Invitation to View Janthina Images’ New Look!!

•July 13, 2014 • 14 Comments

Janthina Images - Guestbook Page

I have just unveiled my new Janthina Images gallery site look!! While not an expert on css or html code or a programmer by any stretch of the imagination, my sales gallery hosting company, SmugMug, made it very easy with some highly customizable new designs they launched in July of 2013. As you can see I am not an early adopter but like to think my reserved nature as regards change allowed any bugs to be worked out of the system!! Sticking with that story!! But, I did realize looking at the world of design templates out there including, of course, the wonderful designs WordPress has, that my old photo gallery site, while very stable in operation, was sadly dated and needed a new modern look.

One of the things Smugmug made very easy was that while I was choosing a design and customizing it behind the scenes, my old site was the same for viewers without any disruption until hitting the Publish button. Very seamless!  I flipped back and forth for awhile consolidating galleries and generally cleaning some things up, but the button push was irrevocable and now its all new. Even though I had a lot of questions for the Smugmug Support Heroes, I think my experience with using WordPress helped me to work more easily there as well. One thing I like about the Smug Designs is that they are more than templates with fixed schemes. There are many themes within a design choice and if you like everything about a theme except the accent color, you can change that. If you want to create your own theme, redo ALL the colors and backgrounds within the design framework, you can do that too. Switch it up and name your theme.

I’d love to invite my friends here on my blog to go to Janthina Images  and let me know your thoughts.  Though I plan further work, I tried to keep things straightforward and easy to navigate.  So every public page has a button on the left vertical navigation bar. I realize from using different computers, that my old XP system at work with the outdated Explorer browser has difficulty handling some things like the slide show, but its ok using Firefox and my more current Explorer on my home machine does everything fine. That a being a factor, let me know if I overlooked anything. The closer you are to something, the less likely to see the flaws…I suppose this is why people get married?? Well, to carry the analogy, I guess I am now wedded to my new design for better or worse. But, I do think…..way better!!

So I truly welcome your visit and thoughts when you have the time to poke around. The snip clip above, with the chatty spoonies, is of the Guestbook page where you can comment if you want. Here is fine too or by e-mail. I have worked on many images the last couple of years which I have not yet posted or put up for sale, but feel renewed and enthused to add more images and another sales gallery to join to one at the top of the galleries page. Life’s one constant is change, they say , but maybe another good word is renewal.

Thanks for listening and looking!!

Feather right

                    …♦…

                   Judy
 

“That’s some tree!”……said my Dad!

•June 28, 2014 • 11 Comments

Maternal Tree Overlooking Graves at the Atlanta Cemetery

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The reverence expressed in Kilmer’s classic and much loved poem seems to fit this tree in the Atlanta Cemetery. Even without the unintended results of pruning, a tree has a maternal presence; and, here seems to watch over earth’s children laid to rest in this place.

“TREES”

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

By Joyce Kilmer

The summer of 2006, I visited my son Dave and his family in Atlanta. Lynda Haviland, my novelist sister, was working on the draft of her first book, Immortal Dynasty. At that early stage I envisioned getting her an evocative image of a really cool crypt…maybe even something with some Egyptian Symbols for a book cover design befitting her paranormal romance.   So instead of going to normal places like Stone Mountain, Dave took me to explore the historic Atlanta Cemetery.  While I did find a monument with Egyptian symbols…though not a crypt…it was this Maternal Tree which stole the day for me.

I have been working on my Janthina Images Galleries in order to modernize the website (not yet…old site still up…new site in process).  In the process of organizing, I came across  my old gallery post there of the Watchful Tree.  Seeing it brought back memories of a truly marvelous visit to one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.  The maternal solicitude this tree expresses evokes a sense of spirituality and protection of Mother Earth over its children. And, yet there is that other thing!!

 When I asked what he thought of the tree in the Atlanta Cemetery,  with the proverbial twinkle in his eye, he merely said,

“That’s some tree!”

 

Closer View of our Maternal Tree at Atlanta Cemetery

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Summer!!

Judy

Purple Gallinule–the prettiest swamp chicken!

