Saturday, November 04, 2006

Park Life

I went out for another exploratory bike ride yesterday afternoon as I was 'home alone' and it was another glorious day. I slapped a wire basket onto the front of the bike, put a folded towel on the bottom for lining purposes and thus was able to take my camera and mp3 player without having things wrapped round my neck.

I was listening to 60's songs and looking out for anything to photograph when I decided to take a shot of a typical road/street in the park.

This one was as good as any and shows how the park is just like a lot of US subdivisions (estates in the UK) - rows of homes with neat yards and cars and trucks parked on driveways.

Closer examination shows something quite different here though with many of the driveways also having a golf cart. I've mentioned before how these carts are used to ferry the residents to and from the numerous events going on here as well as to restrooms and the swimming pools.

I find it amusing how most times the roads can be as empty and quiet as you see in this photo but if it's close to an event like bingo, social/coffee time, dancing, cards or whatever, then you walk or bike at your peril as the carts are out in force and it's like parade time on 4th July.

The park, sorry, community, is a mixture of permanent homes lived in all year round, permanent homes lived in part of the year and rented lots where seasonal 'residents' like us come with 5th wheels or motorhomes and set up camp. It's interesting that there are no travel trailers here and this proves my friends point that they are not really suitable units for living in long term. That's why last April, when they were here for a month to 'try out' the park, they came in a TT but left in a 5th wheel !! My TT was traded in and now I see why.

I rode back along the canal bank that I explored a few days ago and some different wildlife was in the little pool/lake this time. This pool is to one side of the canal path and seems to be a great place to photograph birds of all shapes and sizes. It's not a pretty pool by any means and has quite a bit of greenery in the water. That's a euphimism as it's not nice looking algae or reeds or whatever but at least it IS natural and there are no shopping carts or discarded fridges to blot the view.

This wading critter seemed happy enough to be feeding in the goop and it's beak was snapping away like demented chopsticks all the time I was there.

There is a handy wooden bridge spanning the pool to save us having to walk around it and this allowed me to be far enough removed from the wildlife that I wasn't regarded as a threat - and so they'd eat and drink oblivious to my presence.

The larger birds that were there previously were not around yesterday. There were some smaller dark birds in the water but they were too far away to photograph and they just looked like ducks anyway. I'm after more exotic wildlife here !

I got on the bike again and after a few seconds riding along the canal path, I came upon a similar bird posing by the water. I slid forwards off the saddle, got the camera from the basket and snapped off a shot without even needing to get fully off the bike. It never moved. This wildlife photography is a doddle

Of course things might change if and when I ever come across the alligator(s) that are supposed to be here. I'm sure I'll be keeping close to my bike as having a speedy escape vehicle would be prudent. That's assuming I see it/them before it/them see me.

If it's possible for birds to be said to be keeping a beady eye on someone, then these birds were doing just that with me. I came upon several of them and if I moved a few feet, they'd move too - in the opposite direction of course. The trick was to find the one position where they felt I was no threat to them and just stay there. Eventually they'd relax and even move closer.

I reached the pier and gazebo (sorry but I still haven't got a better name for the end-of-the-pier structure) and there were a few fishing boats out on the lake proper. I watched them for a while but once again, the fish didn't seem to be on the same song sheet and weren't biting.

I looked back along the canal path again and saw yet another wading bird coming along it. I had to snap off a shot quickly as it was giving all the signs that it wasn't staying around. Sure enough, after this shot, it flew away so although I'd rather have had a better composed image of it, this is all I got.

It looks like it's about to head butt the wooden stake but in reality, it just decided to bypass it by flying over it and off to places new. I hope I can get better photos of it's type another time......maybe being eaten by an alligator !!

I came back to the 5th wheel and took Pixie out for walkies. She was enthusiastic to start with and walked on ahead of the leash, sniffing everywhere and stopping at the base of every tree. That's when I realised that if we were to get anywhere, I needed to guide her into the middle of the road where she'd have no reason to stop and sniff. The pace picked up. After about 5 minutes she was along side me walking slightly slower and after 10 minutes she was well behind me and looking quite sorry for herself. With her little 3 inch legs slowing down alarmingly and her flapping tongue vacuuming the tarmac, she was almost at the point where she'd slam on the brakes and suggest that further walking would be done by me and not her. I'd cleverly anticipated this outcome and my route around the block meant that 'home' was already in sight. We made it (I'm sure) with seconds to spare and once inside the air conditioned living room, she gulped down her weight in water and flopped on her side on the carpet - giving me a look with one eye that told me in no uncertain terms that future walkies would NOT be appreciated at that time of day.

I guess it really IS true that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

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