Thursday, March 23, 2017

Crops & Clips: Two Vireos

As usual, we got out early, about a half hour before sunrise, and hurried the half mile to the lake. Mary Lou had her customary head start as I stopped to take pictures. The full "Worm Moon" would set at almost the same time as sunrise, so it couldn't get much "fuller!"

Full Moon setting 20170312

Moon over wetlands before sunrise 20170312

The next morning (February 13) we had time to wait for the Moon sink into the lake:

Full Worm Moon setting 20170313

Luckily, the clouds held off a few more minutes and did not spoil the event!

Pine Bank at sunrise 20170313

A Northern Mockingbird sang from a guard rail along the unpaved road:

 Northern Mockingbird 20170311

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?"

White-eyed Vireo 01-20170215

White-eyed Vireo 02-20170215

White-eyed Vireo 06-20170215

Oh, those eyes!

White-eyed Vireo close 08-20170215

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):

White-eyed Vireo 20170216

White-eyed Vireo 2-20170216

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  6-20091023

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:

Bell's Vireo 3-20151031

December 22, 2015:

Bell's Vireo 2-20151222

November 2, 2016:

Bell's Vireo 6-20161107

February 23, 2017:

Bell's Vireo in Trema 02-20170223

On the same day, eating Trema berries:

Bell's Vireo eating Trema 20170223

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


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



  1. beautiful landscape shots

    (uh, not that the others aren't)

  2. Gorgeous photos, Kenneth, and your captions made me smile.

  3. Magnificent photography of our 'feathered friends' ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

  4. Gorgeous sky shots ~ so beautiful ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a Happy Weekend ahead ~ ^_^

  5. What a delight to see these bird photos. Thanks.

    Worth a Thousand Words

  6. Those bird eyes really are beautiful, and what an inquisitive look!! Great photos.

  7. The photos are amazing - beautiful birds and very atmospheric reflections.

  8. Hello, lovely captures of the moon and sky! The reflections are lovely. Cute shots of the vireo! Pretty birds. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  9. Love all the bird photos, and the scenery shots are great, too!
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  10. Beautiful moon, and cute birds!

  11. Love the water scenes! And two are my favorites today....the "What are you doing here?" pose and the berry muncher!!

    All are terrific tho.

    Thanks so much for adding your link, sharing with all of us other birders around the world!!

    Have a great week ahead--
    Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin'

  12. Gorgeous post - not only the moon and clouds but also the birds~

  13. The clouds reflected on the water photo is simply amazing!

  14. Ken, you do an amazing job capturing birds and that moon! Oh, my isn't it just gorgeous! I love how you caught it sinking into the water. Isn't it unsafe to go at night in Florida? I'd be afraid an alligator would eat me up. :) Thanks for sharing such spectacular pictures with us!

  15. Am in love with the white eyed vireo - such a beautiful dainty bird with subtle colors, except for the striped effect on the wings:! Of course I also appreciate your waiting for the sinking of the moon into the lake - and sharing all of these experiences with ALL SEASONS! Almost have the feeling to have been there:)

  16. Hello Ken!:) Excellent captures of all the delightful birds, and moon shots.:)

  17. You live in a really beautiful area. The sunrises and sunset shots are always a pleasure to see. That Vireo was a very pretty bird.
    If you subscribe to my blog via e-mail for updates you may need to resign up as I recently switched e-mail addresses.

  18. Thanks for a very enjoyable post. I almost felt like I was seeing the lovely birds firsthand. :-)

  19. Those sunrise photos are amazing!!!

  20. I loved reading all about your birding adventures in this post. :) I had never thought about a bird being unable to lift it's eyebrows or smile. Interesting.

    Even though I know just how hard birds are to capture and get in focus, I am particularly fond of your images of the moon over the lake. It looks so serene and lovely.

  21. That one iwth the berry in his mouth is especially wonderful.


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