It Never Gets Old

Honestly, I never get over witnessing such magnificence.  A baby barred owl! I knew it was a barred owl but Walter told me that this is a baby. He was there photographing this beauty, too. He clearly knows his birds and knew this little one had recently fledged. Nice meeting you Walter and thank you for the info!

I've had the opportunity to photograph an adult barred owl in Hammock Park before but this fledgling thrilled me even more. She was a tad nervous but curious! Look at those eyes and talons! Thank you, little one, for allowing us to spend a few moments with you. I hope to see you again.

Speaking of babies, this immature American bittern was wandering very near the baby owl. He was shy and scurried away but not before giving me the pleasure of photographing him. I've read that they are fairly elusive so I'm honored to have had the opportunity to photograph him.

These sweet babies weren't the least bit shy. I fell in love with their sleepy little eyes. 

The babies need to be wary of black snakes lest they become dinner! Black snakes are wonderful to have around though because they will keep rodents and poisonous snakes out of your yard. This snake lives in my yard and she is most welcome. 

The great blue heron doesn't worry about snakes, in fact, snakes are part of their diet! They amaze me and are beautiful in flight.

I spy! So many of these coastal birds are masters of camouflage. I often wonder how many I miss for every one I spot. 

I was riding my trike-bike through Hammock Park, as I do most evenings after dinner, and almost missed this well camouflaged large bird. I couldn't identify her at first.

I got off my bike as quietly as I could and crept around the bird, looking at her from the angles I could access. Wow! Her head is completely buried in her wings! I began to get a clue as to what kind of bird she is. I crept around her for minutes and she didn't budge. I was happy not to wake her.

But, alas, in my excitement, I stepped on a stick and broke it. She startled, awakened from a deep sleep, or so it seemed to me. She spotted me, gave me a short lecture, then relaxed again. Clearly, she is an anhinga. What a treat to watch this bird so closely. Anhingas are also known as water-turkey or snake-bird. It's easy to see why.

The best time to photograph birds is early in the morning or near sunset. In the evenings, we ride into Hammock Park, look for birds, let Pedro (my 18-pound jackahuahua) run, and photograph until the sun is close to setting, then we ride the quarter mile to watch the sun descend in all its glory. It doesn't get any better than this.


Thank you for following along with my photo journey, dear readers. I am grateful. If you enjoy this photo-blog, brighten some's day by sharing this post with them. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so that you can receive posts directly to your inbox. I send blog posts about three times a month.  I would also be delighted if you would take a look around my website and enjoy many other images I have posted. You will find many images for sale. If you love an image on one of my blog posts and don't see it for sale, just drop me an email. 

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Expand Your Wings

What if you could expand your wings and widen your perspective? What if you could see more possibility? What if you could trust the unfolding of your life? The birds of Dunedin give us a glimpse.

The Great Horned Owl. Wisdom and intuition. We are reminded to listen deeply to our own hearts. The truth can be found there. It can be difficult to see because of teachings that the heart is deceitful. It can take decades to unravel such damaging beliefs. Owl pierces our hearts with the truth of our goodness.

Pileated Woodpecker reminds us of opportunity, fully engaging in life, and following our own unique rhythms and flight.   

The rhythms and flight patterns are our own but they are not separate from all. We are interconnected. Peace is possible in connection.

Connection enables new heights, new patterns, new creations.

Connection enables the birthing of possibility and transformation.

In connection, we are safe to find our balance, to fall, to allow for the unfolding of our wings.

We can test our wings and our creativity. We can find beauty in all things. We can create beauty.

We can rest in the waters of restoration and healing.

We can take solace in the strong arms of the earth. She is our mother.

We can trust that all we need is available to us. Reflection, presence, and connection reveals all.

We can remember that the sun rises and sets everyday, despite the clouds or turbulence. 

We can reflect upon our capabilities and beauty. We can feel the strength and clarity of our hearts.

