!!  The smart little fellow…  🙂

The next things we saw did not try to run (or fly) away from us.  Roseate Spoonbills!

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A little Snowy Egret and a Tri-Colored Heron.


Eventually we reached the end of the road which dumped us onto this little point with a lighthouse and lots of shorebirds!  Gabriel was kind enough to identify them for me, so here goes.

“2 Sandwich Terns and 3 Laughing Gulls (juvenile).”


Sorry about the blue thing in this next picture, I got the car’s mirror on accident.
“1 Ruddy Turnstone, 7 Willets (I believe), and 2 terns (possibly Least Terns; not in breeding plumage).”


Some type of Rail… maybe Clapper?  A very shy little guy.


I love this simple picture…


At first I thought that this was a Kildeer, but Gabriel corrected me that it is most likely a Semipalmated Plover. I consulted my field guide and think he’s right.
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This one has, “9 Ruddy Turnstones (they all have black coverts), 1 Piping Plover (it is the one with a black “collar”). There may be one Sanderling.”


This one is either a, “Laughing or Bonaparte’s Gull.”

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Eight Double-Crested Cormorants.


Cute little feller…


A Black-Bellied Plover, still in breeding plumage!!!  This was a first for me, and I had always wanted to see one!


Red-Winged Blackbirds with a female Grackle I think.

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The lighthouse.


A large flock of Black Skimmers flew by!

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About the time when I took the Cormorants picture, a weird bird flew past my dad and me.  We described it to some of the other birders there, and they said it was probably an Oystercatcher!  See the black-headed bird with the bright orange bill in the picture? That’s it!  I took this picture later, when we found him again.


“1 Marbled Godwit, 21 Willets, 7 Ruddy Turnstones, and a mystery tern (again, it might be a Least Tern).”


“1 American Oystercatcher, 1 Marbled Godwit (off to the right side; not in focus), 5 Ruddy Turnstones, 8 Willets, 14 mystery terns (they might be Least Terns).”


Some of the gulls and other various birds were lying on the sand.  I thought it looked kind of funny. 🙂


We saw the Roseates again.


We were happy with our successful day and thanking God for his glorious creation when we saw some cars pulled over ahead of us.  Usually that means that there is something to see, so we slowed down.  At the same time we saw the birds and chorused, “Kingbirds!”  We had never seen Eastern Kingbirds but had always wanted to. There was three that we saw, and boy were they amazing!


Haha, here I interrupt myself for a short minute, to ask if anyone knows what this bug is.  I know, I should stay on topic, but too bad!  Any ideas?


A nice huge grasshopper.


Back to the Kingbirds.

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A little Hairy (I think) showed up too.

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OK, I am not waiting for another post, here’s the second Yellow Warbler we saw!  What a stunning shade of yellow, right? Wow!

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Soon we decided we should start heading back home, so we reported back to the visitor center and recorded our finds. I bought a new field guide, (a Sibley one!) and a St. Marks t-shirt.  We left with happy hearts and full SD Cards. 🙂


My next and final post in this series will be of my nighttime experimentation while in the car and a great rainbow!


Tallahassee Trip: Day 1, Part 4 Wakulla State Forest Wildlife Management Area and Ducks!

After we left the Florida Caverns we drove through some small towns and I admired the artwork and found and interesting street name.

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The guy at the hotel had recommended Wakulla Springs for us to check out, so we did.  But it was really crowded so we left.  But on our way past the gatehouse, we saw one of those Golden Silk Orb Weaver Spiders under the roof.  I kinda want to but kinda don’t want to know what that yellow stuff is.


The welcome sign and Black-Eyed Susans. (I think)


So then we checked out Wakulla State Forest, which was completely empty except for us and lots of birds and bugs!!

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These are (this is a) Northern Parula(s).  They were everywhere!

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Eastern Kingbird, though we didn’t know it at the time.  We later saw them at St. Marks, but that’s another story. 🙂


This was my first Red-eyed Vireo!  I’m so happy!


