Thursday, June 28, 2018

Coyote in the Wounded Wetlands

On June 23, a half hour before sunrise, we walked out into the "Wounded Wetlands," a water conservation area near our home in southwestern Broward County, Florida.

Overhead, the sky was blue, but storm clouds were visible on all horizons.  Like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two sunrises are the same.  

Here, the sun illuminated the clouds and had not yet touched the lake, but the cloud formation took the shape of two firemen (or were they Daffy Ducks?) racing to extinguish a blaze:

Before Sunrise 09-20180625

I first encountered my neighbor Scott as he walked his dog in the Wounded Wetlands. He carried a camera and liked macro and landscape shots.  As a retiree I can afford to spend more time out in the wild than he, but Scott is very good at finding things I have missed.

Early on, Scott discovered the heron rookery at the far end of the patch. He e-mailed me detailed instructions as to its location. It was a spot which I often walked by, but never had explored. I followed the directions and still could not find it. 

He had to meet me there and point out the several Yellow-crowned Night Herons and their nests which I had been missing:

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons 20140313

Then Scott and his daughter found the first Whooping Crane ever reported here in many years. He sent me a photo to confirm the identification and I hurried out to eventually find it accompanied by a second Whooping Crane.

(They were captive-reared and in a group released in Wisconsin to migrate to northern Florida with a group of Sandhill Cranes. One wore a radio locator which tracked them down to the southern tip of the Florida peninsula before they wandered up to our neighborhood. Amazingly, one eventually spent time in Scott's front yard!).

Whooping Cranes 2012 15 Cypress male and 13 Tussock female 20130106

Whooping Crane 12-15 at 0850AM  20130207

Whooping Crane 15 and pedestrian 20130205

Once again, Scott has outdone me with a very rare find-- the first Coyote reported in this part of our county. He obtained great photos, but so far I have not been able to spot it on my own (Photos property of Scott McPherran and used with his permission):

This immature Green Heron provided some dramatic poses in poor light:

Green Heron 02-20180622

Green Heron 04-20180622

Green Heron 01-20180622

Twice this week I enjoyed seeing two Bald Eagles flying over. They are almost certainly residents from the nest about 1 1/2 miles away. The adult appeared at sunrise, while the juvenile followed about an hour later both days:

Bald Eagle adult 01-20180622

Bald Eagle juvenile  01-20180622

As I was photographing the juvenile eagle, a near-sighted Raccoon walked right up to me. I had to wave my arms to make him avoid me:

Raccoon 02-20180621

A female Florida Box Turtle ambled across the gravel track. She retracted into her shell when I approached, so I picked her up and deposited her safely on the other side of the road:

Florida Box Turtle 01-20180621

Florida Box Turtle 02-20180621

A Great Egret's plumage contrasted with the pastel sky. The pink tint suggests that dust may be blowing in from the Sahara Desert:

Great Egret at dawn 02-20180625

Later, in good light, another immature Green Heron launched from a treetop:

Green Heron 07-20180622

Its wing span is impressive:

Green Heron 06-20180622

Back home, a Tricolored Heron visited our yard:

Tricolored Heron 03-20180620

After harvesting all the mangoes we could reach, we left the highest ones for the birds, among them this Egyptian Goose resting in the shade with a neighbor's fence reflected in the background:

Egyptian Goose 20180620

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia


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


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Crops & Clips: Summer is here

It has been a busy week but Mary Lou and I have gotten out into the Wounded Wetlands before sunrise almost every morning. Summer season has really set in, with calm humid mornings, gathering clouds and afternoon rain. Sunrise sometimes can look as if the world has been set afire:

Looking east at sunrise minus 25 minutes, as we walk into our local patch:

Sunrise minus 25 minutes 01-20180618

Five minutes later and we are deeper into the wetlands:

Sunrise minus 20 minutes 02-20180618

Over the ocean, a distant thunderhead belches "Dragon Breath:"

Before sunrise 02-20180617

Dragon's breath 20180618

The sky lightens up, 15 minutes before sunrise:

Sunrise minus 15 minutes 03-20180618

To the southwest, opposite the rising sun, mirrored rays extend to the far horizon:

Sky opposite sunrise 20180618

Sun brightens the cloud tops north of the lake:

Distant clouds 20180618

No breeze mars the water's surface:

Great Egret reflectiion 01-20180615

A "Piebald" immature Little Blue Heron forages methodically:

Little Blue Heron immature piebald 06-20180617

It is molting from the white coat it has worn for a year, into the dark blue of an adult:

Little Blue Heron immature piebald 08-20180617

Little Blue Heron immature piebald 07-20180617

A successful strike:

