Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rain birds

Early in June, a tropical storm system worked its way across the Florida peninsula, bringing buckets of rain plus thunder and a few tornadoes. One morning our walk was aborted even before we reached the entrance of our birding patch.  During a break in the precipitation, we drove to nearby Chapel Trail preserve but the rains came again and "spoiled" my photo of a Loggerhead Shrike along the boardwalk:

Loggerhead Shrike in rain 2-20170604

The next day, keeping a wary eye on the radar, we ventured out early into our local wetlands for a bit of exercise. Clouds hung low over the gravel road and lake.

That blue dot is Mary Lou, already far ahead of me (click for enlarged view):

Cloudy morning 20170605

Clouds over lake 20170605

This Common Gallinule may be breeding here,  the first one I have seen here over ten years of observations:

Common Gallinule 2-20170605

A Northern Cardinal's song brightened the morning:

Northern Cardinal 20170605

Mary Lou had completed the three-mile round trip before I reached the rookery at the far end of the road. I was anxious to learn whether any of the herons had nested successfully during our absence. It was gratifying to find fledglings of both Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. 

Skies were very dark when I took these photos--

A pair of night-herons:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron pair 20170605

There was a third adult, plus this newly fledged juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron juvenile 2-20170605

It was too dark to get a decent photo of a pair of Green Herons which were working to renovate their nest. It held 3 eggs when I photographed it on April 26, just before we left for Illinois:

Green Heron 3 eggs nest 6 20170424

Another pair of Green Herons at the opposite end of the rookery were watching over one of their progeny. I decreased exposure compensation to brighten the photo of this adult but it still looked gloomy:

Green Heron adult 20170605

Green Heron adult 2-20170605

It started drizzling just as I took a final photo of the juvenile Green Heron. It still had natal down on its head:

Green Heron fledgling 20170605

The next two days we had to be content with watching the wading birds from our back patio windows. A Snowy Egret found a school of tiny fish along the shore at the edge of our lawn:

Snowy Egret 03-20170605

Strike!

Snowy Egret splash 05-20170605

Success!

Snowy Egret with catch 04-20170605

A White Ibis reflected in the lake as it foraged along a neighbor's fence.

White Ibis 20170605


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

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 Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tricolored Heron: Beauty and grace


One benefit of living on a lake in south Florida is that the shoreline serves as the stage for some wonderful performances. Here, the lake is calm as storm clouds gain strength in the northwest behind our home:

 Monaco Cove CROP3 HDR COREL 20141229

Tricolored Heron at Green Cay preserve, Boynton Beach, Florida:

Tricolored Heron at Green Cay 20131210

Although they are slender, stand over 2 feet tall (60-70 cm) and have a three foot (91 cm) wingspan, Tricolored Herons weigh less than a pound (334-415 gm). 


Warning: "Objects in your binoculars are much smaller than they look." This truism comes home to anyone who has picked up a window-killed warbler or released a banded chickadee. Birds are like puff-balls of feathers and fluff, skin and bones. 

The warning changes to "Objects may not fit in your viewfinder" if you add the very long legs and the skinny snake-like neck of a Tricolored Heron.

Back yard view:

Tricolored Heron 03-20160519

John James Audubon's herons stand out magnificently in his "Birds of America" double elephant folio. Since Audubon's bird paintings were all life-size, he contorted the images of herons in order to fit them within the dimensions of the portfolio's pages, which measured about 3 by 2 feet (0.9 by 0.6 meters) .   


Here is his rendition of the "Louisiana Heron," now known as Tricolored Heron, from  Biodiversity Heritage Library  (FLICKR Creative Commons, some rights reserved)

n208_w1150

Many of my heron photos were taken at close range in our Florida back yard. The subjects were often only about 50-60 feet away. Since I use a prime telephoto lens they commonly do not fit into the frame even if I back up against the back wall of our home. Unless the heron assumes an Audubon-like posture, my choice is to cut off either its legs or head!

A preening heron does fit the camera's frame:

Tricolored Heron preening HDR  20150722

Tricolored Heron immature 6-20140818

Tricolored Heron 20150602



An immature Tricolored Heron crouches for the kill:

Tricolored Heron immature 2-20130721

Audubon usually painted from freshly collected specimens, often posturing them with wires. He introduced action and excitement into many of his works. Sometimes his herons seemed surrealistically  expressive. 


An immature Tricolored Heron sought (without success) to be fed by its parent, chasing it across the lake and to the near shore:

 Tricolored Heron imm chases adult 06-20170612

The contortions of the energetic young bird reminded me of the way the great painter arranged his subjects:

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 08-20170612

 Tricolored Heron demands feeding 05-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 04-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 03-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 02-20170612

Tricolored Heron demands feeding 01-20170612

An immature Tricolored Heron is reflected in a flooded prairie:

Tricolored Heron immature 20160118

A graceful landing:

Tricolored Heron landing COREL 20121201

Tricolored Heron feeding habits VIDEO:



(If it does not display CLICK HERE)

  
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

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 Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Crops & Clips: Flashback to July, 2014

Once again, it is time to glean through my photo archives from three years ago to look for examples of favorite memes: Fences, Skies. Reflections, Birds and other Critters, images which depict the Seasons and Wordless scenes that need no explanation.  