Be still. Bring your awareness to the present. Healing, hope, even transformation are possible in that place.


I am currently taking new clients for the first time in quite awhile. It would be my pleasure to work with you. Visit my life coaching page if you'd like to learn how coaching can benefit you, a bit about the coaching process, credentials, and what other folks are saying about coaching. The initial session costs nothing but a bit of your time.

Thank you for following along with my photo journey, dear readers. I am grateful. If you enjoy this photo-blog, brighten some's day by sharing this post with them. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so that you can receive posts directly to your inbox. I send blog posts about three times a month.  I would also be delighted if you would take a look around my website and enjoy many other images I have posted. I welcome your comments!

Dunedin Sunsets

If you live in Dunedin, you know all about the glorious sunsets. If you've never visited Dunedin, it may be time to plan a trip. People gather each evening at piers or little waterside parks around town to watch the wonder.

I never tire of these scenes.  Weaver Park pier is a mile from my home and we bike over after dinner many evenings each week.

It's a way to ground after a busy or stressful day. It's a way of reminding ourselves of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Thich Nhat Hanh

The sun always rises and sets, despite the darkness, despite the clouds, despite the chaos in our world. Witnessing the sunrises and sunsets can give a sense of renewal.

Sunsets touch something deep inside, giving a sense of peace and hope. 

The birds, too, glory in the rising and setting sun! Yes, I have found this to be true. "Even wild things sit in absolute and total reverence for the fading of a day." Tyler Knott Gregson

Reverence opens us to gratitude and respect, to love and caring which are deeply important ideals at this time in a culture that seems to be reeling.

Healing is possible. Acceptance is possible. Love is possible. Transformation is possible. Sunsets remind me of  all this.

Quiet your racing mind, even for a moment, and feel a heart that is good, that is peace, that is love, that is connected to all. Move from that place.

“A setting sun still whispers a promise for tomorrow.” Jeb Dickerson


Visit my life coaching page if you'd like to learn how anyone can use creativity as a tool for transformation. There you will learn a bit about my coaching process, my credentials, and what other folks are saying about coaching with me. 

Thank you for following along with my photo journey, dear readers. I am grateful. If you enjoy this photo-blog, brighten some's day by sharing this post with them. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so that you can receive posts directly to your inbox. I send blog posts about three times a month.  I would also be delighted if you would take a look around my website and enjoy many other images I have posted. I welcome your comments!

Out and About

Dunedin is a wonderful location in this part of Florida; a destination unto itself most certainly. It's also a dandy place from which to launch your broader explorations. That's exactly what I've been up to lately.

                                                  Historical Museum Dunedin Mainstreet

Leaving downtown Dunedin, one can head north to Palm Harbor, Ozona, and Tarpon Springs. Heading south, you've got Clearwater, Indian Shores, Gulfport, and St. Petersburg, to name a few. East is Safety Harbor and a hop across the bay to Tampa. West is Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island. All of this within a 45-minute drive. Some within 10 minutes. 

The Pinellas Trail, over 40 miles long, stretches from Tarpon Springs all the way to St. Petersburg. I ride my 3-wheel bike on the trail many times a week. It is a joy exploring in this way and my dog, Pedro, gets to ride along in the back basket while my camera equipment is at the ready in the front basket.

It's about a 10 mile trip on the Pinellas trail from Dunedin to Tarpon Springs and a fun peddle. Tarpon is an old greek village famous for its sponge industry which began in the late 1800's. This boat just docked is full of sponges. 

Tarpon Springs is a beautiful little village located where a series of bayous meet the Gulf of Mexico. I've read that it has the largest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the United States. Walking down the streets, one can often hear the locals speaking Greek.

Tarpon Springs is full of delicious Greek restaurants. Costas is just around the corner from the sponge docks. Our food was delicious!  Believe it or not, a chicken dined with us... under the table, that is. We may or may not have shared a bit of our food with said chicken. Opa!