Little Blue Heron immature piebald 05-20180617

By midsummer it will resemble the parents:

Little Blue Heron 06-20161215

An immature Green Heron takes flight:

Green Heron immature 05-20180614

Green Heron in flight 01-20180614

Green Heron in flight 02-20180614

A Great Egret balances on limber treetop branches:

Great Egret 02-20180614

High water in the Everglades drives the deer to higher ground. This White-tailed doe did not catch my scent in the still air. She walked right past me:

White-tailed Doe 03-20180618

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

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


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Remembering our father: Pater Noster

Celebrating Fathers Day by re-posting a blog I wrote back on January 28, 2007. My father loved to visit the old churches in New Mexico. This is El Santuario de Chimayó:

The church at Acoma Pueblo:

Church at Acoma Pueblo 20100621

My fondest memories of childhood were not those of solitary pursuits. Not having someone there to share an otherwise awesome event seems to take the edge off the experience. Maybe it’s because I simply want to say, “Hey, look at that!” and feel the satisfaction of having another appreciate and later reiterate the experience. 

Frequently, it works the other way. So many times I might have missed what another pointed out or interpreted. 

I feel some sadness when I see parents showering their children with expensive gifts and elaborate parties. How often are the kids more fascinated with the packing crate than the contents? 

Yes, that Christmas when I received the full-sized balloon-tired two-wheeler persists in my memory, but I smile and relax when I think of those woodland walks with my father... 

...Tracking rabbits and mice in the snow and even finding the spot where one ended with wing prints of an owl and a splash of red...

...The day we encountered a young Great Blue Heron who could not become airborne because it was trapped among dense trees along the Passaic River—how Dad covered its head and mean-looking beak with his jacket so we could carry it out into an open field—the thrill of seeing the bird slowly rise on untried wings…

One Spring I attended a week-long medical refresher course at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. I invited my parents to join us, and they flew to Dallas. Mary Lou and I and our four children set out with them in our 1972 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser station wagon. Despite the demands of the curriculum, we found time to walk the trails and see deer, beavers, American Dippers and a family of Blue Grouse (now known as Dusky Grouse).

We had followed a direct route to Colorado, but after the conference I took leave for a few days to permit a more leisurely trip back to Texas. On the return leg, we spent two nights at Kachina Lodge in Taos, New Mexico.

The first night we watched Pueblo Indian dances, and the next morning we attended Sunday Mass at San Francisco de Asis in Ranchos de Taos. This adobe church, completed in 1815, is said to be the most photographed church in America. 

(Dad loved the old churches of New Mexico. This photo shows him, on the right, with his brother, Father Dan, on the High Road to Taos, visiting the church at Truchas/Las Trampas).


The ceremony was entirely in Spanish. It happened to be Father’s Day. The priest invited all fathers to join him on the altar to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Dad and I walked up and joined the congregation in prayer. I knew some Spanish, but Dad knew none. That did not dissuade him. 

He put his hand on my shoulder and launched into the Latin version of the prayer. While everyone else was saying “Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre…” Dad was confidently announcing “Pater noster qui es in coelis, sanctificetur nomen tuum.” The Romance cadences were so similar that no one seemed to notice. That Father’s Day and all others afterwards held special significance for me.

During my working years I enjoyed beating the traffic and getting to the office early. I was able to close my office door and organize my day in peace and quiet before my co-workers appeared. When I retired from active duty I resolved never to sleep late. Therefore, when we moved to the mountains of New Mexico I set the alarm on my watch for 7:30 AM to nudge me awake just in case, but I rarely needed it. Dawn came quick and bright as the sun emerged in a blue sky above the ridge to the east.

So it happened that on Sundays, 7:30 AM Mountain Time was an ideal time for me to call my father, back home in New Jersey. By then he had returned home from early Mass and had finished his breakfast, and was in the middle of his morning papers. The chirp of my watch alarm was a gentle reminder, and rarely did I miss placing the call. If I happened to be a little late, he would ask about the reason for the delay. At Dad’s funeral, his younger brothers told me how important those calls were to him. Unbeknown to me, he arranged his Sunday morning schedule to accommodate my call.

We talked about nothing in particular, though we often filled the greater part of an hour with banter. Embedded among discussions of the weather, politics and sports were those “I wish you could have seen…” and “Remember when we…” moments that swept us back to those earlier days.

I last called Dad only a few days before he died. He spoke of how wonderful it was to have a hospital room with a view.

Now in the Eastern Time Zone, my wristwatch still chirps at 7:30. Though two hours earlier in real time, the sun already dapples on the surface of our lake. And I whisper a Pater Noster in remembrance. 