Reflecting upon the month of July, 2014 I remember how the previous month's trip to Alaska disturbed the rhythm of our annual summer "migrations" from Florida to Illinois. If one has a choice, July is not the best month to be in Florida. 

We had traveled to Alaska and then returned to Illinois for only a couple of weeks. Many essential doctor and dental appointments had to be kept back home in Florida, and we hate to leave our house untended for any extended period. 

Usually I have a hard time finding images of fences, but before we departed from Illinois we visited the Japanese Garden in nearby Fabyan Park. The fences arced along my favorite foot bridge:

Japanese Garden in Fabyan FP 2-20140705

I tried to imitate an Impressionist painter on my digital "canvas:"

Japanese Garden in Fabyan FP Impressionist 20140705


On our last full day in Illinois, we stopped at Nelson Lake preserve in Batavia, where we saw Cedar Waxwings..

Cedar Waxwing 20140704

...and an exuberant Common Yellowthroat:

Common Yellowthroat 6-20140704

Then, off to south Florida, where the month had started out with lots of rain and mosquitoes.  The wetlands were so flooded that prey items were diluted and many wading birds sought refuge in our backyard lake. 

Thanks to blown-in Saharan dust we were greeted by a golden sunrise:

Sunrise 20140713

Early morning light bathed a Wood Stork as it foraged along our back lawn:

Wood Stork feeding 20140713

Our long-legged "yard birds" lingered all day. While the tactile-feeding Wood Stork stirred up prey with its bubble-gum pink feet...

Wood Stork 4-20140713

...a Tricolored Heron followed along, using its sharp vision, gobbling up any that got away:

  Tricolored Heron 20140721

A Snowy Egret flew in to join the feast...

Snowy Egret 3-20140715

...while a stealthy Green Heron waited for a meal to come within striking distance:

Green Heron 2-20140718

A Green Anole, hoping to attract a mate, displayed his dewlap:

Green Anole 20140718

Housebound by rain, we often missed our morning walks and watched angry sunrises from our back patio...

Sunrise 20140722

...but all the rain was good for our pineapples...

Pineapples 20140713

...and delicious tree-ripened Sugar-apple (Annona squamosa, also known by many other names such as Sweetsop or Custard Apple):


Anon or Cherimoya, ready to eat 20140724



= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

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 Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Crops & Clips: Birding Bliss (Woods)

After wintering at our permanent home in Florida, we flew to Illinois at the end of April. Our first foray was to Bliss Woods Forest Preserve in Sugar Grove, about a 5 mile drive from our second home. We were scheduled to participate in a spring bird count the next weekend, so it seemed to be a good idea to check out the area. Winds had been from the north for almost a week when we arrived (and continued so for the next week), discouraging migration. 

This is the bridge over Blackberry Creek, undergoing repair when I took this photo last October:

Blackberry Creek HDR 02-20161004

Blackberry Creek HDR 03-20161004

Blackberry Creek HDR 01-20161004

A male Eastern Bluebird welcomed us:

Eastern Bluebird male 4-20170503

Eastern Bluebird male 2-20170503

It was cold and windy, so we did not stay very long. However a male Yellow Warbler watched us as we walked along the path:

Yellow Warbler male 02-20170503

It came out into the open:

Yellow Warbler 05-20170503

The gray sky provided a nice background for this photo:

Yellow Warbler 07-20170503

A tiny House Wren scurried along a branch:

House Wren 2-20170503

A male Northern Flicker seemed proud of his mustache:

Northern Flicker 20170506

The bluebird bade us farewell from the roof of the pavilion:

 Eastern Bluebird 2-20170518

We returned under more favorable skies. This male Rose-breasted Grosbeak sang from overhead:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2-20170518

The female grosbeak was more subdued but nonethless beautiful:

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female 20170518

A Red-tailed Hawk sailed above:

Red-tailed Hawk2- 20170518

Road construction impeded our next visit to Bliss Woods, so we entered Hannaford Woods, part of the same Kane County Forest Preserve. A photogenic barn is sited across the road from the parking lot:

Hannaford Farm HDR 01-20170528

A couple of years ago I obtained a different perspective, and rendered the photo as an oil painting (click on photo to enlarge):

Hannaford Barn OIL 20150824 (View Large)

Resident birds at Hannaford included this White-breasted Nuthatch, inspecting its nest hole:

White-breasted Nuthatch 05-20170528

White-breasted Nuthatch 01-20170528

The highlight of our walk was this pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers. A wind storm had just broken off the top of their nest tree. Luckily their hole was just below the break:

Red-headed Woodpeckers 04-20170528

Red-headed Woodpeckers 05-20170528

Red-headed Woodpecker 07-20170528

I found no other respectable reflections for my meme, so I include this one from back in Florida, of a fisherman who was out of sight across a canal near the heron rookery:



Reflection of unseen fisherman 20170402

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to FENCES AROUND THE WORLD by Gosia

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 Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________