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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tales of two dooryards

Before departing from Illinois after our Alaska trip earlier this year, I took this photo from the front door of our condominium. Development of our community is nearly finished; the fallow land that had been our dooryard "birding patch" for the past 8 years has been fully "reclaimed." The view on July 10, 2014-- note the distant house with the red roof.

Randall Highlands improvements 20140710

On September 3, 2011, this pair of Sandhill Cranes with two colts roamed freely in our dooryard grassland.

Sandhill Cranes 20110903

A year ago, the remnant prairie that occupied three sides of our condo had been entirely replaced by new townhomes in various stages of construction. The only land not excavated was mostly filled and graded. On April 21, 2013 the foundation of the unit across from us had just been poured. Note the mound of dirt at the far left end of this view, with the red-roofed house behind it.

Front yard no longer a birding patch 20130422

Two months later, a pair of Sandhill Cranes were protesting from the big pile of topsoil, the only place left with any cover, as bulldozers ate away at the last of their territory. The dirt pile partially obscures the red-roofed house (July 1, 2013):

Sandhill Cranes 20130701

Back in Florida, we endured a month during which it rained every day.The heat, humidity and mosquitoes restricted our time outdoors. A few times we braved the conditions and ventured into our local woodlands before sunrise. No dawn chorus greeted us, as the land birds had finished breeding and were conserving energy as they molted.  

A Great Egret flew over our lake at sunrise.

Great Egret Flying 2-20091129

At neighboring Chapel Trail Nature Preserve, an Anhinga posed on a post.

Anhinga 20140718

When birding is slow, it is easier to turn to other subjects, such as this exotic Common Basilisk, also known as the "Jesus Christ Lizard" because it can run across the surface of the water.

Common Basilisk-  Basiliscus vittatus detail 20120611

The bird-watching was actually better from inside our home, as was watching the storm clouds gather at sunrise. High in the atmosphere, the African dust added a touch of gold to the palette.

Sunrise 20140808

Our pineapples had waited for us. Though small, they were very sweet.

Pineapples 20140713

An adult Wood Stork showed up across the lake on July 13 and flew directly to the edge of our back lawn. It was only present for one day.

Wood Stork in flight 2-20140713

Wood Stork 4-20140713

A Muscovy Duck drake gave us a sinister stare.

Muscovy Drake portrait 20140106

A Snowy Egret's "golden slippers" reflected in the still water.

Snowy Egret 4-20140715

A Green Heron tolerated my close approach as it waited patiently for a fish.

Green Heron 2-20140718

Several Tricolored Herons foraged along the lake margin.

Tricolored Heron 20140721

Little Blue Herons are more skittish. They usually fly as soon as I start to open the sliding glass door, but I did catch this one across the lake.

Little Blue Heron 20140722

This Little Blue Heron later did stay in place for a single shot. I was so close that I could not fit the entire bird in the frame.

Little Blue Heron 20140731

I liked how the morning light played on the plumage of this Snowy Egret.

Snowy Egret 4-20140722

The Annones (also called AnĂ³n, Sweetsop, Custard- or Sugar-apple; Haitians call it Cachiman cannelle) were ripening. Unbelievably sweet, they taste like a cross between a banana and something else. Some say a blend  of banana, pineapple, papaya and peach. I'll say it just tastes like an Anonne. Mark Twain called it "the most delicious fruit known to man."

Anon or Cherimoya, ready to eat 20140724

The Mangos ripened while we were in Alaska and Illinois, but our neighbor (whom we allowed to harvest them) gave us a couple of dozen from her own trees. Our Avocados all ripened at once, so we had to give away half of them.  No activity and plenty of tropical fruit-- no wonder I gained 10 pounds!

Avocados and Annones 20140814

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crops & Clips: Dewlaps and dewdrops

My weekly potpourri gathered from the archives features... red dewlaps, rainbow dewdrops and more.

CRITTERS: A couple of lizards displaying their dewlaps

Brown Anole, an invader from the Caribbean
Miramar, Florida May 18, 2008


The native Green Anole is disappearing, forced out by the exotic Brown Anole
Pembroke Pines, Florida July 18, 2014

Green Anole 20140718


Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


FENCES: A Little Brown Job on wrought iron

Savannah Sparrow
Batavia, Illinois, May 9, 2012

Savannah Sparrow 20120509

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 


SKYWATCH: Stormy Sunrise

Miramar, Florida
October 13, 2013

Storm HDR 20131003

Linking to Skywatch Friday 


REFLECTIONS: British Columbia Cruise

The Spirit of Columbia at the dock at Malibu Club, Jervis Inlet at the rapids, BC.
September 24, 2007

MalibuClubDock (2)

This is the door to our cabin, the "Astoria," on the top deck of Spirit of Columbia. My reflection is in the shower/head door inside. 

Jervis Inlet, BC
September 24, 2007 

OurCabinReflection (2)

View of the "Parliament" building lit up at night in Victoria (BC) harbor.
September 26, 2007

Victoria BC Night Scene

Morning sun reflecting off dew on spider silk
February 4, 2011, Miramar, Florida

Dew beads on silk 20110204

The low sun creates a silken rainbow.
Miramar. Florida, December 24, 2013

Silk and dew rainbow 20131224

A single drop of dew captures its entire world upside down.
Miramar, Florida, December 24, 2013

Dew drop 20131224