Gone to the birds!

I’ve never been much of a birder. It’s not that I don’t like birds, it’s just that I’m more fascinated with other creatures like muskrats, raccoons, and bears. But since I’ve moved to Florida, I’ve become more interested in our avian wildlife. And some species in particular. Like the roseate spoonbills, snowy egrets and white pelicans.

There are several great places to watch and photograph all kinds of birds including the pond right down the street from where I live. Winter means it’s mating season and the opportunity to see baby birds. I don’t have the longest lens so I know not to expect to capture fabulous photos. But the more I do this, the more addicted I become! It’s been fun watching and learning all about these magnificent animals. Who knows? Maybe I will become a bird photographer!

snowy egrets mating season

Snowy egrets preparing the nest.

Blue heron family

Blue herons and their babies.

white pelicans Ding Darling

White pelicans at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

white pelican swimming

White pelican swimming at Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

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Burrow owl in southwest Florida.

juvenile bald eagles

Juvenile bald eagles - 11 weeks old.

bald eagle nest

Momma brings home lunch.

bald eagle juveniles and mom

Juvenile bald eagle learning how to fly while her siblings and mom look on.

Is it spring?

Life so far in the sunshine state has been fantastic! Who can complain about warm weather, abundant sunshine and frequent visits to the beach? Before I moved to Florida, I was told I would miss experiencing the 4 seasons. Since I’ve lived in Pennsylvania pretty much my whole life, I had no opinion and couldn’t agree or disagree. Now that it’s been six months and 2 seasons since my move, I can attest I now understand why people split time living south in the winter and north in the summer.

Most Floridians will tell you we have 2 seasons. I thought they meant spring and summer! But it turns out, it’s the wet and dry season. Others might say it’s tourist season and non-tourist season. But one thing is for sure, the arrival of spring isn’t quite the same in the south as it is up north. And honestly, while I didn’t miss a cold snowy winter, I do miss all the signs of spring’s arrival.

It was always exciting to see the grass come to life and turn from brown to green. I looked forward to listening to the sounds of the robins as they migrated back north. The pops of color as the crocuses and snowdrops peeked through the snow was a welcome sight. And if I could shed my winter coat, even for an afternoon, it was a great day! There’s just something magical about the earth coming alive again after being dormant for months.

Here in Florida, the grass has been green ever since we arrived in August and I don’t see any signs of that changing. We see birds every day on our walks, so there is no reminder that the wildlife has hunkered down or fled from the cold winter weather. After spending days, weeks and months cooped up indoors, it’s always a treat when we can spend some time outdoors once again without the fear of suffering from frostbite. But in Florida, with the warmer weather, it’s nice every once in a while to have a cool rainy day. Just so I can a spend an afternoon curled up on the couch with a good book or binge watch some of my favorite movies.

Do I miss the 4 seasons? Yes, without a doubt. I just wish our summers up north were longer and the winters shorter. Perhaps one day, I, too, will join the millions of folks who have become a snowbird.

Thanks for reading!
xoxo

 
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terrier mix in field of spring flowers

Florida recap - Week 5

It’s been a few weeks since I posted an update on how things are going here in southwest Florida. I guess that’s a good thing since it means I’ve been busy! And having fun!

I have one more week left before I head back north and I have to admit, it’s going to be hard to leave. I cannot get enough of the sun, which I know has been lacking in PA this winter – what’s new, right? But I am also looking forward to some snow as I do miss taking my dogs out for a romp in the white stuff and watching them run and play. Hopefully Mother Nature will save one more storm for me!

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve done a ton of location scouting and found some great places for photo shoots. I’ve photographed on Sanibel Island, Venice Beach, and Ft Myers. I have some more locations to check out before I go, but I feel that I’ve got a pretty good lay of the land in this part of the state.

