Thursday, February 16, 2017

An old Moon and a new bird

As usual, at about a half hour before sunrise, I started out into the local wetlands.  Normally Mary Lou would have walked in with me, but she had somehow injured her back and temporarily had difficulty getting around.  The sky overhead was clear but unusually dark, due to heavy storms over the ocean about 20 miles to the east.

This was the view from  our back patio:

Sunrise minus 30 minutes 20170120

A crescent Moon hung very low in the sky, just rising above the cloud bank ahead of the sun. It was very "old," not to be seen again until three days later. After creating a partial eclipse the next day, it would
reappear as the Snow Moon, to once more begin its flight away from the sun, and sink into the opposite horizon.

Oldest visible Moon this month 20170126

To my surprise, a sharply-demarcated heavy bank of fog hung over the path ahead. I entered the cloud and was enveloped, almost as if passing through an invisible door. Now it was not only darker but everything more than 20-30 yards away was suddenly invisible, and I felt so alone. For a moment my brain stem transported me back to childhood and I had a wave of the "goblin under the bed" syndrome.

That strange feeling led me to think of how spooky it would be if an owl suddenly started hooting, so I broke out my iPhone bird sound application and began playing the call of an Eastern Screech-Owl. The call kept repeating as I walked along, and the fog began to lift.

Fog before sunrise 20170125

About half way into the wetlands I turned off my iPhone and put it back in my pocket.

Moments later, I thought my owl call started playing on its own, but then realized that a real owl was calling back. It was the monotone trill of the Screech-Owl, and it was emanating from a small tree right along the path.

The owl was well-hidden amid the pine needles and I tried to find a good angle for a photo without disturbing the bird. Although this species is not uncommon in established neighborhoods with mature trees, it was the first one (the 166th species) I have encountered in our local birding patch. Its outlines were barely visible in the predawn light:

Screech Owl hiding 20170213

This was about the best I could do:

Eastern Screech-Owl 20170121

Later, the empty perch:

Screech-owl perch empty 20170216

Fast forward two weeks, and the full Snow Moon which lit up the night now sets into the lake just after sunrise:

Full Snow Moon 0640 AM 20170211

Snow Moon setting at sunrise 20170211

By day, the sun shone on some brightly colored little birds. These are Northern Parula warblers. One surprised me by posing at eye level for the better part of 2 seconds as I feverishly clicked the shutter:

Northern Parula 01-20170209

Northern Parula 02-20170209

Northern Parula 03-20170209

Northern Parula 05-20170209

Now that the wetlands are beginning to dry up we are seeing fewer deer. They do not enjoy having continuously wet feet and surely welcome the seclusion of hammocks in the Everglades. This White-tail watched me intently before scampering back over the fence:

White-tailed Deer 2-20170213

For Valentine's Day I presented Mary Lou with this photo of Lantana flowers wrapped in spider webs, which I posted to her on Facebook, saying, "The spiders worked all night to wrap your bouquet of Lantana blossoms in silk, and placed it right where I could find it this morning. For my lifetime best friend and lover MaryLou, with all my love!" One commentator said: "Men of science are so romantic. I would much rather have something like that than one of those corny, mushy cards they sell."

Lantana blossoms wrapped in spider silk original 20170214

It's hard to believe that our first date was over 63 years ago, on December 27, 1953. (That one didn't work out, but we did eventually get together and were engaged in 1957!) 

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh


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



  1. Such lovely photos! The owl may be hiding, but you've captured his beauty nonetheless!

  2. holy guacamole...I love those skyline shots

  3. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, Kenneth! Your header is fantastic, and I think you did an amazing job capturing the owl! I love the colours of the warbler!

  4. How amazing to see that owl. My husband has tried to do the sounds on his phone but we need a better app! And we'll be on the lookout for this warbler too. We saw a bright orange tanager on our feeder this week but I didn't get a photo. Hope he comes back! I hope Mary Lou is much better now! Hugs, Diane

  5. Beautiful, beautiful sky shots, moon shot, and favorite is the Owl ~ Wow! ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a Happy Weekend coming ~ ^_^

  6. That's such a gorgeous sunrise sky! I'm not a morning person, but I would get up for that!! Enjoy your weekend ahead.

  7. Fabulous photos, and yes, you're a romantic!

  8. Amazing views of the sky and lovely birds.

  9. That bird is so cute! Enjoyed the deer by the fence and your Valentine to your wife was so clever.

  10. stunning photos! I love the soft light sunrise and its reflection in the lake.

  11. Truly nice set of photos. Colours of skies are lovely.

  12. Wish I had that view from my porch! Stunning photos!

  13. The colours of the sunrise are stunning.

  14. Many beautiful photos and a terrific reflection!

  15. That sunrise shot with its reflection in the water looks like it could be a painting. Just beautiful.

  16. Interesting story of the owl (still a pretty good capture, Ken!) - a gorgeous snow moon, and I love the mist hovering over that area:)

    I smiled I saw your link to SEASONS ... only you forgot to come by to link up with a thumbnail pic!! I forgive you, since Mary Lou didn't feel well -hope she'll feel better soon!

  17. So beautiful. The owl took my breath away. I so admire anyone who can take pictures of wildlife. Alana

  18. Your posts are always so beautiful. The sunrise and moonrise and that beautiful little gray and yellow bird. So exciting to see the owl, too. How wonderful that you and your sweetheart have had such an enduring love. I think your Valentine gift is very special. Karen

  19. Lovely photos of the Northern Parula
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  20. I was excited to see the owl too. Have a nice week-end.

  21. Hello, beautiful sky captures, love the moon shots too. The owl is an awesome sighting. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  22. Wow, your first date was over 63 years ago? Great to read that. It's a blessing. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos. Ik love also your way of writing. You could be a writer.

  23. I hope you are having a good weekend. I posted a photo today that I would love for you to see...if you have time to stop by again! Thanks, Diane

  24. Love, love, love your Valentine's for your sweet mate, Mary Lou. That melts my heart.

    Your first sunrise is just mind blowing beautiful!!! Wow. Takes my breath away.

    LOVE the owl [I'm still searching feverishly with no success....a burrowing owl] AND the beautiful Parula!! Fantastic Ken.

    Thanks so much for adding your post link for all us bird enthusiasts today. Much appreciated.

  25. Nice shots! The foggy one with the palm trees really stands out to me.

  26. OMG that was a truly engaging post, correlated with wonderful photos, and finished with a unique-unusual best bouquet in the whole world. I am new here, but i really love the way you made this post, so i am now a follower. I am also surprised at the 1953 date, your first, that was when i was born and i somehow made 1+1, oh i am not young as well! Glad to see your blogsite!

  27. All exceptional photos, each one so colorful and outstanding, as beautiful and special as their accompanying sweet stories! Thanks for sharing!
    And Congratulations on the 63 years and counting :-)!!

  28. So many lovely photos! I am glad you got together after the first fail attempt!

  29. Such beautiful and professional photography ~ love bird and deer and the photo you gave your bride of 63 years ~ magnificent ~ both the photo and the years married ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a Happy Day ~ ^_^

  30. The Valentine is beyond wonderful Ken. This year will mark our 60th Anniversary as well. taken with that beautiful romantic gesture I forgot everything else for a moment. Had to catch my breath )).... the Northern Parula was a wonderful catch; I would love to spot one of those.


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