•June 18, 2014 • 32 Comments

Purple Gallinule nibbles on Fireflag blossoms

“… although you may think it strange, I candidly assure you that I have experienced a thousand times more pleasure while looking at the Purple Gallinule flirting its tail while gaily moving over the broad leaves of the water-lily, than I have ever done while silently sitting in the corner of a crowded apartment, gazing on the flutterings of gaudy fans and the wavings of flowing plumes. Would that I were once more extended on some green grassy couch, in my native Louisiana, or that I lay concealed under some beautiful tree, overhanging the dark bayou, on whose waters the bird of beauty is wont to display its graceful movements, and the rich hues of its glossy plumage! Methinks I now see the charming creature gliding sylph-like over the leaves that cover the lake, with the aid of her lengthened toes, so admirably adapted for the purpose…”      —  John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography, Vol III  

 

 

The wetlands of South Florida harbor a group of birds of the Family Rallidae sometimes called ‘swamp chickens or swamp hens’. In fact in many areas these are considered game birds.  Most people here are quite familiar with the American Coot and the Common Moorhen members of the rail family. But, here in South Florida’s wetland areas lives a stunningly beautiful species of rail known as the American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) or sometimes for its lemon yellow legs, the Yellow-legged Gallinule. Although its species name Porphyrio is derived from the Greek porphyra, meaning  “purple pigment” which aims itself at this birds most defining color. And against a field of green, purple is what your eye admires.

The adult Purple gallinule has large yellow feet with long toes. Its plumage fairly iridesces in the light and ranges in hue from purple to blue with shades of green. Under tail feathers are white. The bill is bright red,  tipped with yellow and features a frontal shield extension on its forehead which is pale blue in color.The pale blue forehead shield color of the Purple Gallinule differentiates it from brethren such as the Common Moorhen whose frontal shield is as fire-engine red as the bill.

Gallinules eat a variety of plant and animal material from insects, frogs and snails to aquatic and terrestrial plants. I have never witnessed a Purple Gallinule feasting on an insect, but the specimens I have enjoyed watching REALLY do love the tender blossoms of the aquatic Fireflag plant and the Purple flower spires of the aquatic Pickerel weed. It is a delicate and entertaining high wire act watching these colorful ‘swamp chickens’ negotiate the aquatic plants in quest of a tender flowery nibble. Broad leaves and slender stems wave and flex with movement of bird and sultry breeze and yet they are equipped to hang in for the prize.

Fireflag Blossoms--delicate delicacy of the Purple Gallinule

Blossoms of the aquatic fireflag plant — a yummy treat for Purple Gallinules!!

I have to confess to consistently trying for a nice shot of these flowers draping down so nicely from such thin shoots and being defeated by the slightest breeze!! They are lovely though and mostly do come adorned with insects.

 

Purple Gallinule nibbles on Fireflag blossoms

Success!

Purple Gallinule balances on leaves and stems of fireflag seeking its delicate purple blossoms

Afternoon sun shows off the irridescence hues of the Purple Gallinule during its high wire act on the stems of pickerel weed.

This specimen looks lovely in the light as it traipses across the wetland’s  high wire of pickerel weed stems!

Aquatic Pickerel Weed Spires--tempting treat for the Purple Gallinule

Ahh, another yummy treat!! —These are the flowery spires of the aquatic pickerel weed plant. Up close the tiny florets curl up a bit like ribbon candy.

Moorhen--in the Rail family Rallidae along with the Purple Gallinule

Another member of Rallidae, the Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) featuring its fire-engine red frontal shield.

Judy

 

Photo Filter Play with Elise at age 6

•May 26, 2014 • 9 Comments

Black and White Grainy Treatment of 6 year old Elise

 ♥

During a February 2014 visit with my son, Dave, and family to meet new little baby Lenora, I spied a very nice picture of big sister Elise tacked with a magnet to the fridge. As always, I fell in love with her sweet expression. Elise’s mom, Martha, loves photography much as I do and I am sure the frequent presence of a camera is old hat for the kids. Although I feel sure that is the paradigm with all parents and kids today whether the snap is from a phone camera or a high end DSLR variety. Yep, we want to immortalize our beautiful offspring!! This does not mean it is easy to capture just the right moment when a child is looking right at the camera amidst activity.  The image I played with here was just too sweet to pass up so I asked Martha for her capture shot so I could play with it. The image was taken in a kitchen flooded with bright light giving a natural high key canvas for various filtering treatments whether color or black and white.

