Thursday, February 14, 2019

Storks, Eagles and a Dwarf Planet

For the third year in a row, a large flock of Wood Storks has settled in a rookery at a small city park in Weston, not far from our home. I reported their first appearance back in 2017. Read more about their disappearance and recovery: Wood Storks return south to breed

Since the rookery is located on our way to shopping and medical care, Mary Lou and I had stopped there several times in hopes of timing their arrival. As has happened in previous years, they waited until February to arrive. They are starting to build their nests, which can be very close to each other.

Wood Storks working on nests 20190212

We can expect nest construction to be followed by egg-laying in early March. Most of the young will fledge during June. Double-crested Cormorants and Anhingas are nesting among the storks, which are gathered into several groups:

Wood Storks 12 in west end group 20190212

Wood Stork landing 20190212

We counted 80 storks (75-83 in several hand counts of those in the rookery plus others in surrounding grounds), 45 cormorants and 7 Anhingas in the rookery. Many more herons will also begin nesting there in coming weeks.

The storks are graceful in the air:

Wood Stork in flight 01-20190212


Wood Stork in flight 02-20190212

Although the cormorants are often derided as ugly pests, I find that their plumage has an almost sculptural quality. This one is coming in for a landing:

Double-crested Cormorant 01-20190212

Double-crested Cormorant 02-20190212

We found only three Tricolored Herons, but expect to see many more during their nesting season:

Tricolored Heron 20190212

The rookery and surrounding park is home to a multitude of Green Iguanas. They are vegetarians and appear not to be a direct threat to the birds except that they compete for space in the rookery. In breeding condition they develop an orange color, as in this huge specimen, fully 5 feet long:

Green Iguana in breeding condition 20190212

Oddly, a Purple Gallinule, its extremely long toes adapted to walking on lily pads, was perched in a tree across the lake:

Purple Gallinule in tree 20190212

It flew down to forage in a more familiar setting:

Purple Gallinule 20190212

Some of our early morning walks in the local Wounded Wetlands have been cut short by the threat of rain:

Rain threat 0645AM 20190210

On February 11, our back yard lake was clear and still just before sunrise:

Backyard sunrise 02-20190210

Also on the home front, one clear morning I added a new (dwarf) planet to my "life list." The planets were spaced equally, aligned (from lower left to upper right)-- Saturn, barely visible in the glow of the rising Sun, very bright Venus, then Jupiter... and following the same line, a very faint Dwarf Planet Ceres. The star Antares is also visible just below a line halfway between Jupiter and Ceres. (Click on image to enlarge, and then squint to see them!). Taken with my pocket camera, hand-held:

Saturn Venus Jupiter Dwarf Planet Ceres 20190207

This is a chart of the sky on the same day (February 7) and time from about the same point of view:




          (©2019  Dominic Ford, some rights reserved )

At the local Bald Eagle nest, one of the eaglets has been conspicuous, while the second keeps low. In 2 out of 3 nests, the first-hatched is a female, which gets a head start and also grows faster and is much more aggressive than a male. If the second is a male it learns to stay out of the way of his big sister, waiting his turn to be fed. Here, the older chick appears to be begging for food from the male parent while the female is feeding the younger eaglet:

Bald Eaglet begs from male as female tears prey 2-20190209

The male and female take turns roosting nearby and keeping an eye on the nest while the mate forages or tends to the eaglets.

Male (Pride) roosting on a nearby tree:

Bald Eagle male Pride 20190209

Female (Jewel) assumes a regal bearing as she stands watch above the nest:

Bald Eagle female Jewel 20190209

To obtain a photo of a tiny (20mm/0.75 inch) but beautiful creature of interest in the grass in front of the eagle nest, I had to lie down on the ground. This is a Dainty Sulphur:

Dainty Sulphur 20190205


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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


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

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Crops & Clips: Flashback to February, 2016

This week I am refreshing memories of events three years ago, looking for favorite memes: critters of all kinds (especially birds), skies, reflections, fences, butterflies and flowers... and tranquil scenes which speak for themselves.

We began the month with a rather unusual sighting in our local south Florida Wounded Wetlands. An American White Pelican startled me as it flew in directly overhead:

American White Pelican HDR  20160202

This species usually travels in fairly large flocks, as they are cooperative feeders. Typically they swim in a line and circle in on schools of fish, herding them together in shallow water for a feast. This one settled on the lake, alone. It was present for one day only, on February 2:

American White Pelican HDR 03-20160202

That same morning, a roadside American Kestrel was grasping a prey item as it perched on the top shoot of a Royal Palm: 

American Kestrel 4-20160202

I tried out my pocket camera, a Canon PowerShot SX700 HS, on a rather distant Merlin which was eating a little bird. With the optical zoom fully extended to 30X it produced a fairly decent image of the small falcon:

Merlin Canon PowerShot SX700 HS 30x plus 2.0 20160208

As if to help me round out my falcon images for the month, a Peregrine showed up:

Peregrine close HDR 20160219

Wispy pink clouds appeared over the wetlands:

Wispy pink clouds HDR 20160204

I liked the glow of sunrise on the sheltered still water. Its reflection illuminated the Great Blue Heron against the lake, its surface stirred by waves which picked up the blue sky:

Great Blue Heron2 HDR 20160218

A male Northern Cardinal stood out against a gray sky:

Northern Cardinal 20160228

A visit to Peaceful Waters Park wetlands in Wellington, Palm Beach County provided intimate views of Purple Gallinules...

Purple Gallinule 02-20160221

Purple Gallinule 07-20160221

...a Sandhill Crane at its nest...

Sandhill Crane at nest 20160221

...a Little Blue Heron on the prowl...

Little Blue Heron HDR 20160221

...and a Loggerhead Shrike:

Loggerhead Shrike 20160221

At Wellington Environmental Preserve, Mary Lou walked along the marvelous boardwalk...

Wellington boardwalk HDR 20160221

...with an American Alligator in open view...

American Alligator 2-20160221

...a well-hidden Limpkin...

Limpkin 2-20160221

...and a cluster of American Coots:

American Coot gathering 20160221

More images from the wild lands back home in south Florida; a light morph Short-tailed Hawk soared :

Short-tailed hawk 2-20160222

A female Anhinga showed off her "turkey tail:"

Anhinga reflection crop 20160226

This male Anhinga developed a fancy "hairdo" as breeding season approached:

Anhinga male portrait 20160210

A male Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipped nectar from a Ligustrum flower:

Ruby-throated hummingbird XLIGHT 02-20160214

Northern Flicker female:

Northern Flicker female 20160204

Female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on our back yard Mahogany tree:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker thru window 2-20160204

Most winters we are lucky to see even a single American Robin. This one appeared on February 11:

American Robin HDR 4-20160211

View from the lakeside marsh on a foggy February morning as the sun touched the Pine Bank:

Sun reaching Pine Bank 20160208

Back yard sunrise on February 11:

Sunrise HDR 20160211

Zebra heliconian on Balsam Pear:

Zebra heliconian 20160203

Female Julia heliconian on Bidens alba (Shepherd's Nettle):

Julia heliconian female 2-20160203

A "weed" with tiny yellow composite flowers:

Weed with tiny yellow  flowers 20160204


= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia

________________________________________________

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

________________________________________________