Thursday, April 2, 2020

Crops & Clips: Flashback to April, 2017

A new month begins, prodding me to get out of my COVID-19 pandemic-induced funk and start looking through my photos from three years ago. I will try to find images which depict favorite memes: critters of all kinds, flowers, fences, reflections and skyscapes as well as photos which speak for themselves. We remained in Florida the entire month, but did spend a week on the west (Gulf) coast with our visiting Illinois family. 

The month of April started off with a handsome male Northern Cardinal on a Pond Cypress which is just sprouting new leaves...

Northern Cardinal in Pond Cypress 5-20170401

...a male Black-and-White Warbler...

Black-and White Warbler 02-20170401

...a male Prairie Warbler...

Prairie Warbler 01-20170401

...and a male Gulf Fritillary. The "male" theme was accidental as they represented the first four creatures I photographed on April 1, 2017. In the case of the butterfly, only the males possess a series of pheromone-secreting androconia, visible as transverse (ladder-like) striations on six veins on each of its fore-wings. (You may need to enlarge this image to see them):

Gulf Fritillary 20170401

Great Crested Flycatcher:

Great Crested Flycatcher 06-20170403

Northern Mockingbird:

Northern Mockingbird 03-20170403

Green Heron:

Green Heron 3-20170405

In the rookery, a pair of Green Herons shared a tender moment with their first egg, on April 9:

Green Herons tender moment position 6 2-20170409

Our daughter and family visited from Illinois. Our granddaughters went out with MaryLou to view the Bald Eagle nest:

Eagle watchers 3-20170414

We spent Easter vacation on Sanibel Island on Florida's Gulf Coast, where we watched an Osprey eat a fish:

Osprey 3-20170418

At Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve, a Reddish Egret hunted, energetically dashing to and fro:

Reddish Egret 05-20170418

Reddish Egret 03-20170418

Reddish Egret 04-20170418

On the beach, a Willet displayed its distinctive wing markings:

Willet 3-20170418

A Ruddy Turnstone probed in the sand:

Ruddy Turnstone 02-20170418

A Royal Tern flew along the water's edge:

Royal Tern 02-20170418

Dunes at Bowman's Beach on Sanibel island:

Dunes at Bowman's Beach 02-20170418

A Tiki Hut on the boardwalk at Bowman's Beach:

Bowman's Beach chickee on boardwalk 08-20170418

Marsh Rabbit at Bowman's Beach:

Marsh Rabbit 3-20170418

Back home, at the local nest, the two eaglets were climbing on the branches and would soon fly freely:

Bald Eagle two eaglets 20170425

Common NIghthawks had returned to breed:

Common Nighthawk in flight 20170427

Carolina Wrens had been present all year, but were singing much more vigorously in early Spring:

Carolina Wren 03-20170427

A notably tortuous neck on this Tricolored heron:

Tricolored Heron 3-20170422

Solitary Sandpiper and reflection:

Solitary Sandpiper 03-20170421

A Bunting eating the "Shepherd's Nettles" seeds of Bidens alba on April 21. It is probably an immature Painted Bunting, as its back has a greenish cast, but... 

Bunting in Bidens alba 02-20170421

... it appeared to have some blue feathers on its breast, suggesting it may be an immature Indigo Bunting. (This was probably an aberration due to the color temperature of the processed image). Both species usually migrate north before the end of April:

Bunting in Bidens alba 03-20170421

A Mottled Duck and Black-necked Stilt:

Mottled Duck and Black-necked Stilt 03-20170421

Sunrise as seen from our back patio...

Sunrise over the cove 20170422

...and our front yard:

Sunrise at mi casa 20170422
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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

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


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Seeking social isolation but not alone

We are voluntarily restricted to the confines of our home for most of the day. However, well before sunrise almost every morning, we do walk out with our flashlights into the Wounded Wetlands. MaryLou finishes the 2.5 mile round trip at a fast walking pace. I start out with her but soon lag behind, listening to the sounds of the night. We meet again at about the halfway point, two torches passing in the night. She: "Hear anything?" Me: "No Whips or Chucks but there's an owl to your right on the way back."

It is too dark for photos in the deeply shaded rookery, but it is worth trying as I encounter a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron subduing a frog, but then having trouble swallowing it:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 03-20200323

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 02-20200323

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 01-20200323

Now feeling the darkness, I muse about the Virus and how it is affecting our lives. Instead of trips to supermarket we order online. Items such as eggs and other dairy, produce and meat products, many of which were "in stock" when we requested them are "out of stock" by the time they got around to fulfilling the order. 

The airline reservations will almost certainly need to be be canceled for a trip to Illinois in May, along with our children and grandchildren. We planned to celebrate our granddaughter's Quinceañera* and our 60th Wedding Anniversary. We are bombarded by an incessant flow of reports on the progress (or lack thereof) of combating the pandemic.

