We have returned to Florida from our second home in Illinois. After tending to the multitude of chores, appointments and unexpected plumbing and air conditioning problems (not to mention deferred medical visits) Mary Lou and I have been getting out on the local wetlands almost every morning before sunrise. Walking in, it is too dark for photos so I "bird by ear" until the sky lights up.
One morning we were greeted by a Great Blue Heron who fished along our lake in the predawn darkness:
The view from our patio the next morning:
The first bird we always hear as we leave the house is the Northern Mockingbird:
Hordes of Gray Catbirds, cousins of the mockingbirds, have migrated in from the north. Their mewing calls pierce the darkness:
Resident Northern Cardinals have finished molting and are back in splendorous garb:
The lake in the wetlands as it appeared just before sunrise:
A little after sunrise a few days later, a view of the same northeast corner of the lake:
Common Yellowthroats, little pot-bellied warblers, forage in the trail-side shrubs. This one has picked up a spider egg case:
It tasted good, I am sure, but it left the bird's bill a sticky mess:
This first-year male yellowthroat is just developing a black mask...
...while this adult sports the real thing:
Some Prairie Warblers breed here, but their numbers are bolstered by new arrivals:
Palm Warblers are so common here during the winter that some locals call them "Florida Sparrows." Their long legs are an adaptation for feeding on the ground, and they love to explore residential lawns:
Some Palm Warbler specimens are more boldly marked, but nearly all that winter in south Florida belong to the drab western sub-species that breeds in West-Central Canada. The more colorful eastern "Yellow Palm" breeds in eastern Canada and winters to the west in Texas and along the northern and western Gulf of Mexico. Interestingly, the migratory paths of these two populations cross.
Numbers of White-eyed Vireos have increased:
Northern Waterthrushes have arrived,...
...as have acrobatic Black-and-White Warblers:
I cannot get enough photos of one of my favorite visiting warblers, the Ovenbird. Pardon me for the overdose, but this one was so photogenic:
I cannot forget the butterflies, such as this male Julia heliconian, from the top...
...and the side view, now looking more like a dried leaf:
A Halloween Pennant is bathed in morning light:
Some mornings we are treated to a mirrored or "false" sunrise in the west. About 15 minutes before sunrise, the view to the west over the Everglades shows the shadow cast by the earth's opposite horizon has not yet reached ground level. The sunburst caused by cloud tops in a line of thunderstorms offshore is reflected down to the line between sunlight and darkness.
On a fair afternoon a brewing thunderstorm cloud is reflected on our backyard lake:
After a brief downpour, a full rainbow appears to the east:
An immature Little Blue Heron flies over the reflection of a fence on the canal: