Thursday, December 17, 2015

Rediscovering backyard birds

Suddenly I appreciate my back yard all the more. Graciela, our  eleven year old granddaughter in Illinois, was assigned a "descriptive writing" task in her Reading class (I think that is what it is called). 

She decided to write about what she saw, smelled, felt and did during her visits to us in Florida. She selected photos from my FLICKR photostream to illustrate her piece.  

Frankly, I think she painted such a wonderful picture with her words that the photos do not do it justice! She also sharpened my awareness of  the wonders we can experience at our very doorstep. Graci writes (italicized):

Monaco Cove CROP4 HDR COREL 20141229

My grandparents’ backyard is warm and sunny with a fresh ocean breeze. The first thing you’ll notice is a low brick wall surrounding the brick patio. It is rough to the touch and has two places where the bricks slope and form an opening.


If you stand right outside the back door and look left, there is the grill shaded by traveler palm trees in a wooden plant box. At each of the two top corners, there are small boxes with a little palm tree with decently large, and soft fronds. In between those small boxes, there is a long rectangular planting box. There are three pineapple plants in those.


A large, circular-shaped, hedge is between the boxes, but more to the right. Lining the hedge are aloe, lemongrass, and mint plants, where the little brown anoles- and rarely the Mediterranean gecko-  dare me and Cari, who multiple times attempt to capture them, but they scurry deeper into the plant, teasingly bobbing their heads up and down.

Nietas catching anoles 20120726

Cuban Anole Display

From the center of the hedge is an avocado tree that shades the patio on hot days, and when ripe, yields delectable avocados that are then made into homemade guacamole. Spreading out in front of you is the Lago Grande, or Big Lake.

Monaco Cove Lake HDR 20151010

The water can be pristine blue and clear enough to see miniature tadpoles, or a family of sunfish circling their large nest. On quiet days, you can hear the water lapping on the shoreline, or the faint sound of music playing in the distance. Other days, it’s the sound of kids playing or birds singing their different songs. By the water, you can find fossils, or if you’re super lucky, a mussel just sitting there. I’ve only found two, out of all the times I’ve been there! Looking closely, there can be tiny Cane Toads or tadpoles at the edge.

Cane Toad Tadpoles

Fossil 6-20090113

This is Ken here again. A quick search of my photo archives for the word "patio" produced a plethora of images, a few of which follow, beginning with a Loggerhead Shrike in Impatiens:

Loggerhead Shrike 2-20101231

Green Heron in the Cocoplum hedge:

Green Heron In Cocoplum 20090105

Cattle Egret searching for lizards in the Aloe:

Cattle Egret 2-20101222


A quick shot, through the glass door, of a Great Blue Heron:

Great Blue Heron Wall 20110912

A visit by a Wood Stork:

Wood Stork on patio 20150120

Palm Warbler:


Closeup of a Cane Toad with venom dripping from its paratoid glands:

Cane Toad 5

Great Egret, Wood Stork and Tricolored Herons in neighbor's yard:

Stork and herons relocate 2-20140912

A pair of White-winged Doves:

White-winged Doves 20090118

The granddaughters enjoying lunch on the patio. Graci is checking out a grackle in the tree:

Graci Cari on patio

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

Linking to I Heart Macro by Laura


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



  1. she notices a great deal and i loved her prose. your home is lovely. that cane toad is fierce!

  2. Kenneth, your talent in photography brings me such joy. I feel as I am right there seeing all these beautiful things and people myself. Thank you!

  3. Graci is already a good writer! I cannot imagine writing that at her age.

  4. What a great post. Graciela certainly has a way with words and your photos do them justice. In parts of Australia the cane toads are in plague proportions, destroying everything in their path - there seems to be nothing to really stop them - ugly creatures.

  5. Beautiful photos! Loved your granddaughter's writing, too!
    Have a great week-end!

  6. Your grand-daughter writes beautifully and with a great deal of maturity for an 11 year old. She has a keen awareness for the beauty around her. Your photos were the perfect combination with her writing!

  7. Super photo of the cloud over the lake...what a fabulous place to live!

  8. How pleasant to be able to sit on your patio and see so much. Your granddaughter has a talent for creative writing.

  9. Your life is surrounded by beauty. Wonderful presentation in words and pictures.

  10. Love the first pic - so dreamy! And to gorge oneself on avocados whenever I would want to -heaven:)

  11. All very gorgeous photos ~ and your grand daughter did a marvelous descriptive writing of your place and location! Congrats to her ~

    Wishing you the magic and love of the season,
    artmusedog and carol

  12. Very nice post - its always interesting (and sometimes strange) to hear what kids recall or don't from trips!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. lovely lovely images! I love that little lizard! and your backyard is amazing!

  14. What a beautiful place you live in. Your Granddaughter did a fantastic job with her writing, very descriptive. Too many great photos to comment on all of them but I love the cute little lizard with the orange throat & the clouds photo after that is a spectacular photo. I remember those horrible Cane Toads from when we lived in Brisbane. They're gross

  15. Hello ken your granddaughter Graci is an excellent writer. I enjoyed the read and all the bird images. The Cane Toad is new to me, I will have to google it.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

    Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  16. Beautiful set of images. Birds are very lovely.

  17. Para si e sua família desejo um Natal de Luz! Abençoado e repleto de alegrias.

  18. Your world is so different from mine. ;) Graci is a talented writer who pays attention to her surroundings! Obviously she likes visiting you and your yard.

  19. Your granddaughter is very observant and that is quality that will come in handy as the years go by. Obviously she loves visiting you. Great photos also. Your post kind of made my day. I love it when young people show such promise as your granddaughter does. You must be very proud of her.

  20. Graci's description put me right on your patio Ken. So well written and stimulating to all my 5 senses. Seems to be like Granddaughter! Wonderful!

  21. I am in awe of her writing ability. Very descriptive and she really can paint a picture in one's mind. Well done.

    And your birds...always awesome.

    Thank you so much for adding your link to I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend for us to view your post!!! Wonderful.

  22. Nice shots! I love the top one!

  23. Your grand-daughter is talented! She has an eye for detail and describes things well! Loved the bird photos from your Florida world as well as the shots she used in her writing assignment! Awesome post! Yes, we have to appreciate those little things that make up our world!

  24. Wow - your backyard is amazing!

  25. Fabulous place for the girls to vacation! Their own private Nature Park. Graci is a brilliant writer and she has found a fairly talented person to illustrate her lovely words ;)))!

  26. Beautiful post Merry Christmas.

  27. That's a great post. I remember those shots of the Wood Storks when they came to visit your backyard. What a great spot to bird! Do you have alligators visit as well? Happy holidays and happy new year! Wishing you all the best!

  28. What gorgeous and closely observed photos. I almost feel as if I am there. It looks a most idyllic place. Have a wonderful Christmas and happy 2016


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