Thursday, September 15, 2016

Small drama in the wounded wetlands

The combination of aging joints and excessive heat compel me to periodically interrupt my morning walks and seek a shady refuge where I can sip some water and just take in the scene. 

Looking south at sunrise over the local south Florida wetlands:

 Looking south at sunrise HDR 02-20160727

One benefit of sitting still is that I am less of a disturbance to wildlife.  I am also a bit more attuned to what is going on about me. 

This was the case when I noticed that a Loggerhead Shrike was interacting with a Northern Mockingbird. Every time the shrike hovered over a small bush the mockingbird immediately attacked it. 

Loggerhead Shrike after cardinal 2-20160725

This happened several times, so I assumed that the mockingbird was protecting its nest or one of its young from the "Butcher Bird."  

Northern Mockingbird 20160124

However, the object of the shrike's attention was actually a fledgling Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal juvenile 20160725

A few more mockingbirds had joined the fray, and a Blue Jay was calling incessantly. This attracted other jays and they, too made swipes at the shrike.

Blue Jay 20160725

The little cardinal is visible to the left in this photo:

Blue Jay and juvenile cardinal 20160725

Interestingly, a single adult female cardinal moved about excitedly but did not join in attacking the predatory bird.

Northern Cardinal female 20160724

The shrike retreated ...

Loggerhead Shrike after cardinal 3-20160725

...and the young cardinal came out into the open:

Northern Cardinal juvenile 20160724

Before our neighborhood was drained, filled and built out some 15 years ago, locals hunted wild pigs in what was then swampy agricultural land. Some of the old trails were said to have been created by hunters of feral pigs. However, despite hiking and birding here frequently I never found evidence of a porcine presence-- until this year.

The first signs that suggested  that pigs may have invaded were copious piles of odoriferous feces... or were they possibly those of a bear?:  

Boar scat Pile 3 20160601

Then, one dark morning well before sunrise I ventured a short ways down a side trail to the edge of a wet meadow, hoping to surprise a night-heron or maybe a deer. Instead, I made out the form of a dark creature. It was moving very slowly as if grazing:

Wild Boar first photo 20160411

I first thought it was indeed a bear. I quietly watched until the light improved, when another very poor photo reassured me that it was only a pig, but quite a large one: 

Wild Boar first sighting 02-20160411

My suspicions were thus confirmed. So far I have found at least two sets of pig tracks, one with hooves that were 3 inches long and others which measured 2 inches. The scat deposits have increased in number and volume, making me wonder how many are out there.

Since then, Mary Lou and I have seen the same animal three more times along the trail, always before sunrise and running away.  I still have not gotten a decent photo because of the poor light, but am certain it is a male. 

Wild boar 02-20160724

They can be aggressive, so I make sure to carry pepper spray.

This week the lake provided excellent reflections on still mornings. A Great Egret lifted off into the first rays:

Great Egret takes flight HDR 01-20160911

At nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve, the boardwalk served as my fence photo, though I was actually concentrating on the clouds:

Chapel Trail boardwalk HDR 02-20160826

Thick patches of Bidens alba are in bloom, with tiny daisy-like flowers ready to produce millions of the little two-toothed nettles which cling to pant legs and socks-- "beggar's lice."  (Bidens means "two teeth." Just realizing that is the name of our Vice President. I never noticed that about him!)

In Florida the lowly Bidens is an important source of nectar for honeybees and butterflies, in third place after non-native citrus and Saw Palmetto. It therefore deserves respect, which I will grant by trying not to walk through a patch after it goes to seed!

Bidens alba HDR 20160914

A female Julia heliconian sips nectar from a Bidens blossom:

Julia heliconian female 2-20160203

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue
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Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display

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36 comments:

  1. I though that first mystery shot was a bear too! We saw to wild pigs up in the Northern Territory - they are a pest species really - but they were the first I had ever seen in the wild.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  2. I loved strolling with you this morning. We have a horrible feral pig problem in our parks here, around Tampa. Most every park, the forest floor is destroyed by their rooting. I'm a critter lover, but the feral pigs (domestic escapees) don't belong, and they destroy the ecology. I wish they did more bow hunting to thin them. That said...I love to come across a family. The little piggies are so stinking CUTE. The boars can be amazingly huge...and FAST. Thankfully they fear me more than the other way around.

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  3. i enjoyed the narrative along with the photos...be careful of those wild pigs!

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  4. That sunrise is breathtaking! Nice series but I love the sunrise and bridge over the water. The sky is so magical and what a great reflection shot!

