Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gilfoyle (Not!) on Copperfox

What could go better with my new Copperfox than my newly-gotten Gilfoyle-McGroarty saddle?!  NEWSFLASH - Keren G-McGroarty has claimed she did not make this saddle!!  March 15.  Who did??  With that caveat, Enjoy -
Both were made in England.  This is a short post which celebrates a fortuitous combination.  But I made the saddle blanket.  : )

Friends will know I received my first Copperfox last fall (Oct 2016), one of the "Marble" Connemara mares.  I absolutely loved her.
Ever since then I'd been eyeing the Copperfox catalog and thinking about the exchange rate.  When Copperfox announced a sale that ended at Christmas (2016), I decided to make my move.  All along I had been drawn to only two of their four molds.  Finnegan, while an excellent performance prospect, was not quite so close to my heart as the Connemara; call him a solid second place.  I suppose eventually I shall pursue Finnegan (especially if he turns out to be anywhere near a pair with True North, Breyer's new mold by the same sculptress), but in the end, I chose another Connemara.
I loved the bay, Cadno.
When Cadno arrived, I was marginally less smitten than I had been with the Marble; but only marginally.  He was a very nice horse and I was delighted with him.  He didn't seem quite as sharply molded; and it took me a while to appreciate his grey hoof paint.  He was more matte than I had subconsciously wanted - I seem to have a serious crush on gloss.  But his color was gorgeous, every bit as luscious as I had been led to believe.  The model is wonderful.  It was sculpted by the same artist as Geronimo.  When you hold Cadno next to Geronimo, you learn how much Geronimo has been 'softened,' smoothed down, and how much muscle detail was lost on him compared to the Copperfoxes.

I named my bay Canto, a word which means 'song.'  It also means "Can too!" as an expression of confidence, which was important to me.

The saddle was first seen on MH$P.  The pictures were dark, but I fell in love.
photo by Lynn Norbury
I did not know much about Keren Gilfoyle-McGroarty, other than she had been around forever and that she was from Great Britain.  The overall level of detail on the set was awesome.  This was really the first time I'd paid serious attention to the work of this artist, for which I am somewhat ashamed.  I determined I had to have the saddle, and luck was with me - it came home that fall (Sept 2016). 
What makes me fall in love with a particular saddle?  For one thing I collect pieces from artists who have matured to the point of having their own distinct style and a pretty high level of detail.  I can only afford one piece from each, so it should be a representative saddle.  I really like saddles that look so real you could 'sit in them and ride away' and be comfy when you did.  The suede seat, then, was a strong draw, one of those subliminal things!  This particular set had that balance of silvering and tooling which I like.  It had the unmistakable stamp of a quality piece of model tack: every part was in scale with every other part, and all the parts expressed the same artistic vision.  For a bonus, it had the most glorious bling, jewels set on to the silver - something I'd rarely seen in real life (and loved when I did).  They too were not overdone; there was a masterful sense of restraint.
But perhaps the best bonus of all was that I had nothing like it.  When availability crosses with quality with liquidity (none of which is guaranteed!), it's time to bite.

The earlier pictures of the bridle reveal my troubles with getting the bit right on the off side.  Yes, the earpiece is too big for this horse, and that forelock doesn't help.  On the near side, everything laid beautifully on the head.
 The braided-floss reins had amazing buckles with silver tips, something I rarely see (and didn't own).
The blanket, of course, is the 'Vibe' I finally finished in late January.  It had been under construction since May of 2016!  which meant sitting around in its little blanket kit box for months, while I dragged it on every trip, to Kentucky, to Florida...  Something about the bright colors just hit it off with the amazing bright jewels on this saddle.  I suspect they are AB, aurora borealis, so they have peach and purple and green and gold tones, just like this Vibe.
The black elements of the saddle balanced with the black of the blanket.  Black is an extremely strong color, yet in this case each piece used it perfectly.

Keren had made her own silver for this set, a clue as to how old it was.  It is not a material I am familiar with.  I am still trying to learn more about when this saddle was made, and under what circumstances.  It is at least 20 years old from what the seller told me.
Minor repairs were necessary with lifting silver on the cheekpieces, breastcollar and cantle.  On the whole, this saddle has been remarkably well preserved.