Hairy or Downy Woodpecker


More Northern Parulas…

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The first Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher we would see on this trip.  What a cute little bird…

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More of the giant Orb-Weavers, but this one was flying!  Just kidding, that would be frightening.  His web was probably between those two branches.  I hope… :0


When I first saw these guys I thought that they were just, “same old, same old,” but Dad called out something I did not originally notice.  One of them is dead!


I don’t know how it happened or what will happen to her body now, but this one was definitely dead.


The victor was gorgeous…


Possibly a Yellow-rumped Warbler.


My first Carolina Chickadee in a long, long, time!  I was/am so happy!


A Garden Spider?


Another one, but it’s eating a Grasshopper!


Dad and I didn’t know the name of this flower, so we called it a taco flower, due to the shape of it’s “bud”.

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This guy was so cool-looking!  At about an inch and 1/2 long, with a bright red paint job, and moving drunkenly about the path, this guy drew our attention immediately.

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Another flying spider!!!


Another Orb-Weaver…


Not sure what kind of spider this is… Bri? (she’s my best friend who knows lots of bugs’ names)

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I found a Dandelion! I didn’t blow it out though, but left it for someone else.


This Garden Spider(?) crawled onto this branch… I watched him and told Dad.  We still don’t know why he went up there.

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I have a rather blurry picture of a mystery bird that Gabriel thinks was a Scarlet or Summer Tanager, but unfortunately WordPress won’t let me upload it.  Why, WordPress, why????

This one is either a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher or a Tufted Titmouse.


We saw a Towhee, then another, then heard another!  They formed a triangle around us which sounded beautiful!


While they were singing, a Northern Parula joined the party!


The Towhee up close…

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As we were driving along Dad kept thinking he was running over butterflies!  They would land on the road right in front of his tires, then fly away at the last second.  Eventually we got out and took some shots.  I Googled them and I think that they are Red-Spotted Purple Butterflies. 

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As we were driving away after this amazing day, I saw this street and thought of my friend Emily!


This was a fun play on “Anchors Away!”


I love birds, so…




This one sounds delicious…


Here’s some “Moore woods!”  Not like they’re everywhere already… 🙂


There was a cemetery on this road, which was appropriate…


Driving through downtown again.


Edit?  No, I didn’t edit this!  Just kidding, of course I did. I thought it looked cool.


Dad and I wanted to shoot the skyline of Tallahassee so we went to a small park.  Although we weren’t able to shoot the skyline, we did see some really cute baby ducks! Here’s one of the relatives of the ducklings.


I know a lot of people hate Muscovy Ducks, but I like them, they have an aura about them.

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The ducklings!!

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Scratching his head…


An older juvenile perhaps?


I love this shot. 🙂


I love the family element… 🙂

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There were Canadian Geese on the pond with them as well.


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Then, feeding time for the ducklings!


Fluffing up…

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I can’t get enough of the ducklings!!

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The Canadian Geese looked very regal as they “sailed” across the pond.

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I love the action shots of them eating.


The Canadian Geese came over and scared the ducks away.

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Then another brood came over…

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While walking near the fence, Mama Muscovy lost some of her babies to curiosity…

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And the first family was having problems too.

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Happily reunited, the ducks had a great rest of their evening, as did we.


At a stop sign Dad suggested that I take a picture of the beautiful flowers nearby.


At the intersection of Magnolia Drive and the road we were on I saw a beautiful towing hitch cover.

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That was the end of our first and last full day in Tallahassee, and we had had a great time.  The next day would be wonderful too, but that’s a story for another day.


Tallahassee Trip: Day 1, Part 3 (Spiders)


This was the first spider that Dad saw, the first of many to come.  I love the sun on the web…

The underside of the Bermuda Silk Spider – Nephila Clavipes – Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weaver – Giant Wood Spider.  I found a lot of names for it on Google. 🙂


Tiny butterfly the size of a half-dollar.


