Thursday, August 22, 2019

Common Ground-Dove

The Common Ground-Dove is an easy species for us to overlook during our morning walks in the Wounded Wetlands. Only about 6 1/2 inches (17 cm) long and drab in appearance, it does not gather in flocks which are so characteristic of other members of its family of pigeons and doves. Instead, it forages quietly in the grass or at the edges of woodlands, flying away low before being approached too closely.

It has a sprightly scientific name, Columbina passerina, which could be danced to a Macarena or a salsa tune and translates as "tiny dove sparrow." 

Common Ground-Dove 20170309

We usually see them in pairs or with one or two of their offspring. Indeed, they are said to mate for life. Its major population is in the tropics, but it ranges into the extreme southern USA, including all of Florida and parts of the other Gulf States, southern California, southwestern Arizona as well as much of Mexico, Central and South America.

Common Ground-Doves 3-20170314

Common Ground-Doves 2-20131004

Common Ground-Doves 20130531
 
A brown bird with a lighter grayish head, the Common Ground-Dove's plumage has a scaly appearance, especially on its neck, breast and undersides. The similar but slightly larger Ruddy Ground-Dove wanders north of Mexico and sometimes breeds in southwestern US.

The Common Ground-Dove's song is also unassuming, a repetitive and monotonous soft "woot, woot, woot..." Yet it has a strikingly brilliant plumage feature--  bright reddish brown primary wing feathers and underwing linings, which only show when the bird bursts into flight.

I have only captured a few (very poor) views of a Common Ground-Dove in flight:

Common Ground_Dove in flight 01-20190815

Common Ground-Dove in flight 20120731

Common Ground Dove 20100209

Common Ground-Dove in flight 03-20130531

Common Ground-Doves 20121005

Adult female Common Ground-Dove:

Common Ground-Dove 3-20170311

The male is more brightly colored, with pink highlights on its neck, breast and crown, and bluish gray crown and nape of his neck:

Common Ground-Dove 20130805

I encountered this male up fairly close and in bright sunlight:

Common Ground-Dove 01-20190811

Common Ground-Dove 02-20190811

Common Ground-Dove 06-20190811

By accident, I discovered an active Common Ground-Dove nest on August 17, 2014, the first ever reported in Broward County. While I was walking along the side of the gravel road, a dove flew up out of the grass just to my side. The flimsy nest contained two white eggs, barely visible the vegetation. (Photos from the roadway with telephoto lens):

Nest of Common Ground-Dove 20140817

Common Ground-Dove nest 20140817

This is the female which had been sitting on the nest:

Common Ground-Dove 20140817

 During the next several days I checked the nest without disturbing it and the eggs remained intact. This was the nest on August 22:

Common Ground-Dove nest 20140822

However, ten days after I had located the nest, the landscapers came through and mowed all along the side of the road (August 27, 2014):

Common Ground-Dove nest site 20140927

They left no sign of the nest structure or remains of the eggs:

Common Ground-Dove nest site 2-20140827

An encouraging sign-- Two years later, on August 19, 2016, a pair was tending to two fledgling young (to the left), along the same roadside weed patch:

Common Ground-Doves 20160819

This is one of my favorite photos of a Common Ground-Dove. It seems such a peaceful setting:

Common Ground-Dove HDR 20160311

Trees felled by Hurricane Irma almost two years ago reflect chaotic beauty in the wetlands, now flooded after our area's wettest July ever:

Flooded windfall area 20190807

On August 8 it was 80 degrees F (26.6 C) just after sunrise. A westerly breeze, so welcome, stirred the surface of the lake:

Westerly breeze at sunrise 20190811

An adult Bald Eagle often passes over just around sunrise, flying from the nearby nest tree to forage in the large lake to the southeast:

Bald Eagle 20190808

Butterflies are still scarce. I have not seen any Monarchs for several weeks. A Gulf Fritillary rested on a grass stem:

Gulf Fritillary 20190811

This is the view to the south along the large canal on a fair morning. The Wounded Wetlands are on the right (west) side, opposite "civilization"  (August 14):

196th Ave Canal 20190814

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Yard birds and rocket science

It has been unusually rainy here the past few weeks. Lake levels are high, not only due to  the local rainfall, but also because Lake Okeechobee was in danger of becoming too full to handle the deluge from any possible hurricane. Water discharged to the south must pass through the canal system which also drains our lakes.

Some mornings we cannot venture out because of the threat of rain and lightning. A few times our walks had to be cut short because of "pop-up" storms which seem to quickly develop out of a clear sky. The alternative is to keep an eye out for wildlife in our own back yard.

The light was perfect to display the colorful plumage of this Tricolored Heron:

Tricolored Heron 01-20190801

White Ibises enjoy probing in our lawn for anything edible, even if this gets their beautiful red bills all muddy:

White Ibis 01-20190530

White Ibises 03-20190730

White Ibis 01-20190702

White Ibises are graceful in flight:

White Ibis 04-20190702

White Ibis before sunrise 02-20190215

On our patio, this Great Egret was hunting for lizards in the rain:

Great Egret hunting lizards in rain 02-20171016

Photos taken through rain-streaked windows can appear soft, but subjects are close by and it is fun to capture the moments when they suddenly pose--

Loggerhead Shrike:

Loggerhead Shrike 04-20170615

Loggerhead Shrike 03-20170615

A shaggy Blue Jay:

Blue Jay 20170615

White-winged Dove...

White-winged Dove 01-20170609

...all ruffled up:

White-winged Dove 02-20170609

Early sun peeked through the dark clouds to highlight this Great Egret at the edge of our lake:

Great Egret 01-20190730

Butterflies are an interesting diversion when birding is slow. This White Peacock was freshly emerged:

White Peacock on Bidens alba 20190803

On August 8, the sky was quite clear as MaryLou and I walked into the local Wounded Wetlands. At 6:15 AM, 35 minutes before sunrise, I noticed what looked like the contrail of an airliner catching the light of the sun. It was a nice contrast against the dark sky, so I started taking pictures of it with my pocket camera. It moved quite rapidly, and following is a succession of photos:

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise 01-20190808

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise  02-20190808

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise  03-20190808

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise 05-20190808

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise 35 min before before sunrise 04-20190808

Atlas V rocket 35 min before before sunrise  35 min before before sunrise 06-20190808

It was the Atlas V rocket which was just launched from Kennedy Space Center, 175 miles (289 km) to the north. Its payload was a military communications satellite. This was successfully placed in a
geosynchronous orbit which follows the direction of Earth's rotation 22,236 mi (35,786 km) above the equator .

The next morning it was foggy over the lake in the wetlands. Before sunrise, the Pine Bank was shrouded under a pink sky:

Pine Bank in fog before sunrise 20190809

The sun rose behind the wrought iron gate, looking due east down "Sundial Alley:"

Sunrise 01-20190809

The lake-shore marsh was flooded:

East lakeshore marsh 01-20190809



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