We get out early. Here is the view from our back yard taken at 6:24 AM, 40 minutes before sunrise on December 17, 2017:
A half hour before sunrise, the sky is just beginning to lighten up behind the entrance gate of our subdivision:
With Christmas and the holiday season upon us, I look back on some of my photos which convey the theme. Nothing rare, but lots of color and seasonal joy. We are in south Florida, so these are not holly berries--
...and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, on Brazilian Pepper:
European holiday greeting cards often feature Robins and Turtle Doves. Here in the US, the most popular birds shown on Christmas cards seem to be cardinals and chickadees.
Black-capped Chickadee (taken in Illinois, as it does not range into south Florida):
No snow here. This Mountain Chickadee appears in one of my New Mexico photos:
This loving pair of Common Ground-Doves must substitute for Turtle Doves (getting over a lovers' quarrel?):
This American Robin, namesake of the unrelated European species, is an uncommon but welcome winter visitor to our local wetlands:
It too was eating the Brazilian Pepper berries:
Like our robin, the Eastern Bluebird is a member of the thrush family. Their images often adorn holiday cards. I saw this one in Illinois:
I wish I had photos of a Blue Jay on snow...
...but I did catch this snow scene, of the closely related Steller's Jay, almost two miles high on Sandia Crest in New Mexico:
Florida has many "snowbirds" of the people kind, but the Dark-eyed Junco deserves the name. This one was enjoying the snowflakes in our daughter's back yard in Illinois:
I searched my archives for photos taken on Christmas day--
A back yard Wood Stork (2008):
A wind-blown Tricolored Heron on our lawn (2010):
Pair of Egyptian Geese approaching the near shore of our lake (2013)
From the back patio, an airplane crossing in front of the full Cold Moon (2015):
Also on Christmas, 2016, a Great Egret in the local wetlands reflected nicely:
This photo of a Zebra Heliconian was taken on Christmas Day just last year. The butterfly is feasting on Lantana flower nectar. This year, Hurricane Irma struck on September 10, and so altered the habitat that nearly all flower buds and fruits were stripped off the trees and shrubs. This resulted in a serious lack of butterflies, even though the artificial "pruning" later caused a flush of blossoms which peaked in mid-November.
The Lantanas have now gone to fruit and have no flowers at all. Their berries, which normally ripen and persist through much of the winter, are an important food source for wildlife. The same happened to the Trema trees, but the ones which were not blown down have not yet recovered and show no signs of new buds.
This photo shows a Northern Cardinal on a Trema rich with fruit. (I use it as wallpaper for this blog.) It was taken on September 5, 2016, almost exactly one year before the hurricane struck. Note that new fruit appears and ripens sequentially at the tips of the branches. The shoots continue to grow out and produce new berries all winter. Not this year!
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all, and thank you for visiting and hosting my blog, which I started back in 2006. A good friend, who has since passed, created this Christmas Card from one of my photos only three years ago:
On a happy note, I ran across many Christmas photos of our grandchildren. I thought these two, of our Illinois granddaughters were special (2007):
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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 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