Saturday, December 27, 2014

Birding on the shortest day

Based on the belief that Earth's rotation is gradually slowing, December 22, 2014 was touted by media to be the longest night in its history. However, because of geologic factors and tidal effects related to differences in the position of the moon there are irregularities that can temporarily increase the rate of rotation. Therefore, this year's Winter Solstice must take second place to the record set in the year 1912.   

Winter arrived at 6:04 PM on December 21. That morning the sun rose far to the southeast, and our lake was crystal clear:

 Sunrise HDR DPP 20141221

The next morning did not feel as if winter had arrived. The effects of a cold front had diminished, and it was a balmy 60 degrees F (15.5 C), with calm wind. The lake in our local wetlands reflected those conditions. Looking northwest towards the Everglades, opposite the rising sun, the sky was aglow, and the white dot of a Great Egret punctuated the landscape:

Harbour Lakes HDR COREL 20141222

To the north, gathering clouds portended a change in the weather:

Harbour Lakes3 HDR 20141222

The egret's image is a bit soft because of the low light,... 

Great Egret 60D CROP 20141222

...but the light's warmth added beauty as it took flight:

Great Egret 20141222

The previous morning, a Great Blue Heron occupied a nearby rock:

Great Blue Heron Canon 60D CROP 20141221

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers foraged for spiders among the Brazilian Pepper berries:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher on Brazilian Pepper 20141216

A Gray Catbird gobbled up a ripe berry:

Gray Catbird 20141210

Palm Warblers moved among the branches:

Palm Warbler 20141210

High up, an elusive Least Flycatcher briefly appeared:

Least Flycatcher 20141221

A White-winged Dove peered down curiously from a Live Oak:

White-winged Dove 2-20141210

I am still testing my new pocket camera, a Canon SX 700 HS with a 30 power zoom lens. I used it for the landscape photos above, and tested its macro capabilities. Hand held, it captured some remarkably clear images from as close as 3/2 inch (2 centimeters). I just purchased a light-weight tripod which should improve its performance.

A Honeybee:

Honeybee 20141219

A tiny flower sepal:

Flower calyx macro Canon SX 700 HS 20141216

Pepper berries look big as balloons:

Brazilian Pepper berries 20141213

A dewdrop on a blade of grass:

Dewdrop macro Canon SX 700 HS 20141216

On the way home the little Powershot provided me with quite a sharp image of a cooperative Northern Mockingbird:

Northern Mockingbird Powershot 20141221

When all was said and done, we slept right through the longest night of our lives!

9 comments:

  1. Stunning series of photos, I loved each and every beautiful photo. Happy New Year!

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  2. Love the sunrise shots, just beautiful. And the birds are awesome, well done.. Have a great weekend!

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  3. loved the opening reflections and lovely views. always love your birds!

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  4. The SX700 has taken some lovely sharp pictures Ken. The compositor helps though!
    The gnatcatcher and catbird pictures work really well with those bright red berries in shot.

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  5. The SX700 has taken some lovely sharp pictures Ken. The compositor helps though!
    The gnatcatcher and catbird pictures work really well with those bright red berries in shot.

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  6. I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds you and glad to pieces you shared this with us.

    Of course your bird photos are picture post card perfect Ken.

    Don't forget...if you wanted to do so...share your link at I'd Rather B Birdin'

    Happy New Year.

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  7. I'm so glad you decided to join and share your link with us at I'd Rather B Birdin'

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  8. Oh my...your narrative is so beautiful, welcoming the winter solstice, and your photos of the lake are stunning. Both are like a lovely poem. Then the bird and flora photos are marvelous as well, especially the close-ups! Wow! This is just an an amazing post!

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