Thursday, February 13, 2020

Birding under a Snow Moon

On February 8 the Moon was not quite full as it disappeared into the clouds when we walked into the Wounded Wetlands. At the rookery site I found two Yellow-crowned Night-Herons. One was an adult approaching breeding condition as evidenced by its bright orange legs, clear yellowish white cap and occipital and scapular (head and shoulder) plumes:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 01-20200208

The other night-heron was an immature bird, approaching one year of age:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 02-20200208

My camera was set for night-flying birds with flash, and I forgot to turn off the flash when I snapped the first photo, that of the  juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. It looks like an alien creature!

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 05-20200208

On February 9, we reached the lake before the full Snow Moon settled into the horizon. On the way in I had stopped to record the song of an Eastern Whip-Poor-Will. In addition to its namesake phrase, the bird uttered an assortment of "whip" and "wheel" calls. (My recording of its song may be heard at this linkbut listen carefully as the bird was not very close by.)

A cold front had passed through with morning temperatures dipping into the high 40s and low 50s (~10C), grounding the insects and requiring the whip-poor-will to rest and conserve energy. Some of its Nightjar (Caprimulgidaeaka Goatsuckers)  relatives, notably the Common Poorwill, actually "hibernate," entering into a prolonged state of torpor in which their heart rate slows dramatically and body temperature drops. Hummingbirds also may become torpid and may survive periods of cold weather. 

The Snow Moon in a black sky, an hour before sunrise:

Full Snow Moon 01-20200209

That's MaryLou with her flashlight, walking in about 55 minutes before sunrise. My new iPhone 11 Pro Max really  brightened up the night with help of moonlight and a tall street lamp about 100 yards behind me!

 Snow Moon at sunrise minus 55 minutes 20200209 

Opposite the Moon, at 26 minutes before sunrise, the eastern sky  was starting to lighten up :

Sunrise minus 26 minutes 20200209

At 23 minutes before sunrise, I had almost reached the lake:

Snow Moon at sunrise minus 23  minutes 20200209

A flock of blackbirds flew across the face of the Moon:

Full Snow Moon and birds 02-20200209

We watched as the Moon settled into the lake, four minutes after sunrise:

Snow Moon at sunrise plus 04  minutes 20200209

Full Snow Moon 03-20200209

Six minutes after sunrise:

Snow Moon at sunrise plus 06  minutes 20200209

A male American Kestrel flew into a lakeside tree...

American Kestrel 01-20200209 

...then, surprisingly, foraged for insects on the gravel track:

American Kestrel 03-20200209

American Kestrel 04-20200209

A Loggerhead Shrike then drove the kestrel away. I did not capture the actual encounter. Here is the kestrel as the shrike attacked:

American Kestrel 06-20200209

American Kestrel 07-20200209

The shrike then occupied the high perch:

Loggerhead Shrike 20200209

Monarch butterflies have been very scarce. There is a local non-migratory population, but because of Hurricane Irma which devastated their host plants, their numbers have been down for the past two years. This is a bad photo, but it was the first one I have seen this year:

Monarch in Phragmites head 20200209

Other  butterflies on the morning of the Full Snow Moon included a tiny Fiery Skipper, here taking nectar from a Shepherd's Nettle (Bidens alba) flower:

Fiery Skipper on Bidens alba 01-20200209

I always hope for a clear day after a full Moon, as it sets later and provides a nice backdrop for early morning photos. My  telephoto camera does not have much depth of field, so I cannot get the Moon in sharp focus, as shown in this image of a Northern Mockingbird...

 Northern Mockingbird Snow Moon 20200210

...until it decided to fly up and rest on the Moon! (Only fooling--- this is a finial atop a concrete fence post):

Northern Mockingbird 2-20200210

The Moon stood still long enough to provide a backdrop for a female Northern Flicker:

Northern Flicker female 02-20200210

The mustachioed male flicker perched by patiently, but never posed in front of the Moon:

Northern Flicker male 04-20200210

The female flicker joined him and began to fan her tail. I have noted that the female often initiates the courtship display:

Northern Flicker female 05-20200210

I had to back away to fit both in a single frame. Although the quality of the photo is poor, I liked the action and thought it looked "painterly:':

Northern Flicker pair 06-20200210

An Egyptian Goose flew over, his mate following:

Egyptian Goose 01-20200209

As I was returning home, a yearling male White-tailed Deer emerged from the brush and walked towards me. The wind was in my favor and at first he seemed to think I was another deer:

White-tailed button buck 02-20200209

The "button buck" finally recognized me and bounded off:

White-tailed button buck 04-20200209

White-tailed button buck 07-20200209

Two rival male Julia heliconian butterflies stopped sparring for a moment and rested near each other on a Lantana:

Two male Julia heliconians 20200209

A note about our local Bald Eagles. It appears that they may have lost their eggs or newly hatched eaglets in an early January wind storm which damaged their nest. They could have started a second brood. Follow them in my Bald Eagle FORUM. 

