Thursday, December 8, 2016

Birding under a mirrored sunrise

One  morning in late November, about 20 minutes before sunrise, the sky seemed to be setting up very nicely to produce a mirrored sunrise on the western horizon. I quickened my pace as I walked the half mile to the lake in the mitigation preserve. 

Almost all the ingredients were present: heavy thunderstorms to the the east over the Bahamas to break up the sun's light into rays; a clear sky overhead to transmit the rays; and a clear western horizon with minimal ground haze.

To the southeast, sunlight was just creeping up over the cloud tops:

Actual sunrise in east HDR 20161127

The only missing factors were humidity and Saharan dust to enhance the rays and provide color. Sure enough, a virtual sunrise was produced, strongest about 5 minutes after sunrise. 

Because of the line of clouds to the east, the light had not yet touched the opposite horizon, so the lake and the pine bank were still in shadow:

 Mirrored Sunrise HDR 20161127

Mirrored Sunrise HDR 02-20161127

A few minutes later a Bald Eagle flew over from the direction of their nest site about 1 1/2 miles NW of our location:

Bald Eagle 20161126

A Northern Mockingbird kept watch from from a Pond Cypress::

Northern Mockingbird 20161127

A Great Egret foraged in the warm morning light:

Great Egret at first light 03-20161125

This immature Tricolored Heron cast a nice reflection:

 Tricolored Heron 20161125

Later that week a Great Blue Heron flew in about 5 minutes after sunrise. Light was poor but I was very pleased with the soft image of the heron as it settled down with a White Ibis. Click on the photo for a larger view:

Great Blue Heron and White Ibis 20161130

I found only one Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in the rookery:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron 20161130

A Sharp-shinned Hawk posed on a dead tree along the path:

Sharp-shinned Hawk 01-20161125

A Loggerhead Shrike caught a wasp and carried it back to its perch atop a Pond Cypress:

Loggerhead Shrike with waasp 20161130

On the way out at 8:00 AM I was surprised to see a Bobcat cross the gravel road not too far away. It never looked towards me:

 Bobcat crop 01-20161123

A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird guarded her favorite patch of Firebush (Hamelia patens):

Ruby-throated hummingbird 20161125

She favors the fresh orange-yellow tubular flowers over the older red ones in the clusters:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird 20161116

A couple of unusual bird species visited the patch. For the first time in the ten years I have patrolled the area, I sighted a single Clay-colored Sparrow. I got a bad shot but was astounded to see it (or another of its species) a few minutes later as I walked home. It was on a neighbor's lawn and flew up into a small tree just long enough for me to capture its image:

Clay-colored Sparrow 02-20161117

A Bell's Vireo, recorded only a few times in our county, has visited the same small area of fruiting Lantana and Brazilian Pepper four out of the past winter seasons. I have guided birders into the area several times each year and they usually have not been disappointed in their quest:

Bell's Vireo 02-20161130

Back home, a Double-crested Cormorant rested on the decoy which supports the intake of our lawn sprinkler system:

Double-crested Cormorant 2-20161127

Across the lake, a second cormorant stood on a Canada Goose decoy. The owner's fence is reflected in the water:

Double-crested Cormorant 3-20161127

That same fence can be seen in this photo of a rainbow following a brief shower:
Rainbow from back patio 20161123

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to GOOD FENCES by Gosia

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Today's Flowers Friday by Denise

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

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



  1. aw, twilight, a low sun, makes for gorgeous shots, donnit.

    Love all your shots.

  2. How funny to see the birds perched on he decoys!

  3. An absolutely brilliant and gorgeous collection, Kenneth, and I love the light, colour and reflections in your photos.

  4. As usual all the bird pictures are stunning. The first one of the sun is really sublime.

  5. Great pictures of the nirds, and an awesome shot of the Bobcat!

  6. The first three shots are fabulous and the reflection of the birds in the water it's amazing. I love seeing the difference between the great blue Heron and white Ibis. Kenneth, yet another wonderful post thank you for sharing for the bird photographs with us

  7. Hello, gorgeous sky shots. The birds are always lovely to see, cool sighting of the bobcat. Great post. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  8. great photos as usual!! Fabulous reflections of the heron and egret. And great photo of the cormorant standing on the goose decoy!!

  9. Stunning photos of the birds. Hope you had a plan if the bobcat started for you!! Love seeing the heron, egret and cormorant. Thanks for sharing your finds.

  10. Now that is a sky worth getting up for! I have never seen any wild big cats - another thing for the bucket list!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  11. The description of the sunrise had me so enthralled!! Wow. And so gorgeous it was!!!!

    A fabulous array of bird life. I loved 'em all, but especially the cormorant on the decoy. That brought a snort from me. Great.

    I thank you for sharing this post with all of us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend!!!

  12. the horizon looks stunning :D great photo collection :D

  13. Such beautiful captures. I am amazed at all of your shots, both of the sunrise and of the birds. Alana

  14. Wonderful shots! That sunrise is gorgeous.

  15. Hello!:) It's lovely to see all the wildlife where you are. So many birds, beautiful sky shots, and also the unexpected image of the Bobcat. I don't remember the last time I saw a rainbow,...and yet, I have seen so many on your posts, thank you for all this beauty.

  16. Oh my! The photos are stunning (as always).
    Thank you for joining us at

  17. So many great photos! I have never seen a bobcat and I am sure that would be a nice sighting. I thought the cormorant was over a duck for real. #WordlessWednesday

  18. You saw a lot of birds this day! I love the sunrise shots! So beautiful! :)

  19. Absolutely Stunning, so much of your work could pass for fine art paintings~

  20. What beautiful place! Wonderful shots!


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