Baklava is a Greek delicacy that I can't seem to resist. This small bakery had delectable offerings right across from Costas.

Returning from Tarpon Springs, my peddling buddies and I stop at Wall Springs Park in Palm Harbor. The park is over 100 acres and boasts a gorgeous natural spring that was once used as a spa and bathing area. There is a lookout tower, four fishing piers, covered picnic areas, a covered playground, and boardwalks. This park is worth a visit.

Fish and fowl abound at Wall Springs. I watched an elegant great blue heron down a huge fish with ease. It was a sight to behold and amazing that a fish this large did not choke the heron. 

Mama Mallard did good! Such happy babies swimming right beside the flowing spring.

While at the park, be sure to search the trees for resting night herons. They are there and fun to spot.

                                                                                              Edgewater Park Dunedin

But home is where the heart is and I now call Dunedin home. You can't beat the feeling of community here and the stunning sunsets. Yes, Dunedin has stolen my heart.

Stay tuned for further explorations. 


Thank you, dear readers, for following along with my photo journey. I am grateful. If you enjoy this photo-blog, brighten some's day by sharing this post with them. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so that you can receive posts directly to your inbox. I send blog posts about three times a month.  I would also be delighted if you would take a look around my website and enjoy many other images I have posted. I welcome your comments!

Wanderings

Dunedin, FL and the surrounding areas continue to delight. I'm fortunate to have moved to a wonderful home only 50 yards from an entrance to the 100 acre Hammock Park and only a mile and half from the downtown village of Dunedin.

Friends of Hammock Park  describe the park: "'The Hammock' is an ancient 93-acre mixed-hardwood forest filled with more than 300 native species of trees, shrubs, ferns, wildflowers and small animals. In addition, over 100 species of birds and 45 species of butterflies inhabit the preserve throughout the year." I was lucky to capture this barred owl. Isn't she a beauty?

I have been hearing about the roseate spoonbills and seen them from a distance but this is my first opportunity seeing them up close. Look at this exquisite beauty!

This spoonbill uses its peculiar bill to strain small food from the water, using a rhythmic back and forth sweeping motion. Fascinating to watch!

I will likely feature the great egret time and again as I am intrigued by their elegant beauty. The egret hunts in classic heron fashion, standing immobile or wading through wetlands to capture fish with a deadly jab of their yellow bill. 

This, too, is an egret that I've taken into the digital darkroom and used an inverse process to accentuate its gorgeous plumage.

As much as I love Hammock Park, there is so much more in the surrounding area to explore. The Dunedin Causeway boasts gorgeous and tranquil scenes of St. Joseph Sound sure to delight.

The causeway leads out to Honeymoon Island State Park. The park is 385 acres with 4 miles of pristine beach to wander.

St Joseph Sound is a peaceful area for paddle boarders, kayaks, sailboats, dolphins, and all manner of sea birds. 

Seven miles south of  Dunedin is the engaging beach town of Clearwater Beach which almost always lands in the top ten beaches in the US, often as the number one destination. Its beaches are pristine and its sunsets are stunning. I look forward to exploring here.

But Dunedin is where I choose to live for its commitment to nature, art, community, and sweet whimsy as exemplified by local favorite, Freddie.


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One for the birds

Dunedin, and the surrounding areas of Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa, is the home of some of the best birding in the country. The surrounding area features 15 sites along the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. I'm in bird heaven.

Great Blue Herons are a dime a dozen here but they never cease to delight me. I have no idea if this GBH was able to swallow the fish. She tried numerous times without success before I moseyed on down the path in Hammock Park. I have full confidence that she enjoyed a fabulous meal.

I almost missed this young night heron. Interesting fact: these young ones leave the nest at the age of one month but cannot fly until they are six weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.

An adult black-crowned night heron strikes a pose. Stockier than other herons, these birds are most active during dusk and dawn, most often perching in trees during the day. I am excited to learn all these Florida birds!

