Thursday, December 1, 2016

Crops & Clips: Flashback to December, 2013

This post concludes two years of monthly searches through my photo archives for images which match the themes of critters, fences, skies, flowers, macros and reflections. This is a peek through the retroscope at photos taken three years ago, in December, 2013. 

This process brings to mind the creatures and sights I might expect to see once again at this time of year. Let's see how far I need to go into the month to find at least one for each meme. I have won this self-imposed contest twenty-four months in a row since starting in January, 2015. It has been fun but I must decide whether to continue.

It was a colorful month, with a spectacular rainbow followed the next morning by a brilliant sunrise over our back yard lake, on December 26 (click on images for expanded views):

Rainbow2 20131226

After the rainbow 20131226

On the day before Christmas, sun, spider silk and dewdrops had combined to produce a rainbow effect:

Silk and dew rainbow 20131224

A Common Buckeye carried its own rainbow colors:

Common Buckeye 20131203

A Boat-tailed Grackle's iridescent cloak added to the mix:

Boat-tailed Grackle 20131208

The palette included this back-lit Tricolored Heron:

Tricolored Heron 2-20131210

The Lantana was not content to exhibit only one hue in its flowers...

Lantana 20131203 well as its berries:

Lantana berries 20131205

The frontal shield of a Gray-headed Swamphen glares as, parrot-like, it uses its prehensile foot to uproot a tasty shoot of spike-rush:

Purple Swamphen eating 20131210

A male Anhinga dons turquoise goggles for the breeding season:

Anhinga 2-20131210

More primary color is contributed by this male Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal in Trema tree 2-20131228

A Great Egret's white reflects on blue:

Great Egret preening 2-20131205

Its background colors show through as this huge Green Iguana fades with age (click on image for better view):

Iguana 20131210

Green shows up well on these female Painted Buntings as they splash in a mud puddle:

Painted Buntings 20131222

The American Kestrel is a bright little falcon:

American Kestrel 3-20131222

The "eyes had it" in December, starting with these Burrowing Owls...

Burrowing Owl pair 3-20131223

...those of a pair of Egyptian Geese...

Egyptian Geese 20131225

...a vignetted Great Horned Owl...

GHO vignette2 20131223

...and my reflection in the eye of this Gray Squirrel:

Gray Squirrel 20131215

Look closely-- that indeed is me with my hat and camera!

My reflection in squirrel eye 20131215

Alas, on first try I found no fence for Theresa's meme. Maybe those far-away fences in the rainbow photo will suffice. Another search provided a better example. Our home is the brownish one on the left without a fence, but look at those of some of my neighbors across the water!

Our home 20131215

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 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

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


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Crops & Clips: Marsh Wrens

Back home in Florida, we were treated to a very colorful sky about 7 minutes after sunrise on November 23. The sun had just touched the opposite shore. This is straight out of the camera. The image is not cropped or processed:

Sunrise plus 7 minutes SOOC 20161123

Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovering over Firebush (Hamelia patens):

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 03-20161119

Eastern Phoebe perching on a guard rail:

Eastern Phoebe 20161110

I enjoy the challenge of photographing LBBs (little brown birds), the smallest of which are the wrens. Seeing them requires patience and often long periods of watchful waiting.

I first sighted a Marsh Wren in Troy Meadows, New Jersey as a teenager back in May of 1949, when I participated in a "Big Day" with the Hackensack Audubon Society. It was then called "Long-billed Marsh Wren" to distinguish it from the diminutive prairie-dwelling "Short-billed Marsh Wren," which since 1982 has been known as the Sedge Wren. I would not see the latter species until November, 1951 when, at Moriches Bay and Inlet in Long Island,  I joined a group of birders from Long Island, New York, led energetically by Allan Cruickshank. (He passed away in 1974. Here is his obituary in American Birds). 

Group outings can produce large numbers of sightings. For a relatively new birder this can be quite overwhelming. The single day at Troy Meadows and environs yielded 23 new birds species to my life list, and the trip to Long Island added 15 species. I must admit that I do not have indelible memories of either of these wren sightings. Although the trips and places are still relatively fresh in my mind, some of the individual birds seem now to have been lost in the sea of discoveries. 

My more recent encounters with these species have been at a more personal level. Finding them took individual effort. With only two eyes to look for them instead of scores, and delightful long looks to enjoy not only their plumage and anatomical features as well as their habits, habitats and vocalizations, the experience is more meaningful and memorable.

This is my Marsh Wren "sit spot" in our local birding patch. It is conveniently situated near the lake next to a Pond Cypress. A young Pond Apple tree is visible to the left and the "Pine Bank" (a dense stand of Australian Pine) is in the distance across the lake. Two large clumps of Sawgrass are directly in front, and a large area of cattails, just to the right, extends out to the shoreline:

Marsh Wren sit spot HDR 20161119

While waiting for the wren, other wetland-associated birds may pop up, such as this Swamp Sparrow:

Swamp Sparrow HDR 01-20161122

It climbs a reed to get a better look at me..

Swamp Sparrow HDR 03-20161122

...and quickly exits:

Swamp Sparrow in flight HDR 20161122

In Illinois, I often caught snippets of the Marsh Wren's song or saw one weave in and out of the cattails in the distance. After taking up bird photography about 8 years ago I set a goal of capturing an image of every bird species I saw. 

My first close encounter with a Marsh Wren with camera at the ready occurred in September, 2014 in a cattail marsh in Geneva, Illinois. My photos aptly illustrate the connection between this species and its preferred habitat:

 Marsh Wren 01-20140929

Marsh Wren 2-20150831

Marsh Wren 03-20140929

This week I added the 169th species to the bird list for my neighborhood birding patch. Of these I have seen 162, and a few of the species reported by other observers are a bit suspect. This is the first photo of my local Marsh Wren (November 18, 2016):

Marsh Wren 3-20161118

I obtained better views the next day:

Marsh Wren 03-20161119

Marsh Wren 01-20161119

The Sedge Wren (11 cm long) is a half inch shorter than the Marsh Wren, which is 5 inches (13 cm) long. While I have seen a wintering Sedge Wren in Florida, it is a fairly common breeder near our second home in Illinois. It is usually found on dry ground such as a prairie, often next to or within sight of water. 

Very elusive, this little creature will not sit still for a photo. Here are a few of my favorite Sedge Wren portraits, all from Nelson Lake in Kane County, Illinois:

Sedge Wren 3-20090615

Sedge Wren 20100518

Sedge Wren 2-20100518

My latest image is a favorite as it best illustrates the wren's imitation of an Olympic parallel bar gymnast (Oct 18, 2016):

Sedge Wren 04-20161018

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone in the USA (and belated good wishes to our Canadian friends). I do not have a good turkey photo, but this week a Turkey Vulture obliged me by finding a dead squirrel on the sidewalk in front of our next door neighbor's home. I guess this bird was named because of its strong (?) resemblance to the real thing. (Click on the photo to navigate to some more rather explicit images of his feast):

Turkey Vulture 20161121

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


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

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