Thursday, June 11, 2015

Back in Florida

The arrival of spring in our Florida neighborhood was almost a non-event. There was no burst of floral color, and the dry mild weather changed only gradually into the summer pattern of afternoon showers. Spring migration here, 18 miles inland from the ocean, had not been spectacular.

Thunderheads creeping in from the coastline blocked the morning sun:

Sunburst HDR 20150525

The parallel rays of the sun appear to widen as they pass overhead, and then converge at a vanishing point on the horizon opposite the sunrise. This gives the illusion of a second (false) sunrise. A breeze ripples the surface, softening my hoped-for mirrored effect:

Harbour Lake to west mirrored sunrise HDR 20150526

As spring approached, changes in abundance of land birds had been mostly gradual. Among the more common winter residents, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and  Painted Buntings disappeared by the end of February, Belted Kingfishers lingered into mid-March, and American Kestrels, House Wrens, Palm Warbler and Gray Catbird numbers decreased unevenly into mid-April.

The Carolina Wrens, permanent residents, had abruptly stopped singing in mid-April, probably because they resolved their territorial boundaries and were suddenly occupied with raising their families. Their morning songs resumed in early June.

Carolina Wren 20150310

Before we departed for Illinois on April 18, the Common Ground Doves were paired up and cooing their love songs. They favored two grassy spots along the road where I hoped they would nest:

Common Ground-Dove2 HDR 20150417

We had also flushed a pair of Common Nighthawks from the grass, near where we found their eggs in past years:

 Common Nighthawk FOS documentation 20150414

At the lake, two similar sandpipers of different species provided a nice comparison of their identifying characteristics. A Solitary Sandpiper was on the left, while a slightly smaller Spotted Sandpiper posed next to it.  Note that the Solitary has a conspicuous eye ring while the Spotted has a white brow line. The latter also shows how the white of its chest extends up in front of its shoulder. Both of these features are more helpful in the fall and winter, when the Spotted Sandpiper loses its spots:

Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers 20150416

After spending an enjoyable (but cold, wet and windy) six weeks in Illinois, we returned to Florida on May 24 to find midsummer-type weather. On our first morning we got out before sunrise to walk into our local wetlands. Offshore storms created a colorful sky as we exited the gates (and fence) of our subdivision:

Monaco Cove entry HDR 20150526

I was disappointed to see that the grassy shoulders of the gravel road into the wetlands had been freshly mowed. This time of year the nighthawks and ground-doves should be sitting on eggs or tending to newly hatched  broods. That little blue dot on the road is Mary Lou, now about 1/4 mile ahead of me on the way to the heron rookery.

Miramar Parkway grass on shoulders has been mowed 20150525

A Common Nighthawk rose up from the edge of the road. If it had eggs or young they almost certainly were destroyed by the grass cutters. Perhaps it will try to nest after all:

 Common Nighthawk 20150526

Ground-doves persisted along the path near their old nesting area:

Ground Dove 2-20150526

A Killdeer ran across in front of me and fell to the ground as if injured, attempting to distract my attention away from its nest site:

Killdeer HDR 2-20150527

Killdeer distraction display 20150527

The Killdeer spread its bright orange tail feathers and uttered a shrill call, encouraging me to follow it away from its eggs or young:

Killdeer display HDR 20150527

A White-winged Dove looked on:

White-winged Dove 2-20150526

A male Northern Flicker alighted in a small tree next to the path:

Northern Flicker 2-20150529

A bad photo, but this illustrates why the eastern subspecies  is called "Yellow-shafted" Flicker, as opposed to the Red-shafted form in the western US:

  Northern Flicker bad shot 20150529

At the rookery, I found only one nest, that of a Green Heron. It contained one nestling:

Green Heron nestling 20150529

There were at least two pairs of Green Herons present, but I initially failed to locate any other nests. One adult, in breeding plumage kept vigil nearby:

Green Heron 20150525

Two days later I returned and discovered that another pair had already successfully raised at least these two fledglings:

Green Heron fledglings 2-20150529

The little nestling was now exploring the branches around its home. I watched from a secluded spot for about a half hour, hoping to see a feeding, but had no success and gave up. Just as I was leaving the area an adult flew directly to the nest, but by then I was too far away to get any photos of the event.


Green Heron nestling 20150601

I liked the way the back-lighting turned the baby heron's fuzz into a halo: 

Green Heron nestling 5-20150601
 
On the way home, I saw a Great Egret roosting on a rock in the lake. I had to sneak up through the high grass to get a photo, but it saw me and immediately took flight:

Great Egret 2-20150529

Great Egret takes flight 20150529

Great Egret takes flight 2-20150529

Butterflies were about, including this male Julia...


