Thursday, February 14, 2019

Storks, Eagles and a Dwarf Planet

For the third year in a row, a large flock of Wood Storks has settled in a rookery at a small city park in Weston, not far from our home. I reported their first appearance back in 2017. Read more about their disappearance and recovery: Wood Storks return south to breed

Since the rookery is located on our way to shopping and medical care, Mary Lou and I had stopped there several times in hopes of timing their arrival. As has happened in previous years, they waited until February to arrive. They are starting to build their nests, which can be very close to each other.

Wood Storks working on nests 20190212

We can expect nest construction to be followed by egg-laying in early March. Most of the young will fledge during June. Double-crested Cormorants and Anhingas are nesting among the storks, which are gathered into several groups:

Wood Storks 12 in west end group 20190212

Wood Stork landing 20190212

We counted 80 storks (75-83 in several hand counts of those in the rookery plus others in surrounding grounds), 45 cormorants and 7 Anhingas in the rookery. Many more herons will also begin nesting there in coming weeks.

The storks are graceful in the air:

Wood Stork in flight 01-20190212


Wood Stork in flight 02-20190212

Although the cormorants are often derided as ugly pests, I find that their plumage has an almost sculptural quality. This one is coming in for a landing:

Double-crested Cormorant 01-20190212

Double-crested Cormorant 02-20190212

We found only three Tricolored Herons, but expect to see many more during their nesting season:

Tricolored Heron 20190212

The rookery and surrounding park is home to a multitude of Green Iguanas. They are vegetarians and appear not to be a direct threat to the birds except that they compete for space in the rookery. In breeding condition they develop an orange color, as in this huge specimen, fully 5 feet long:

Green Iguana in breeding condition 20190212

Oddly, a Purple Gallinule, its extremely long toes adapted to walking on lily pads, was perched in a tree across the lake:

Purple Gallinule in tree 20190212

It flew down to forage in a more familiar setting:

Purple Gallinule 20190212

Some of our early morning walks in the local Wounded Wetlands have been cut short by the threat of rain:

Rain threat 0645AM 20190210

On February 11, our back yard lake was clear and still just before sunrise:

Backyard sunrise 02-20190210

Also on the home front, one clear morning I added a new (dwarf) planet to my "life list." The planets were spaced equally, aligned (from lower left to upper right)-- Saturn, barely visible in the glow of the rising Sun, very bright Venus, then Jupiter... and following the same line, a very faint Dwarf Planet Ceres. The star Antares is also visible just below a line halfway between Jupiter and Ceres. (Click on image to enlarge, and then squint to see them!). Taken with my pocket camera, hand-held:

Saturn Venus Jupiter Dwarf Planet Ceres 20190207

This is a chart of the sky on the same day (February 7) and time from about the same point of view:




          (©2019  Dominic Ford, some rights reserved )

At the local Bald Eagle nest, one of the eaglets has been conspicuous, while the second keeps low. In 2 out of 3 nests, the first-hatched is a female, which gets a head start and also grows faster and is much more aggressive than a male. If the second is a male it learns to stay out of the way of his big sister, waiting his turn to be fed. Here, the older chick appears to be begging for food from the male parent while the female is feeding the younger eaglet:

Bald Eaglet begs from male as female tears prey 2-20190209

The male and female take turns roosting nearby and keeping an eye on the nest while the mate forages or tends to the eaglets.

Male (Pride) roosting on a nearby tree:

Bald Eagle male Pride 20190209

Female (Jewel) assumes a regal bearing as she stands watch above the nest:

Bald Eagle female Jewel 20190209

To obtain a photo of a tiny (20mm/0.75 inch) but beautiful creature of interest in the grass in front of the eagle nest, I had to lie down on the ground. This is a Dainty Sulphur:

Dainty Sulphur 20190205


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

________________________________________________

17 comments:

  1. cool shots

    storks rock

    most trails around here are closed when there are nesting eagles...so you are really lucky

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love the Bald Eagle shots they are fabulous and I also love the Iguana. The last couple of days we have been watching (and listening to) the storks migrating here over France. We are lucky to live right under their flight path and we see them twice a year. Have a good day Diane

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really do love visiting you, so much beauty, wildlife, gorgeous birds... everything is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the photos of the storks in flight. So graceful! The sky over your backyard lake is another stunning shot!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love those clouds reflecting off still water

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello, it is great to see the Wood Storks doing so well. I would enjoy living close to their rookery and roosting spot. Great shots of the Eagles, Storks, Heron, Cormorant and the Gallinule. I think the Iguana is a cool critter. Your sky photos are beautiful. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day! Have a happy weekend! PS, thanks for the comment on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A visit to a breeding colony of Wood Storks is one if nature's great experiences. I am a little dismayed to see the proliferation of Green Iguanas in Florida. Invasive species are really getting to be an issue.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Nice shots! I love the reflection. I don't think I've ever seen an orange iguana before.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fabulous collection of shots

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love the shot with the water, clouds, and sky. I am partial to cormorants even though we don’t have any in Oklahoma that I know of. I love how they looks ghostly when drying their wings out.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The storks are loved in Holland (little kids are told they were brought by a stork to the family!, but they're not as elegant looking (completely white) as these ones here! Thanks for giving us an update about the Eagle family. Seeing the Purple Gallinule on the lily pads makes me realize these birds are much smaller than I thought!
    Many thanks for your constant presence at All Seasons to share yours - much appreciated:) Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I know that they are not closely related, but the wood storks remind me of Ibis - especially in those nesting colonies.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    ReplyDelete
  13. Once again Kenneth a wonderful full and varied post with beautiful photography and interesting reading.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @Stewart-- When I was a kid, some of my bird books called them "Wood Ibis," but as you point out they are not closely related. Ibises are classified with the spoonbills and closer to herons, while storks are more closely related to the vulture family than to ibises.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love the iguana though personally they kind of terrify me up close. Have a great week.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wonderful bird photos and awesome skies!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting Rosyfinch Ramblings! I will enjoy a visit to your page just as soon as possible. Some anonymous comments and some containing active links may not be accepted.