Thursday, June 9, 2016

Birding under a false sunrise

As south Florida settles into its summer "wet season" pattern of almost daily showers we like to get out especially early on the local wetlands. Not only do we escape the heat of the day and get ahead of the rain, but we also increase our chances of seeing such nocturnal and crepuscular creatures as nighthawks, night-herons, owls, reptiles and mammals. 

We pass our sudivision's illuminated entry gate:

Monaco Cove entry 20160529

In early June, before we departed for Illinois, we walked out 45 minutes before sunrise in semi-darkness, under a waning crescent Moon: 

Waning crescent Moon HDR 20160601

This was almost three weeks before the Summer Solstice. The Sun had already slowed down in its march toward the north, as if putting on the brakes, getting ready to turn around and start shrinking the daylight for another six months. We were far along the path beside the lake as the sky brightened. Sunlight from below the horizon backlighted the tops of a line of thunderheads along the Atlantic coast. 

Actual sunrise HDR 20160601

Opposite the incipient sunrise, the far shore of the lake was still in darkness. Broken up by the cloud tops, the rays raced above us as parallel lines which converged at a vanishing point on the horizon to the southwest. High clouds over the Everglades caught the sunlight, accenting the illusion that somehow sunrise had relocated:

Mirrored sunrise HDR  02-20160601

For a while the clouds obscured rays on the right side of the mirrored sunrise, producing an odd geometry of shadow and reflection:

Mirrored sunrise HDR 01-20160601

A pair of Killdeer had a nest nearby. I almost stepped on their four eggs, laid on a bed of pebbles in the path along the side of the unpaved roadway:.

Killdeer eggs 20160526

The Killdeer parent was distressed and very defensive, so I backed off and gave the nest a wide berth:

Killdeer 20160601

On my way back I had trouble locating the nest site but was finally able to photograph it from the opposite side of the road, some 25 yards away. The parent was incubating the eggs:

Killdeer incubating 5-20160529

My long lens gave me a closer view:

Killdeer incubating 4-20160529

I had been monitoring the nest of a Green Heron. After successfully raising a first brood, it hatched out three chicks. The parent covered the hatchlings on May 26:

Green Heron covering nestlings  4-20160526

Green Heron covering nestlings  3-20160526

On May 27, the smallest of the three appeared unable to compete for food with its two energetic siblings. The next day I found only two Green Heron nestlings. Such is the way of Nature:

Green Heron 2nd adult feeds nestlings 5-20160527

Green Heron 2nd adult feeds nestlings 2-20160527

There had been a particularly severe thunderstorm the day before, so I was anxious to check on the welfare of the remaining two nestlings. The nest had been disrupted, but the two little herons survived. I hope they continue to do well, but I will never know:

Green Heron nestlings after storm HDR 20160601

The day before, I had encountered a group of three White-tailed Deer, including a large doe with one blind eye, a second smaller doe and a spike buck which were possibly her fawns from a previous year. They ran off, with the half-blind doe between them, tilting her head to the side so as to better see where she was heading:

White-tailed Deer running 2-20160530

Walking back from the heron rookery, I walked up over a berm and was surprised to find the one-eyed doe standing not far in front of me. I froze and the doe cautiously moved towards me. Not catching my scent, she was probably trying to figure out my identity:

White-tailed Doe approaches HDR 20160601

Suddenly realizing the danger, the doe turned and ran across the unpaved road and bounded over the guard rail:

White-tailed Doe run and jump 02-20160601

White-tailed Doe run and jump 04-20160601

White-tailed Doe run and jump 05-20160601

White-tailed Doe run and jump 06-20160601

On the way back home, a stopped at the thicket formerly known as the "Fake Hammock" which yielded great views of a White-eyed Vireo. It looked as if it had "an attitude:"

White-eyed Vireo 05-20160526

White-eyed Vireo 02-20160526

White-eyed Vireo portrait 20160526

My only recent FLOWER shot shows Ixora blooms. It was taken last week at the entrance to the wetlands, which are situated on the opposite side of the fence:

Entry to wetlands 20160529 

Although technically imperfect, this MACRO of a Needham's Skimmer dragonfly shows it eating a very large fly:

Needhams Skimmer with diptera prey 20160530

Thanks so much for visiting! I will be on the road for the next couple of weeks and often away from WiFi and even out of cellular range. Mary Lou and I are celebrating our 56th Wedding Anniversary! Tending to my blog from a cellphone does not work out very well, so I have put my posts on "autopilot" in the interim, but promise to visit you as soon as possible when I get back to my PC.


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

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


  1. Celebrating our 56th Wedding Anniversary. Wow. Congratulations. What a privilege!

    I enjoyed your blog. Not only the photos but also your way of writing. Even I as a foreigner feel something of the atmosphere brings in your blog with your words. That's a gift :-) You are writing very beautifully. Amazing pictures. I'm glad I was a moment on your blog. Warmly and God bless you.

  2. A Very Happy Anniversary to both yourself and Mary Lou! What a blessing! I had missed your posts, Kenneth, and was so happy to see this post in my news feed this morning. Your photos are gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  3. critters are wonderful...but I go gaga over a great sunrise with cool clouds.

  4. love that sunrise and the encounter with the doe would have been wonderful.

  5. happy anniversary! great shots as always but i especially loved the sun rays and the deer!

  6. I always enjoy your photos! What amazing close ups you get and the baby birds are very sweet. Happy Anniversary to you and your sweetheart! HAVE FUN!

  7. my connection allowed me to see one photo of a killdeer from this entire post. i had to imagine the rest from reading your words.

    happy anniversary to you and your bride. :)

  8. Happy Anniversary! I am awed by the skywatch photos you posted this week. I have NEVER seen anything like this before. Again, in awe.
    JM, Illinois-U.S.A.

  9. What a lovely entrance to the subdivision. I enjoyed seeing the deer, felt sad for the one with the blind eye but she seemed to manage leaping over the guard rail without any problems. Cute little baby birds. We had a Killdeer build her nest in the middle of the church parking lot so they blocked off that section until her eggs hatched. What a weird spot to build a nest huh? Great post as always.

  10. Another beautiful post. Your photography is superb. I was all ready to compliment you on your sky shots, but they are all excellent!!

  11. WOW Ken, fantastic photos!! Congrats on the 56 years, hubs and I are on 33.

  12. Your sky shots are magnificent and I love seeing the new babies and their nest. Great shots of the deer.

  13. Awesome shots of the sun burst during sunrise and close up shots of the wildlife.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Alex's World! -

  14. Happy Anniversary! Love the photos that I could get to load..great shots!

  15. Fantastic shots of the wildlife, KCS.

    The half-blind doe sure seems to have learned to deal with her problem.

  16. Hello Ken, great series of photos. I love the Green Heron and Killdeer. The sky shots are beautiful. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

  17. PS, Ken thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  18. Marvelous wildlife photography!
    Thanks for sharing at

  19. Great photos. And those sunrise shots are stunning!! WOW!

  20. Happy anniversary! Gorgeous photos all of them. I especially loved the sunrise skies.


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