These I recently read are Gulf Fritillaries.  Check out the blog where I learned about them!

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I love this dragonfly shot!  The bokeh is quite pleasing.  (bokeh = blurry background)


Another Bermuda Silk Spider Nephila Clavipes – Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weaver – Giant Wood Spider.  But, do you see the smaller one above the large one?  In every single web they were there, so I started referring to them as the “henchmen” for the bigger spiders.  But then Dad realized that they were the males!  So, um, still sort of henchmen I suppose.  But I still cannot get over the cool pattern on the underside of these spiders!  So intricate!

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Then an Arrowshaped Micrathena, which is an awesome name if you realize that Athena from Greek mythology was a weaver, and is credited with transforming a young prideful girl named Arachne into the first spider, giving them their Latin name.  I won’t give the whole story here, but here’s the link to the full thing: Myth of Arachne.

Arrowshaped Micrathena
Arrowshaped Micrathena
Bermuda Silk Spider Nephila Clavipes - Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weavers - Giant Wood Spiders
Bermuda Silk Spider Nephila Clavipes – Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weavers – Giant Wood Spiders
Bermuda Silk Spider Nephila Clavipes - Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weavers - Giant Wood Spiders
Bermuda Silk Spider Nephila Clavipes – Banana Spider- Hurricane Spider- Golden Orb-Weavers – Giant Wood Spiders

In this fourish-foot-tall cave/tunnel (my dad is 6’3 for reference) I had a very mentally traumatizing experience.  Dad had gone around the cave/tunnel while I wanted to walk through it.  I was a little worried about snakes, so I ended up running through it with my eyes on the ground.  That turned out to be a bad idea, as I ran into a spiders’ web, activating their defense mechanism.  What?  You want to know what the defense mechanism was?  Fine, I’ll tell you.  They (about 3-4 very large spiders) started jumping around and spinning their web to scare me away.  I am not ashamed to say that it worked very well.  I ran out of there as best I could in such a small space with uneven ground.  I ran around the path and found Dad, where I recounted my tale of horror and calmed down a bit.  After a few minutes I could appreciate the humor of the situation but still was wary of what may lay ahead.


Thankfully, the next critter we saw was one who was a) more scared of us than we of him, b) harmless, c) one we saw in broad daylight.  A Five-Lined Skink!  I’ve previously posted about this little guy but these pictures turned out a lot better because I didn’t have the shadow from the screen on him and this guy was full grown while the other was a juvenile I think.

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Here’s the first of my mystery birds.  Again, a big thank you to Gabriel for identifying these for me.
This guy is probably a Cape May Warbler.


Here’s a leaf.  Not a hard thing to identify… 🙂  I just liked the sunlight on the leaf with the dark tree in the background.


We passed a beautiful Cypress grove.


A tiny brown Anole…


Dad pointed out another skink while I was shooting the anole.


We saw a sign in the middle of a small ravine that was pretty far away and I guessed that it might have been saying “entry prohibited”.  After a picture, we saw that I was right!  Who would have thunk?


I thought this was cool… The top of it was resting on another tree, so it hadn’t quite fallen over yet.


I haven’t done a Hearts In Nature post in a while, but I found one there!


As we were walking along we saw our 5th spider (not counting the ones in the cave) which was a Daddy Longlegs.  Dad tried to pick him up but dropped him.

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Take 2 worked and I was able to get a fun picture.


Spider #6 was a beauty…

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So that was really fun, and a bit frightening, but the day wasn’t over yet.  We’d see many more spiders, a giant red bug, and lots of birds!


Tallahassee Trip: Day 1, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the first day of my trip!  Today we explore the amazing Florida Caverns!

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During our guided tour through the Florida Caverns, my dad and I expected to hear that they were the result of “millions of years”.  But surprisingly, we didn’t!  Not once!  The guide said, “A long time ago.”  That is true, because that can mean 6,000 years ago.  And, I overheard him talking to a couple on the tour and said something to the effect of, “If you believe what the geologists say…” which makes me think that maybe he didn’t believe in what the evolutionists tell him.  So that was cool.

