Wednesday, April 16, 2014



I went over to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park this afternoon for a training session for park volunteers. It was led by JD Mendenhall, and is part of a series of such meetings to help park volunteers improve even more on helping guests to the park better enjoy and learn from their visit and better appreciate the "Real Florida".

Shortly into the meeting we all traveled over to the Presentation Pavilion where twice each day a park specialist makes a presentation about a particular animal or group of animals to gathered guests. Today, JD was going to talk about our new Florida Panther kitten, and then we would be able to view it, far off, in an enclosure behind what will soon be its home, as it is being acclimated to the environment, noise, and people in the park. It is brought out for about half an hour each day at 10:30 and 2:30 for that purpose. Because of the unique circumstances of this kitten, it will never be able to safely return to the wild and survive on its own: the first other "animals" it ever saw when it opened its eyes for the first time were the Veterinarians that saved its life.

On the way over, I asked Park Manager, Kim Tennille, and Park Specialist JD Mendenhall to pose in the new park uniforms. That's the Fish Bowl behind them, the cornerstone of this area for the last 500 years or more.

JD opened with a fascinating telling of the story of this "miracle kitten" to an over-packed house.

We then each had a chance to view the kitten as it romped in an enclosure behind what will be its permanent home when it reaches 6 months. It is currently at 3 1/2 months and about 14 pounds.



Tuesday, April 15, 2014



In the wee hours of this morning, while most of you were tucked away for the night, the earth was making its way between the sun and the moon and throwing the latter into shadow, and I was sitting out in my yard trying to capture images of it.

As I sat, I thought of Galileo and his limited instruments and devoted efforts to making images of the heavenly body and how wondrous it was that within moments, I, a rather ordinary fellow, would be making available to anyone in the world with internet access detailed images of that same body with such a minimal effort.

I shot about every thirty seconds, and will be working on putting that together in a time lapse video later, but for now, here are three images highlighting moments from the event. The last was taken as the sky began to haze over and required such a long exposure that the traveling of the moon during same caused a bit of a blur, but it does show the color during the full eclipse.



Sunday, April 13, 2014



Wednesday, April 09, 2014



Above, January 13; below, April 8.

And some moments in the Wildlife Park...

Wednesday, April 02, 2014



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Friday, March 28, 2014



Homosassa Heritage Day Part 3


In Part 3, two retired Park Rangers, Patrick Dillard and Jack Kearns, tell of the history of the park and surrounding lands; changes as "one of the most beautiful places in the world" moved from hand to hand and survived various plans; and their own personal anecdotes from decades at the park: a fascinating story and bit of living history.


Homosassa Heritage Day Part 1: JD Mendenhall on Ivan Tors 



Homosassa Heritage Day Part 2: Andrew Moody on Ivan Tors




Sunday, March 23, 2014



click on image for larger rendering

Wednesday, March 12, 2014



Went over to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park as a tourist today. Seeing that the dock gator, Waldo, was out, I figured there was a good chance that the down-creek gator at Osprey Island would also be out, so I got on the boat for the cruise down Pepper Creek.

Waldo was heading back to the dock as we departed, and it had clouded over a bit, but as we made the first turn the sun came out brightly once again.

A little ways down, I caught a shot of the red Wild Azaleas, and complimented that with a shot on the return trip.

As we passed around Osprey Island, I could see that the gator was indeed out and sunning, full exposure, up on the log.

The new buds of spring were glowing that special bright green in the sun.

Got a very nice shot the osprey nest high in the pine on the return trip.

Coming back into the dock, Waldo had come back out and was heading for his raft, where the two turtles who had been sunning there prepared to depart. There is no question who's raft it is.

The white line just left of center and to the right of the fountain- Waldo! 

Then took a walk down the trail, and again the brilliant new green of spring.

Sometimes, it's nice to be in Florida!



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Friday, March 07, 2014



I have no idea!



Wednesday, March 05, 2014



Fascinating catch in the tree tops...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


7 Dwarfs Mine Train, opening soon at The Magic Kingdom.

Sunday, February 23, 2014



Water Color show over at the Wildlife Park yesterday and today... some good work!