I am grateful to have it!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Blanket Collection 6

My stable blanket collection has continued to grow 'beyond rope and fence;'  there are enough new ones, acquired over 2016, to justify two posts.  This Collection 6 will be the first of the two.  I have two huge spreadsheets on my computer devoted to blankets.  One of them tracks everything Breyer ever put out (or tries to), while the other merely tracks what my herd possesses.  That's a lot! and every matte adult who wants one now has a blanket.  This has completely changed the appearance of my shelves; for so many decades my horses were bare.  But there are still many who don't, or can't, have blankets... foals and odd sizes amoung them.

This sixth chapter will also take a look at pieces that are not exactly blankets.  In the process of collecting stable blankets I've acquired adjuncts: coolers, dress sheets, duplications, non-Breyer pieces and race tack sets are some of them.  In particular, Breyer's No. 2492, Race Tack Set, will be featured.

Let's begin where Blankets 5 left off, with my collecting in January of 2016.  I had noticed, in my haunting of eBay and MH$P, something that becomes familiar to every collector of Breyer:  Factory Variations!  Here's the 1995-through-1999 Breyer Catalog picture for No. 3952, the Plaid Dress Sheet:
from 1995 -1999 Breyer Catalog
This handsome blanket-like cover is clearly a smart red-and-black (actually darkest-blue) plaid pattern with a leather (velcro) tab fastener at the chest and a red ribbon loop under the tail.  There is a velcro belly strap, red, beneath.  I had long wanted to have one.  I also wanted to know (somewhat less enthusiastically) why so many of them were for sale.  Generally, when you see a lot of something for sale years afterward, it means that folks weren't exactly thrilled with it.
What was its texture?  How thick and/or flexible?  What did it look like underneath?
And more interestingly:  Why were there two kinds of 3952s??

In March I acquired a 3952 that matched the catalog:
I found out these Dress Sheets were of a very stiff material.  Age had not softened it, even though it was relatively thin.  The underside was dark and rough.  I like my blankets to 'hug' the horse, to wrap around him in softly-fitting folds, but this fabric was neither huggy nor loose.  One mystery solved: I could guess why they weren't kept around.

But the other mystery was the Dress Sheet I'd picked up in February:
Sold to me as Breyer No. 3952!  Seen online just as much as the other!  Carrying the exact same tag, bearing the exact same leather chest tab, same tail ribbon, belly closure, and cut in the exact same pattern!  It took some time for the difference to dawn on me, which undoubtedly was what Breyer was counting on.  This version has a thin yellow stripe in the middle of its red stripes.  The plaid is different.
Underneath this blanket is the same darkest-blue surface.  But the fabric is a little softer, smoother and more flexible than the other.  Not a whole lot... but there is a detectable difference.  This sheet is lighter and more bendy.  Five years is a fair long time for a Breyer blanket to run...  I'm guessing they simply ran out of one material and substituted another.  Less likely is the thought that Breyer detected how poorly one was selling.  This remains in the realm of speculation.
For my own records I'm calling it the Yellow Stripe version, or 3952y.

In a blanket lot deal I acquired a No. 3953, the Dark Green/Black Dress Sheet:
This is a twin to the No. 3952.  It ran the same 5 years, 1995 to 1999.  I'm happy to report this blanket is of softer and more 'huggy' material, without the stiff dark lining of the 3952 (non-yellow-stripe), and thinner.   It is self-color inside, unlined, and a fine toy value.

In 2014 Breyer had the bit between its teeth on company branded blankets, and came up with this jewel, the Dover Saddlery blanket.
I first saw this gem on a blogspot, Alyssa Monk's Bits and Spurs (thanks for sharing Alyssa!).  Naturally it wasn't in any catalog!  As I understand it, you had to buy a certain amount, say $300.00 worth, of Breyers at the Saddlery before you could get one.  I thought I'd have a long hard hunt for this little delicacy of premium swag -- the odds were against me -- but then in March 2016 I saw it go by on eBay.  A dealer had several, still in bags.  Miracle.  It is a very nice piece, based on Breyer's classic Quilted Blanket pattern, which is big enough to fit everybody.  There is only one belly strap and only one emblem, on the near hip.  The rings near the tail are, presumably, for the owner to tie their own rump strap closure to.  I confess I leave them alone on my blankets, treating them as decoration.

Green Trio:  left to right:  "Vixen" Christmas 2014; Dover Saddlery 2014; and Green WeatherBeeta, unknown but assuming 2014.
2014 was a good year for green Breyer blankets!!

