Sandhill Crane Courtship Dance

When you live in central Florida, you have a first row seat to some of the most amazing nature shows. One of my favorites is the highly entertaining mating dance of the sandhill crane, or what I refer to as the “Sandhill Crane Courtship Dance”. The birds often provide their own music (insert loud squawking noises) and the moves include ducking, bowing, jumping, running and some impressive outstretched wing movements. All of their choreography has a fluid, graceful quality that brings to mind Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and led me to name these two lovebirds, Fred and Ginger. The larger crane, I’m assuming is the male, has a distinct marking on its eye (shown in the last picture in this blog). Since sandhills mate for life, this is a love story worth celebrating.

To see all my sandhill crane photos, for sale on Fine Art America and Pixels, click HERE.

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I’ve created a slideshow of the latest sandhill dance. To see it, click HERE.

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Proud Sandhill

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The Antebellum Trail

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip through Georgia’s “Antebellum Trail”. For those who aren’t familiar, it is a driving route through an area of the south that escaped damage during the Civil War; think stately mansions, charming small towns and beautiful live oaks. You can read more details about it at The southern starting point is Macon, which just happens to be one of my favorite southern cities and home to the wonderful Cherry Blossom Festival. Since we have already visited Macon several times, we decided to begin our journey in Milledgeville. We arrived just in time (around 5pm) to enjoy a glass of wine and snacks (including homemade pimento cheese) at the Antebellum Inn Bed & Breakfast. We received a warm welcome, the room was adorable and the breakfast (french toast with pecans) was delicious. For dinner, we decided on Greek food and really enjoyed our meal on the patio of the Metropolis Cafe. The downtown area had quite a few restaurants to choose from and seemed to be “hopping” on this particular spring evening. To learn more about this quaint university town, check out their website: Milledgeville

The next day, we meandered our way through the other small towns, stopped in Madison to take a few pictures, and ended up in Athens for a quick bite and visit to The State Botanical Garden of Georgia. The pink poppies were simply amazing and very unexpected. It was like finding a treasure! Our lunch on the cozy porch of 5&10 was delightful and can only be described as “fancy southern food”. They served pimento cheese with a spicy jelly on top–so good! (At this point, I started calling it the Pimento Cheese Trail. Ha.)

Springtime is a great time to take the Antebellum Trail! Our trip was at the end of April, so we were a little late for cherry blossoms and azaleas, but the beautiful magnolias and pink poppies made up for it. The birder in me loved waking up to the sound of cardinals each morning and being serenaded by mockingbirds almost every evening. If you are planning a trip, I suggest at least 2-3 days. Make your reservations early if you want to stay in a B&B (really, that’s the best way to go and they are not that much more expensive than a hotel). We used TripAdvisor to find most of our restaurants. Cheers to a great trip!

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Childhood Memories

I recently purchased an awesome new bird feeder system and it has sparked memories of my childhood. It calls to mind my parents saying, “You can have a pet, but you will have to take care of it.” Maintaining feeders is actually a big responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. I know that with our hot weather and humidity here in Florida, the feeders will have to be cleaned regularly and water refreshed often. Thankfully, my husband has agreed to help me out (like my parents eventually did) and will maintain the feeders when I’m not at home. It’s fun to share this hobby and we feel good about helping out the birds.

One of my favorite games when I was a kid was Hide and Seek. That’s the game I now play with the birds at my feeder. Cardinals are especially skittish and will not land if I’m sitting too close or am out in the open. Yesterday, I “hid” in the shadow of a ligustrum tree and it worked perfectly. Two times, large birds (a red-shouldered hawk and a great blue heron) flew right over my head and seemed surprised when they saw me! I almost yelled out, “Gotcha!” I think, if you can fool a hawk, you’ve done pretty well (patting myself on the back).

Another fun game that we played as kids was Musical Chairs. Birds love it too! There is a popular branch in a distant live oak tree where mockingbirds and woodpeckers give regular concerts. I call this the “songbird perch”. Another branch, located directly over a pond, is perfect for the birds of prey and they literally knock each other off for this prime viewpoint. Remember being knocked to the floor when the music stopped? Birds are about that gentle…

It was a beautiful birding day in Florida yesterday.  I did have work to do, but decided to “play hooky” instead. I followed two sandhill cranes around the pond, talked to my hummingbird, counted birds, listened to birdsongs and when the sun started to set I remembered a most vivid childhood memory; I heard my Mom’s voice, “You can stay out until it gets dark.” Time to say good-bye to my friends. Sigh.

