Thursday, January 18, 2018

Crops & Clips: Purple Gallinule

The Purple Gallinule is a Florida favorite. It was one of those species in my bird book whose picture looked so exotic and which, as a kid in New Jersey, I hoped one day to see. It took a while, but I finally set eyes on one in Avery Island, Louisiana, in 1967. Here in south Florida it is easy to find them in the right places, especially the settling ponds at water treatment plants such as Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach:

Green Cay Nature Center HDR 20150722
 

This is the nature center and beginning of the boardwalk at Green Cay:

Green Cay Nature Ctr HDR 20150212

Peaceful Waters Park in Wellington is another such location. Here a Purple Gallinule shows off its long toes which allow it to walk across the floating vegetation:

Purple Gallinule 07-20160221

Purple Gallinule 05-20160221

Purple Gallinule 02-20160221

The juvenile can be rather drab. This one was at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County:

Purple Gallinule immature 20150722

The first time I saw this species in our neighborhood Wounded Wetlands was in January, 2015, when a pair showed up. I hoped the pair would breed, but they disappeared after only a week or so:

Purple Gallinule 20150117

One year later, also in January, a single adult Purple Gallinule appeared in the same location. Try as I did, I could not find a second bird. It remained into March:

Purple Gallinule 093-20160318

Purple Gallinule 0991-20160318

This December I saw a juvenile gallinule in the same local wetlands patch. The light was bad and it was rather secretive, so at first I was not sure of its identity. I patiently waited for it to come out into the open. It was eating the flowers and seed of Alligator Flag:

Purple Gallinule immature 09-20171225

Alligator Flag must have its roots in water most of the time, so it is found on the edges of marshes and other persistent bodies of water. In the Everglades, this plant often signals the presence of an alligator hole.

Purple Gallinule immature 08-20171225

The tiny flowers of Alligator Flag rise high above on slender stems and the only way the bird can get up to them is to gather several stalks in each of its huge feet and take advantage of the construction principle of triangulation (the use of triangular shapes to give stability to structures such as buildings and towers-- the Eiffel Tower is a good example). In good light, the beauty of this immature Purple Gallinule is revealed. I love this striking pose:

Purple Gallinule immature 03-20171225


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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi 

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

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Egret in morning light and a Bobcat

Mary Lou and I like to get out about a half hour before sunrise. It is usually cool and the winds are calm. On January 8 the morning weather report caused us some concern, but the radar looked clear and we set out with an eye on the sky. The third-quarter Super-moon was almost directly overhead.

SuperMoon third quarter 20180108

About ten minutes before sunrise we reached the lake. The sky had lightened up a bit but the opposite shore was still quite dark:

 Before Sunrise 07-20180108

The diffuse light reflected on the still water as a Great Egret explored along the shore:

Great Egret 01-20180108

Great Egret 03-20180108

The sun reflected on a backdrop of high clouds to the west:

Before Sunrise 04-20180108

A large alligator moved lazily along, barely creating a wake:

Big alligator 20180108

Preoccupied with the alligator, I must have missed seeing a Bobcat as it crossed the road about 100 yards to the north. I snapped a few shots before it disappeared in the brush to the left:

Bobcat 04-20180108

Bobcat 06-20180108

I started to move quietly along in hopes of seeing the cat as it proceeded towards the lake, but it surprised me by suddenly running back across the road at a full gallop. In the space of only two seconds I shot a volley of 6 photos. All were poorly focused, so to make up for the lack of clarity I stitched them together to impart a sense of motion (click on image to enlarge):

Bobcat running HDR 20181208

I proceeded to the heron rookery, which is about another half mile beyond the lake. Hurricane Irma had pushed down nearly all the larger trees along the canal. Many were still alive and leafed out, their crowns protruding into the canal. 


 Hurricane damage to rookery 20180110

This seemed to be favorable for the herons, as the count has climbed from one to a dozen in the past few weeks. This morning I counted 7 adult and 2 immature Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. Some were already developing breeding plumage-- the top of their heads had lost the streaks and were turning to gold, their black legs showed brighter yellow color, and their nuptial plumes had emerged:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 04-20180108

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 02-20180108

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 01-20180108

Immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 06-20180108

At least two Black-crowned Night-Herons have also been present, though they are more secretive and I did not find them this morning. This is the adult:

Black-crowned Night-Heron 01-20171219

At least one immature Black-crowned Night-Heron often roosted with the adult. Note that its bill is partly yellow and it lacks the fine spotting of the immature Yellow-crowned species:

Black-crowned Night-Heron 20171228

The sky to the north indicated that the predicted storm front was approaching, but it seemed to be moving slowly, so I started back at a leisurely pace. Mary Lou was already home.