A Mottled Duck is barely visible in the darkness. I turned on the flash and was later surprised at how well this image turned out after being brightened and sharpened. Since I was some distance away, the flash caused a "glass eye" reflection which I had to darken:

Mottled Duck 01-20200308

High in the sky, my steady hand (correction, the image stabilizer of my camera) allows me to count the moons of Jupiter and even see the pink cast of Mars:

Jupiter and Mars 20200320

A few days previously my focus was poor but the two planets were closer together and colors of Mars shone through:

Jupiter and Mars 20200319

Out in the dark, my nearest overhead neighbor is the Red Plant, but I am not lonely. I catch the eye-shine of an anxious Raccoon, a semi-submerged alligator, or a deer frozen in the glare of my flashlight. What are they thinking? 

Are they just programmed by instinct and "stimulus-response," or am I surrounded by consciousness... that of the moths attracted to the beam of my flashlight... the mosquitoes sensing my carbon dioxide emissions..  the viruses, unseen and locked as we are in a drive to survive, to live, to reproduce? 

A virus is just a chemical  that it needs to make. Its progeny cannot kill the host too rapidly or it will never have the chance to spread and multiply. Does the ant feel pain when I crush it underfoot? Does the Panther grieve when it visits the place where its cub was run over, only to meet the  same fate? 

Overnight, the "Wreckreational Vehicle" drivers had gathered to wreak more havoc on the South Wet Prairie. One such participant must have had engine failure and left his four-wheeler behind. In the glow of my flashlight it looks surreal, two-dimensional:

Muddy ATV in spotlight 01-20200323 

By dawn's light, the landscape shows scars left by their fun-filled night of wheelies, donuts and jumps:

ATV Damage 02-20200323

Thigh-deep in muck, two immature White Ibises add life to a desolate scene:

White Ibis immatures 02-20200323

White Ibis immatures 03-20200323

White Ibis immature 04-20200323

So many younger folks seem to feel reassured that COVID-19 will not be much of a problem for them. It may cause them discomfort but not death. The statistics from Italy zone in on the risk to older victims. For those over 70, the average age of death is 85 years. I do not like being "average."  No, I am "above average," like all the children in Lake Wobegon.**  

Being stuck at home does force me to appreciate what I have. Certainly MaryLou's company and the helpfulness of neighbors who offer to pick up groceries or simply inquire about our welfare are reassuring. Having a lake in the back yard and a shaded patio is a real plus. 

Seen through the back sliding glass door, a Double-crested Cormorant rests on the goose decoy which serves as the float for the intake of our lawn irrigation system:

Double-crested Cormorant 03-20200318

Here are the modest "crests" which earn the bird its name (and check out those jewel-like eyes):

Double-crested Cormorant 02-20200318

This female Anhinga, seen through the glass, is drying her wings:

Anhinga 01-20200306

A window-viewed Tricolored Heron is backed by the lake's wind-disturbed surface:

Tricolored Heron thru window 20191103

With stealth, I can creep outside and even get some photos  which are not distorted by window glass (or darkness, as was the case in all the foregoing "Pixillated Masterpieces"). 

A case in point is this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker duo, cooperating to riddle the bark of our West Indies Mahogany tree. They did their best to stay on the opposite side of the trunk, so I rarely got full-body shots. This is the immature bird, which lacks the red cap:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker immature 01-20200322

The adult female sapsucker has red on her head but not the red throat of a male:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 05-20200322 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 02-20200322

Because of our habit of walking out so early, we often miss a colorful sunrise over our backyard lake. Out on the wetlands, we can watch as the shadow of the earth sinks into the western horizon over the Everglades. 

The North Wet Prairie before sunrise on March 18::

View to west before sunrise 03-20200418

Ten minutes after sunrise on March 24, the sunbeams have not yet touched the opposite shore, but they brighten the sky overhead to create a shadow-free foreground: 

Sunrise2 plus 10 minutes 20200324

Sunrise plus 10 minutes 02-20200324

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*Quinceañera, (Spanish: “15 years [feminine form]”) also called quinceaños or quince años or simply quince, the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, marking her passage from girlhood to womanhood; the term is also used for the celebrant herself. The quinceañera is both a religious and a social event that emphasizes the importance of family and society in the life of a young woman. It is celebrated in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well as in Latino communities in the United States and elsewhere. REF: Encyclopedia Britannica

**Lake Wobegon is a fictional town created by Garrison Keillor as the setting of the "News from Lake Wobegon" segment of the radio program A Prairie Home Companion...  Keillor's weekly monologue about Lake Wobegon included recurring elements... The closing words of the monologue were "Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." RE: Wikipedia

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

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