Thursday, November 19, 2020

Finding furry and feathered fauna

Although we get out early in the local wetlands, we generally shelter in place at home for the greater part of the day. 

Our back yard lake attracts waders such as this Great Blue Heron:

Green Herons are very skittish, so I was lucky to have this one stick in a spot visible from our patio:

This Great Egret paid me no attention as it spied and then caught a small fish:

The fish wiggled violently and scattered water droplets, to no avail:

The first Yellow-bellied Sapsucker of the season, an immature bird which lacked the red on its head, started drilling sap wells on our Mahogany tree:

At the local Bald Eagle nest, the male "Pride" roosted nearby:

Out in the wetlands, a trio of white herons flew in together and walked in line, as if to show off their distinguishing characteristics:

A Snowy Egret led the parade, followed by an immature Little Blue Heron, the taller of the two, which has a black-tipped gray bill and shows a bit of blue on its head. The snowy Egret has a narrow black bill:

An adult Little Blue Heron was also present:

Along the levee trail, as I was peering into the dense  foliage of the fruiting ficus sp tree which I call the "warbler tree," a Merlin made frequent passes which kept the small birds in hiding. The falcon perched at the top of the tallest pine and had a commanding view of the surroundings:

I tried very hard to get photos of the Merlin in flight as it flew by rapidly and unpredictably, once right over my head:

It was  easier to capture it as it stalled before alighting on its roost:

A courageous Blue Jay harassed the Merlin, which has been known to capture even larger birds:

As I emerged from the high grass along the trail to an open area, I cautiously checked for mammals, usually an Opossum, Marsh Rabbit, Raccoon or even a Bobcat. This time I was rewarded by a Coyote with a reddish coat:

A Gulf Fritillary sipping nectar:

A Hunters Moon, also a Blue Moon as it was the second full Moon in October, was ready to disappear over the egret on the lake just before sunrise:

Slightly to the right, in the northwest sky, a streaming cloud caught the rays of the sun before they reached ground level:

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

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A stormy week and a dash of color

This week, within a twenty-four hour period, Tropical Storm Eta dumped over 17 in / 43.2 cm of rain on our city, the worst rain event in 25 years and the highest total among all south Florida cities. Its slow progression kept us inside for several mornings. 

Before the rains came I visited nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve, where I was treated to the sight of two male Painted Buntings. They were elusive and despite their brilliant colors, often blended in with the foliage as they foraged in low shrubs. One took a perch in plain view, which allowed me to catch him in a variety of interesting poses (sorry for the overdose, but I could not help myself):

I obtained only one clear shot of the other male bunting:

A male Prairie Warbler flew down and inspected me quizzically:

A Black-and-White Warbler appeared briefly:

A mother Raccoon with her nearly full-grown kit occupied a tree next to the boardwalk:

The canoe dock at Chapel Trail Nature Preserve:

Pink sunrise over the wetlands:

Tropical Storm Eta radar on my iPhone on the evening of November 8, moving north after crossing over Cuba. A band  of strong winds and drenching rain was just passing over our home (the blue dot). Our streets flooded, with surface water lapping at our garage entrance. The lake level rose about 3 feet, but spared our home, which is about 8 feet above sea level:

The storm then moved out to the south and struck the western part of Cuba for the second time, then reversed course. It  has strengthened to hurricane force and now is headed for the west coast of Florida. Again, three days later, on November 11, we  experienced bands of rain and wind, but no serious flooding.

The scene from our back yard before sunrise, in between the rain bands. The lake level has receded-- the coconuts on the lawn mark the flood water level, which did not reach our house.

Trema trees, which produce berries all winter and are an important source of food for wildlife, are particularly vulnerable to high winds. They have shallow roots which do not anchor them very well, especially when the ground is saturated with water. 

Three years ago, nearly all the mature Tremas in our local wetlands were felled by Hurricane Irma. Saplings do not set fruit for a few years and I was so pleased to see many in the woods surrounding the local Bald Eagle nest. 

Here is a female Prairie Warbler amid the Trema berries in late August:

Even though Eta was only a tropical storm, it brought wind gusts of 60 mph / 96 kph which were strong enough to knock down many of the larger Tremas:

For several years I have been conducting "First Saturday Wetland Walks" during the cooler months at Chapel Trail preserve, sponsored by the south Florida Audubon Society. This year I decided not to lead them because of my increased susceptibility to infections due to the immunosuppressant effects of Prednisone which is greatly helping my PMR condition. It would be difficult to maintain social distance on the narrow boardwalk. I hoped that someone might offer to lead them but they have been canceled indefinitely. 

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday


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

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Crops & Clips: Flashback to November, 2017

I combed the archives of photos taken three years back and searched for images which reflected favorite memes: critters of all kinds (especially birds), skies and clouds, reflections, flowers and fences, as well as scenes which speak for themselves. We spent the entire month of November 2017 at our principal home in Florida and saved 340 images. 

On the first day of November, a Great Blue Heron allowed my close approach before lifting off over the local wetlands:

A male American Kestrel roosted on top of an Australian Pine and then took flight:

At nearby Chapel Trail preserve, a Cattle Egret chased insects attracted to a Longhorn cow:

Great Egret roosting lakeside:

An immature Little Blue Heron struck a nice pose as it foraged energetically:

Before sunrise, a Great Egret made a graceful landing against a pink sky:

Another reflected as it occupied a blooming Melaleuca:

A "fogbow" over the lake:

From a distance I thought this heron had captured a large snake, but it was an amphiuma. I watched as it dispatched it and then swallowed it whole (November 5, 2017):

The Two-toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma means) can grow to a length of 3 feet or more—one of the largest salamander species in the world. Two-toed Amphiumas have tiny, nearly useless front and hind legs with two toes on each leg:

The local pair of Bald Eagles were busy restoring their nest on November 11:

I caught a distant view of a Bobcat as it strolled along  the barrier fence on the "road to nowhere:"

Most of the migrating warblers had passed through by the end of October, but the Pine Warblers made their usual appearance in early November. This was a drab immature female...

...and a somewhat more colorful immature male:

Nearby, a beautiful female Northern Cardinal:

Female Northern Flicker:

A glimpse through the foliage of a White-eyed Vireo (well-named!):

Female Painted Bunting, our only truly green songbird:

This was one of the few White-crowned Sparrows recorded in our County, on November 14. (Actually I reported and photographed 1 back in 2012, the first County record of the century, then 2 in 2014 for the highest count ever). This immature bird will trade the dark brown on its crown for bold white when it molts into breeding plumage:

A Red-shouldered Hawk flew off:

This Gray Squirrel seemed to be eating flowers of the exotic and invasive Melaeuca tree. They smell like turpentine and must taste awful:

Garden Spider in her orb:

The canal which separates the residential area from the Wounded Wetlands, November 24:

Chapel Trail Nature Preserve boardwalk, November 28:

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Linking to:


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