Testing — Testing

Header Image: Snail Kite


Ribs or chicken?


Almost dark but as it’s winter it wasn’t late. Dinner time, as a matter of fact. Since I forced Gini to accompany me on an impromptu trip to the park this afternoon, it only seemed fair to treat her (okay, and me) to a dinner of her choice. Smoky chicken, green beans, potato salad. She said something about going birding late every day but I didn’t hear much of that part of the conversation.

Earlier in the day, I had been fiddling with camera equipment and suddenly had an impulse to test the results of different camera body and lens arrangements along with a variety of settings. The local park usually offers some large birds that would make suitable targets and the low afternoon angle of the sun should provide some pleasant lighting.

That luck thing was in force. We parked, I slung a camera and long lens over my shoulder, saw a woodpecker and gnatcatcher in the branches above and Gini loudly whispered: “Kite!” At the water’s edge atop a small cypress tree was a male Snail Kite. I walked in his direction trying to keep a large oak tree between us in the hope I wouldn’t scare him away. No worries. He was intent on hunting what would likely be his last meal for the day. The luck held as I was even able to change camera body and lens and came away with a few images I like.

The Florida subspecies of Snail Kite (formerly Everglades Snail Kite) (Rostrhamus sociabilis plumbeus) appeared on federal and state endangered species lists in 1967. They remain threatened due to degradation of habitat mainly by agriculture and urban development. Their very specialized diet is almost exclusively made up of apple snails (Pomacea paludosa), which demand a clean water environment to survive. We began seeing Snail Kites at our local patch, Lake Parker Park in Polk County, about five years ago. Last year, we counted six individuals and confirmed they are breeding around the lake. Good news, indeed!

A group of White Ibises strenuously objected to one individual attempting to join their party. A stoic-looking Wood Stork stirred the shallow water and snapped up whatever tried to scoot away. Big yellow feet seemed odd-looking supporting a smallish Snowy Egret. As if to remind us of the time, an Osprey headed across the lake as the sun was setting and the moon rising.

Testing was instructive. The birds were cooperative. Dinner was delicious.

Snail Kite
Snail Kite
Snail Kite
White ibis
White ibis
Wood Stork
Wood Stork
Wood Stork
Snowy Egret

Whether you need to test equipment, taste BBQ or just enjoy a late afternoon in the park, we hope you find the time to do what makes you happy. Life continues to be good.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

28 Comments on “Testing — Testing

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mia.

      Hey! The birds are still here. Come on down!
      (White sand of the Fort, hundreds of shorebirds, Big Red, warm breezes …)

      I can be so cruel.


  1. How amazing to see that Kite! And I love the Ibis and storks. We saw quite a few Glossy Ibis with White Ibis yesterday but it was while we were driving and not a good place to pull over. I had BBQ for my birthday…BubbaQue! heehee! Enjoy your weekend. We are wimpy today and staying inside! Cold and windy here! Enjoy your weekend!


  2. I guess the moral to this story, Wally, is “Keep on tinkering.” It worked well. And that’s an understatement!


  3. Looks like a great avian crowd there at the park. I see that foot swish wood stork image. I can remember first time I saw that at wetlands around here. The pretty pink foot with black toenails swishing the shallows for some tasty prey. Looks like a fun day!!


  4. Your “fiddling around” worked a treat there Wally. Or I think the evening light from the right direction plus your unfailing judgement produced brilliant photos. You FLs are rightly proud of the the Snail Kite’s progress. Long may it continue. As for the barbie, we are a month or two away from that but is Brits can do a “smoky” like no others. Practice makes perfect I hope.


    • Definitely a case of right subjects in the right light! Likely could have done as well with the phone camera!

      Over the years (many of them), I discovered there is no season for satisfying my addiction to barbecue! Snow-covered balcony in Germany, desert conditions in west Texas, monsoons in south Florida – always found a way to burn something!

      But, as you say, I shall not stop practicing.


  5. Hi Wally.

    You are correct regarding Avian Flu. The virus seems to mostly affect large birds with most cases identified in wild ducks, geese and swans where the virus is transmitted through faeces when birds congregate together. Where there are free range livestock e.g. birds, ducks, chickens, turkeys, and pheasants outdoors there is a risk that they might be joined by infected wild birds (mallards esp) attracted in by the feeding possibilities.
    Similarly goes the theory, when ringers catch those species in duck traps or under cannon nets infected bird may spread the virus to previously healthy birds whilst being held in close proximity prior to processing.

    The BTO ban all ringing so as to encompass all possibilities while there is a risk, even though that risk might be very small in the case of our singly kept Linnets going on to infect or later become infected by the larger species.

    I am in the process of trying to obtain an exemption for our Linnet project but not convinced I will be granted one. Dealing with the authorities on such matters is like grappling with treacle. I am now going back to read your post.


    • Thank you, Phil, for the additional information.

      Now, if you can find a way to cure the planet of that dreaded scourge infecting all governments – “bureaucracy” – you shall become an intergalactic hero for the ages.


  6. Whatever adjustments you made to your set-up, Wally, the results are utterly superb! I’m not going to ask what those adjustments were as I think that the kit that I have is totally different from that which you have, and probably wouldn’t translate from one to the other. I still have a lot that I don’t know about photographic techniques but suspect that I never will know – I get befuddled enough trying to keep track of my camera settings with the adjustments that I’m confident with. Many’s the time I’ve thought ‘wow, that could be a good shot I’ve just taken’ only to find that my ISO, speed, or exposure setting is still where it was from that entirely different shot that I took earlier.

    All is good here too. Best wishes to you and Gini. Stay safe – – – Richard


    • Richard, thank you very much for your thoughtful words.

      Finding the right settings is one thing. As you point out, remembering them is something else! Especially as I have crossed that “twilight years” threshold and can barely recall my name! 🙂

      When all is said and done, I shall pretty much stick with my mantra: “Better lucky than good”!


  7. Black and white really suits the Wood Stork, doesn’t it? On the other hand, I enjoyed the vibrant blues and greens of the images with the Snowy Egret and Wood Stork. That’s a fabulous and unusual view of the Wood Stork’s feathers in that one. My current favorite of your ‘tests’? The squabbling White Ibis. Both of those photos are proof that a little something outside the frame can add to an image, rather than detracting.


    • During my first few years discovering photography (a v-e-r-y- long time ago), I worked exclusively in black and white. Film days. Learning to process an image helps to appreciate the subtle features of a photographs. And it reinforces the importance of taking a good picture to begin with! Now, if I could just do that consistently.

      I love watching the interaction of groups of birds such as those Ibises. Why did they object to one of their peers attempting to join them?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Very nice images— the test was a success. I have used the same Canon 300 mm prime f:4.0 with 1.4x extender through 5 generations of Canon EOS bodies. Never switch lenses since I had one camera “ inhale” a Cottonwood seed. Getting over COVID— still positive 11 days after first detection. I think the PCR test is excessively sensitive as I was never very sick and feel great now.(I have had difficulty posting these comments with my iPhone, using my WordPress ID)


    • Thank you, Ken.

      Based on experiences from family members, you may be correct about the sensitivity of some tests. Very sorry to hear you have one more thing to complicate your already full health plate. Very good to hear you’re feeling great today!


  9. I continue to be in awe of your avian regulars and to dream about a trip to Florida. All but the Snowy Egret and Osprey would be life birds for me. Your photos are wonderful.


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