Saturday, April 27, 2013

Change is inevitable

Each time we relocate between our first and second homes in south Florida and northeastern Illinois the time lapse of several weeks or months amplifies our awareness of changes that have taken place. Like Rip Van Winkle, we see the full impact but fail to perceive the gradual transition from what was then and what is now. 

Change is inevitable, from the destruction of our quiet  sitting spot, now in full sunlight and overgrown with grasses, to the clearing of the prairie in front of our Illinois townhouse.

When we returned to Florida only a month ago we saw that vandals, who earlier removed the only 5 mature native Trema trees, had carved an ATV road through the heart of the last small patch of woodlands that we called our "Fake Hammock." Click on this link to see it before it was disturbed. They also ignited a small wildfire. Now the quiet dark and cool spot under the canopy has become a nighttime gathering place with a fire pit.
Remains of fake hammock 3-200130329
Upon arrival in Illinois I captured this view from the top floor of our Illinois condo. The scene has changed radically. Where meadowlarks, Spotted Sandpipers and Horned Larks once nested and Sandhill Crane families visited we now stare upon a drastically altered landscape. See Illinois "Yard" Birds. Construction of additional townhomes was not unexpected, but delays in completion of the project allowed us to grow accustomed to the scarred but bountiful prairie that developed as the land lay fallow over the past nine years.
Front yard no longer a birding patch 20130422
On a positive note, there were interesting creatures to be seen in Florida during the week prior to our departure for Illinois. As usual, Mary Lou and I got out before sunrise, and she beat me home by over an hour. This is a view looking to the northwest just as the early rays are reaching the high clouds.
Harbour Lakes to NW at sunrise HDR 20130417
The lake held a welcome surprise. A noisy flock of Black-necked Stilts flew across the water in front of me.
Black-necked Stilts in flight 20130418
An Osprey occupied its usual roost.
Osprey 20130418
A Common Nighthawk, probably getting ready to nest at the side of the path, watched me from its perch on a wire.
Common Nighthawk 20130418
Gray Catbirds were everywhere, but not a single warbler had migrated in. Southeasterly winds seem to be encouraging migrants from Cuba to follow north along the west side of the Florida peninsula or even cross the open water of the Gulf of Mexico.
Gray Catbird 20130416
Least Terns have arrived, and within two days I observed their mating rituals. The male brings a little fish to the female who adopts a bill-up posture. If he proves to be a good provider, she will accept him as a mate within a week or so. See the full ritual in: The Least of the Terns.
Least Terns feeding ritual 20130417

Least Terns feeding ritual 2-20130417
Duck migration was in progress. Several small flocks of a dozen or so flew rapidly to the north, high overhead and illuminated from beneath by the first rays. Most were teal and shovelers. This flock consisted of Blue-winged Teal.
Blue-winged Teal northbound 20130415
Cormorants were mirrored in the early morning calm.
Double-crested Cormorant 20130416
The humidity was high, and this immature Red-shouldered Hawk spread its well-worn feathers to dry them in the rising sun.
Red-shouldered Hawk immature 2-20130416

Red-shouldered Hawk immature 4-20130416
All was well in the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron rookery, with at least six nests in various stages of completion and at least three pairs incubating.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron incubating nest 22 HT 20130416

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron at nest 10 non-HT 2-20130416
There were two immature birds among the dozen or more adult herons.
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature 20130416
An Eastern Box Turtle ambled across the path. I would have missed him, but Mary Lou pointed him out.
Box Turtle 20130416
This Opossum was crossing the gravel road. When it saw me it started moving away. Suddenly it stopped and picked up a freshly-killed rat. It proceeded to eat it in large bites, right down to its tail.
Opossum eating rat 20130408
We made a last stop at the local Bald Eagle nest to check on the welfare of the recently-fledged eaglet. It was roosting just adjacent to the nest tree, calling to be fed.
Bald Eagle juvenile 20130409
The eaglet swooped down right in front of me, heading for a tree where an adult was resting.
Bald Eaglet in flight 3-20130412
The adult did not even look up at its demanding offspring, and continued preening.
Bald Eagle adult preening 20130412
A young Gray Squirrel scurried up a tree in my neighborhood as I finished my walk. ¡Hasta la vista!
Gray Squirrel 20130418


  1. really sad about the neighborhood construction in illinois. sad to see the naturalness go so quickly.

    loved all of your florida photos, though. just beautiful.

  2. It is disheartening to see the destruction of habitat but encouraging to see the wonderful variety and young birds!

    Thank you for the wonderful tour and photos, Ken!

  3. amazing photos, especially the night heron

  4. A beautiful series of wildlife photos. The shot of the lake is gorgeous with that marvelous sky.

  5. Great group of birds for your sendoff. Those least terns are great.

  6. Wow, some changes can really be sad. I loved all the beautiful birds and photos though! Great post!

  7. Your post was a bit bittersweet for me today...what with all the changes...the drastic landscape change with construction and the 'vandalism' that took place. What a shame. But the sweetness of your birds, the ducks, the eagles, the young crowned herons and nesting --well, all of the photos put a smile on my face.

  8. Great series!! As to urbanization in the US,the incresing frquency of storms,flood,and,then,lack of water will look after that with a loss of life. As will increasing insurance costs.Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  9. An all too familiar story but oh my, your photos are wonderful of all your birds and other. I have really enjoyed them, thank you.

  10. A great series of photos. The worn plumage on the hawk was especially interesting.

  11. A fabulous series of shots! Love the Stilts in flight, and the Herons are awesome!

  12. I am so sorry about the destruction of the regenerated habitat.Business and youth are often enemies to nature.
    You certainly had a a delightful morning walk with many diverse birds in your bag. Thank you for sharing them.

  13. Illinois is notorious for over building ... and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it. It did slow down when the economy crashed, but I am seeing it pick up again ... Sad! That said, your pictures are wonderful. I espceially like the one of the adult Eagle preening ... great shot! It is heartening to know that there is still some natural habitat available for the lucky few.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  14. Brilliant, nothing but brilliant, all of your beautiful images. I found the Red-shouldered Hawk, with feathers well worn, to look lovely, yet also in a way that in my years of photographing them, have never seen one in such a way. New feathers coming in soon, I hope...


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