The week before Christmas has kept us busy with choir practices and performances. Birding does not interfere with this schedule as we usually walk out into the Wounded Wetlands well before sunrise and are free for the rest of the day... except that record rainfall has intervened.
We totally missed getting out on December 18, 19 and 21. On December 20 we drove over to nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in mid-morning, between showers. Convenient parking and and shelters along the boardwalk are attractive features on rainy days.
It turned out to be a great day to be there, as a lingering migratory Magnolia Warbler was present...
...as were other warblers, a female Northern Parula...
...a Black-and-White Warbler...
...and a female Downy Woodpecker who was so close that she did not fit into my viewfinder:
The chatter of hundreds of Tree Swallows brightened the somber sky:
In the adjacent pasture, a Cattle Egret accompanied our favorite Longhorn cow:
On the next day we had record-breaking rainfall which caused local flooding along the Atlantic Coast. On December 22, a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird visited our back yard feeder. She seemed to have displaced the male which arrived a week or two earlier. These photos were taken through a rain-streaked window:
The Bald Eagles are now sitting on one or more eggs which we believe should hatch around January 4th. During a break in the showers I visited the nest, but the incubating adult was so deep down that I never saw more than the top of a white head. Despite the soggy turf in front of the nest, I got down low to obtain a decent side view of a tiny (about 2 cm) Dainty Sulphur:
Getting up was more difficult than laying down! I knelt for this shot of a chummy pair of slightly larger (2.5 cm) Barred Yellows on a Largeflower Mexican Clover blossom:
On December 23, the day started clear and I reached the rookery at sunrise:
I found three adults and one immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Adult:
Immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron:
Clouds suddenly gathered, and not wanting to chance being caught in a rain storm a mile and a half into the wetlands, we cut the walk short. The shower was brief, so we visited Chapel Trail for a second time. We were rewarded with more warblers...
...another Northern Parula, this time a male in a Red Maple which retained some of its leaves...
...a Palm Warbler in a Bald Cypress, which also waits until spring to shed its needles:
...and a Yellow-rumped Warbler:
Another Yellow-rump (aka Butter-Butt) on the boardwalk displayed its namesake backside:
There were Blue-gray Gnatchatchers...
...and I captured a rare image of a Gray-headed Swamphen in flight:
A cool front passed through and the sky was clear before sunrise on Christmas Eve. In a dark and starry sky, the Cold Moon had waned to a crescent:
A Great Egret flew up to catch the morning rays before they reached the ground:
A male American Kestrel looked down from his perch high atop a Royal Palm spire:
At 8:00 AM, an hour after sunrise, I saw an unfamiliar form in the shadows along the gravel path. It was a Bobcat, likely one of the resident females. Bright sun fell on the foliage behind her, causing my subject to be underexposed. If I had taken time to increase exposure compensation, my photos might have shown the cat's green eyes:
She stopped to look at me before creeping off:
Christmas morning was overcast and cool. Highlights, among others, were--
Male Red-bellied Woodpecker:
Female Common Yellowthroat:
A year-old Bald Eagle, probably one raised in the local nest, had returned from its wanderings to the north:
Four Blue-headed Vireos gathered in a Bishopwood Tree (Bischofia javanica), which was laden with fruit. I think the vireos were more interested in eating insects which were attracted to the fruiting tree:
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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