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When I entered the Audubon Society photo contest last summer the least expensive route was to simply join. Wasn't much really. As you know, I won nothing, however I do get the magazine which contains some very beautiful photographs. It was while reading the magazine that I first learned about an upcoming movie release: The Big Year. Birding movie huh? Can't imagine it having a wide appeal, but it interested me mostly because of that.

So yesterday morning, while playing bridge, my birder friend Linda said she was going in the evening with a friend and did I want to join them. Why not? I'm pretty much a nighttime homebody these days, but I really need to get out more. I'm not getting any younger you know. Beverly, another bridge friend, wanted to come as well. Linda thought the film made birders look goofy, however, to me it made them look very, very passionate about their birds. You've all probably heard it's based on a true story of three men trying to see more birds in a year than anyone else. If you've a notion--watch the little trailer I've provided.
In addition to the national magazine I get the local newsletter which lists birding activities. Apparently, in the fall,  Mead Garden is quite the hot spot for migrating birds. Because I'll be busy at Winter Garden in the morning when a group is meeting there, Linda and I decided to meet there this morning at 8:30. Oddly enough, she never showed up--must be something came up. Pulling into the parking lot I saw some birders waiting on a third who showed up soon thereafter. More followed. I could see them speeding into the parking lot, grabbing a jacket and binoculars, and bounding down the paths. According to the film, some of the folks are quite competitive, while others like the "social aspect" of birding. Birds of a get my drift.

I began roaming around in search of birds. The morning was chilly, only in the low 50's, with steam rising from the ponds. In other words, it was nice and peaceful. I did hear a lot of bird calls I didn't recognize, but I didn't actually see those birds. The only one I did see and photograph is, according to my handy Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds, this downy woodpecker. I wish I could say that it is rare, however, it is not. Plus the photo isn't that great either!
So, if I can't show you any birds, what can I show you? There is a decaying little path over some pretty mucky ground:
I'd been warned by Linda, who heard it through the birding grapevine, that the recent rains were still evident in parts of the gardens. So glad I have my handy Privo shoes! I headed over to a longer boardwalk which traverses a wetland area. Adjacent to the path is a butterfly garden with some lovely blooming asters:
Of which I'm showing you one. Alongside the walk I saw what is probably some kind of weed (wildflower?)--I don't have a handy guide for those. Nevertheless, you don't need to know what kind it is to appreciate the gorgeous color, now do you?
In one area some pretty cool mushrooms hooked to trees:
Aren't wild mushrooms super cool? When you see something like this it sure illustrates why the term "mushrooming out of control" is so apt. As I meandered along I looked up and thought to myself, who says Florida has no changing leaves?
I didn't know what to make of this white glob, that if I didn't know better, I'd think was a giant cotton ball.
Actually I don't know better, I know nothing at all about this, but surely no one threw a cotton ball into the marsh. There was a lot of dew on things, giving then such a beautiful jewel like look. Sparkle, sparkle.

The film shows birders come in all shapes, ages, ethnicities, and sizes. I kept seeing this young couple:
Actually it kinda made me happy to see some young folks engaged in a hobby which they might enjoy their entire lives. It's so nice to be out in nature, sharing a common love of something together, or at least it looked that way to me. Not far from where I took this picture I was looking high, I was looking in front, I was looking too and fro, however, I wasn't looking down, which led to yours truly catching the toe of her shoe on a tree root and going DOWN. My camera flew from my hand as I tried to break my fall. Good thing my knee is still sturdy from bending down on it so much to take photographs. Between that, and the fact that I was wearing jeans, there is no evidence whatsoever. It hurt though and I mean that in a physical way. I was spared any embarrassment because those other birders I mentioned above--they were around a bend from me, gathered in a group exclaiming about a sighting high above.

Becoming a birder is not part of my plans. I will say that it is cooler than you might imagine though.

In other news, a jury summons arrived the other day. Let's hope when I call on November 15th at 5pm, I will hear that it is unnecessary for me to show up. As well, today a notice came regarding our television. Apparently there have been reports of spontaneous combustion, as in the parts inside. Sony is coming out to take a look next Friday. The pleasant telephone helper told me in no uncertain terms to unplug the television should I smell burning. Will do. Plus, I've got a tire light on again.

Bruce is home, actually at the office, but at least in Orlando. Whew--this has been a long year for the both of us with him traveling four days a week. Mostly for him.

Finally, although this won't be available until early next year, I'm dying to get a Lytro!!! Can't wait.
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