Thursday, October 26, 2017

New scars in the Wounded Wetlands

Category 4 Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday morning, September 11. Expecting it to pass directly over our home, we had decided not to ride out the storm and instead escaped to New Mexico. Although the eye passed about 80 miles to the west, our neighborhood experienced hurricane-force winds which felled trees and knocked out power. We returned home on September 13 just as power was restored and were gratified to find that our home was undamaged and we had only lost a few limbs from our mango trees. 

We checked on the welfare of the local Bald Eagles and found the nest standing and minor damage to the right side of the nest, in addition to earlier loss of material which had occurred during a severe wind storm in late August. No adults were present:

Bald Eagle nest damage 20170915

The fence which separated the eagle nest tree from the roadway was mostly leveled by fallen trees and branches which had been removed to clear the sidewalk:

Damage to eagle fence 01-20171016

We did not venture out into our local birding patch before departing on our previously scheduled month-long stay at our second home Illinois. We returned to Florida on October 15 and the next morning found both adults at the nest. The female, partly obscured, was roosting above the nest to the right while the male was rearranging sticks on the nest:

Bald Eagles male on nest 20171016

We finally got out into the wetlands and found the landscape greatly altered by the hurricane. To add human-caused insult to natural injury, a vehicle crashed into the entrance gate on the day we arrived home. I am not sure of the circumstances but it happened in broad daylight and there were no skid marks:

Gate damage 201071015

Many Trema trees, so attractive to migrating and wintering birds, were uprooted. The few left standing were stripped of fruit and leaves. This is just one example of an area which was one of my favorite "sit spots," now quite impenetrable:

 Felled Trema trees 20171018

At the heron rookery, many of the nesting trees had been pushed over into the canal. The power distribution lines were no longer hidden by tall trees:

Rookery damage 20171015

OK, enough of the doom and gloom. Nature has a way of healing, and Florida's flora and fauna have survived many hurricanes. Even the gate has been fixed. A white-eyed Vireo peered out of the rubble:

White-eyed Vireo 03-20171018

First of the season for me, a female Painted Bunting, perhaps disappointed at not finding any Trema berries,  perched on a denuded branch:

Painted Bunting 02-20171019

A Red-shouldered Hawk surveyed the ravaged wetlands...

Red-shouldered Hawk 02-20171019

...and flew to the top of a Royal Palm:

Red-shouldered Hawk 20171019

Gray Catbirds have arrived in huge numbers:

Gray Catbird 20171019

Female Eastern Towhee-- its whitish iris is characteristic of local subspecies, while more northern birds have red eyes:

Eastern Towhee 4-20171019

The male towhee has black plumage where that of female is "milk chocolate" brown:

Eastern Towhee 20171019

Northern Waterthrush near the heron rookery:

Northern Waterthrush 031-20171015

Male Common Yellowthroat along the path:

Common Yellowthroat 01-20171015

On the home front, a late afternoon storm rolled in from the ocean:

Approaching storm 20171019

One area of the cloud caught my attention. Maybe just a rugged old man, or-- is there a crying baby with hand extended next to the face of another man who seems to be in distress?

Crying Baby and Old Man in cloud 20171019

In pouring rain, a Great Egret hunted for lizards on our back patio. Taken through the glass door:

Great Egret hunting lizards in rain 02-20171016

Great Egret on patio 03-20171016
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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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13 comments:

  1. As a nature lover, I feel your pain at the destruction of the wetlands, but like you said, nature does recover quickly, thank goodness. Lovely photos, as always - so glad the eagle nest survived. Those clouds are amazing and to have a white egret hunting in your planter....now that is amazing, too!

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  2. So sad regarding all the destruction, but as you said nature will heal itself.

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  3. the distruction is awful but you are right, the animals and birds seem to bounce back perhaps better than humans sometimes but I am glad you did not have much damage to your place. My favourite bird image is the white eyed Vireo It is so sharp but I love love the scence of the storm rolling in the the gorgeous pink cloud image. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  4. Hello, it is sad to see the damage from the storm. But, I guess things could have been worse. Great captures of the birds, I like the last shots of your visiting Egret. Thanks so much linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend.

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  5. Always amazing to see Mother Nature in action. Glad the eagles have returned to their nest. Great pics of the small birds and the white egret in your yard is just fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. So glad the adult eagles returned to their nest after the storm! Such damage! Loved the bird photos. That white-eyed vireo is so interesting.

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  7. Good to hear that the hurricane did not cause severe damage at your neighborhood. Beautiful photos!

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  8. Thank you so much for linking this beautiful post to All Seasons! Yeah I can see in the clouds what you're seeing! No doubt the views of what the hurricane left are devastating!
    Wrote you an email about the comment section. Keep scrolling down till you hit the navy blue section below the post. You can also ask No. 9 or 10, who have a blog at blogspot (my wordpress blog may look different coming from blogspot). Keeping fingers crossed for you:):)

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  9. Remarkable to see the eagles back so soon - at the very least its going to be interesting to see how the birds and the ecosystem in general bounces back from the damage.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  10. It's sad to see the damage, but comforting to know that nature is patient and will begin the steady work of recovery.
    Thank you for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2017/10/seasonal-fun-at-duke-homestead-in.html

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  11. so much of interest in this post!

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  12. Beautiful bird photos! Love the Great Egret that came to visit
    Have a wonderful day!

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