In June 2016, trying (and succeeding) to get a Green WeatherBeeta for a friend, I landed a multi-blanket lot that included these:
Breyer has offered several Race Tack sets over the years, starting with The Black Stallion fever in 1982.  This red and gold one is No. 2492.  It was carried from 2004 to 2008, and this is the Breyer Catalog picture for it:
from 2004 - 2008 Breyer Catalog
Nice of them to tell you about the 'Grey horse not available!'

It's an attractive shot.  But I couldn't get the hood to fit my Lonesome Glories.
I tried and tried.  The back stuck up and the white leather (it is real leather) eye-rims blocked vision.
 It just didn't work.  Breyer tack is usually ridiculous, but this was a new low.
I needed a longer head, held more forward, with more distance between eye and ear.  After a frustrating time, I found one whereupon it fit a little better:
At least it's a race horse!!
This Race Tack Set hood fits so much better on Cigar that one can't help wondering whether it was actually designed for him.  Cigar debuted in 1998, so this idea is well within possibility.

Two more blankets for Chapter 6.  Breyer was issuing Limited Edition stable blankets as early as 1996, as we know from my Tseminole Wind blanket (see Blanket Collection 3).  Here are the 1999 BreyerFest 10th Anniversary blankets, much fancier, in two colors and (apparently) in a much larger piece count.  That year the Celebration horse was Molokai.  (According to ID Your Breyer, 4200 Molokais were released, so that is my only clue as to how many blankets.)  He was then a recently introduced mold (Big Ben 1996) and my index card box has a curious card in it recording a "Molokai Blanket" as part of my bonus for participating in the Hobby Round Tables that year!!  Unfortunately I could find no such thing!  (I may have been confusing it with the Tseminole Wind blanket.)  Today, what I was seeing on eBay and other places was this:
And this!
Halter by Jaapi
Proof, if it is needed, that the first BreyerFest was in 1990 and not 1989.  (I thought it was.  What do you get when you subtract 10 from 99?)  It nicely illustrates what my husband calls the "picket fence problem," counting zero as one.  : )

Incredibly, these two blankets seem to be the first manifestations of what would later appear as the Show Blanket Collection in 2000, 2004 and 2008 -- blankets which would set the standard of what a Breyer blanket is, in cut and pattern, up unto the present day.  Back in 1999 it was truly cutting edge, all the rage.  They have a double binding, allowing two colors, so that each blanket uses three colors in all.  The material is heavy, thick and smooth, a polyester type fabric which lends itself beautifully to the embroidery and logos.  Later, with the Show Blanket Collection, Breyer would add fancy rump darts.  These early ones had merely a self-color slanted dart.  The pattern fit many models well, although the fairly narrow neck opening would be troublesome and the long back would wrinkle up on some.  The front is entirely velcro closure - an extravagance of velcro, very easy to use - and there is a belly ribbon, non-adjustable, of velcro.

It took me some time to find these 2 blankets; they are quite rare by now, especially the blue version.  My white one arrived in Feb of 2016 and it had a large purplish stain on the back.  I spent a morning getting rid of the stain.  Rubbing alcohol and patience finally did the trick.  Bizarre as it sounds, I am convinced the stain was caused by grape candy.  : )

In future posts I hope to catch up on the Blankets, showcase other tack artists and recently acquired saddles, tell curious model horse tales and share more tackmaking.  As ever, thanks for your patience. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TSII #456: The Corona

I have been greatly inspired by NaMoPaiMo.  Yet I didn't want to paint a horse.  Instead I needed to make progress on a bogged-down saddle order.  It seemed unrealistic to finish out an entire Silver Parade Saddle in one month -- recent ones have taken me 15 months and 7 months, and this one's less than halfway at 5 months -- so I set my sights on just the Corona saddle blanket.  The blanket is a part that I normally do at the end, when I am (normally) exhausted.  Every little part counts...!  though I cringed a bit, recognizing blankets are easy and tack is not horse-painting.  That's part of the reason this post has been slow to appear.

