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 (click on photo to enlarge):

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.


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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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30 comments:

  1. Such a lovely walk, and a beautiful Killdeer! A friend of mine once had a bird nest in the middle of their gravel driveway in the front yard. They had to avoid the front drive until the babies fledged and use the back drive instead.

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  2. The photos of the Killdeer and nest are absolutely amazing!

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  3. I enjoy your wanders. Ahhhh

    Thanks for taking me along

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  4. Kenneth, your first photo is absolutely stunning and really drew me in! This entire series is fantastic!

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  5. Yep ! The sky picture is fabulous !

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  6. That first shot is gorgeous - if you've had as much rain as we've had in Tampa Bay, you never can tell when it will fall.

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  7. The Killdeer antics are quite incredible, and you captured it perfectly! I really enjoyed this post, and amazing what animals will do to survive and ward off perceived threats!

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  8. Those three expanding photos are an amazing illustration!

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  9. That first shot is stunning!

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  10. Love the sunrise - just stunning. I've never seen a racoon, so I was a little excited by that one too!

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  11. fabulous shots of the killdeer...the are such good actors!!

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  12. The picture of the sunrise is fantastic, like a watercolor artwork!

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  13. Hello Ken, love the gorgeous sky shot. The colors are beautiful. I also love the cute killdeer, they are sweet birds. Great collection of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

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  14. Wow ~ intriguing post and wonderful bird photography ~ thanks, ^_^

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  15. Beautiful sun rise. Bet you love seeing it as often as possible. Love the shorts of the killdeer, such a nice story.

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  16. Hello Ken!:) What a thrilling story, of your two encounters with the Killdeer, lovely photos throughout your post, and I learnt about the endearing and clever tactics that the Killdeer use to safeguard their nests. Thank you!:)

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  17. The colours in that top picture are amazing

    Mollyx

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  18. Aren't those killdeer magnificent parents? I love watching them as they 'play injured'. You got some awesome photos of the eggs/nest too!! And that sky...wowzers. Awe inspiring!!!

    Thanks again....Sharing with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' is always appreciated.

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  19. ps...forgot the raccoon...how could I forget such a cutie!?!!!

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  20. Thank you Ken for your effort to link to All Seasons. Am letting the Linky list go for this week, as I just came home, almost an hour ago, and saw my corrections from this morning early had not helped. Wrote the owner, so that by next Sunday I know what to do (or not:)).
    Your story about the Kildeer cracked me up, This brave little thing. The eggs were so well hidden! A stunning and adventurous post, as always! Have a fantastic week:)

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  21. This is the latest, dear All Seasons blogger. The owner of the Linky List fixed the link by 9:15 Sunday night. So if you still like to add your photo for this week, you are very welcome to do so! Have a lovely week:)

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  22. Nice for a photographer when 1he raccoon happily goes about his business, instead of bolting by the sound of the camera click! Many thanks from All Seasons:):)

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  23. It's amazing how hidden the nest is out in the open! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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  24. What an amazing looking bird. Never seen one before!

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  25. I love the killdeer. They visit us occasionally here in TX. What a wonderful experience and series of images, Kenneth - thank you for sharing!

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  26. Sweet killdeer protecting her eggs! They've always fascinated me. Great photos!

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  27. Kildeer do a fantastic job of drawing a potential predator away from the nest. The chicks hatch "ready to run", so they're pretty adept at making a getaway, too.
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/06/shades-of-purple.html

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  28. Wow ! What a psychedelic sky! I so like the Kildeer and was fascinated to follow your recent encounter with a protective mother - how clever are they?! Thank you for sharing Kenneth

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