Julia heliconian male 20150529

...and a Zebra heliconian, Florida's State Butterfly:

Zebra heliconian 2-20150529

There were decent reflections on the lake the next morning, with a still wind under an unsettled sky, in this view from the back patio of our home:

Monaco Cove sunrise HDR 20150530

A better view of the entrance to our subdivision, on the way back home:

Monaco Cove gate HDR 20150601

Today is our 55th Wedding Anniversary and Mary Lou and I plan to be taking an extended trip, which will limit our access to the Internet. I do appreciate your visits and will do my best to visit all of your posts, but I may be a bit slow in catching up for the next couple of weeks.



= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

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 I Heart Macro by Laura

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


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33 comments:

  1. Hello Ken, gorgeous collection of images. The sky shots are beautiful and wonderful bird sightings and photos. The Spotted Sandpiper is one of my favorites. Have a happy day!

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  2. Beautiful photos, one and all. I'd be hard put to choose a favorite. Herons of any kind are always a big hit with me. But those sky photos take the "Blue Ribbon" today! They are spectacular! So glad I stumbled across your blog!

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  3. awesome skies, beautiful birds, cute youngsters, great water views and a good fence, too!

    happy anniversary to you!!! (since you may be out, i'll link you up to good fences!)

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  4. HI Kenneth %5 years married. How wonderful and congrats to Mary Lou and yourself. I could not see the blue dot of Mary Lou!!! Anyway, it is sometimes difficult to know which home you are in but although you may have been a bit disappointed with Florida when you arrived home here, I think all the birds you saw are fantastic and great shots of them also. The first and second from last sky shots are amazing. I love seeing the young birds adn certainly that halo around the heron makes for a great shot. Anyway, I wish you and Mary Lou all the best for this up coming vacation and don't forget we will want to know all you got up too!!

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  5. Congrats you two! Have fun on your trip:) The sky photos are amazing!

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  6. Awesome sky photos Kenneth. That first shot is "out of this world" The birds are great too but I am partial to skies :-) Have a wonderful trip on the train. If you have never been that route before I can vouch for the stunning scenery of the Rocky Mountains. Happy anniversary too!

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  7. wow amazing skies in the first one!

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  8. Wonderful photography! I love the view from your back patio. Congrats on your wedding anniversary!!

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  9. Happy Anniversary! - Wow so much to see here. The birds were all wonderful and those sky shots were as well. I enjoyed stopping by very much.

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  10. Another fantastic post, full of beautiful scenery and birds. I love the shots of the Killdeer in action and the fledgling herons are so cute. Oh, those are great shots of the butterflies too. Happy anniversary to you and your lovely wife. Have a great trip!

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  11. love your sunrise images and the doves are so pretty.

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  12. Wonderful shots - I just love those skies! Enjoy your Canada rail trip!

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  13. Welcome back to your patch ... And what a beautiful patch it is. Happy Anniversary and Bon Voyage as well! Wonderful photos. First time I've seen and understood the yellow shaft name ! And love the shorebirds and the killdeer. I always wish they could understand that I wouldn't hurt their babies for anything. They go to so much unnecessary work.

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  14. The blue "Green Heron" is so pretty, its feathers arranged so prettily on its wings. The babies are darling, love the halo. The sunset sky with reflections is awesome. Great shots of the killdeer acting injured, they are amazing birds, they seem to live everywhere I have lived. Happy anniversary and have a great trip!

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  15. I love looking at your blog posts...such lovely photos!

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  16. Great birdshots and skywatches. I like them.

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  17. Ken, awesome post and images ! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

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  18. Awesome collection of shots. Happy Anniversary and have a great trip!

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  19. So many fabulous pictures. Hard to name my favourites, but I love waders, so I'm going for the Spotted Sandpiper. Butterfly's very nice too.

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  20. Divine photography of our feathered friends and gorgeous skies!

    Happy Weekend to you,
    artmusedog and carol

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  21. Love the little G H chicks!!! So precious
    And your sky shots...incredible colors!!!

    I could sit for hours and watch the killdeer do their "I'm injured stance".

    Your post this week is magical.

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  22. ps enjoy your vacation, and both of you...special anniversary hugs.

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  23. Oh my! The bird activity in both Illinois and Florida are wonderful! Your photos are delightful! Love the nestling shots. And the sunrise shots were breath-taking! So upsetting to see when mowers have ruined nesting sites and habitat! I hope the birds and animals will bounce back. Enjoy your trip! Happy Anniversary! 55 is a wonderful milestone!

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  24. Such amazing shots...love all of these. I love the way killdeer will do to detract us from their nests. And not familiar with that either of those doves. They are still beautiful.

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  25. Many fantastic looking birds here. Really nice to see the Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers side by side for comparison.

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  26. Beautiful series Kenneth! Thanks so much for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro ♥

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  27. Gorgeous skies, beautiful birds and pretty butterflies. I always enjoy your posts.

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  28. Amazing Such a very nice pictures. I also want you to visit the site Hotmail help

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  29. Love Florida! But how do you keep the chiggers away!??!!!! Do you wear a fine mesh netting? They nearly killed me!

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  30. What a brilliant and wonderfully packed full of beauty post!

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