In a burst of bravery, I invented the name LoMoTackMo:  Local Model Tackmaking Month.  In truth every month around here is Tackmaking Month.  But I so wanted to be doing SOMETHING along with all of you painters...
 Shown above is my Corona blanket project on the 8th of February.  This picture and the next 5 are of special importance to me.  Believe it or not ( -- Drum Roll - !!!!!!!!!) these are the Very First pictures I've taken with my cell phone!!!!!!!! 
It explains the lousy focus...  they had to be PhotoShopped later...
 Yea, credit NaMoPaiMo if you're going to credit anything... 
They, plus the two below, were taken at Rachel Mitchell Pierce's house, north of Tucson (Trails End Studio).  All praise to a wonderful hostess who made me feel right at home.  I have been fortunate indeed to visit model horse people in Arizona, and this year it was Rachel's turn.  This was definitely the model high point of my week in the SouthWest!
Here is Rachel:
And Chris Armstrong who managed to come out for a few hours.  Thanks, Chris.
You will spot a pile of horse blankets I was showing off (don't be surprised!!), my Copperfox Marble mare wearing a new one, and, somewhat out of focus with Rachel, a slew of CollectAs with their old 1960s foal blankets.  Yes, the CollectAs travel easy, but, en masse, they are heavier than the Breyers.
A fantastic time was had by all.

The night before the Rachel visit, I had invented a needle threader for my punch needle.  Previous to this, I accomplished every change of color while making a Corona blanket by unscrewing the plastic barrel and hand-threading the metal shank, then re-assembling the entire tool.  Crazy!!??   I have made 5 corona blankets like that!!  Anyway... swallowing hard at my stubbornness... I asked Dad for some fine wire, and with a little fiddling and some 30-gauge, I came up with this.
 My new needle-threader is 4 inches of 30-ga. galv. steel wire.  Note the tiny curve in the very tip of the hook: it makes it easier to squeeze the hook into the needle's barrel.  Slide the threader's butt end gently down the barrel, hook the thread, squeeze to insert, and pull the threader out from the handle end with pliers (with fingers bends it).  The punch needle is threaded.  After that, you have to hand-thread the tip again, for a punch needle also has a hole in its outer wall (below).  But this step is easily done with fingers.  It's even easier sitting at home under a magnifier - yes I was mad enough to try it on the airplane flight home!   It worked, but of course was frustratingly slow there.
With this almost magical equipment, I soldiered on with my Corona blanket.  I usually worked early in the morning while in Tucson.  A week isn't quite long enough to completely adapt to the two hour time zone shift.  My body was still on PA time.

This shot, taken after I got back home (Feb 10), shows the beginnings of some problems.  The fabric I'm using, two-sided fleece, is very stretchy.  As small as my hoop is (gotten at Jo Ann Fabs, the smallest hoop I've ever found), its 2  1/2 inches still provide a wide opportunity to stretch out the fleece.  That very stretching makes dense, overly-tight stitching all the more possible.  Thus my Corona tends to hump up and curl when released from tension.  My desire to double-punch, as instructed by the artist who taught me (thanks Melody!), is creating great bulk.  See the wrinkle starting at the withers?
Another problem was that I went right past the edge of my saddle's base plate (bottom skirt), breaking my own rules about test-fitting all the parts and pieces of a saddle.  (Arrow points to white loops.)
Whoops!!  Now what!!  I'd have to TAKE OUT some of the punching... I'd never done this before...  Sigh.  So much of tackmaking is undoing your own work.  I've often been glad no one could know how great a percentage of my own tack work was wasted like this.  Call it learning.  Taking out the punching turned out to be easy and fairly quick.  I cut some loops and then picked up my Needle Awl.  Between the pliers and the Awl, everything came out.
 It left a series of tiny depressions, like miniature sinkholes.  Below, I'm redrawing my outlines, breaking yet another rule of mine, one about not using pen on blankets.  I couldn't find a pencil that would work on the fleece.
Above, I am about to rework the offside corner.  It looks like the near.  This is a bit confusing, but it's because a Corona is essentially worked upside-down.
Here is our cover picture, taken a few days earlier, of the upper side.  There will be several steps still to go after the punching (looping) is all done.
 Here the corner is turned, now smaller and better fitted to the saddle.  Using Fray-Chek has caused the pen ink to bleed purple  : (  but fortunately it doesn't show on the other side.
 The desire to make the smallest tightest stripes (bands) on this blanket has taken over.  I've never made bands this tiny!!  I'm also noticing they don't quite match the near side....  sigh....  I have a name for this peculiar failing of miniaturists:  "The Enlargement of Intensity."  When I really focus on making something small, sometimes it makes it larger.
(Feb 15) Here is where my heart breaks.  I discover that I've done the near front corner too short, both in height and in distance from rear.  Arrgghh!!
Couldn't I see it wasn't fitting, wasn't symmetric??  What's with me?!!  This is beyond painful.  It's one thing to take out a few bands... but this time, I find myself having to take out 10 bands.

