August 9 – BOTD – Black- Crowned Night Heron

Here is my entry for Granny Shot It’s  Bird of the Day (BOTD) challenge.

Black-Crowned Night Heron at Lettuce Lake Park, Tampa FL

The Black-crowned night heron is generally seen at dusk or night time, however, they get out throughout the day in Florida. This photo was taken in the middle of the day. To learn more, check out the link at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

August 8 – BOTD – Smooth-Billed Ani

Here is my entry for Granny Shot It’s  Bird of the Day (BOTD) challenge.

Smooth-Billed Ani at Little Talbot State Park, Jacksonville, FL

The Smooth-Billed Ani is a member of the cuckoo family. It is a resident from southern Floridathe Bahamas, the Caribbean, parts of Central America, south to western EcuadorBrazil, and northern Argentina. How it made its way to North Florida is a true mystery & was rare bird for around these parts. This bird hung out at the park for weeks at the end of 2018 & beginning of 2019. We went back several times just to catch a glimpse one more time. We were able to see it 4 times in 4 separate trips before we didn’t see it any longer. This was a life bird for us and we were able to put it on our count for both years.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

Blue Angels performing at Jacksonville Beach during air show.

My entry for this week’s photo challenge.

I don’t go to many air shows & it’s been 10 years since I’ve been. Seeing the Blue Angels in all their glory was on my bucket list. After 12 years in the Marine Corps, I never had a chance to see these F-18’s so close to my personal space. They soared with precision & with a huge smile on my face I could barely hold my camera still. My experience was especially awesome because this event is free & over the Atlantic Ocean. I shot these pics with my Nikon D50 (god rest it’s soul) & a 300mm telephoto lens. Very amatuer camera but took awesome photos…I was just starting out.

If you’ve never seen the US Navy’s Blue Angels, please take the time to do it. Live in or near the Jacksonville area or planning a trip, the Sea and Sky Air Show is October 26-27, 2019. Don’t miss your opportunity to see an incredible spectacle for yourself that will leave your adreline pumping for hours and a memory that will last a lifetime.

Blue Angels, Jacksonville Beach – 11/9/2009

A few hours at the Beach

Little Talbot Island State Park, Florida
Beach before a thurnderstom with the tide going out.
Little Talbot Island, tide going out & storm clouds moving in.

After enjoying a drive to Fernandina Beach to browse around the shops & eat lunch at the Salty Pelican, we decided to take a brief stroll on the beach before heading home. Rather than walk the beach in Fernandina, we decided to head south back towards Jacksonville. You see, Little Talbot Island is located on A1A between Jacksonville & Fernandina Beach. On the drive up, it was high tide with plenty of water surrounding us and, frankly we were hungry. I had my heart set on fish tacos at the Salty Pelican, so we headed north. I will be writing about Downtown Fernandina on another day.

Surf with the tide going out on the beach at Little Talbot Island State Park.
Frank heading South on Little Talbot Island just before the storms moved in.

As I reported in my first blog about Little Talbot Island, if you go north up the beach a ways, you can have the beach all to yourselves. This is the case in the photo above. After walking about a mile north, I took this photo on the way back. If you notice, all the people in the background are hovering around the entrance to the beach from the main boardwalk. We had our beach to ourselves with just a few passerbys during our walk in both directions.

BEWARE, Do Not Disturb Sea Turtle Nest.
Several Sea Turtle nests were blocked off along the stretch of beach.

eling the wind, listening to the waves as the tide is going out & the sun is beginning its decent, I took special notice of the Sea Turtle Nests that were roped off near the edge of the dunes. Several of them within eye shot were staring me down. Sea Turtles are on the endangered species list and as the photo above shows, you can go to jail if you mess with the nest. I simply walked up close enough to take this picture and enlarged it to share with everyone. There were footprints all around & I’m hoping those were from the park rangers as they put up the fencing. As Ellen Degeneres would say, be kind to one another…that includes endangered sea turtles getting ready to hatch & make their trecherous walk to the sea below.

Sea Turtle Nest - Conservation and protecting an endangered species.
Sea Turtle Nest – Little Talbot Island
Gopher Tortoise
Gopher Tortoise seen right at the main boardwalk. He was moving rapidly.

We continued on our journey, watching flocks of Pelicans ride the waves, observing seagulls with fish in their beaks, rather than begging from the humans for a potato chip. The storm was approaching, thunder in the distance & the chance of one of the most spectacular sunsets ever. OK, that’s reaching as there have been many exceptional sunsets since I’ve lived in Florida. The clouds were moving in fast. Frank & I had picked up the pace a bit heading to the main entrance. I managed to get the photo below before the clouds completely overtook the sky.

Sunset on Little Talbot Island State Park taken from the surf just before a storm moved in.
Beginning of a gorgeous Florida sunset.
Mother Nature had other plans, at least from the perch of Little Talbot Island State Park.
All in all our few hours at the beach helped rejuvenate the mind, body & spirit. Please find your happy place for a healthy life! Hope you enjoy all of this from our perspectives & through Our Eyes Open!

