Thursday, March 19, 2015

Black-necked Stilts

We were out before sunrise on our local wetlands. The sun rose at 7:30 AM EDT, only 2 degrees south of due east.The back gate of the adjacent Harbour Lakes subdivision faces due east, and on the Vernal Equinox on March 20 we can expect the sun to rise directly over the gate.

Harbour Lakes back gate HDR 20150315

While scanning the lake I heard the call of a familiar bird. Before I could remember its identity, two Black-necked Stilts flew by and inexplicably turned my way and landed only about 80 feet (25 meters) away. It was about 5 minutes after sunrise with the near shore in deep shadow, so my initial photos were very poor.

Black-necked Stilt at dawn 20150315

I stood in place for about 45 minutes waiting for the sun, and luckily the stilts just loafed and preened. I ended up taking over 200 shots, but only about half were in good light. Although I have had stilts in the patch in previous years, this was the first time I got this close to them.

The earliest usable shots showed a warm glow as light finally swept the shoreline:

Black-necked Stilt 03-20150315

Black-necked Stilts 02-20150315

Black-necked Stilts 01-20150315

Black-necked Stilt 01-20150315

The still water provided nice reflections:

Black-necked Stilt 04-20150315

Black-necked Stilts 04-20150315

Black-necked Stilt 02-20150315

So long as I stood perfectly still they paid me little attention, going about their grooming:

Black-necked Stilts 08-20150315

Black-necked Stilts 06-20150315

After standing still for about 45 minutes my legs started cramping although the sunlight felt good on my back. I took this with my little Canon Powershot SX700 HS. The stilts are barely visible along the shore, to the left:

Watching the stilts 20150315

My reach for the pocket camera put them on alert...

Black-necked Stilts 05-20150315

...and they flew up:

Black-necked Stilt in flight 2-20150315

Black-necked Stilt in flight 20150315

Black-necked Stilt in flight 4-20150315

Black-necked Stilt in flight 5-20150315

Happily, they turned back and alighted on a small submerged bar a bit to the south, not much further away. The slight back-lighting provided pleasant images:

Black-necked Stilt 06-20150315

Black-necked Stilt 05-20150315

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Tex (Theresa). 

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart


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



  1. Beautiful sunrise over the fence!
    And I love the second picture, try
    to sell it, it will look very good on
    a wall :))
    And I like the flying ones also :)
    Have a beautiful walking day ;)

  2. You had a grand session Ken with these elegant long legged waders. I enjoyed viewing your images as our Black-winged version is very much a rarity in my land-locked home County.

    Whilst we all like to get quality clear images under a blue sky I do very much like the 1st still shot against the early am subdued lighting.

  3. Really gorgeous photos. We get the Black-necked Stilts here in the summer months. They hang out at Bowdoin NWR. Your first photo of the sunrise is breathtaking!

  4. awesome shots, from the sunlit peek at the gate to the gorgeous stilts and their reflections! thanks, ken!

  5. Gate-henge! I love it! And incredibly beautiful photos of the stilts! Wow!

  6. Fantastic shots!

    I like reading about other people's cameras, too.

  7. Great crispy clear bird shots. I like them.

  8. Phenomenal pictures of this gorgeous bird. There are perfect bird guide ID photos and there are some illustrating their behaviors, and most of them worthy of being called fine art. The light, the reflections, and the perfect colors of the bird! Thank you for your patience and for sharing!

  9. Another stunning series of shots Kenneth. That opening shot of the sunrise is brilliant - thank you for sharing.

  10. Those birds are so pretty. Lovely refections

  11. wow- fantastic bird shots in so many perfect poses

  12. Exceptional beautiful pictures !

  13. Great birdshots with beautiful reflections. Thanks for showing.

  14. Keeping still really paid off with these incredibly beautiful images. Loved them all!:)

  15. Pretty captures of the stilts and their reflections! Thank you for linking up, happy weekend!

  16. The reflections make those legs go on forever.

  17. Hi what a cracking set of images if this very beautiful bird Hope you have a great weekend.

  18. Wonderful shots. I love those long-legged waders.

  19. Fabulous pictures and a great bird.

  20. Love the long red legs on these beautiful birds!

  21. Beautiful photos! I love the soft morning light and the reflections.

  22. Great set of shots - life is always easier when the birds come to you!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  23. Extraordinary Ken. ALL of the photos. Wow.

    Thanks for adding your link to this post for the weekend at I'd Rather B Birdin'!!!

  24. Superb birds photographed superbly!

    Their delicate appearance belies their ferocity once they have young to protect.

    Thank you for sharing, Ken! Love that sunrise!

  25. These are stunning shots of the bird life in your area. We have a bird sanctuary where I live but I'd have to drive a considerable distance to get there. I'm hoping to do that one day but it won't be for awhile yet. I don't get too many birds in my garden and the ones that visit fly away before I could ever hope to get a good photo with my inexpensive camera. Happy birding.

  26. Phenomenal photos... I've never seen such a beautiful creatures...

  27. Fantastic shots of such lovely bird.

  28. Creative shots of a fascinating bird!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  29. Amazing pics of the stilts. You have a lot patience. You waited until the light was better and made the most of it.

  30. Back again. I don't usually beg for comments on my blog, but because of all the work you're doing and your expertise, I'd really love to hear your thoughts about the Fort Myers eagle cam....if you have a few minutes.

  31. In reply to Sallie:

    We have been monitoring a Bald Eagle nest in Pembroke Pines, Florida over seven breeding seasons. It is the first active nest in Broward County since before 1970 and is about 1 1/2 miles from our home. Ground observers post their observations at the link "Bald Eagles of Broward County Florida" in the right panel of my blog page. This past October the original female of the pair disappeared, and in early December the male brought in a new young (4 year old) companion. They have mated but she either failed to lay eggs or was too inexperienced to start incubation. Since we do not have a nest camera we cannot be sure about this.

    We often have seen immature eagles enter the nesting territory. We assume most are young from previous broods (they have had 13 known eaglets, of which 11 fledged successfully). The original adults defended their territory and sometimes both would drive away any intruders.

    When an eagle loses its mate it will look for a new one, as happened with our pair. It is said that the male is more faithful to the nest site than the female and will try to bring the new mate into his territory, whereas the female may be more apt to follow a new male if he has an established territory. However, it is impossible to predict what will happen in individual cases, such as with Ozzie. If he stays away too long he may have trouble rejoining his mate if she has found a new beau in the meantime. I doubt she would abandon the care of her offspring. Both male and female actively take part in incubation, brooding and feeding of the eaglets. Our local eaglets usually remain at or near the nest for 6-8 weeks.

    After fledging, eaglets usually are lured back to the nest to be fed for the first few weeks. They increasingly follow a parent and learn to forage for themselves. The youngsters in south Florida generally fly north around June and return in early winter. They may travel quite far, into North Carolina and Chesapeake Bay, even up into New England in at least one case. Fish stay closer to the surface when the water is cool, so going north makes sense, just as the northern Bald Eagles fly south to find open water. Since they are not as skilled at hunting they may join vultures in eating carrion, so motor vehicles are a particular cause of mortality in younger eagles.

    We have had two abortive attempts to install nest cameras. There are particular logistical problems with our nest as it is quite high and it would be costly and labor intensive to establish electrical and broadband service. Failure to obtain funding ended both efforts. My heart is not in having a nest camera, as there is a particular thrill in observing the eagles as free-flying wild individuals. If you visit our FORUM you will see how much we can learn just from ground observations.

    Bald Eagles of Broward County Florida

  32. Your patience paid off. Great shots!

  33. Wow, what a bunch of wonderful photos! Awesome.


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