Thursday, December 16, 2010

Payneful Doctor Visit

Yesterday was my semiannual regular checkup day with my perky dermatologist.
Pretty normal visit, but this time she did slice off a bit of me to send away for a closer look-see.
I was in and out of there in about 30 minutes. This skin doctor and my child's pediatrician are about the only doctors I have ever had that do not make you wait forever in a waiting room.
God bless 'em.

So, the check-up wasn't really painful at all, nor was it long, and before I knew it, I was sitting in Burger King sipping a pretty good coffee and checking my email ... and of course, Pure Florida.

I didn't stay long in the realm of the King since it was a chilly (freezing) morning and I was free for the day. There were a few other appointments on the docket, but the morning was mine.

I pondered a few options and then headed for the Alachua Sink portion of Payne's Prairie State Preserve.

A few minutes later, I was walking out on to the prairie, expecting to find sunning alligators, but there were none. It was such a cold morning that the water was warmer than the air (heat capacity!) and the few visible gators had only their snorkels exposed.
Pictures of that later.

There were birds though ... lots and lots of birds.
Herons, egrets, hawks,anhingas,sparrows, warblers, ducks, coots, gallinules, ibis,vultures, bitterns, cranes ...

Ahhh, C-R-A-N-E-S!!

The honking crane soundtrack was audible anywhere you walked on the elevated dikes that jut into the prairie. They were everywhere ... to my left, to my right, and flying overhead.

And ... I seemed to be the only person in the park, save for a crew of state prisoners renovating the observation tower far off in the distance.
What sweet duty that must be compared to being in the jail or picking up roadside trash.

The closest flock of cranes were still a hundred yards away and just inside a thicket of dead brush ... not invisible, not very visible, but somewhere in between.

Oh well, we take what we can get with critter photos.
I blasted a bunch of megapixies for just a few shareable photos, but every once in a while I managed to stop time in an acceptable way.

I like this trio.
Yes, it could be sharper and brighter, but I was pivoting and tracking with the little Sony's zoom maximized.
I was very glad I had thought to attach my monopod ... really makes a difference when you are zooming in, and it's easy to carry and maneuver, unlike a tripod.

As you might imagine, I spent a lot of time near this flock of sandhills. Every so often a group would lift off and cross over me, or an incoming group would circle and flare, flaps down, for a landing with the bush birds.

I'm not sure what the food source was in there, but they seemed to be actively feeding.

The pair below flew up out of the sandhill bush flock and flew over the dike to my left.
They were strikingly different from the sandhills and I had time to get one shot off before they slipped out of sight.

Are those not whoopers?
Did I luck out or what?
Just the day before, I was listening to an NPR (local) interview with an ultralight pilot who is leading a flock of ten whoopers on the annual migration flight from Wisconsin to Chassowhitzka NWR, just south of PF.
And the next day, I get to SEE whoopers!
Sara N. Dipity, I love you.


threecollie said...

Wow, truly awesome! Miss Sera was there for sure.

Deb said...

WHOOP! Lucky you! I love the sandhill's call.

Doug Taron said...

The whoopers are beyond cool! The most apt description I've heard of sandhill crane calls was from a friend who likened them to a Canada goose trying to warble.

edifice rex said...

Oooooohhh! great photos!

Sayre said...

The ultralight flock was at the St. Marks refuge a few days ago. I guess they've moved on again by now!

Amy said...

glad to hear they're near the la chua trail again. will have to check it out this weekend! i saw them there two years ago and it was amazing!

Ericka said...

"Canada goose trying to warble..."

i LOVE that. so very apt!

and very cool cranes!

Dani said...


Miz S said...

Sounds like a great day.

I hate that sandhill cranes are hunted on their migratory flight paths. I just read a blog post about that a few months ago, but I forget whose blog it was.

Oh sorry. Am I being a Debby Downer?

robin andrea said...

What a fantastic moment with Ms Dipity. Wow!

SophieMae said...

Dawgawn! Looks like Sara loves you, as well! With 2 birthdays, Christmas and New Year hogging the next 4 Saturdays, I'm hard pressed to sneak away far/long enough to meet up with her. Thanks for the vicariosity! 8-]

amarkonmywall said...

Great photos, especially the mid-flight ones. Really, really nice. I like this post because I have especially fond memories of my little lake cottage where a large flock spent every summer. The noise coming out of the marshes before you could see them and then all of a sudden they would lift off-wonderful.

Say- hope you don't have to have another close encounter with your dermatologist, no matter how perky.

Felicia said...

Terrific sighting--congratulations and thanks for sharing!

Floridacracker said...

Think of all the cool stuff we miss while we are at work!!
Had I not had a doctor's excuse, I would still be whooperless.
Thanks for all the ohh ahh's!
A few specifics ... Miz S, I have no problem with legal hunting, but NOT sandhills for Pete's sake!

Vicki, I hope so too. Waiting.

Aunty Belle said...

Loved yore flyin cranes shots! Beautiful, FC!

Me an Uncle used ter dream of buildin' a house over lookin' Paynes Prairie. Ya know thar's a rise jes' on the southern border--lovely spot. Alas, it were 20 years afore home was here an not G'vlle. But a hunk o' mah heart is in north central Florida forever. The land is different, more hammocks, a little roll to the land, more' the air is fragrant wif' my childhood memory of how the world smelled.

FC, the post on Katie's B'day is wonnerful. She is a doll baby! An' I loved seein' how little her daddy has changed ( :) )

Thank fer yore toy memories on the Front Porch. I shure wish you'd bless us all wif' a trip down yore memory lane as a boy in St. Augustine before the "tourist crap" took over. What was the town like when youse a growin' weed of a boy??

Floridacracker said...

You have inspired me to nostalgicize here on PF. At this time of year, it takes so little prodding.