Thursday, April 23, 2020

Unexpected Beauty

About to walk out of  the wetlands area, I stopped to review my eBird checklist. Suddenly a male cardinal flew down close by and picked up a berry. It was the fruit of a Firebush (Hamelia patens) which  conveniently ripens just when northbound migrants need quick energy. The cardinal is non-migratory and often spends its entire life foraging and nesting in one small territory, so it knows its food sources very well. I watched its table manners as it plucked, squashed, swallowed and then cleaned up after the treat.

Northern Cardinal:

Northern Cardinal 01-20200413

Northern Cardinal 02-20200413

Northern Cardinal 03-20200413

Northern Cardinal 05-20200413

Moments later, after I exited the gates of the preserve, I noticed three Common Grackles sitting close together on the edge of the tile roof of a neighbor's house. Two males appeared to be vying for the attention of a female who looked on. The males postured: 

Common Grackles 01-20200413

The male in the middle of the trio appeared to be the most assertive. He puffed up his feathers. Both closed their nictitating membranes  (third eyelids), commonly done as part of the display. 

Common Grackles 02-20200413

All three then flew off, so I do not know the outcome.

Overnight rain flooded the wet prairies. Seeking dry ground, seven White-tailed Deer appeared along the gravel road. They were barely visible, but their eyes reflected my camera flash:

Jacklighted White-tailed Deer does 01-20200412

They did not bolt away. Every time my camera clicked, they looked up:

White-tailed Deer 01-20200412

White-tailed Deer 02-20200412

Two Raccoons explored the margins of a puddle:

Raccoons 03-20200412

Raccoon 01-20200412

We enjoyed a beautiful red sunrise on two consecutive mornings. This was out of a hazy but cloudless sky on April 12:

Red sunrise 2-20200412

The sun reflected off clouds on April 13:

Sunrise 03-20200413

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

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


  1. I am so envious. I have a big firebush in my backyard and the birds, butterflies, and bees like it. In 10 years I've only seen a cardinal once. Sigh

  2. Oh Kenneth those red hues on those cardinals look fiery, I love it! Never have I ever seen a red bird in person and those that you shared looks so bright, love it! Perfect skywatch colors you shave there!

  3. Lucky you, getting those great deer shots. Mine didn't turn out well enough to include on my post. Great sunset photo as well. We haven't seen many worth recording because the weather has been so dark and gloomy for so much of the year so far. So thanks for including yours.

  4. Incredible shots. Cardinals are very difficult for me, they are here there and everywhere and not very trusting. I love the shot of the deer.

  5. I always think what a lovely and fascinating place that reserve must be.

  6. Those pictures of the Cardinal are remarkable!

  7. I always enjoy your wildlife photography. Oh yes, and great sky captures too!!

  8. Simply gigantic photos!
    Best wishes and stay healthy
    My contribution

  9. Hello, Mr. Schneider.
    What a wonderful fauna that lives near your home. The cardinal is a wonderful bird. Here, in Portugal, someone foolishly introduced raccoons into nature. Biologists fear that this animal will contribute to devastating the local native fauna, with competition for food. Some of this fauna is in danger of extinction. Besides that, it is a predator that feeds on crustaceans and the eggs of amphibians and waterfowl and as it is a new predator these animals are very vulnerable, as they have not yet acquired defense mechanisms against it. Raccoons can also pose a risk to public health, and they can carry a deadly nematode for people, as well as rabies and other diseases that also affect domestic animals.
    Thank you for sharing your photos.
    Have a good weekend.

  10. Nice raccoon reflections! I don't think I've ever seen a cardinal or a grackle in California. I saw grackles by the thousand when I lived in Texas. They make strange noises. :-)

  11. Hello, Pretty series on the Cardinal and the deer. I usually do not see that many deer together. A few here and there. Pretty sky captures. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, stay safe! Enjoy your day, happy weekend. PS, thanks for leaving me a comment.

  12. Love the birds, but those deer really catch my eye! I especially enjoyed the last shot. Peaceful. Happy Saturday!

  13. We had a beautiful sunset last night....almost the color of a melon! I love seeing your deer. I saw 2 this week but would love to see some young ones! Have a good weekend! Stay safe!

  14. When we lived in Los Angeles County we were next to a park with natural hillsides. One time a racoon came in through out cat door to eat in the kitchen. I surprised him when I got home from work. I tried to say shoo but he ran back at me so I gave him the house for a bit. He finally went into the bedroom where the cat door was located. After climbing the shower and shaking the glass door he took his time and sauntered back outdoors just to let me know who was boss. - Margy

    1. Margy, you reminded me of our neighbors who lived across the street from us when we lived in Dallas, Texas. They took a two week trip in their RV and while they were gone a Raccoon entered their home by way of the fireplace chimney. It tore up the house, opening every cabinet and eating anything that was not in a can. Food and waste were all over the floor and furniture. Real horror story!

  15. Always enjoy your wildlife shots. And those skies!

  16. A fun post! I haven't photographed a raccoon in years.

  17. Oh how wonderful to have seen the Cardinal. We don't have them here in the western States.

    Your day of birding and being in nature sounds about perfect to me. The sky images are lovely!


  18. Hi, Kenneth, I enjoyed the up close goings-on with the critters. The cardinal didn't look happy at first when he saw he was caught on camera, but seemed to be okay at the end. I love the gentle scene of the raccoons by the water.
    By the way, I forgot to write back last week to thank you for correcting my understanding about owls and their swiveling heads. Merci beaucoup. :-)

  19. Your captures of the cardinal are exquisite! Wow, the deer, am surprised they kept looking into your camera - beautiful group images:) The common crackles are funny - too bad they didn't show you the end of the story! The skies are just gorgeous, especially the last one! Many thanks for sharing your discoveries of last week with All Seasons:) Have a beautiful week! Jesh

  20. A marvelous series of images! I love the grackle series.
    Thank you for sharing at
    Stay safe and well!

  21. How very beautiful! Your photos are just incredible! Thank you!

  22. Beautiful photos! How nice of the deer to pose for you.

  23. The cardinals are an amazing colour. Not something I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing your great variety of fauna.

  24. My, what wondrous beauty! It's exciting to get to watch creatures go about their business. I'm surprised about the deer not running off, wow!

    Thanks for taking part at 'My Corner of the World' this week! It's good to see you.

  25. Some fantastic sightings and captures Kenneth.


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