The next morning (February 13) we had time to wait for the Moon sink into the lake:
Luckily, the clouds held off a few more minutes and did not spoil the event!
A Northern Mockingbird sang from a guard rail along the unpaved road:
Here in south Florida there is no "spring chorus" of bird song as we had when I was a kid in New Jersey. The mockingbirds, cardinals and Mourning Doves all are singing in the dark as we walk out to the wetlands. Soon, Carolina Wrens and White-winged Doves join in before the jays and grackles try to spoil the symphony.
Our most common resident vireo sings all winter long. It is also a favorite photographic subject, although often very hard to locate. The White-eyed Vireo's song may sound tantalizingly close, but it has the habit of hiding in the thickest shrubbery and moving slowly and methodically through branches and leaves, in search of insects. It has provided me the best photo opportunities when I was not even looking for it.
On February 15, 2017 I was trying to track down a wren which was scolding from the middle of a patch of Lantana. I was moving about to get a better view when suddenly I saw a small bird sitting very quietly, only about 10 feet in front of me. It was in deep shade and I had not adjusted my exposure settings, so my images needed extra processing (layering of three different exposures of the original RAW files) to bring out the colors:
Birds cannot smile, frown or wrinkle their brows, but it seemed to be asking: "What are you doing here?"
Oh, those eyes!
This White-eyed Vireo was intently searching for spiders out in the open and was not aware of my presence until about 1 second after I pointed my camera at it (February 16, 2017):
In this very same patch of Lantana, the White-eyed Vireo sometimes has an unusual companion which has attracted attention of many other birders. I'm not sure whether it has been the same individual, but a rather rare Bell's Vireo first showed up in this location in October, 2009, and then in three out of the past four winters. It usually arrived in October or November and lingered into January. This winter it appeared on November 7, 2016 and I saw it last on February 26, 2017. Over the past ten years there have been only a few other scattered reports of this species in our entire County.
Bell's Vireo is a plain-looking bird. Often in the company of a White-eyed Vireo, it is noticeably smaller and much more active, flitting from branch to branch, continually flicking its tail and wings. It has blue legs, faint whitish eye rings and a "spectacle" mark across its forehead, one prominent white wing bar and a shorter one above it. I have over two hundred images of this species in my archives, beginning with this, my first ever sighting, on October 23, 2009:
Bell's Vireo's breeding range is generally in the central and southwestern US. It migrates through Texas and Mexico to usual wintering grounds along the Pacific coasts of Mexico and Central America. A few wander eastward to spend the cold months along the gulf coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.
October 31, 2015:
December 22, 2015:
November 2, 2016:
February 23, 2017:
On the same day, eating Trema berries:
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Linking to Misty's CAMERA CRITTERS,
Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,
Linking to GOOD FENCES by Gosia
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