Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rain birds

Early in June, a tropical storm system worked its way across the Florida peninsula, bringing buckets of rain plus thunder and a few tornadoes. One morning our walk was aborted even before we reached the entrance of our birding patch.  During a break in the precipitation, we drove to nearby Chapel Trail preserve but the rains came again and "spoiled" my photo of a Loggerhead Shrike along the boardwalk:

Loggerhead Shrike in rain 2-20170604

The next day, keeping a wary eye on the radar, we ventured out early into our local wetlands for a bit of exercise. Clouds hung low over the gravel road and lake.

That blue dot is Mary Lou, already far ahead of me (click for enlarged view):

Cloudy morning 20170605

Clouds over lake 20170605

This Common Gallinule may be breeding here,  the first one I have seen here over ten years of observations:

Common Gallinule 2-20170605

A Northern Cardinal's song brightened the morning:

Northern Cardinal 20170605

Mary Lou had completed the three-mile round trip before I reached the rookery at the far end of the road. I was anxious to learn whether any of the herons had nested successfully during our absence. It was gratifying to find fledglings of both Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. 

Skies were very dark when I took these photos--

A pair of night-herons:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron pair 20170605

There was a third adult, plus this newly fledged juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron juvenile 2-20170605

It was too dark to get a decent photo of a pair of Green Herons which were working to renovate their nest. It held 3 eggs when I photographed it on April 26, just before we left for Illinois:

Green Heron 3 eggs nest 6 20170424

Another pair of Green Herons at the opposite end of the rookery were watching over one of their progeny. I decreased exposure compensation to brighten the photo of this adult but it still looked gloomy:

Green Heron adult 20170605

Green Heron adult 2-20170605

It started drizzling just as I took a final photo of the juvenile Green Heron. It still had natal down on its head:

Green Heron fledgling 20170605

The next two days we had to be content with watching the wading birds from our back patio windows. A Snowy Egret found a school of tiny fish along the shore at the edge of our lawn:

Snowy Egret 03-20170605

Strike!

Snowy Egret splash 05-20170605

Success!

Snowy Egret with catch 04-20170605

A White Ibis reflected in the lake as it foraged along a neighbor's fence.

White Ibis 20170605


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

________________________________________________

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tricolored Heron: Beauty and grace


One benefit of living on a lake in south Florida is that the shoreline serves as the stage for some wonderful performances. Here, the lake is calm as storm clouds gain strength in the northwest behind our home:

 Monaco Cove CROP3 HDR COREL 20141229

Tricolored Heron at Green Cay preserve, Boynton Beach, Florida:

Tricolored Heron at Green Cay 20131210

Although they are slender, stand over 2 feet tall (60-70 cm) and have a three foot (91 cm) wingspan, Tricolored Herons weigh less than a pound (334-415 gm). 


Warning: "Objects in your binoculars are much smaller than they look." This truism comes home to anyone who has picked up a window-killed warbler or released a banded chickadee. Birds are like puff-balls of feathers and fluff, skin and bones. 

The warning changes to "Objects may not fit in your viewfinder" if you add the very long legs and the skinny snake-like neck of a Tricolored Heron.

Back yard view:

Tricolored Heron 03-20160519

John James Audubon's herons stand out magnificently in his "Birds of America" double elephant folio. Since Audubon's bird paintings were all life-size, he contorted the images of herons in order to fit them within the dimensions of the portfolio's pages, which measured about 3 by 2 feet (0.9 by 0.6 meters) .   


Here is his rendition of the "Louisiana Heron," now known as Tricolored Heron, from  Biodiversity Heritage Library  (FLICKR Creative Commons, some rights reserved)

n208_w1150

Many of my heron photos were taken at close range in our Florida back yard. The subjects were often only about 50-60 feet away. Since I use a prime telephoto lens they commonly do not fit into the frame even if I back up against the back wall of our home. Unless the heron assumes an Audubon-like posture, my choice is to cut off either its legs or head!

A preening heron does fit the camera's frame:

Tricolored Heron preening HDR  20150722

Tricolored Heron immature 6-20140818

Tricolored Heron 20150602



An immature Tricolored Heron crouches for the kill:

Tricolored Heron immature 2-20130721

Audubon usually painted from freshly collected specimens, often posturing them with wires. He introduced action and excitement into many of his works. Sometimes his herons seemed surrealistically  expressive. 


An immature Tricolored Heron sought (without success) to be fed by its parent, chasing it across the lake and to the near shore:

 Tricolored Heron imm chases adult 06-20170612

The contortions of the energetic young bird reminded me of the way the great painter arranged his subjects:

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 08-20170612

 Tricolored Heron demands feeding 05-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 04-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 03-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 02-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 01-20170612

An immature Tricolored Heron is reflected in a flooded prairie:

Tricolored Heron immature 20160118

A graceful landing:

Tricolored Heron landing COREL 20121201

Tricolored Heron feeding habits VIDEO:



(If it does not display CLICK HERE)

  
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

________________________________________________