To see my Bird photographs on Pixels, click HERE.

These pictures represent one great birding day in Florida:

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(To go directly to my Miami photos, for sale on art prints, greeting cards and home decor products, click HERE.)

One week in Miami, in search of iguanas, orchids and alligators.  I found iguanas at the amazing Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, along with gorgeous lily ponds and an orchid garden! The informative docents offer an excellent tram ride around the gardens, explaining the history of the place and pointing out interesting plant facts. Start with the tour, then walk to the butterfly garden for lunch with the butterflies (the food is very good and the cafe overlooks the conservatory).  You will find huge iguanas around Center Lake, hidden among the mangroves, and many beautiful birds along the ponds.

In the heart of busy Miami Beach, there is a smaller botanical garden called  Miami Beach Botanical Garden. It can only be described as an oasis in the city with its quiet paths, a lily pond (where I enjoyed chasing dragonflies) and a lovely Japanese Garden, complete with red bridge. While there, I had a nice chat with one of the staff who explained that Hurricane Irma had done a lot of damage to the various gardens in the area and that hundreds of volunteers helped with cleanup. Just around the corner from this garden is the Holocaust Memorial.  If you have a chance, please stop and visit this beautiful, unforgettable tribute to those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.

Alligators were on the agenda for a day trip to Big Cypress Preserve. My husband and I drove east on HWY 41, to Big Cypress Welcome Center, taking our time along the way to stop at the various roadside parks (this is where you will find gators). My favorite stop was at Kirby Storter Roadside Park which has a lovely boardwalk meandering over  pinewood flatlands and a lovely cypress swamp. It’s fun to do a little research on swamp wildflowers, spiders and birds before you go, come up with a list and check them off as a kind of treasure hunt. I suggest you bring a picnic lunch (not many places to eat), extra water and bug spray. Heading back to Miami, we took the Scenic Loop Road, which I highly recommend, if  it is open.  At the moment, it is closed due to high waters, so check the website before you visit. It is a one-lane road through the “wilds” of the Everglades. I found it hauntingly beautiful and a great place to see wildlife. One of my favorite photos from the trip is of an “Audubon-like” scene of a Great Blue Heron hiding among the cypresses.

Other highlights from my week in Miami were: walking along Miami Beach boardwalk, eating lunch on Ocean Drive  (people watching is amazing there) and hanging out on Lincoln Street, a lovely pedestrian shopping area with great restaurants, well-known stores and a very cool bookstore called Books & Books. I saw several movies at the theater there, including Loving Vincent. I was so excited to see that it was playing and bought tickets before I arrived.  Very special.

A quick trip to Little Havana was very fun. I enjoyed taking photos of the colorful buildings, walked through the famous Maximo Gomez Park  and enjoyed yummy Cuban food (and probably the best mojito I’ve ever had), at La Esquina de la Fama.  I didn’t have time for Viscaya Museum and Gardens this time, but is an awesome place to visit, as is Biscayne National Park with its beautiful beach and lighthouse. So many things to do and see in Miami. One week is not enough time to see it all, but it is just enough time to have a lovely vacation.

To see my Miami photos, for sale on Pixels, click HERE.




Beach Theme

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My husband and I visited St Petersburg, Florida last weekend.  We are not your typical tourists.  While others are basking in the sunshine or frolicking in the surf, we go in search of nature – seashells, birds and shade.  We found respite and red dragonflies along the quiet ponds of Bradenton’s Botanical Park, got up-close-and-personal with owls, pelicans and herons at the famed Seabird Sanctuary, stopped for some yummy seafood at Crabby Bill’s and enjoyed the hijinks of egrets on Pass-a-Grille Pier.  All-in-all, a lovely trip. The Gulf waters were especially pretty, with bright blue sky and wispy clouds lending a lovely background to my pictures.

We were being “watched” at the botanical gardens.

To check out my Coastal artwork, click HERE.

Check out my Beach Theme Board on Pinterest.

