Thursday, December 13, 2018

Small discoveries

When I am out in the Wounded Wetlands of western Broward County, Florida, I do not have high expectations that some rare bird will suddenly brighten my day. 

Actually, working a "patch" might seem boring, yet I have recorded ("officially" per eBird) 171 bird species here since I started regularly posting trip reports in October, 2009. All but a handful were also photographed on-site. A number of species were seen rarely or sometimes only once.

An immature Reddish Egret appeared in the spring of 2011 and remained for only two weeks. This species prefers brackish estuaries and rarely wanders inland:

Reddish Egret dancing 20110406

Another "one-off" species was actually represented by two captive-reared juvenile Whooping Cranes from Wisconsin which overshot their normal wintering grounds in northern Florida:

Whooping Crane 12-15 at 0849AM  20130207

A flock of 15 American Goldfinches, a species which winters in south Florida irregularly, arrived once on December 9, 2015 and departed the same day:

American Goldfinch 4-20151209

To date I have submitted a total of 1,307  eBird checklists, of which 860 have been from my local patch, a hotspot officially known as the West Miramar Water Conservation Area (WCA).
My eBird West Miramar WCA Life List

New additions to the list have decreased over time. I had seen a total of 80 species by the end of 2010, added 27 more in 2011, 13 in 2012, 14 in 2013.  8 in 2014, 15 in 2015, 6 in 2016, 3 in 2017, and only four species (Gray Kingbird, Royal Tern, Chipping Sparrow and Yellow-throated Vireo) this year to date. ADDENDUM (December 13) Only an hour after posting this I added a fifth new species at 6:30 AM, when we heard an  Eastern Whip-poor-will calling just as we started our walk!

Am I succumbing to the Law of Diminishing Returns? Is the "gain not worth the pain?" Time to quit and stop wasting energy?

Gray Kingbird (August 23, 2018):

Gray Kingbird 04-20180823

Yellow-throated Vireo (November 23, 2018):

Yellow-throated Vireo 03-20181123

If my walks were only about counting birds I might certainly get bored. More importantly, they are a time to observe and enjoy the beauty and mystery of nature.

No two sunrises are alike... Pink clouds and fog on November 25, 2018:

Pink clouds and fog before sunrise 01-20181125

An unsettled sky a half hour before sunrise on December 5, 2018:

Sunrise minus 25 minures 20181205

Sun rising behind the east gate to our patch (November 29, 2018): 

Sunrise behind the gate 20181129

Behaviors are interesting and sometimes unexpected. There is the thrill of the sudden appearance of a Bobcat, deer or even a Coyote...

Male Bobcat on November 19, 2018:

 Bobcat DPP 01-20181119

...and of finding beauty in the commonplace and the smallest of things.

Who would have known that there is a moth which resembles a wasp? Polka-Dot Wasp Moth-Syntomeida epilais:

Polka-Dot Wasp Moth-Syntomeida epilais 20111217

The smallest of our dragonflies also imitates a wasp, waving its wings slowly in a very menacing manner.  Eastern Amberwing - Perithemis tenera:

Eastern Amberwing - Perithemis tenera 01-20181024

I bumped into a wild pea plant with seed pods which rattled with a sound like pebbles rolling in a paper cup. I learned that is is quite poisonous. Flowers and fruit of Smooth Rattlebox, Crotalaria pallida:

Yellow Wild Pea Flowers 20081215

Yellow Wild Pea Pods 20081215

Later I found an unusually beautiful red patterned moth which requires that same plant to host its larvae, which themselves are protected by the noxious substances they ingest. Bella or Rattlebox Tiger Moth -Utetheisa bella:

Bella or Rattlebox Tiger Moth -Utetheisa bella 20161204

I admire the delicate beauty of the flowers of the Bent Alligator Flag, a plant related to members of the Arrowroot family: bananas, cannas and the Bird of Paradise. Their zig-zag stems reach up as high as 8 feet. 

Bent Alligator Flag - Thalia geniculata HD 01-20181107

Bent Alligator Flag - Thalia geniculata HD 02-20181107

Tiny insects are lured to their blossoms and are momentarily trapped and dabbed with pollen before being released so they may cross-fertilize other flowers. 

The insects attract Palm Warblers:

 Palm Warbler and Alligator Flag flowers 2-20151121

Purple Gallinules eat the flowers and seeds:

Purple Gallinule 2-20111204

I learned that this plant serves as host to a particular butterfly species, the Brazilian Skipper, whose leaf-rolling caterpillars also  inflict great damage to cultivated cannas and other members of the Arrowroot family:

Brazilian (NOT Three-spotted) Skipper 2-20180830

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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



  1. I say, never quit what you enjoy.

    Wonderful catalogue today, sir.

  2. This series has really captured the beauty of nature and its wonder, too.

  3. We have a Nine-spotted moth which looks some what wasp like here in France. I was lucky to have seen a Kingbird this time last year in Nevis. Great set of photos, well done. Take care Diane

  4. Sunrise is absolutely fantastic. You´re so lucky to have something like that. Nicely captured also. Well done.

  5. I've never gotten into birding, but it must be really exciting to see something rare and never seen before. Great sky captures, too!

  6. I love taking a walk with you. All photos are wonderful but your sunrise - sunset shots are breath taking.

  7. Fantastic critter shots and the reflections are stunning!

  8. Hello, I enjoy your walk and photos. Your bird photos are just awesome. Love the sky captures, beautiful colors. The Polka Dot Wasp is lovely. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  9. The joy of working a patch. More often than not it’s the same species seen, but you never know what might turn up and so we keep going back and eventually get our reward.

  10. All I've ever seen of the purple gallinule is one time, and only for a fleeting time. Your photo of it out in the open, eating is exceptional!!

    I always enjoy coming here to see what you give to us...and it's never disappointing. I liked reading your e-bird history of sightings and species. And I must say your sky shots are extraordinary. My favorite is the colorful one...with the rows of palm trees.

    G'day my fellow birder!! I'm here, as always, to send along my sincere thank you for sharing this post with us at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week!

  11. That's a stunning reflection! I like the purple gallinule I don't think I've seen one before.

    I didn't even notice the "ghost reflections"(colorful ones on the right?) in my photo. I was too focused on the trees and man reflected on the sidewalk in the bottom part of the photo.

  12. Beautiful sky and reflection


  13. One spectacular photo after another.

  14. A fantastic variety of wonderful scenery and critters! Thanks for sharing them.

  15. I really like the sunrise pic. A worm eye view. Of a beautiful day. Must been nice one see in "flesh". Kudos!

  16. Sorry Ken, so late this week. But what a surprise, that gorgeous sunset was on hubby's birthday! I agree, the moth looks so unusual! Have a very merry Christmas with Mary Lou and if more of your family is there. Have a joyful and peaceful time together! We'll connect again Dec. 30 for All Seasons:)

  17. The sunrise is stunning!
    Thanks for linking up at


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