In the midst of my sorrows, I've invented another new trick: shaving off the fleece in just the track I will be stitching.  It makes it much easier to see the weave of the fleece, and it prevents the fleece from gumming up the stitching quite so much.  After 37 years of making tack, I can still invent new tricks!!!!
And here we will stop this post.  You'll have to take the finishing of my Corona on trust.  The loops will be cut, fleece edges folded over and sewn down (that hides the mess and protects the horse), and everything trimmed and frizzed to form the typical padded roll of the Corona parade blanket.

It appears I can make progress on other parts of the saddle this month, so thanks to Jennifer all over again. I've had a grand time sharing all this.  I hope it might be useful to future tackmakers.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

FL Birds from the Canoe

 The number of bird pictures I took during our recent Christmas vacation in FL was amazing:  More than ever before.  The convenience of our little canoe camera, a Canon Powershot SH610 HS, is surely to blame.  Some trips we feel like taking pictures; some we don't.  This time we did but even so only about half our runs were covered!  Sorting out the mass of pix (over 600) into 'which river when,' it dawned on me.  Birds were present every run.  What did you expect from birdwatchers and a model-horse-show-photographer?!  This post will loosely follow chronology.
I will add two cents about slackwater canoeing:  It's a sport for folk who like movies in slow motion; and a good run bears a strong resemblance to a grand old-fashioned amusement park ride.

We'll start with Haw Creek, northeast of Ocala.  This shot (above) is as I took it.  Most shots in this post were taken from our canoe, on the water; if not, it's noted.  The blue is a Little Blue Heron and to his left is an immature Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.
Birdwatchers + canoe + Powershot = PhotoShop!  Below is the best one of the Immature Yellow-Crowned, cropt and sharpened.  Haw Creek was about half covered with duckweed, and required faith to launch.  We did eventually find clear water.
Here's the Little Blue Heron, zoomed and sharpened:
Next was the St John's River.  Along with the Withlacoochee this is one of the longest rivers in Florida... by no means fully canoe-able!  One of our favorite St Johns tributaries is the Econlockhatchee (which I've blogged on earlier).  These Sandhill Canes were photo'd by George while walking on the floodplain of the St John's near the Econlockhatchee.
The Sandhill Crane is one of the most majestic birds in FL.  They are always easy to identify because of their call, a rolling grinding mutter that sounds like "grullyo, grullyo."  For you horse color fans:  the Spanish word 'grullo' comes from this bird.  The color of the horse was exactly the gray color of the cranes.
This shot is cropt and zoomed:

  Next, still on the St John's, we were out south of the Jolly Gator marina off Hwy 50, heading for Puzzle Lake.
At first just white dots, these eventually turned into birds.
 Looks like a couple of White Ibis.  For some reason we started calling the many Ibises "Ibitz" and this nickname stuck for the rest of the trip.
A fine Common Egret (Great Egret).  This shot has been cropt and straightened; I'm still working on getting my horizons level.
We generally park for lunch by letting the wind blow us against a shore somewhere.  Canoeists are very aware of wind, especially when their craft weighs only 57 pounds.  During lunch that day I spotted a familiar color pattern on a post.  It took about 5 tries to capture this Bald Eagle:
The Econlockhatchee is one of the few places where you can step right out onto the prairie.  With the sun behind us, we caught a rare double portrait.  : )
On one of our Econlockhatchee runs, we found a great many Ibitz. 
Note the steep banks of the Econ.  This river varies from feet-high banks to almost no bank, and back again.  It's amazing considering the cows.  Speaking of cows, I believe this is a Snowy Egret.
Where there are cows, there are usually Cattle Egrets.  Although we saw a lot of them I was unable to photograph more than a few.  I was also trying to capture the colors of the cows.  There was a black bay I enjoyed (on left).
 Since we were below their radar, we saw mostly just heads.
The variety of horns and body shapes leads me to state that, at least in this part of the St John's, the cows are Brahman crossbreds;  in other words, mutts.
This day was a long one and we were out until near sunset.  I got lucky and shot a fine Tricolor Heron in the downsun golden glow.
These used to be called Louisiana Herons.  He was fishing enthusiastically.  I have sharpened these 3 shots but no other processing.
When you're in a canoe all day, Nature is your only entertainment.  And for whatever reason, wherever we floated on this trip there was a great abundance of Tricolor Herons.
There were also gators, but I didn't get a single shot of one this time.