The Knocking in my Head


Today, I had to have a second MRI. September, 2018 I was having severe headaches that wouldn’t go away and created these extremely powerful explosions (or so I felt). Sometimes it would feel as though someone was stabbing me in the temple or the back of the neck. The results came in & a couple of spots were spotted (OK, pun intended). In the mean time, I was diagnosed with migranes & found out those stabbing ones are referred to as ice pick headaches. Snow cone anyone?

This second MRI was denied by my insurance carrier a few months ago (leave them anonymous for now. It is one of the major carriers). I am a veteran, but work full time, pay for my company’s insurance so I can be denied benefits. After 3 months of painstakingly persuing this situation, the Veteran’s Administration came through & paid for me to have this followup Open MRI done at the facility where I had the original MRI done. This is a facility outside the VA. Thank you VA for coming through!

You see, I’m claustrophobic to the max! The thought of being in a closed MRI doesn’t set well with me & that is the only availability within the walls of the VA in North Florida. I’ve experienced a closed MRI once in the 1990’s after a car accident & never want to do it again. Even a sedative couldn’t lure me in.

Pink lava lamp on black background. Close enough to purple!

As I laid there today with the ear plugs in, I somehow started thinking of all the topics I wanted to write about in my blog. It was an overwhelming amount of data. I saw purple as in Deep Purple, Purple Rain, Jimi Hendrix types of purple & purple plasma like swirls that you would see in a lava lamp. Ok, I just dated myself, but I think this awesome mood changer is making a come back! Anyway…as the MRI machine continued loudly with it’s many sounds, I found myself clearing from that funk of darkness. Now, back in my yard seeing the birds at my feeder, many of the sounds coming from the scary MRI machine were now “knock knock knock” sounds like a Woodpecker. I decided in that moment once I got out of this predicament & back to my computer, I would share one of my favorite woodpecker photos taken of our feeder to lighten the mood. This red-bellied woodpecker frequents our yard with his mate & offspring.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker loves the peanuts best!

I don’t know what the results will be with my MRI, but if the knocking in my head can remind me of the wonders of nature & bring me back to the outdoors, I’m all in!

I would love to hear any thoughts you have if you have experienced an MRI & how you felt. Sharing is caring!

Hidden Treasures of North Florida

Little Talbot Island State Park

Florida is one of the most popular tourist destinations for people across the US and around the world. Vacationers come from all over to breathe in it’s captivating beaches, spring break parties and Disney World. Yet, Florida has hidden treasures that people don’t know about, so before planning a trip, check out locations such as Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Sure Disney is the place where magic happens, but you can create your own magic in other “not so publicized” areas that Florida has to offer.

Little Talbot Island is located off of A1A between Jacksonville and Amelia Island. It’s $5 to get into the park per car for a day full of sun & fun along a 5 1/2-mile natural stretch of beach. No hotels, motels, or restaurants to distract from the natural beauty of this barrier island. There are no vehicles allowed on the beach. You will see an occasional park ranger vehicle driving down the beach, but it is rare. During the winter months, you can explore the entire stretch of the beach pretty much to yourselves. During the summer, the crowds can be thick, however if you walk about 1/4 mile up the beach north of the main boardwalk, you will find a nice area to stake your claim for the day. There are 4 boardwalks along the paved road with restrooms & changing rooms at each location. Picnic pavillions & tables are spread out along the roadway as well.

For a more pleasant experience, it’s a good idea to bring a large umbrella, beach chairs, towels, blankets & cooler. A beach cart or wagon is recommended if you have one. Makes walking down the beach to your desired location a huge plus. Please note that dogs are not allowed on the beach so your furry family members will need to stay home or in your camper if you are here for an extended stay.

For those who enjoy the outdoors, Little Talbot has it all; a full service campground (reservations are required), hiking trails, biking trails, beach biking, areas to kayak, surfing, bird watching, fishing and strolling along a beautiful sandy beach. Search for shells, sand dollars, star fish & shark teeth. Relax and listen to the crashing of the waves as they come in or the lull of the shore as the tide goes out without the crowds that dominate Florida’s other beaches. A true hidden treasure for the curious nature lover! Florida’s State Parks are rated America’s best and Little Talbot Island is a great example of why.

Take a picnic, don’t forget the sunscreen and get ready to enjoy your vacation Florida style!

Check the website for any boardwalk closures or for more information to one of Florida’s hidden treasures that is Little Talbot Island State Park.

Welcome to my Travel and Nature Blog

Open your eyes to the beauty that nature has to offer.

Welcome to Our Eyes Open Blog!

My name is Lisa Coleman & together with my husband, Frank Good, we will be sharing our adventures with you. We live in Jacksonville, Florida where we have close access to many beautiful destinations and the next long distance trip is right around the corner. With over 50 years of travel, photography, hiking and camping experience let us explore with you new exciting places and revisit some wonderful old favorites.

We are brand new to blogging & look forward to each new post. Some of the topics that we plan to write about are below:

  • Travel
  • Nature
  • Birding
  • Food
  • Personal Interest

Thanks for taking a peek & comments are welcome!

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