Even before sunrise it has been hot and humid on the wetlands next to our south Florida home. We got out most mornings, but the birding has been slow-- relatively few species and none out of the ordinary. After walking out briskly for a half hour, I then explore special spots that sometimes hold surprises. The Harbour Lake impoundment is usually the first stop, but on the way two Brown Thrashers appeared along the road.
In a nearby Trema tree, an immature male Northern Cardinal moved close to the other thrasher.
The immature cardinal still has a mostly dark bill which will become bright red by spring.
Water levels are elevated, causing long-legged waders to disperse. There was no wind, and the lake's surface mirrored a lone Great Egret. A Little Blue Heron was resting on an adjacent rock.
As usual, the egret did not tolerate my presence, leaving the heron to stand its ground and protest.
A Loggerhead Shrike occupied a high perch and kept a wary eye on me.
I found a shady spot on the levee of the canal and watched quietly. When there are warblers around I sometimes resent the distraction of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, but for a while a flock of a half dozen provided my only entertainment.
A Prairie Warbler with at least two more companions suddenly appeared.
I heard the cat-like mew of a Red-eyed Vireo, and soon two emerged from a nearby bush.
A pair of Carolina Wrens sang a duet nearby-- the male provided loud whistling notes and the female finished the song with a flat chatter. I briefly caught sight of the female.
Between the brief avian encounters, I turned my attention to some interesting insects. Dragonflies included a Needham's Skimmer...
...a Regal Darner...
...an Eastern Pondhawk...
...a Halloween Pennant...
...and a Band-winged Dragonlet:
Butterflies abounded. Here is a perfect specimen of a White Peacock:
This is a tiny Clouded Skipper:
A male Julia heliconian with closed wings looks nondescript from below...
...but blazes with color when it opens its wings.
The female Julia is less conspicuous:
The previous day one of our local Bald Eagles had been seen working on the nest, a full month earlier than this has been observed over the past eight breeding seasons during which we have monitored their behavior. While driving past the nest site I was surprised to see both adults roosting just west of the nest tree.
The female is noticeably larger than the male:
This is the male:
After a few minutes the female flew along the road to a tree just to the east of the nest.
The male followed her.
For more information, photos and reports visit my Bald Eagle Nest FORUM.