 Barbara Eaton Follett

 Susan Strawbridge

 Helene Lancaster

 Curt Bond

  Helene Lancaster (upper left)

Suzanne C. Mahr



Friday, February 21, 2014



Last week, after my walk down the birding trail at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, I took the boat back to the Visitors Center and got talking with the driver, and one thing led to another and I found out that: 1) they need boat drivers; and 2) that one can do as little as one 4-hour shift per week as a volunteer.

Wanting to drive a boat, and thinking even I might be able to handle the 1 shift requirement, I talked to various people, and on Wednesday, attended Volunteer Orientation.

The Park has over 300 Volunteers who assist greatly in every aspect of its operation. In fact, some of the first state parks were virtually created by volunteers.

After the general orientation, there are a few more steps for any particular position that a volunteer might want, and so this morning, I had to get up earlier than usual to get over to the park for the 9 o'clock boat run as a trainee ride-along, a Driver In Training, or DIT, so I could drive back the empty boat: usually the first boats of each day come back empty and DITs are only allowed (by law) to drive empty boats. I got there on time, but another trainee was already there, so I had to wait for the 10 am boat and standing around, and the variation in my rising time for the two days kinda wrecked my back.

When my turn came, I rode with Bob, who did something I have never experienced before: at just before the passing point, where off to the left, way high up in a very tall tree, has stood an osprey nest for the last 20-30 years, he pulled over and stopped. The nest is a big thing, pointed out on every trip, but only in passing. Well, the mating pair has just returned and is getting ready to go through the dance and play house for another season, and we all got to take a really good view of it. (We had a full boat, 45 guests.)

Just after we re-started our journey, we also had a fairly rare sighting of one of the wild gators in the brush along the shore. 3rd time I've seen it in a hundred or so trips down the river as a guest.

We finished the run, got to the far end, unloaded and it was already time to head back as a 3rd boat had been added to the run schedule.

Bob turned the controls over to me, and I started by backing out and turning the pontoon boat up-river. This is an awkward vehicle, very heavy but lightly powered, quite suitable for the use and conditions, but slow to respond, requiring anticipation in directing its motion.

I only "crashed" once: bumped into some brush on one side.

About two thirds of the way back, Bob took control again for a difficult narrow second passing, now with three boats running, and stayed on the wheel back to the dock, so I haven't yet had a chance to dock, which is the tricky part I am told, kinda like docking to the ISS.

I helped with the unloading and reloading, but stayed behind as Bob took out the next run and I called it a day, my back aching badly, came home, napped and rested for a bit, then headed out again and over to The Seagrass Resort on the Homosassa River for their First Anniversary celebration, and to take advantage of Captain Jody Hogan's $5 boat ride up to the park and back on the Homosassa River. About half an hour. Nice ride. Gorgeous day. Lots of kayakers on the river. Lots of nice houses on the river. Didn't stop, just turned around at the park headwaters and headed back down river to the resort and docked.

The Seagrass Resort
The Observation Deck at the Wildlife Park as seen from the Homosassa River

A musician had been playing when we left, and another was playing now. I talked to Captain Jody for a minute about diving tours, then stepped onto the outside serving deck and ordered a drink and a burger and listened to the music. Spent about an hour and half.

 Gregory Ford wailing on guitar

Headed up to Walmart to get a shirt and pants for my uniform, hit the park office on the way back to get my patches. Also picked up a study and test guide for a Florida Boater Safety ID card I need from the state.

Headed home.

Good day.

Looking up.



Friday, February 14, 2014



It was freezing here last night.



From about 4 am till 9 am.

I had to go out and turn on the hose and pool pump to keep them from freezing.

So... this afternoon, I went swimming.

The pool at Bicentennial Park in Crystal River.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


It was cold and windy over at the Homossasa Springs Wildlife Park this morning. Lots of wild manatees hanging out near the spring head, the fishbowl. The waters were choppy.

The water level was very high, quite the opposite of where it as seen in the image below from just two days ago. Torrential rain yesterday.

Using my poloroid sunglasses as a filter in front of my lens, I was able to catch this pod of manatees huddled by the shore just inside the bridge. There were several other groups at the fishbowl and at several spots along the river between there and the bridge. I counted roughly about 30-40.

Both beaches in the alligator lagoon was underwater.

 A few other animals around the park this morning.

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