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  5. My morning walks are so dull in comparison, still at least I don't have to contend with wild pigs - escaped wallabies once, but that is another story.

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  6. At first I thought the first mystery shot was a bear. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, Kenneth! What a joy to see!

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  7. The sunrise is gorgeous. - Oh I've heard that wild pigs can be quite mean. - Loved the shot of the Egret and the nature preserve fencing is very nice.

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  8. Your opening shot totally captivated me! Another excellent post... I always look forward to my visits!

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  9. the clouds, the reflections, the egret, amazing. i've seen some pig activity here, too. hoping it was the domestic that kept getting out for about a week and not the wild ones - although i've come up against one wild one here last year.

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  10. It's pretty scary to see the Wild Boars. We have a favorite hiking trail and we've seen them a few times. You got some really good photos. I'm usually pretty far away! lol Love your new banner too. I just got back from my evening walk and the temp wasn't so bad but the humidity drenches you in short order! Thanks for your beautiful photos

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  11. Beautiful colours in that sky.

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  12. Wow - that egret shot! And gorgeous skies too.

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  13. I enjoyed read your text. Photos are super great!

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  14. As usual your photos are beautiful. The Great Egret is magnificent. They are such wonderful birds.

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  15. super story in this post! I can't imagine wild pigs!!! Great reflection of the egret and such beautiful light.

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  16. That was some drama being played out before your eyes. Interesting about the wild boar in that area. Beautiful reflection.

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  17. Great post! Fascinating behavior of the variety of birds towards the shrike. I've never seen a shrike before except in photographs. I didn't realize they had wild pigs in Florida. Fantastic shot of the Great Egret, with the sunlight on its wings, beautiful skies and the Julia heliconian is such a beauty. Lovely flowers too of course and I thank you so much for sharing this post along with its interesting narrative with Today's Flowers. Have a great weekend :)

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  18. Great narrative and lovely photos. I'd be scared of that pig! BTW the photo of the bird with the background of blue rippled water is just Stunning! Unfortunately I can't see your shot of the egret..

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  19. Nice series of photos. Love the butterfly!

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  20. Hello Ken, gorgeous sky capture. The birds are awesome, my favorite is the Shrike. Neat sightings of the wild pig and bear? Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

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  21. Wow! You packed a lot into one post!
    Love sunrise - so pretty
    As for the birds: "I get along with a little help from my friends!"
    There are wild pigs back in the woods here. They can be very aggressive. My husband takes his gun when he goes back there.
    Beautiful Great Egret photo, and lovely butterfly, too!

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  22. Bud does the same...sometimes he can walk without a problem, other times --- it's walk, stop, rest and drink. But, like you, while he's resting he has the birds COME TO HIM!!!

    I love the narration of nature's protective squad for the immature cardinal.

    And the wild pig....yes indeed they can be VERY fierce. I'm not so sure pepper spray would be enough protection tho.



    Thanks for adding this to I'd Rather B Birdin's Linking Tool this week!!

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  23. All of these are great BUT...The photo of the egret is absolutely stunning.
    Thanks so much for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-man-in-moon.html

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  24. You pictures are stunning especially that Egret in that brilliant light. But it's the shrike that I really enjoyed reading about.

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  25. What a beautiful walk! Although, the feral pigs would have made me stop in my tracks:)

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  26. What a fascinating interaction among the various bird species - I suppose their altruistic-seeming intentions also protect their own territories and possibly their young. I am glad the little cardinal made it through unscathed. Also enchanted by the pig sightings. We have black bears and moose and deer up here, not to mention coyotes, but most definitely we do not have wild pigs of any sort! We do have lynx, which are interesting, but rarely seen. The egret shot is spellbinding.

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  27. What an interesting adventure on your morning walk! It makes me wonder where the pigs live. Your egret shot is stunning!

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  28. So interesting to observe bird behavior such as that caused by the shrike. I'm glad you decided you needed to rest.

    I nearly stepped on a feral pig while walking a nature path just behind an RV Park somewhere in Florida -- on our first trip. Scared me half to death... just the total surprise of it. We both turned away and ignored each other.



    Interesting about the Latin name -- I like Joe Biden and his nice smile -- more than two teeth, I'm pretty sure!(Seriously, it is good to learn what an important role those little flowers play.. thank you)

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  29. I love the pink sky in the first shot. I've never seen wild pigs, but there have been some at my in laws cottage.

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