Red Dragonfly on Reed


To go directly to my Savannah photos on Pixels/Fine Art America, click HERE.

I set out on my Savannah walk early Friday morning, my destination – Forsyth Park Fountain.  By now, I know the route pretty well and was eager to stop at the many squares along the way, and maybe sit on a bench or two.  As I stepped out of the hotel, something stopped me in my tracks.  I heard the loud singing of a mockingbird! Wahoo! Wherever I am and whatever I am doing, I stop to listen to a mockingbird.  And it was beautiful.  And I captured it on video. What a way to start the day!

Meandering my way through the streets, I decided to stop several times just to soak it all in.  I talked “shop” with another photographer and was asked several times to take photos of tourists with their iPhones (which turned into mini photo shoots).  I passed by giggling graduates from the Savannah School of Art and Design, a man on a bicycle blaring out, “I did it my way!”, found some treasures stashed in a hole in an oak tree (went along with the mockingbird theme, love the book) and thought several times to myself, “Phew, it sure is hot in April in Savannah!”  The magnolias, confederate jasmine and gardenias were so showy and beautiful.  It was like passing by someone wearing your favorite perfume, very unexpected and pleasant.  Very southern.

Forsyth Park Fountain just never disappoints.  Against a blue sky and the blooming magnolia trees it was as magnificent as ever.  As always, I wished for less people to get in the way of my photos, but as my new photographer friend said, “It just adds to the experience.”

To see my Savannah photos, for sale on, click HERE.

To listen to my serenading mockingbird on my YouTube channel, click HERE.

Richland Sandhill Cranes

So many Sandhills

Check out my Sandhill Crane photographs and artwork for sale on Fine Art America: Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes are highly entertaining birds.  They are sociable, noisy and have a bit of an attitude, which is exactly why I like photographing them. Recently, hundreds of migrating sandhills dropped into a field near Richland, Washington, and I was lucky enough to be there to observe them (thanks to my birding friend, Lynn, for the tip-off).  Oh, it seemed as if they had found the perfect location: a recently harvested farmer’s field with plenty of yummy grain, a lovely shallow pond for resting and all of this tucked into a secluded area, far from busy roads and people.  On this day, chaos abounded as birds flew in left and right, some were landing gracefully, others not so much.  Most meandered around the pond and fields with a sort of lackadaisical, no-rush rhythm. You wouldn’t have guessed they still had places to go and more migrating to do.  There was so much to see, over such a large area that at first I wasn’t sure where to focus.  But after a while, I honed in on a gang of “tough guys” – the ones making the most raucous.  I thought to myself, this is where the real story is – ruffians trying to make their way in the world.  It was just like a scene out of West Side Story and it was simply amazing to watch. Their songs weren’t accompanied by clicking fingers, and frankly weren’t all that melodious, but the drama was the same.  Their songs were more racket and cacophony.  Still, music to my ears.

Check out my YouTube Video: Richland Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Tough Guys

Check out my photos on  Sandhill Cranes Collection

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Check out the calls of the Sandhill Cranes in my video: Noisy, Flying Sandhill Cranes

Thank you for stopping by!

Purple Sage

Common Name:  Purple Sage

Latin Name:  Salvia dorrii

Purple Sage
Photos taken in Richland, Washington on May 6, 2014. Please feel free to make a copy of this collage to help you identify Purple Sage in the ‘wild’. If you are interested in buying this on canvas print or as a framed print, go to my Fine Art America page: Purple Sage Collage


Common Name:  Milkweed

Latin Name: Latin Name: Asclepias syriaca

Photos taken in Richland, Washington on June 6, 2014. Please feel free to make a copy of this collage to help you identify Common Milkweed in the ‘wild’. If you are interested in buying this on canvas print or as a framed print, go to my Fine Art America page: Milkweed Collage

Woolly-pod Locoweed

 Common Name:  Woolly-pod locoweed, Woolly-pod milkvetch, Pursh’s woolly pod

Latin Name:  Astragalus purshii

Woolly-pod Locoweed
Photos taken near Richland, Washington on April 25, 2014. Please feel free to make a copy of this collage to help you identify Woolly-pod Locoweed in the ‘wild’. If you are interested in buying this on canvas print or as a framed print, go to my Fine Art America page: Woolly-pod Locoweed