It is fun to see how different the same image can look depending on the amount of grain, light, tonal contrast or color is used. So included here are three different looks: uppermost, a grainy film noir treatment, second, a smooth tonal black and white treatment, and the last is a low contrast, high key color image with a new background blended in. The capture shot being a brightly lit kitchen had a mild yellow cast which I removed in favor of a pretty pinker tone in the color image. The curly wiry thing is part of the tail of a metal bird that Elise is holding and it does add an interesting element to an already lovely picture.

Thanks Martha for letting me play. This image is ©marthalovell.

 

Black and White Tonal Treatment of 6 year old Elise

 

Soft Color with Background Treatment of 6 year old Elise

 Photoshop truly is a wonderful digital tool to imagine what can be done with your capture shots!! It is always fun to play!

Judy

 

Baby faces of Louisiana Heron Nestlings (Egretta tri-color)

•May 8, 2014 • 17 Comments

 

Tri-color Nestling at about 2-3 weeks old

While I was away, the three baby blue eggs in my favourite Louisiana Heron (Egretta tricolor) nest successfully hatched.(Click HERE for Mom tending the eggs)  I’d estimate the ages of these nestlings at 2 weeks + old. So far the siblings wobble about the nest exploring the edges of their tiny domain and seem to get along ok. I have read recently that the longest lived Tri-color reached the age of 22 years, with 17 being the general life span. However, the mortality rate of herons in general is pretty high as sibling rivalry will reduce their numbers even before fledging and failure to adequately learn to feed themselves post leaving the nest will reduce their numbers in the difficult first year of life. But, for the moment they learn what it means when Mom or Dad flys in with a gullet full of dinner.

I stopped to visit the rookery and check progress of the nests a bit earlier in the day than is my custom. I love the softer, more balanced, late day light. So, such very, bright light streaming into the shadowed nests proved challenging for me… mainly in avoiding hot spots while getting detail in the shadows. These are the youngest Tri-color nestlings I’ve had the opportunity to photograph and so I wanted to share what they look like despite the imperfections. The tip of the beak of the top image does show the egg tooth still on this young fellow. The egg tooth is worn off or falls off rather quickly, but can be seen for a while after hatching. Generally it looks like a small white bump the tip of the beak and is used to puncture the egg membrane and then the shell itself.

In the top image and the one below, besides the unruly hairdo, you can see the many pin feathers with tufts of  feathers extending beyond the sheaths. The sheaths bind the growing feathers on the head, face, neck, wings…basically everywhere at this stage. They lay in straight rows ( looking rather uncomfortable to me) until the sheaths break and fall off and the feathers inside uncurl covering the body of the bird in softer looking layers. Feather growth is amazing to observe. They are by no means fully feathered with plenty of skin showing on the body and wings. Hard to believe that these awkward nestlings will become the lovely species which Audubon called “The Lady of the Waters” for its dainty ways and beautiful, refined colors.

Tri-color Nestling face- in dappled light of its nest

Tri-color heron chick steps out of the shadows of its secluded fern nest

This little fellow looks a bit more feathered, slightly older, than the above two chicks. It occupies a different nest with one sibling. A previous post… HERE …shows one of its parents fluffing out its aigrettes due to a disturbance. I  could see these little ones back in the shadows, but one curious sibling peeked out and stepped into the light for a portrait!!

 

As Ever,

Judy

Easter Chicks – Great Egret Feeding Time

•April 19, 2014 • 6 Comments

White Egret Feeding Chicks

White Egret feeding its nestlings

 ♦

After talking about the blue sheaths of the Great Blue Heron chick’s pin feather, I wanted to point out on these little fellows that they are an orangey pink instead. The image is from a much further out nest (so not a close up)  but perhaps on the thigh of the chick in the back,  you can see layers of the orange-ish sheaths with white feathers poking out of them.

 ♦

With this little scene of a White Egret parent feeding its growing nestlings

I send out wishes to everyone for a Happy Easter tomorrow!!

Judy

 

All That Was – An Egret’s Tale

•April 16, 2014 • 9 Comments

Egret Nest Site - As if it never were

All That Was – Egret Nest Site as if it never existed!