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If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I updated my website. It has a completely new look - I’m really happy with how it turned out. I’ve worked on my SEO as well, so I should start showing up in google searches both in central PA and southwest FL.  In fact, the photo shoot I did in Ft Myers was because of a google search. I can’t wait to share photos from that session – I am so impressed with the young woman who contacted me and absolutely adored her 2 fur-kids!

I’ve also enrolled in PPA’s (Professional Photographers of America) business challenge. This started the first week of Feb and will continue with weekly assignments for the next 12 months.  I’m really excited about this as it is geared toward working entirely on the business side of things.

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Offering photo albums to my clients has been on my list of things to do for a while and I finally ordered a sample. My book arrived just yesterday and I love it! Perfect for my clients who want all of the images from their session or would like something for their coffee table. The quality of the album is amazing! I’ll post photos soon!

Lastly, I attended a talk from a local southwest FL photographer Clyde Butcher. He shoots landscapes and is currently doing a show featuring his National Parks images. His wife and daughter were also there for the evening and I found the family to be very delightful and down to earth. If you have not heard of Clyde, check him out. He has a fantastic instagram account and has been called the next Ansel Adams by popular photography. He has a studio in Venice, which I also visited. This is where he does all of his printing and the darkroom is on display for his visitors to see. Who said film is dead?

It’s been a busy 5 weeks and while I’ve accomplished so much, there are a few things left to do. A few more sunsets to watch, walks with the dogs on the beach, photos to take in the Florida landscape and books to finish reading. Thanks for following along with me on this journey!

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Location scouting - Venice FL

Voted as a top 10 Happiest Seaside Towns by Coastal Living, Venice Florida has a huge snowbird population. I've always enjoyed my visits to this cute little town. With a quaint downtown shopping district, there is something for everyone. I've found souvenirs, birthday presents, home decor and clothing at the various boutique shops. I've had delicious meals at the restaurants and dessert at one of the several gelato, ice cream and candy shops. 

We've taken our girls to the Brohard Paw Park which is one of a few public beaches that allow dogs. I've walked the beach and watched sunsets from the Venice Fishing Pier. We even looked to purchase a rental home a couple of years ago in hopes that one day we would retire and move to the area. With Sarasota just a short drive away, there is lots to do within a short distance. As Sarasota continues to grow, projections are that Venice will experience some growth in the next few years. Which is exciting. 

Recently, there was an Arts and Craft Show that we checked out. Saw some great art, had some good food and meet lots of great folks. It's so nice being able to go to craft festivals in the winter months!

Over the weekend, I went back to Venice and spent some time exploring more, looking for parks and locations that would make great backdrops for photos. I discovered the Legacy Trail and wished I had brought my bike down with me. This looks like a fun way to spend an afternoon! The Venice Train Depot also caught my attention and since we had the dogs with me and no bikes, I set up my camera gear and took some photos. I love the pop of red against the deep blue sky! 

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If you're in the Southwest Florida area and would like to get photos of your pups, give me a call! I'll be in the area until the end of the month, so don't wait! 

Location scouting - Boca Grande

One of my favorite places to visit in Southwest FL is Boca Grande. This cute little island located not too far from Fort Myers and Sanibel islands is quiet, quaint and serene. To get there, you have to cross one of 3 bridges which includes paying a toll. With well-kept homes, tropical greenery and beautiful beaches, it's well worth a visit. There is a commercial shopping area with boutique shops, art galleries and restaurants. I love cooling off on a hot day with an ice cream cone from the Loose Caboose ice cream shop! 

Boca Grande also houses a spectacular golf course that overlooks the water and a 6.5 mile bike path. You can rent bikes and ride the trail, something I highly recommend doing. Most of the folks who live here get around on golf carts. There is also no shortage of dogs to meet and mingle with!

Over the weekend, I took my girls over to find some great spots for photos. I did grab a few shots in front of one of the lighthouses on the island. I have some more exploring to do and that's ok with me as I never tire of visiting here. 

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