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Popourri: Relocation to Florida

Only three days after we returned to south Florida from our (hopefully soon to be ex-) second home in Illinois, our son and his family-- all seven of them-- arrived for a visit. After hearing what they planned to pay for hotel accommodations, we offered to put them all up in our home. It all worked out very well and despite daily afternoon rain showers we all had fun.

These are images of a threatening sky at sunrise from our back patio:

Sunrise from our patio 2-20180608

Across the lake 20180608

An iPhone 180 degree panorama (click to enlarge):

Sunrise from our patio 180 degrees pano 20180608

The grandchildren loved the pool at our clubhouse, and we all piled into their 9-passenger van and visited several attractions. The Miami Seaquarium was fun despite my concern about the small size of the pools which imprisoned the dolphins and Orcas. Yet the captives seemed to enjoy performing:

Seaquarium dolphins 07-20180604

Seaquarium dolphins 04-20180604

Seaquarium dolphins 09-20180604

A Great Egret and a Black-crowned Night-Heron photo-bombed the Orca show:

Seaquarium Orca 20180604

A sea lion seemed enthusiastic about pleasing its trainer, reminding me of how a pet dog can beg for just one more game of catch:

Seaquarium sea lions 20180604

This is Florida, so of course there were the mandatory captive flamingos:

Seaquarium flamingos 20180604

We all visited Everglades Natural Park and experienced a bit of life on the wild side. An immature Red-Shouldered Hawk cried loudly and persistently near the entrance:

 Red-shouldered Hawk juvenile 20180603

Red-shouldered Hawk juvenile 2-20180603

The American Alligators were a special treat for our visitors from the arid Texas Panhandle:

Alligator 20180603

Alligator 2-20180603

A basking Anhinga gave us an opportunity to study the corrugations on its tail, an adaptation which acts as "spoilers" to reduce drag as the bird flies underwater to pursue fish:

Anhinga - Corrugated tail and uropygial gland 20180604

The owner of the tail, a male Anhinga, was too near to fit into my prime telephoto lens:

Anhinga male 20180603

Remarkably, the normally recusive Limpkins were abundant, as were the apple snails which make up their main diet. Peninsuar Florida is the northern extreme of their range. They are rarely found In the US outside the State, making them a sought-after specialty.

Limpkin preening:

Limpkins 07-20180603

Limpkin scratching, with apple snail shell nearby:

Limpkin 05-20180603

Limpkin enjoying a meal of snail meat. The next photos illustrate its highly specialized bill, which is bent and twisted at the tip to form "scissors" which deftly snip the tissue that attaches the snail to its shell:

Limpkin with applesnail 20180603

 Limpkins 09-20180603

Not to be overlooked were the butterflies and flowers--

Swamp Lily:

Swamp Lily 01-20180603

Pink wild hollyhock:

Pink wild hollyhock 20180603

White Peacock:

White Peacock 20180603

A few days after the visitors departed we did get out on the local wetlands. The first morning, about a half hour before sunrise, I heard an Eastern Screech-Owl calling just inside the entrance gate. I approached a dead palm with an old woodpecker hole which looked like a good place for their nest, but the sound then came from a tree over to my right. 

I turned around and squeaked with my lips to encourage the owl to repeat its call. Instead, something hit my head and lifted up my hat. I reached up and my hand brushed against the wing of an owl as it released my hat and flew off. Since the attack came from behind it probably represented a second owl which was disturbed by my presence so near the nest. Its flight was entirely silent, and I never did see either owl.

My souvenir of the attack is the imprint of three little talons on the crown of my Tilley hat. (As a kid in New Jersey I remember watching a family of screech owls which nested in the steeple of a church near our home. One Sunday morning they started attacking the hats of ladies who were entering the church! It made the newspapers and I think the owls were relocated or worse.) 

Disposing of our Illinois condo was more complicated than expected. The closing date has been delayed several times by the buyer, always for legitimate reasons, but there remains that unsettling air of uncertainty. Also, I completed my round of medical procedures and had surgery on June 11th (our 58th Wedding Anniversary!!) to remove a lesion on my nose (2 sessions of Mohs excisions followed by plastic surgery to cover the defect). I feel fine and it is great to get out again. Thank you for all your good wishes.

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to Misty's  CAMERA CRITTERS,

Linking to Eileen's SATURDAY'S CRITTERS,

Linking to SKYWATCH FRIDAY by Yogi, Sylvia and Sandy


Linking to BirdD'Pot by Anni

Linking to Our World Tuesday by Lady Fi

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday by Stewart

Linking to Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday) by NC Sue

Linking to ALL SEASONS by Jesh

 Linking to Fences Around the World by Gosia


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