Thursday, February 23, 2017

Foggy mornings and blurry bird photos

The entrance to our wetlands is only a few doors from our home:

 Entry to wetlands 20160529

On many mornings for the past two weeks the humidity has been high and the temperature close to the dew point, so we have been greeted by fog, especially thick over the lake.

Pre-dawn clouds and fog 20170208

Sun reaching Pine Bank 20160208

Too often I strive to depict the birds in side-on "field guide" poses. A feather in disarray or an errant bit of foliage can spoil such images. Fog smooths out these defects and provides a natural filter for photo effects, obliterates the background and focuses attention on the subject and its immediate surroundings.

Composition and action seem more important than the plumage details of this Great Egret:

Great Egret in fog before sunrise 03-20170206

Great Egret in fog before sunrise 06-20170206

Great Egret in fog before sunrise 09-20170206

Images such as these of a Little Blue Heron are soft and lack detail, but I find them especially pleasing to the eye:

Little Blue Heron in fog before sunrise 02-20170206

Little Blue Heron in fog before sunrise 01-20170206

A pair of Mottled Ducks are barely identifiable:

Mottled Ducks in fog 20170215

Poor light muddles the image of a Belted Kingfisher but makes the setting almost look like an oil painting:

Belted Kingfisher in fog 20170215

Street lights, still on almost two miles to the north, burn through the fog at sunrise
North Shore fog 20170215

Just as the fog is lifting, the sun's glare is restrained and shadows are muted. The warm color temperature permits better display of plumage details, especially that of white birds such as the White Ibis and Great Egret:

White Ibis 20170202

Great Egret in flight 01-20170212

I did not see these two Red-breasted Mergansers swimming away from me until they were too far away for a decent photo, but I loved the warmth of the sun playing on the grasses of the wet meadow:

Red-breasted Mergansers 20170212

A patch of sunlight pierces the fog next to these White Ibises:

White Ibises 20170215

Everything is coated with dew as the fog breaks up and droplets fill the air. I don't know what kind of composite flower this may be, but it is very tiny, only about 3/4 inch (2 cm) wide:

Tiny composite flower 20170209

The spiders' webs are weighed down by dewdrops:

Tiny composite flower 2-20170209



A necklace of silk and dewdrops:

Necklace of dewdrops and silk 20170219







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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES 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 Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

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

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

An old Moon and a new bird

As usual, at about a half hour before sunrise, I started out into the local wetlands.  Normally Mary Lou would have walked in with me, but she had somehow injured her back and temporarily had difficulty getting around.  The sky overhead was clear but unusually dark, due to heavy storms over the ocean about 20 miles to the east.

This was the view from  our back patio:

Sunrise minus 30 minutes 20170120

A crescent Moon hung very low in the sky, just rising above the cloud bank ahead of the sun. It was very "old," not to be seen again until three days later. After creating a partial eclipse the next day, it would
reappear as the Snow Moon, to once more begin its flight away from the sun, and sink into the opposite horizon.

Oldest visible Moon this month 20170126

To my surprise, a sharply-demarcated heavy bank of fog hung over the path ahead. I entered the cloud and was enveloped, almost as if passing through an invisible door. Now it was not only darker but everything more than 20-30 yards away was suddenly invisible, and I felt so alone. For a moment my brain stem transported me back to childhood and I had a wave of the "goblin under the bed" syndrome.

That strange feeling led me to think of how spooky it would be if an owl suddenly started hooting, so I broke out my iPhone bird sound application and began playing the call of an Eastern Screech-Owl. The call kept repeating as I walked along, and the fog began to lift.

Fog before sunrise 20170125

About half way into the wetlands I turned off my iPhone and put it back in my pocket.

Moments later, I thought my owl call started playing on its own, but then realized that a real owl was calling back. It was the monotone trill of the Screech-Owl, and it was emanating from a small tree right along the path.

The owl was well-hidden amid the pine needles and I tried to find a good angle for a photo without disturbing the bird. Although this species is not uncommon in established neighborhoods with mature trees, it was the first one (the 166th species) I have encountered in our local birding patch. Its outlines were barely visible in the predawn light:

Screech Owl hiding 20170213

This was about the best I could do:

Eastern Screech-Owl 20170121


Later, the empty perch:

Screech-owl perch empty 20170216

Fast forward two weeks, and the full Snow Moon which lit up the night now sets into the lake just after sunrise:

Full Snow Moon 0640 AM 20170211

Snow Moon setting at sunrise 20170211

By day, the sun shone on some brightly colored little birds. These are Northern Parula warblers. One surprised me by posing at eye level for the better part of 2 seconds as I feverishly clicked the shutter:

Northern Parula 01-20170209

Northern Parula 02-20170209

Northern Parula 03-20170209

Northern Parula 05-20170209

Now that the wetlands are beginning to dry up we are seeing fewer deer. They do not enjoy having continuously wet feet and surely welcome the seclusion of hammocks in the Everglades. This White-tail watched me intently before scampering back over the fence:

White-tailed Deer 2-20170213

For Valentine's Day I presented Mary Lou with this photo of Lantana flowers wrapped in spider webs, which I posted to her on Facebook, saying, "The spiders worked all night to wrap your bouquet of Lantana blossoms in silk, and placed it right where I could find it this morning. For my lifetime best friend and lover MaryLou, with all my love!" One commentator said: "Men of science are so romantic. I would much rather have something like that than one of those corny, mushy cards they sell."

Lantana blossoms wrapped in spider silk original 20170214

It's hard to believe that our first date was over 63 years ago, on December 27, 1953. (That one didn't work out, but we did eventually get together and were engaged in 1957!) 



= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES 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 Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

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

________________________________________________