We went out twice on Day 3, once in the morning and once in the evening during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.

P5050344 purple gallinuleThe choice of Star of the Day was actually quite difficult, as several lovely and not-so-lovely candidates had to be considered.

The first candidate would have to be the purple gallinule.

The morning light glistened off its iridescent feathers — definitely a contender for Star, even if it is a rather common animal.

This one entertained us by nosing around so close to us that we hardly needed a telephoto lens.

P5050446 stilt with boat taileed grackleAnd then there was the black-necked stilt who traipsed through the water, undetered by fear of alligators or fear of boat-tailed grackles.

Actually, the grackles were more of a threat, but this little one didn’t seem to mind at all.

So, if I have to choose (and I realize I do), The Star would have to be the red-bellied woodpecker family.

Definitely.  Their antics were so cute! and our nearness didn’t bother them at all.

We saw only two of them, the mom and the dad, but clearly there were young ‘uns nestled in their pole-home:

Mama:  “Don’t make me come in there!”

P5050622 don't make me come in there

Papa with a tasty morsel for the kids:

P5050603 red bellied feeding juvies

Mama’s turn to feed the children and Papa’s turn to warn them that Mama was on her way:

P5050674 mamma and papa

So, the red-bellied woodpeckers it is — congratulations!

P5051535 - plane as in rawBy 9:00 the light was getting harsh, and we headed back to the motel.

Andy spent some time showing me the wiles and ways of Adobe Camera Raw.

Another lesson:  There is a difference between Camera Raw and Photoshop.

The former helps you reproduce what you saw, the latter helps you produce what you wish you saw.  Using Camera Raw will enhance your photos.  Using Photoshop will manipulate your photos.  P5051534 plane

It’s a big difference.

Photoshopped images, Andy said, will be thrown out of any competition to which they are submitted.

However, the enhancements and corrections provided by Camera Raw are perfectly acceptable.  And it is a powerful program!  Look how I was able to recover this backlit airplane!

But I digress.

P5051383 alligatorOur second expedition was to an out-of-the-way trail with the intention of finding alligators!

Which would have earned my vote for Star of the Day hands down.

However, the weather did not cooperate.

Too hot and humid, even for alligators.  They stayed pretty much in the water.

Also, whatever illness I had contracted on the plane was taking hold.

P5051459 snowy egretI could hardly keep up with Andy as he raced (or so it seemed to me) to the best alligator spots.

Dang.  Stupid weather!  Stupid upper respiratory symptoms!


We did see some great things, like sandhill cranes.

They looked beautiful in the receding golden light.

P5051445 sandhill craneWe also saw some anhingas, some snowies, and even a raccoon.

Then we saw something on the side of the road.

It could be a log.

Or it could be an alligator.

We approached as slowly and quietly as we could, just in case.

With our very looooooooooooooooong lenses.

P5051482 alligatorIt was an alligator! which hurried back into the bush as soon as it sensed our footsteps.

As scary as it was seeing an alligator so close, I couldn’t help but think it was smiling in this photo.

However, even though it was a thrilling sight, the alligator simply could not compete with the little red-bellied family for Star of the Day.

Some more photos from Day 3:

P5051546 anhinga

P5051549 alliator

P5051336 raccoon

P5050908 nesting limpkin

P5051509 sunset -2

P5051568 - ]path

P5050371 purple gallinule eating

P5050206 eagle

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