The male Great Egret chose for its nest a quaintly shaped pond apple tree near the boardwalk at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The male of this species does the choosing of where he will conduct his mating displays… a location which becomes the future site for nest construction. From his platform of twigs gathered from branches of nearby shrubs and trees, he strutted his stuff fanning out the delicate aigrettes that adorn his back during mating season, to attract a mate. A beautiful female accepted the invitation and together they built a nest within the branches and green leaves of the small wetland tree. He gathered the nest materials and she was in charge of the arrangement and placement of the twigs. Even after mating and the arrival of three baby blue eggs, the presentation of twigs continued to ensure on-going maintenance and arrangement of twigs into the walls of the nest. The nest was never left alone to protect the incubating eggs and also to prevent other birds from stealing twigs from an unattended nest. This is a problem in a nesting colony where there is competition for materials. So the pair alternated sitting duties in order to take turns catching fish to feed themselves and eventually their young. They were partners in the truest sense of the word.

Great Egret Mating Pair Nest Building

The Great Egret Pair builds their nest. He brings materials for her to arrange.

But, even as they made their nest, laid and incubated the eggs, there was frequent aggressive behavior from other adult males in breeding colors in the area. Sustaining the site seemed a fight from the very beginning with persistent intruders. But, our pair held their own, kept the nest attended, and took care of their young. When photographing the parent on duty when the chicks were about a week old, even a casual observer that day could see the furious flutter of aggressive behavior from other adults near the nest.

Egret Pair-the nest they built

The nest they built. Three blue eggs are incubating.

My personal return to see the nestlings’ development about 10 days later was marked by the realization that something catastrophic had occurred. Among birds siblicide, or the killing of younger chicks by the older, reduces the number of chicks. Seeing fewer nestlings with time is not unusual. But, this was different as no parent, no chick, no nest remained within the curve of the branches of the pond apple tree. It was as if it had never been; nary a twig to tell the story.

It was unusual enough for me to ask other observers and I received various stories from the father eating the chicks to raccoons getting at the nest.

However, Jamie Felton, wildlife photographer of Felton Photography, told me the rest of the story and is taking the time to gather up some photographic evidence on her site. The father did not eat his chicks. After persistent sparring with intruder egrets the situation came to a head. For two days the parents battled with another male egret in breeding plumage to preserve their nest. On the first day the intruder succeeded in tossing two chicks from their nest and the last chick was left alone for a couple of hours on the next day, before the intruder tossed it out as well. The nestlings were not eaten but pecked at and tossed overboard. The intruder egret won the nest, then sat there in its stolen territory and displayed, looking for a female for two days. The killer egret never attracted a mate that either of us knows of as of this writing. I did see a male displaying at the spot but no new nest appeared on subsequent visits. His destruction of the nest did not pay off for the marauding egret.

Jamie reports further that after the first two chicks were tossed out, that one of the parent egrets was seen feeding the last chick and standing by for a time before it was lost. The parents were seen to return after all the chicks were gone to fight again with the new occupant…presumably at this point for the parents it was about the nest as it was all along for the interloper.

While we accept in theory the struggle for survival among wild animals; it is not something we are looking for, at least in such angelic-looking creatures! Whether the vast savannahs of Africa or the wetlands of Florida, it is all the same. Eat or be eaten, reproduce or die out. The pressure is enormous to mate and deliver the next generation. I think in a nesting colony that you see intensified competitive behaviors due to sheer proximity and competition for materials. I am uncertain why the aggressive egret’s choosing was of an occupied location since in other areas of the colony egret nests sit more harmoniously side by side, but hormones are high and our little family of White Egrets struggled and lost.

The great herons and egrets can have more than one clutch in a season and most especially will try again after the failure of a nest. Perhaps this pair will appear at a new spot and raise a new brood to fledge.

Unfortunately this story describes the fate of the egret nest on my post “An Egret is Faithful 100%” which welcomed the cute little chicks as we welcomed the advent of Spring!! I’d described it as a symbol of rebirth and renewal which I much preferred to having it turn into an example of nature red in tooth and claw!! So I do feel sorry to report their struggle and the demise of this nest.

 ♦

Protective Egret looks over chicks

Protectively Watching Over

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Find Jamie Felton and her wonderful photography web site Felton Photography HERE!

Click HERE to link to her Flickr photo gallery and this new born image of the first chick to hatch at the very nest described in this post?

I thank her sincerely for answering my curiosity about the fate of the egret nest which vanished so prematurely!!

 ♦

As Ever,

Judy

 

 

 

 

 

 
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