There is a 4-mile dirt road along a canal at the mouth of the Withlacoochee, where it reaches the Gulf.  The mighty With, we call that river.  These 2 pix were taken from a beach accessed by the road.
 Those long grey strips of rocks are oyster bars.  They indicate the presence of salt water.  The oyster shells are hard as steel and sharp as diamonds and they can cut our canoe like so many Japanese sashimi knives.  We have gone canoeing in oyster territory, but not this trip.
What should we see here but a couple of Oystercatchers (black and white with a red bill), along with some Willets.  Here's a Shopped closeup:

Every Florida canoe trip includes some new rivers we haven't tried before.  One such this trip was the Tomoka, off the east coast north of Daytona Beach.  The weather was cloudy but it didn't rain.  I have brightened up these Pileated Woodpecker shots.  Capturing these hard-to-shoot birds was a high point for me.
 In the first pic (above) there is a Tricolor Heron in the lower right.  I told you they were common...
Such a characteristic pose!  I cropt and zoomed and brightened on this last:
This shot shows the surroundings in which my Pileated shots were taken, and the distance we were from them.  The bird is barely visible on the right side of the central trunk, just below the hole.

On the same Withlacoochee canal dirt road, we saw a Black Crowned Night Heron in a huge juniper bush.  Here is where my sense of time gets kind of hazy and so does my focus!  At first the bird is all but unfind-able.  Look in the lower right quarter of this unretouched shot:
Here I'm cropping and zooming, but he's still hard to find.  Look in upper center:
Finally I Shopped the best one up close.  At that distance there's some graininess, but it's still identifiable as a Black-Crowned Night Heron.
For some reason, Night Herons of both flavors, Black-Crowned and Yellow-Crowned, were practically common on this trip.  Usually they are rather rare birds for us.  I have no explanation.

This Yellow-Crowned was visible on a short trail in the Savannah Wildlife drive.  Other birders pointed him out to me.  There was supposed to be a reflection in the waters below, but I missed it with the camera.
 A close up.  The Yellow Crown looks almost fuzzy --!
Our next destination was Kings Bay, part of Crystal River on the west coast.  I am positive it was 2017 by now.  There will probably be another blog on this run because that's when the only model- horse-in-the-canoe pix of the trip were taken.  But for now, enjoy this driveby of an Anhinga and two turtles.  I like turtles -- very useful for a Florida canoeist!
 Kings Bay gave us one of our best-ever encounters with a Yellow-Crowned Night  Heron.  (I told you they were common, along with the Tricolors!)  This shot is unprocessed except for lightening:
Without a doubt, this is my best shot of a Yellow-Crowned.  And about the closest I've ever been to one, too.

He did not seem to be afraid.  That's one thing about canoes and kayaks:  they're quiet and slow, and birds don't seem to be alarmed quite so much.

Near the end of our trip we found ourselves in Dunellon, the jumping-off point for Rainbow Springs and more stretches of the Withlacoochee.  The With here is residential.  Looking at people's waterfront property is some of my favorite paddling activity.  Here is a fine male Anhinga on a dock post.
 Not far from the municipal boat launch ramp in Dunellon I got two birds in one shot:
 A very nice Great Egret,
And an Immature Little Blue.  Yes, the young Little Blues are white.  The differences between them and other white herons lie in the colors of the bill and feet.
 All this and no Green Herons!  Nor Kingfishers; Osprey, Vultures, Glossy Ibis, Palm Warblers or any of the multitudes we saw but did not shoot.  Safe to say birdwatching is a sport one can pursue just about anywhere with just about any level of determination.

A last rara avis, which I can't resist putting in, is this magnificent Wooden Golden Eagle, spotted on someone's staircase deck in the backwaters of the With near Dunellon.
I hope you've enjoyed this tour of north-central Florida's birds seen from a canoe.