Here is another heron, a yellow-crowned night heron. He has smooth purple-gray colors, sharp black-and-white face, and long yellow plumes lending a touch of elegance.  There are 64 recognized species of herons, each unique and stunning.

This snowy egret, or should I call her a showy egret, put on the ritz for me. This slender little heron is elegant in her pristine, white plumage. She has black legs and bright yellow feet.

Look at this gorgeous anhinga! I learned that anhingas are sometimes called snakebird, darter, American darter, or water turkey. This bird does not have waterproof feathers thus its need to dry them in the sun. They are not as buoyant as other water birds, enabling them stay under the water for longer periods of time.

These precious babies swam and dove relentlessly, always finding themselves back together. I was completely transfixed watching these tiny birds. They are pied-billed grebes. All about Birds describes them as "part bird, part submarine". I agree. They are fascinating to watch and simply adorable.

Beautiful babies! Mating is in full bloom here in Dunedin and these are a few of the results. So precious!

I love this image of the muscovy duck. She is the proud mother of the little ducklings.

These stunning ducks are simply called redheds!

As is often the case, the male is more richly colored than the female. Brilliant plumage is a way for the male to attract the female and for the female to determine if the male is healthy. These two look happy and healthy.

The white ibis is a wading bird and can be found everywhere here, even in front yards foraging for bugs.

And, of course, there are brown pelicans, as you would expect. Diving, fishing, skimming just above the water here on the Dunedin CausewayI learned that the birds use the force of their dive to stun small fish before scooping them up in their over-sized bills. Magnificent birds to watch! Yes, I am certainly in bird paradise and I couldn't be happier.

I am grateful to have found the site All about Birds, an online bird guide that is simple and fun to use. I have many new birds to learn and this site is chocked full of wonderful information. 

Thank you, dear readers, for following along with my photo journey. I am grateful. If you enjoy this photo-blog, brighten some's day by sharing this post with them. If you haven't already, subscribe to this blog so that you can receive weekly posts directly to your inbox. I would also be delighted if you would take a look around my website and enjoy many other images I have posted. 

Something about that Salt

I grew up spending summers in Charleston, SC and Edisto River. I suppose it was then that I fell in love with the salt. Long hours in and on the water. Coastal breezes caressing my face. Sun toasting my skin golden brown. A slower pace, offering breath and awareness. My love of nature ever ensconced in my soul.  I've lived in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virgina, Vermont, and Pennsylvania but never on the coast. Until now. I feel as though I've come back to a familiar and comforting place. The little village of Dunedin has stolen my heart.

There is something about breathing the salt air every day and each evening. Something about the descending sun reflecting gulf waters.

Palm trees that thrive in gently blowing or torrentially roaring coastal winds. 

There is something soul-soothing about the brackish streams crisscrossing their way to the ocean. 

And backstreet roads in quaint oceanside villages.

There is something amusing and inspiring about quirky neighbors who express their individuality.

Flowers that bloom year round.

And ocean waves lapping against sanded shores.

There is something about sitting under the comforting canopy of a live oak that sways in salted winds. Nature brings me back to center. Salt has the power to heal. 


Are you new here? Please take a look around my website. I think you'll like it. If you are enjoying my photo adventures, consider sharing with a friend or on your Facebook page. Spread the love! You may brighten someone's day and you'll certainly brighten mine. If you haven't already subscribed to this photo-blog consider doing it now so you won't miss a posting. I'll deliver each weekly post directly to your inbox. Subscribe here. Thank you for reading this blog. I really do appreciate it.

Exploring Dunedin

It's been just over a month since relocating to Dunedin. I couldn't be more thrilled. I'm so taken with Dunedin that I've barely gone beyond this village and Honeymoon Island State Park, but I will and I'll post photos here of my adventures every step of the way.

I wandered out to North Point Hog Island on Honeymoon Island early one morning for the first time since arriving. I've wandered there before but not since I've been a Dunedin resident. Pelican Cove took my breath away and I live close enough to visit every day. 

