Thursday, June 22, 2017

Distracted by a Killdeer

We enjoy two  seasons, Warm (and dry) and Hot (and wet). The rainy season has most certainly arrived in south Florida. Nearly every morning we must consult the weather radar and try to guess whether it is safe to walk the 1 1/2 miles out to the far north end of the neighborhood wetlands. 

Here, from our back patio, is a view of a typical sunrise in mid-June:

Sunrise 02-20170612

Keeping an eye on the weather, Mary Lou and I guessed we had at least a couple of hours before a line of storms would arrive. As usual, she made the 3 mile round trip in less than an hour.

On the way in, we encountered 3-4 pairs of Killdeer flying, calling and displaying along the gravel road. Their behavior suggested that they had nests in the low grass next to the path. This particular one stood out, as I thought its plumage appeared to be lighter than the others, as if worn or bleached. Not giving it much thought, I proceeded on my way. 


As it turned out, I am quite sure I met this same bird again later that morning, under other circumstances:

Killdeer 01-20170617

There were some interesting finds, among them a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers. They persisted in a small grove near the north end our our birding patch. They may be nesting there:

Great Crested Flycatcher 08-20170616

One rested among the branches of a Red Maple, providing an autumn-like setting at the time of the summer solstice, making up for our lack of fall colors:

Great Crested Flycatcher 03-20170616

Great Crested Flycatcher 04-20170616

A Raccoon, seeming to pay me no heed, ambled beside the barrier fence and continued along the unpaved road:

Raccoon 02-20170619

Raccoon 01-20170619

After almost two hours the sun was beating down as clouds gathered on the horizon. I headed back home, paying little heed to the Killdeers which continued to call and display. Since it was so hot, I moved to the grass on the shady side of the roadway.

Suddenly a Killdeer startled me by screaming loudly.  Thinking I might have stepped on its nest, I cautiously side-stepped to my right  to get back on the clear gravel path. The bird held its ground, screeching each time I took a step. 


Killdeer 02-20170617

It was a brave little creature, facing my threatening bulk from only about four feet in front of me. Then I saw a nest next to it. It contained four eggs which blended almost perfectly with the surrounding gravel:

Killdeer nest 20170617

It was necessary for me to step back to fit the entire scene in my prime telescopic lens. The nest is to the right in this photo:

Killdeer and nest 05-20170617

As I backed away, the bird seemed to realize that I did not intend any harm, and she moved to the nest and gradually settled down to cover the eggs:

Killdeer at nest 01-20170617

Killdeer at nest 02-20170617

Killdeer at nest 04-20170617

When I looked for the nest without aid of binoculars I was astounded at how well it was camouflaged, right out in plain sight!

My pocket camera has zoom, so it came in handy to illustrate how well the nest and its occupant blend into the surroundings. Try to find the bird as I expand the view, keeping the subject in the center of the image:

Killdeer on nest ZOOM 01-20170617

Killdeer on nest ZOOM 02-20170617

Killdeer on nest ZOOM 03-20170617


The next day I tried to remember the location of the nest. Not wanting to alarm the Killdeer I walked slowly in the middle of the road. Suddenly she gave herself away in an attempt to lead me away from the nest site. 

She groveled pitifully on the ground as if undergoing a painful death, her russet tail a flag begging for my attention:

Killdeer distraction display 01-20170621

Killdeer distraction display 02-20170621

I walked toward her and she suddenly recovered good health and flew a few yards ahead. When I stopped moving, her agony returned. Feigning that I had been deceived by this distraction display, I followed behind her, away from the nest. Once we had gone a safe distance, she quietly flew back to tend her eggs.

Surely this helped to relieve her intense anxiety, and I had reinforced a behavior which, over the eons, has contributed to the survival of a species.


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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

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

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Crops & Clips: Orchard Oriole

Due to the frequent rain, our NE Illinois second home was under a flood watch during the first part of May. The Fox River was quite high. Its flood plain provided some nice reflections:

Fox River flood plain 20170511

The skies were either cloud-bound or spotlessly blue. Here is the entrance to nearby Nelson Lake preserve  in Batavia, on a beautiful morning in early May:

Silo at Nelson Lake 20170507

The Orchard Oriole is one bird which I have had trouble locating and photographing. It often mixes in with the much more colorful Baltimore Orioles, and seems to prefer to hide amid the leaves in the treetops. Its song is fairly distinctive, and I have heard it much more often than I have seen the originator.

A bit drab, the male can appear to be all black in poor light. Indeed, orioles are members of the blackbird family, but the Orchard Oriole is smaller than any of our other native blackbirds. It breeds over the eastern half of the US into central Mexico but its range generally stops short of Canada and does not include the Florida peninsula. It winters in Central America. It spends relatively little time on its breeding grounds, arriving in May, raises only one brood, and usually departs south in July.

By way of comparison, here is the more conspicuous Baltimore Oriole, which is bright orange rather than chestnut brown:

Baltimore Oriole 20090609

This was my first decent image of an adult male Orchard Oriole, obtained back in May, 2013:

Orchard Oriole 2-20130514

Last year, also in early May, another male cooperated with me:

Orchard Oriole HDR  01-20160503

Orchard Oriole HDR 02-20160503

Immature males and females have yellow plumage rather than red. Younger males, up into their second year, have varying amounts of black on their face, head and upper breast. I first thought this one to be a female, but the heavy shadows on its chin and chest obscure the markings of a young male (May, 2015):

 Orchard Oriole male 1st year 20150521

This spring, on May 12, at the Japanese Garden in Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva, I documented an adult male in a horrible photo:

 Orchard Oriole eBird doc 20170512

To compensate for such a poor showing, here is the fenced gateway to the Japanese Garden:

Fabyan Japanese Garden entrance 20170512

In late may, before returning to Florida, I heard the distinctive song of a sub-adult male Orchard Oriole coming from high in a tree along the trail in Lippold Park. It kept moving from one tree to another, usually flying away just as I brought it into focus. Mary Lou helped me track its meanderings, but continuing my run of bad luck despite my best efforts, I wasted many migapixels on blurry underbelly images and sky shots. 

