Thursday, December 7, 2017

Crops & Clips: Flashback to December, 2014

As I pored over my photo archives from three years ago I was reminded of a budding romance between two eagles following loss of a mate. I also searched for images which depicted some of my favorite memes: Critters of all kinds, beautiful skies and reflections, fences, changes of the season, and scenes which speak for themselves.

A colorful sunrise is reflected over the wetlands on December 27, 2014:

Sunrise over Harbour Lakes HDR2 COREL 20141227

Now back to those eagles. You may remember that we have been following a local pair of Bald Eagles since they were "discovered" back in 2007. It was the first active nest to be recorded in Broward County, Florida in over 40 years. This was well before DDT was abolished after being recognized as a major contributor to the disastrous decline of the species. 

The eagles attracted much attention from local residents, many of whom had no idea that this iconic species even resided in Florida, which now has over 1,500 nesting pairs. Over seven breeding seasons, ground observers documented that this pair produced at least 18 eaglets, of which only 4 failed to fledge. Facebook followers named the pair "Pride and Joy." 

Tragically, Joy disappeared after October 30, 2014, and Pride was left alone. He often flew in circles above the nest, possibly to attract a mate, and continued to rearrange nesting materials:

Bald Eagle male moving stick 2-20141212

All this changed on December 7, 2014, when an observer called me to say that she was quite certain she saw one eagle on the nest and immediately saw a second roosting nearby. She called again about 25 minutes later to report that an adult female was roosting near the nest and the male (Pride) was in the nest. I rushed over and got there at about 5:00 PM. A small crowd was already gathering in response to her Facebook alert. 

Bald Eagle new female and male 20141207

The female was now roosting in the nest tree above and to the left (east) of the male in the nest. The male (Pride) kept looking up at her. 

Bald Eagle  female calling 20141207

As is evident in this photo, the female eagle retains dark feathers in her head and tail. She is a young bird, probably about 3 1/2 years old. Usually a Bald Eagle's head turns pure white when it attains "fifth year" plumage after about 4 years of age:

Bald Eagle male and female interacting 06-20141207

Pride then took flight and landed next to the female and briefly attempted copulation after the female assumed a receptive posture. 

Bald Eagle male and female interacting 03-20141207

Bald Eagle male and female interacting 02-20141207

Soon both took flight (the female chasing the male) and circled the nest, over the wooded area and Pines Boulevard.  Pride is noticeably smaller:

Bald Eagle male in flight 02-20141207

The new female may weigh 20 percent more than the male and has a greater wing span:

Bald Eagle  female in flight 03-20141207

The male then roosted at the top of a pine just to the west of the nest and the female disappeared behind the nest. During the remainder of the month, more courtship was observed but the new female seemed never to have "broody" instincts. She rarely sat in the nest despite Pride's many attempts to lure her into it by bringing in food. 

We assumed that she was simply not yet old enough to raise a family but were very encouraged to see that a pair bond was being established between Pride and "Jewel," as she came to be named. (To be continued next month...)

The month was not all about eagles, although their images occupied a large share of the 603 photos which I processed during December. Our back yard saw some action as a Wood Stork and a Great Egret hunted together. Each may have benefited from the association because of their different foraging strategies. 

The Wood Stork is a tactile feeder which stirs the water with its foot and waits for prey to wander within the grasp of its open jaws. The egret hunts by sight and may help to  locate prey concentrations.  Fish stirred up by the stork may serve as food for the egret.    

Wood Stork and Great Egret 3-20141229

Here is a nice size comparison:

Wood Stork and Great Egret 2-20141229

A small pond just off a busy roadway provided another comparison, between two large sandpipers, a Greater and a Lesser Yellowlegs. In this photo the greater size and bill length of the Greater (to the left) and the Lesser Yellowlegs species (dozing to the right) are evident. Six much smaller Lesser Sandpipers (which also have yellow legs) are resting in their midst.

Greater and Lasser Yellowlegs with peeps 3-20141226

This photo illustrates that the longer bill of the Greater Yellowlegs is slightly upturned:

Greater and Lasser Yellowlegs 20141226

An exotic Purple (Gray-headed) Swamphen at nearby Chapel Trail preserve:

Purple Swamphen 20141223

Also at Chapel Trail, a Mourning Dove rests on a fence:

Mourning Dove on fence 20141208

Looking back on the eventful month, I realize that this was one of the last times we had flocks of Wood Storks on our lake. They since have abandoned their huge rookeries in the southern Everglades because of unfavorable climate and persistent high water levels which disperse their prey. 

Usually they would have been raising their young at this time of year. One stork seemed to be particularly stressed. Oddly, it appeared on our back patio and acted abnormally tame. Had someone been feeding it?

The stork is looking into our back window (click for larger image):

Wood Stork through the screen 20141221

Better views through the window:

Wood Stork through the screen 2-20141221

Wood Stork portrait 20141221

Its pink feet are an adaptation which makes them more visible as it agitates the water to frighten prey into the grasp of its bill:

Wood Stork pink feet 20141221

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

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

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Crops & Clips: Birding in the fog

Some mornings the sun rises into a clear sky, but when we walk out on the wetlands we may encounter fog. This produces some stunning effects for landscape photography.

Fog shrouds the inhabited side of the canal, opposite our local wetlands:

 Morning fog on canal HDR 20150216

The sun tries to break through:

Sun rising in fog 20170208

Last week, just after sunrise, a "fogbow" formed over the wetlands:

Fogbow 20171122

Shooting in between the high blades of grass and through the fog produced a natural vignette and a two-dimensional rendering of these Black-necked Stilts:

 Black-necked Stilts HDR 20150320

Two Mottled Ducks enter the lake...

Mottled Ducks in fog 20170215

...and swim under a blanket:

Mottled Ducks in fog CROP 20170121

This Garden Spider's web is weighted down by dewdrops:

Duck Potato HDR 20171122

Garden Spider 20171122

Photographing wildlife can be a challenge. This photo of a Little Blue Heron is a poor exposure but I liked the composition:

Little Blue Heron in fog before sunrise 02-20170206

Fog muffles the background as this egret lands on a small tree:

Great Egret before sunrise 20171108

This doe probably couldn't see us, and we could barely see her:

White-tailed Doe in fog 2-20140224

After a foggy start, the sun did come out. Now the camera does its work without any tweaking. Still air provides nice reflections of a Great Egret...

Great Egret reflection 03-20171119

...as it catches a tiny minnow:

Great Egret reflection 04-20171119

A Red-shouldered Hawk watches from the side of the path:

Red-shouldered hawk 02-20171124

A male Northern Flicker stands out against a blue sky:

Northern Flicker 01-20171119

Close by is a female flicker (no mustache):

Northern Flicker female 04-20171119

The lack of butterflies is concerning. Does this have anything to do with the massive anti-mosquito campaign which followed Hurricane Irma? This is a Gulf Fritillary:

Gulf Fritillary 20171108

Hurricane-felled trees along the canal have prevented us from following it along on the "wild side," to the right. A homeowner association (HOA-approved) fence identifies the civilized side:



SW 195th Ave Canal COREL 20171124

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

________________________________________________