Saturday, April 30, 2011

Florida's Birding & PhotoFest

I'm currently attending classes at Florida's Birding and PhotoFest in St. Augustine, trying to take my photography to a higher level.  I'm suffering brain fatigue, for sure, but grateful for the incredible opportunity to learn from professional prographers like Arthur Morris, Greg Downing, Maxis Gamez, and Joe Brady

The photo above is one I took of a Great Egret posturing one evening at the Rookery within the Alligator Farm.  If you've never visited this incredible rookery, you must put it on your list of places to visit in the spring when the birds are mating and nesting.

Tomorrow will be my last day of classes and I'll start off in downtown St. Augustine at 6:15 a.m.  Can you imagine the beauty of the 'Old Town' at first light!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


You come across some lovely parts of the country when you get off the beaten path.  This picturesque area is along the St. Johns River in Astor, Florida.
And then there are the oddities such as this marker which sets next to the sidewalk at an I-75 rest stop.  I'm sure there's quite a story behind it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I was excited when I learned a subdivision on the west end of the island had erected two Osprey nesting platforms within their neighborhood park.  One platform was quickly claimed by a pair of these magnificent birds whose wing span can range from 4 - 6 feet!

The photo above was taken from my vehicle using my small Panasonic Lumix, but you can be sure I'll be back throughout the season with my Canon 40D, a telephoto lens, and a tripod!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

St. Michael's Cemetery

Every year I like to take advantage of tours in our historic St. Michael's Cemetery, located in the downtown area of Pensacola.  Last Saturday, April 9th, St. Michael's hosted a very special Free Day with sixty individual stations set up throughout the cemetery  for demonstrations of remote sensing; masonry, brick, metal fence, stone conservation; talks about prominent historical people buried in St. Michael's and epidemics through the centuries; Iconology and meanings; and even information about a botanical survey of St. Michael's Cemetery which mapped out over 450 species of wild grass and wildflowers. 

St. Michael's Cemetery was recently awarded a grant of over $100,000 from IMPACT 100 (please click on the highlighted link to learn more about this incredible group of local women), which is helping to fund many repairs/restoration of this historic landmark which covers 8 acres.

Below are some of the photos I took last Saturday:

This oval-shaped berm area was consecrated by St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church for the burial of local priests and pastors.

One of the most prominent markers in the cemetery is that of Daniel Sullivan (1833-1884), a local lumber baron who was born in Ireland.
Beautiful detail is seen on many headstones, markers and mausoleums.
 This is one of my favorite sculptures in St. Michael's.
Members of various historical and genealogical societies dressed in costumes that day and presented talks about historical residents of the city, now buried at St. Michael's.

Photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.  This sign tells a bit more about the St. Michael's Cemetery Comprehensive Botanical Survey.

Sad little headstones of beloved children.
Through the decades, a large live oak enveloped a headstone.
Dr. Eugenio Sierra worked as a surgeon in the Spanish royal hospital in 1785, but by the mid-1790's had became a prominent doctor in Pensacola.  His is a fascinating story you may read by clicking on the link.

Dr. Sierra was known to have purchased a guillotine in New Orleans and brought it to Pensacola to use for amputations!

This marker is one of the few original wooden markers from St. Michael's Cemetery which remain.  It is generally kept in a museum but was brought to the site for display on this day.  Local woodcarvers took the original markers and recreated them using cypress.  The photo below is the finished reproduction of this marker. 
As you can see, the gray of the cypress wood almost matches stone markers nearby.
The unique 'table' of stone is the marker for two young wives who died during a yellow fever epidemic in Pensacola. 

I hope you will take time to visit St. Michael's Cemetery.  It holds so many stories and secrets which span its more than 200 year history.   

You can print off a map and take a self-guided tour.  In fact, if you have a smart phone (iPhone, Droid, etc.) you may be very interested in trying the Next Exit History app which, as they say, can literally put history in your hands with its database of over 35,000 historical sites.  Check out more about this new software app by clicking HERE.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Bottlebrush Tree

You can see why I love the Bottlebrush tree in my yard.  My mother gave it to me as a birthday present about 3 years ago and I'm so surprised at how well it has done out here on the beach.


“Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass."

~~ John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968)

Friday, April 08, 2011

Pittosporum tobira

The pittosporum in my yard are blooming and it smells me!  This shrub is an excellent choice for island landscaping.  It can grow well over six feet tall or be kept pruned back for a more compact appearance.
Sometimes called Japanese Mock Orange, the scent resembles that of sweet orange.  Some people find the fragrance too heavy.  Me, on the other hand, I could stand in the yard and take deep breaths of it all day long!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Tiny invaders

Ah ha, I caught them redhanded!  Once again this year it is small House Finches that are guzzling all the hummingbird food in my feeders! 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Pelican

"Nature’s prime favourites were the Pelicans; High-fed, long-lived, and sociable and free."

~~ James Montgomery (1771 - 1854)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A Day at Bellingrath Gardens

It had been a while since my husband and I visited Bellingrath Gardens in Theodore, Alabama.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to take our friends, Jim and Lila Cox, with us for day trip to visit the gardens, then to Dauphin Island for lunch, cross Mobile Bay on the ferry and back home to Pensacola Beach.

We just missed the peak blooming period for their azaleas and we've promised ourselves to make it over again a bit earlier next year.  If you'd like to find out what is in bloom at any time throughout the year, just click HERE.   And to learn more about Walter & Bessie Bellingrath, the home, the river cruise on the Southern Belle, and the incredible gardens, just click on any of the highlighted links.

Monday, April 04, 2011

No Fly Zone

This seagull decided to stay in the No Fly Zone during the Mobile Bay Ferry ride from Dauphin Island to Ft. Morgan this afternoon.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

It's not easy being green!

Upon checking the status of my tiny lemons this morning, I discovered something else was checking them out also!

This little fellow is a Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) which is the only anole native to Florida.  You can tell it is a male by the presence of the pink dewlap he's displaying in the photo below.

Although I'm not a fan of reptiles (sea turtles exempted, of course!), I am happy to see this little fellow in my yard.  The population of green anoles is being seriously depleted by the invasion of non-native Cuban brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) which are larger, compete for food, and, sadly, kill our daintier Green anoles.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Beachin' day

What a gorgeous day on Pensacola Beach and hardly a person in sight on this end of the island!  Pack those bags and hit the road to paradise!

Central Daylight Beach Time

My garden sundial says it's time to head to the beach!  By the way, the surf is said to be building throughout the day and possibly up to 9' waves tomorrow. Sounds like a perfect video op to me!

Friday, April 01, 2011

A surprise ending

There will be no accompanying audio song with my video clip today.  I think the ending is quite adequate.  Sometimes life offers us a surprise ending!

And here is a close-up I took later. The question is...where's the fresh-faced owner?