Here is a typical shot, heavily cropped...

Orchard Oriole 02-20170521

...and a few more:

Orchard Oriole 05-20170521

Orchard Oriole 01-20170521

Orchard Oriole 04-20170521


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 8, 2017

A wet welcome to Illinois

The rains came as soon as we arrived in NE Illinois at the end of  April, and nighttime temperatures dropped to near freezing the first few nights. In between raindrops and braving high winds, we managed to get a few hours outdoors each day. While not providing much exercise, our daughter's back yard was quite productive.

A double rainbow was visible when an afternoon rainstorm skirted by:

Double Rainbow2 MAY 2017

As I was roasting a chicken on their patio grill, I ran for my camera when a colorful House Fince started singing in a nearby tree:

House Finch 03-20170503

House Finch 05-20170503

House Finch 01-20170503

A curious Black-capped Chickadee landed on the fineal atop an umbrella on the deck:

Black-capped Chickadee 04-20170503

It eyed me from a post on the deck railing:

Black-capped Chickadee 07-20170503

Agramonte, their 10 year old Tibetan Mastiff, struck a regal pose:

Agramonte - Tibetan Mastiff 20170503

Siboney, from his same blood line, at 1 1/2 years old is now almost as big:

Siboney - Tibetan Mastiff 20170503

Mary Lou and I visited the Japanese Garden at Fabyan Park in nearby Geneva. The foot brige and its railings cast pleasant reflections:

Japanese Garden bridge 02-20170512

For the past few years, a pair of Great Horned Owls has raised its family in a tree at Fabyan Park. This spring two owlets were hatched, but only one made an appearance when we visited the nest:

Great Horned Owls 3-20170512

Great Horned Owlet 20170512

Numerous Baltimore Orioles were present in the park, which runs along the west bank of the Fox River:

 Baltimore Oriole 20170512

Canada Geese were accompanied by newly hatched goslings:

Canada Geese 01-20170512

We saw a few warblers, among them a Yellow-rumped *Myrtle" Warbler...

Yellow-rumped Warbler 02-20170512

...captured as if suspended in mid-hop:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 20170512

A White-breasted Nuthatch foraged upside-down:

White-breasted Nuthatch 20170512

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were early spring arrivals:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 20170512

In the Japanese Garden, a Common "Bronzed" Grackle  posed on a rock:

Common Grackle 20170512

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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 1, 2017

Crops & Clips: Flashback to June, 2014

What a thrill to be looking back three years to June, 2014. It was a very active month. As usual I will search my archives for some interesting memes among the 368 photos processed out of the thousands I took that month. I will find lots of Critters, including plenty of Wild Birds, some beautiful Skies and Reflections, Wordless scenes that depict All Seasons, and do hope to continue my string of Fences. Let's get started.

We began the month at our permanent residence in south Florida, where, on June 3, I photographed a female Northern Flicker (I know it is a female because appropriately, she lacks a black mustache):

Northern Flicker 20140603

I cannot resist including another photo taken the same day, a portrait of a Muscovy drake in our back yard. I think he is so ugly that he curved back across the line to beautiful:

Muscovy Drake portrait 20140603

A White-tail buck in velvet was an irresistible Critter (June 5):

White-tailed Deer buck in velvet 20140605

Alas, already overburdened with Critters, I still must honor the singing Eastern Meadowlark who greeted us on June 8, when we returned to our second home in NE Illinois:

Eastern Meadowlark 2-20140608

On June 13 we embarked on our Alaska cruise. On the way out of Vancouver, BC I captured this lighthouse scene which inspired me to "paint" it (using Corel PaintShop Pro):

Lighthouse heavy paint 20140613

Three days later, approaching Hoonah, Alaska, the water was too disturbed to provide me with needed reflections:

Approaching Hoonah 3-20140616

I see a couple of fences at the dock!

Approaching Hoonah 4-20140616

In Hoonah, this boat looked as if it had been up on dry-dock for many years, so I decided it certainly needed to be "painted:"

Hoonah Alaska painting 20140616

The next day June 15), only the heads of these two Bald Eagles were reflecting-- not entirely satisfying:

Bald Eagles adults 20140615

A roar and tidal waves as the Hubbard Glacier is calving:

Hubbard Glacier calving sequence 21-20140619

The docks at Seward, Alaska, with our ship "Radiance of the Sea" in the background:

Radiance of the Seas at dock in Seward 20140620

On the way back to Anchorage on June 23, a last look at Denali  (Mount McKinley) through the train window...

View of Mt McKinley from train 09-20140623

...and finally a real reflection amd a beautiful sky, though blurred by the train's movement:

View from Denale-Anchorage train 02-20140623

To spare the reader more boredom, I left out the remaining 354 photos, but if you need more punishment, feel free to skim my Alaska blogs (Critters galore!)

Cruising to Ketchikan, Alaska

Cruising to Alaska's Icy Strait and Hoonah

Visiting Juneau and Skagway

Hubbard Glacier and Seward, Alaska

Denali National Park

Riding the rails from Denali to Anchorage



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= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

________________________________________________