Osprey, bald eagles, and other shore birds abound. Honeymoon Island boasts several nature trails, bird observation areas, virgin pine slash forest, beaches, and scenes that will astound.

And it's mating season! I was fortunate enough to capture this osprey's courtship dance. The male engages in glorious dives and ascensions near the nesting site to impress the female. Often, he will carry a fish in his talons. This osprey had a fish! His sky-dancing certainly impressed me. The female osprey perched in a nearby tree watching nonchalantly. 

This little sandpiper catches a yummy crustacean from the beautiful gulf waters.

Raccoons love Honeymoon Island, too! I wonder what interests them about this old tree root at the water's edge.

The same afternoon brought heavy fog to Dunedin and the scenes became hauntingly beautiful. Everything seemed to slow to a contemplative state, reminding me to breathe and center myself.

Dolphins appeared during the fog, swimming just outside the Dunedin city-owned marina.

There was no visible sunset in the thick of the fog but the next evening promised to bring a glorious end to the day. Here are the whisperings of the sun beginning it's descent, blushing the horizon.

And then the finale. The sun always rises and sets despite the fog, storms, or whatever may be going on in the world. It's good to pause a moment to remember that in a world that often seems to be going mad, we can breathe with the rhythm of the earth every moment and return to ourselves. As I say in my artist's statement, nature gently leads us back to attention, connection, and a sense of place where restoration and inspiration can arise. May it be so for you today.

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FEATURED IMAGE FOR SALE

Limited Edition 2/35 10x15 archival print (other sizes available, simply contact me). All work is authentic and copyrighted, made from an original photographic image capture by Carla Royal. All prints include a signed certificate of authenticity and are printed using the finest archival art papers and archival pigment inks. 

Welcome to Dunedin

Three weeks ago, I arrived in Dunedin, Fl with my little family. I do believe I've landed in paradise. That's saying a great deal coming from the progressive village of Serenbe. I wanted big water and a larger community and Dunedin won my heart. I'm thrilled to be here and look forward to getting to know the folks and the area better.

Dunedin is a delightful little village. I felt a sense of peace, charm, and quaintness the first time I visited. It stole my heart the second time I visited. The third time was for keeps. 

The Dunedin Downtown Market is open Fridays and Saturdays from November until June each year. The vendors are wonderful and diverse. The feeling is one of connection and belonging. The offerings are top-notch. 

Upon arrival, I bought a three wheel bike so I'd be able to carry Pedro in the back basket and my photography equipment in the front basket that you see Yanni installing. Dunedin Cyclery receives 5 stars from me for excellent service, going above and beyond, and for their friendliness right from the start.

Within a day, we discovered a gem of a place practically in the middle of Dunedin. Hammock Park is nearly 100 acres of pristine nature inhabited by various forms of wildlife and plant life. It has five miles of nature trails, three picnic shelters, an observation platform, restrooms, and a playground area. 

Hammock Park is listed in the Great Florida Birding Trail Book. I see an egret every time I'm there and many other birds. It is a paradise. 

The park is decidedly dog-friendly. Look at these precious babies! Pedro loves our walks here.

Honeymoon Island State Park is moments away from the epicenter of Dunedin. The island features beautiful beaches, Gulf of Mexico waters, wonderful nature trails, and a perfect dog beach for Pedro. Just look at this sunset!  

It's been a busy few weeks moving, settling, and recovering, but I could not be happier with my choice to move to Dunedin. I look forward to getting involved and discovering many more amazing scenes. I hope you'll be a part of my journey by subscribing to this photo-blog.


Featured Image for Sale

Limited Edition 1/20, 10x15 archival print. All work is authentic and copyrighted, made from an original photographic image capture by Carla Royal. All prints include a signed certificate of authenticity and are printed using the finest archival art papers and archival pigment inks.