These specific caves were discovered by the CCC under FDR’s New Deal program, and the young men who found them nick-named the different “rooms” and rock formations.  I’ll include the names that I remember with the pictures I took of them.

I can’t remember this one’s name, but I thought all the stalactites were cool-looking.

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This one is the Wedding Room.  Can you tell why?  Our guide said that a couple did actually get married in there. 🙂



A tunnel that we did not crawl through…


These are perfectly natural stalactites… 🙂  Actually, in between the lights is a dinner plate that the original miners would use to reflect the small amount of light from their lantern into the large room around them.  Cool idea, right?

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Because of the darkness I was shooting at very low shutter speeds, resulting in lots of blur if I wasn’t careful.  I wasn’t careful here, but I like the effect it produced.


Our tour guide actually did have quite a distinctive southern accent to match the hat.

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There was one rock formation nick-named “Jabba the Hutt”, and it was either this or another one.  I’ll point out the other and you can decide which you think is most appropriate.

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This formation and others similar to it are formed of little tiny “micro-pools”.  They were very sparkly but I had a hard time capturing that with the settings I was at on my camera.

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Dad and I had some fun with the gaps between rooms.


I would insert his picture here, but WordPress’ media library won’t let me.  So, sometime later, in another post perhaps.

I thought of the Maze Runner when I saw this one… does anyone agree?

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This is the other formation that might have been “Jabba the Hutt”.  Which one do think works best?

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This was a column, (when a stalagmite and stalactite meet, they’re called a column) but something happened underneath this cavern’s floor and the floor shifted, resulting in a fracture.


These were called “curtains”.  Smaller ones are humorously called “cave bacon”. 🙂

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These were fuzzy, but not from mold or anything.  I should have asked why…

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The Winter Wonderland room I believe. Or maybe it was called that at one time but they changed it… I can’t remember.

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The red glow is not natural, it is from a spotlight.  There was a green one too.

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More micro pools.


I tried to capture the water droplets on the stalactites.  Our guide said that the water was actually very clean, and drinkable, so we were free to try and catch some in our mouths.  I was more worried about my camera, truthfully, but I did try to catch a drop.  I didn’t position myself properly and missed the drop, but Dad got a picture of me attempting it.  Let’s see if WordPress will let me upload it… Nope!  Oh well, it was cool.


We did see two little bats flying around, and I took a picture of the sign in the museum so I’d remember the name. 🙂  Eastern Pipistrelle Bat.


So that was my experience 63-64 feet underground!  Next time you’ll see the lush forests and giant spiders of the Florida Caverns national park!




I am still trying to go though all of my pictures, so I am going to stall for time by posting the last pictures I took in the sub-tropics, AKA the Friday before I left.  First was the Crepe Myrtle.

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Then a juvenile Mockingbird. (Or just a very unkempt one)


I played with the white balance on my camera…

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Back to the Mockingbird!


I wish I knew the names of the flowers I shoot…

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Or the dragonflies…


On our way to our hotel room in Tallahassee, we stopped at a gas station and Dad saw this awesome moth!  It was so huge!


That’s it for today, stay tuned for more!


Juvenile Cardinal Visitation

The other day my dad saw a Hairy Woodpecker on a tree in his front yard and decided to put up a bird feeder to encourage it to come back.  He hasn’t seen it again yet, but he has seen up to 7 Cardinals at a time!  In those 7 there is a family of Mom, Dad, and juvy.  I saw the whole family out the window and ran to get my camera, but by the time we opened the blinds all the way, only the juvy had stayed.  I got some fun pictures of him, and can’t wait to see him and his family again!

The pretty feeder by itself…


The black bar is the divider in the window… unfortunately unavoidable at the time.


Then he fluffed himself up!


The Mourning doves were very elegant, and I liked this picture especially.


Back to normal!


The struttin’ dove!


That’s all for that sighting, hopefully there’ll be more!


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