Here is the female, Jewel, roosting near the nest while the male is sitting deep in the nest, possibly sitting on eggs (February 10):

Bald Eagle female 03-20200208
= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to :

My Corner of the World

Fences Around the World    

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Crops & Clips: Flashback to February, 2017

Three years ago we spent the entire month of February at home in south Florida. In reviewing over 1,000 photos I processed that month, I found many to illustrate favorite memes-- critters (especially birds), skyscapes, reflections, flowers, fences and scenes which speak for themselves. 

Highlight of the month was the delayed arrival of two eaglets in the local Bald Eagle nest, the 17th and 18th known offspring produced at this nest. In the prior breeding season, the parents suffered loss of their first brood. Undaunted, they nested again and produced two more eaglets which hatched in March, 2016, almost three months later than normal. 

Only one survived, and fledged in mid-June. It required the care and attention of the adults until mid-September. Normally, the eaglets would have been independent and migrating north by late May or early June. The demands placed upon the parents surely delayed their renovation of the nest and courtship.

The eaglets hatched respectively on or about February 5th and 8th. We were able to see and photograph the older eaglet for the first time on February 24: 

Bald Eaglet -P Piney 17-  2-20170224

Three days later, both eaglets posed as their mother (Jewel) roosted next to the nest:

Bald Eagle female and 2 eaglets 2-20170227

The elongated black object protruding up from the nest is the seed pod of the  Flamboyant Tree (Royal Poinciana). The leaves and seeds of this tree are toxic, containing cyanide and tannins. Some believe that the eagles deliberately collect them to deter nest parasites. However, these trees are common in the nearby residential areas and these branches may have been randomly selected.

Bald Eagle female and 2 eaglets 20170227

This is the male eagle (Pride) roosting nearby:

Bald Eagle male roosting 2-20170206

Morning rays:

Morning rays 20170203

Any day when we see a male Painted Bunting is a great day. Sadly, many are trapped for the illegal pet trade:

Painted Bunting 09-20170205

A perky squirrel perches on a fence:

Gray Squirrel 20170228

In the local rookery, a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron displayed to potential mates, although the females appeared to ignore him: 

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron displaying 20170226

A Great Egret foraged on a foggy morning:

Great Egret in fog 20170225

In the woodlands, we found a White-eyed Vireo...

White-eyed Vireo 01-20170224

...a female Red-bellied Woodpecker...

Red-bellied Woodpecker 02-20170224

...a male Common Yelllowthroat...

Common Yellowthroat 20170218

...a male Northern Cardinal...

Northern Cardinal male 2-20170206

...and his mate...

Northern Cardinal female 20170206

...a male Northern Flicker...

Northern Flicker male 20170216

...another flicker, golden in flight...

Northern Flicker 20170206

...and a Northern Parula (warbler):

Northern Parula 05-20170209

Walking in early, we found a curious red morph Eastern Screech-Owl:

Eastern Screech-Owl 02-20170219

The Brazilian Pepper is an invasive exotic plant, but the birds love it and their droppings help to spread its seeds. Gray Catbird:

Gray Catbird in Brazilian Pepper 20170225

A Prairie Warbler is more interested in eating the insects attracted to the berries:

Prairie Warbler 4-20170202

Royal Palms bear both male and female flowers. The spent male flower stems are in the foreground, and successively ripening crops of female buds and fruits are arrayed behind them. Look closely to see foraging Palm and Yellow-throated Warblers:

Palm and Yellow-throated Warblers 20170224

Spiny Orb-weaver Spider (aka "Crab Spider"):

Spiny Orb-Weaver 20170223

Along the path into the wetlands, sunrise and a crescent Moon:

Sunrise and crescent Moon 20170221

Wood Storks have newly occupied a rookery in Weston, a town about 10 miles to our north. I love to capture images as they glide in to join the flock:

Wood Stork in flight 07-20170220

Wood Stork in flight 05-20170220

Wood Stork in flight 02-20170220

On the lake, a Great Blue Heron, 15 minutes before sunrise:

Great Blue Heron 15 min before sunrise 20170226

Little Blue Heron:

Little Blue Heron 4-20170207

Lantana blossoms wrapped in spider silk:

Lantana blossoms wrapped in spider silk 2-20170214

The Snow Moon setting, 15 minutes after sunrise:

Snow Moon setting 15 min after sunrise 20170211

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to :

My Corner of the World

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday


Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display