Videos and a photo from Tara Tanaka

Earlier today my travelogue included a meeting with Tara Tanaka, a reader who’s contributed lots of videos to this site (her Vimeo page is here; her Flickr site is here).  While chatting, she asked me if I’d seen her two videos from earlier this year. I hadn’t, so am putting them up here. Her notes are indented; be sure to enlarge the videos by clicking the four arrows at the extreme bottom right.

First though, we have a short video she just sent me, one that was filmed the day we all met at St. George Island. This one is called “A most beautiful migrant: scarlet tanager.”

I drove two hours to St. George Island State Park before sunrise to see birds that had just crossed the Gulf of Mexico in their migration north, and the one bird that I really wanted to see was a male Scarlet Tanager. I did have to do quite a bit of running to get this angle, but I was thrilled to have gotten this clip in beautiful light.

And here’s her photo of a bird we all saw together, a Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea). What a lovely beast!

I went to St. George Island State Park yesterday at sunrise hoping to see the most recent migratory arrivals. A special treat was this male Cerulean Warbler feeding high in an oak.

This one is called “Great Egrets to Wood Ducks”:

I set up my blind on the edge of the swamp, and was hoping to get some photos of the Wood Storks that had been coming in the late afternoon to feed. Instead I was treated to the graceful construction of the only Great Egret nest that I can see from the yard, as well as many Wood Ducks very close. The Wood Ducks are so skittish that I couldn’t quickly switch back and forth between the two, as I had to move the lens slowly enough that the ducks didn’t see the movement in the blind.

This one is called “The Price of Protection”, and shows the necessary violence of nature. Like Tara, I found it hard to watch but still fascinating:

I was eating breakfast last July overlooking our backyard swamp, and saw an enormous spray of water out in the cypress trees. I grabbed my binoculars and saw that it was one of our alligators with one of our recently fledged, still naive Wood Storks that had been hunting for food in the shallow water. I grabbed my digiscoping gear and ran out in the yard to video the behavior. The bird was already dead, but it was still hard to watch. I hoped that the parents weren’t watching.

The rookery couldn’t survive without the alligators that patrol the swamp, keeping raccoons from raiding the nests. If you’ve ever been to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm or Gatorland near Orlando, you know that birds understand that nesting over alligators keeps them safe from most predators. Unfortunately the draw for the alligators is that some birds fall – or are pushed by their siblings from their nests when they’re young, and then there are some like this unfortunate stork that fledge, but are not yet savvy enough to keep an eye out for alligators.


  1. DrBrydon
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Nature red in tooth and claw.

  2. glen1davidson
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Ah, that last one brings back memories of my brother.

    Very sad, hee hee, uh, sob.

    Glen Davidson

  3. W.T. Effingham
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The stork was former KGB, the gator an individual who has no connections of any possible remote links to any Russian Oligarchs, particularly the benevolent leader Vlad.

  4. rickflick
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Great films! I have been a big fan of Tara Tanaka for a long time. I’ve enjoyed the view from Florida for years. These clips are just fascinating and of really high quality. Each one is a little adventure and a feast for the eye.

    • Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks very much Rick! I just love that I get to share the wonder of our back yard around the world, and Jerry has been instrumental in that.

      I saw your comment on the video asking which lens that was – I will need to check a file on an external drive, but it was either the scope or the 400mm. It was the GH5 shot in 4K.

      • Mike
        Posted April 19, 2018 at 8:41 am | Permalink

        The Ducks and Storks are beautiful, as is the Alligator in its own savage way.

  5. Posted April 18, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Absolutely a wonder. I was enthralled by all of the images here.

  6. RGT
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful video, egrets and herons are my favorites!

    • Posted April 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks very much! I love the “big birds” too.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Glad you’re staying busy and continue to capture the wonders of nature in such fine detail.

  8. Christopher
    Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never been lucky enough to see alligators in the wild, and and I would have been thrilled to see such a thing in person, gory as it might have been. I’ve yet to see a cerulean warbler or a scarlet tanager either, though summer tanagers were frequent backyard visitors at my family home, especially active when I mowed the yard.

    And as an aside, seeing a photo OF Tara Tanaka, it just photos by Tara, gave me the same feeling as when I finally see a radio personality’s photo after years of hearing their voice. I have so many mental images of the frequent posters here, and I’ll bet I’m not even close to what they really look like. It is fun though, to finally see people and match mental to real life images. Thanks for all the great photos and videos.

    • Posted April 18, 2018 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s so funny how we get mental images of how we expect people to look, and even more amusing when they look just the opposite or rarely just like you thought!

      It means a lot to me to hear that someone has been able to “see” a species or behavior for the first time through my work – thanks very much for the meaningful comments!

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