 Rain threatens 20180108

I stopped to photograph another Great Egret as it foraged in a lakeside marsh along with a pair of Mottled Ducks. Fish are trapped in the marsh as it dries up, and it becomes a rich food source. The female Mottled Duck subsists largely on fish and crustaceans during breeding season, so it must benefit from its association with the egret:

Great Egret with Mottled Duck 01-20180107

Great Egret with Mottled Ducks 02-20180107

Other subjects along the way home were a Red-bellied Woodpecker...

Red-bellied Woodpecker 01-20180108

Red-bellied Woodpecker 02-20180108

...a European Starling...

European Starling 01-20180107

...and an American Kestrel:

American Kestrel 04-20180108

Light rain started falling and I had to cover my camera and hurry back to the house!


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Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi 

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, January 4, 2018

Crops & Clips:Flashback to January, 2015

Again, I am looking back three years, searching for images which depict some of my favorite memes: Critters of all kinds, beautiful skies and reflections, changes of the season, and scenes which speak for themselves. My archives for January, 2015 include over 600 processed photos.

Unsettled sky and a colorful sunrise over our local wetlands on January 11:

Sunrise Clouds HDR COREL 20150111



You may recall that during the previous month a new young female Bald Eagle appeared with the local male (Pride) who had lost his mate (Joy) back in October, 2014. We watched the nest carefully for signs that she might start breeding. As I noted last month, Jewel seemed to lack an instinct to sit on the nest, while Pride often occupied it and continued to add sticks.

On January 1, 2015 the nest was in excellent shape due to Pride's efforts, but it remained empty most of the time during the next few weeks.

Bald Eagle nest empty 20150101


Facebook eagle lovers named the new female "Jewel." She often flew off alone and we worried whether the pair would ever develop a strong bond. I encountered Jewel in the wetlands southeast of the nest. The dark streaks on her head and dark tail feather tips are signs that she has not yet reached full adult plumage:

Bald Eagle immature 20150104


This is a composite image as Jewel landed on a small tree and then flew off:

Bald Eagle comp 20150104


The Bald Eagles in south Florida usually lay their eggs in December and by late January are already tending to their nestlings. As the month progressed this pair spent more time together, and on January 28, just after I arrived at the nest site, we saw Jewel fly in from the west to the nest area. She was carrying a good sized fish that looked like a shad. She circled with it and ended up roosting on top of  a Melaleuca snag to the west of the nest. She proceeded to eat the fish.

Bald Eagle female with fish
2-20150128

Bald Eagle female with fish
8-20150128


About 10 minutes later, Pride flew in from the SW carrying a small fish. He roosted on an adjacent snag slightly above the female. Both kept eating until the female finished. Then the male flew down and they copulated for about 1 minute 10 seconds.

Bald Eagles mating 3-20150128


It appeared to be a successful mating, unlike some the brief attempts that had previously occurred. Pride then roosted briefly before flying off. Jewel remained on the roost

Bald Eagle male soaring 7-20150128


He soon returned carrying a small stick, and Jewel promptly joined him in flight. Both circled over the nest area and then disappeared high and to the south. To be continued next month...

Every morning before sunrise we try to escape to the relative solitude of our Wounded Wetlands. Here is Mary Lou walking out before sunrise under the Wolf Moon on January 5. (This year, 2018, we can look forward to two SuperMoons in January-- the second will be a "Blue Moon.")

Wolf Moon walk RETRO 20150105


On a calm morning, a Little Blue Heron lifts off:

Little Blue Heron liftoff 08-20150121


A brace of Mottled Ducks flies over the lake. The male has a bright yellow bill while that of the female is mottled orange:

Mottled Ducks 20150130


In the rookery, I find only one Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 20150117


Back home, in late afternoon, the view from our patio exhibits all the "me too" fences required by our homeowners' association:

Clouds over lake 2-20150116


A Great Blue Heron poses next to a neighbor's fence:

Great Blue Heron 2-20150111


A Double-crested Cormorant dries its wings as it stands on the duck decoy which floats our irrigation water intake:

Double-crested Cormorant 2-20150117


A Wood Stork forages at the water's edge along our lawn:

Wood Stork 2-20150114


In our back yard, a Red-bellied Woodpecker climbs our Mahogany tree:

Red-bellied Woodpecker 2-20150123


In front of our house, a Northern Mockingbird rests on Saint Francis' head:

Mockingbird on St Francis head
20150117


On January 30, our Avocado tree is beginning to blossom:

Avocado blossom JAN 30 20150130


A Monarch butterfly and a Honeybee partake of nectar from our Ixora blooms:

Monarch butterfly on Ixora 20150106


Zebra Heliconian:

Zebra heliconian 20150106



= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,


Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy

Linking to WEEKEND REFLECTIONS by James

Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi 

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