Thursday, March 21, 2019

This winter was "for the birds"

As a kid in New Jersey we had a junk-man a who traveled through our neighborhood on a horse-drawn wagon with cowbells dangling on a rope along its sides to alert us of his approach. I remember seeing the "Chippies," as my grandmother called them (but more properly known as  "English Sparrows" in those days) feasting on their horse droppings, recycling their nutrients just as the junk-man put our discarded belongings to good use. I was a bit older when the slang term became popular in the US, but I and probably most people were unaware of its origin. It is not accurate (or polite) to say that either of these cast-off products were "strictly for the birds."

If my purpose in starting out well before sunrise and walking three miles into and around our local Wounded Wetlands were to be measured quantitatively rather than qualitatively, it might be fair to say that this winter has not provided me with much nourishment. I often identify more than 20 bird species, which is BirdChaser's RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), but the species mix has been rather monotonous.

However, "recycling" can have its rewards. Familiar birds can reveal hidden beauty in early morning light. My camera was barely ready to capture the images before sunrise as a Great Egret flew by to roost atop a small tree:

Great Egret 01-20190313

Great Egret 02-20190313

Great Egret 03-20190313

Great Egret 05-20190313

Great Egret 06-20190313

In semi-darkness, a Wood Stork stirs up prey with its bubble-gum pink feet:

Wood Stork before sunrise 03-20190315

First rays lend translucent beauty to an egret's wings as it comes to rest lakeside:

Great Egret 01-20190314

Great Egret 02-20190314

A Little Blue Heron adopts its characteristic "near-sighted" posture as it hunts with its bill nearly touching the water's surface:

Little Blue Heron 03-20190314

Little Blue Heron 02-20190314

Little Blue Heron 05-20190314

Overhead, a Bald Eagle faces the rising sun as it heads towards a favorite fishing spot:

Bald Eagle male 01-20190310

In the deep shade of the rookery, a Green Heron flies in so closely that I cannot fit all of it in the viewfinder:

Green Heron 01-20190309

It draws in its neck to allow me to properly frame its image:

Green Heron 02-20190309

Green Heron 03-20190309

All of the above photos may rightly be criticized as being "soft" or pixillated, as they were shot at very high ISO and had to be brightened and sharpened in post-processing. Yet, in my mind, form may be more important than detail.

Looking back at this winter as spring approaches, from a birding perspective, it could be called disappointing. Numbers and variety of winter visitors have been low.

Only one American Robin revealed itself. I heard it calling and only saw it from a distance:

American Robin 20190130

Palm Warblers, usually so common in dooryards all winter that they are called "Florida Sparrows," were absent many mornings:

Palm Warbler 02-20190217

There was a disturbing lack of the normally abundant Yellow-rumped Warblers:

Yellow-rumped Warbler 02-20190103

Normally, we would see several sparrow species, such as White-crowned, Swamp, Grasshopper, Lincoln's, Clay-colored and Savannah, but only a single representative of the last-named species showed up during the winter.

Savannah Sparrow (November 12, 2018):

Savannah Sparrow 01-20181112

Other local birders have had the same experience, although there have been a good number of rare bird sightings. Maybe it's my age, but I have stopped chasing after them. When birding is slow there is so much more to see without burning gasoline and fighting the traffic, such as...

...fog lifting over the lake...

Fog lifting 20190312

...and on the same morning, a scary storm moving in over the Everglades...

Storm moving in 20190310

...followed by a rainbow, reflected on placid water:

Rainbow 20190310

Hallloween Pennant dragonflies have hatched out in good numbers...

Halloween Pennant - Celithemis eponina 20190225

...but butterflies have been disturbingly scarce (Gulf Fritillary):

 Gulf Fritillary 2-20190312

A seedling Lantana popped up in the middle of the gravel path:

Lantana 01-20190315

How about this! A Christmas Flower, Wild Poinsettia in March!

Wild Poinsettia 20190306

A gray Squirrel sauntered along a fence:

Gray Squirrel 20190227

Walking along in my wide-brimmed hat and looking down to avoid snakes, I almost bumped my head on this swarm of honeybees:

Honeybees globular swarm 20190309

I hereby retract all the nasty things I said about this beautiful warm winter and its resemblance to horse manure. If it were not "for the birds," (and the bees and butterflies) what else would I have been doing for those past three months?

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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. Awesome, as always! :) Thank you!

  2. I love the series of shots of the Great Egret coming in to land Kenneth and also the first image of the Green Heron. He looks like he is staring at you. he is beautifully marked. The reflection image with the rainbow is fabulous. I spent about 2 hours trying to fix my Chrome for Stewart's meme but without much success unfortunately, trying to follow all advice.

  3. What a great set of photos and I love the Green Heron. Have a good weekend Diane

  4. Such a beautiful rainbow capture.

  5. A positively breath-taking series of captures Kenneth. Thank you so much for sharing.Those shots of the Egret are so beautiful.

  6. Beautiful photography as always - that first sequence is my favorite - inspiring!

  7. Especially love the rainbow

  8. Beautiful series of photos. I love the egret coming in for a landing at the start of the post. Wonderful sky shots too!

  9. Wow! Stunning photos. I especially loved the egrets in flight.

  10. Hello Ken, awesome collection of photos. I love the storm and rainbow capture. The Egrets and Herons are all beautiful. It is too hard to pick a favorite, they are all gorgeous photos. I am looking forward to spring migration and the shorebirds arriving. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend. PS, thank you for the comment and visit to my blog.

  11. Some very impressive looking Heron Kenneth. I particularly like the Green ones.

  12. Fine shots! I really like the egret's wings in flight.

  13. My oh my oh my!! What a great piece of commentary this week! I so enjoyed every word. Honestly.

    And, your photos? Truly beautiful...each & all. I think I can say, one of your best Ken.

    I thank you for taking time out in your day to link in and share your blog with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin'

  14. WOW! Eye candy here. Love the egret coming in for a landing. I haven't seen any great egrets yet this year. I'm looking forward to their return. Happy Sunday!

  15. Fantastic photos. WOW indeed.

  16. You have a great talent for capturing critters and birds in action. Wonderful egret shots. - Margy

  17. I still thrive on the common stuff - I love it when I get a chance to band /ring common birds as it really does show another side to the species. (Not that this happens a lot at present I have to say!!)

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  18. We've had such a cold winter. We are still frozen, and walking is miserable!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  19. Great captures. Our winter has mostly been cold and rainy so I'm ready for spring.

  20. Good you didn't disturb the honey bees:) Just a few weeks ago we met a beekeeper who services his bees to the farmers who need pollination fo their trees. An inventive way of income, isn't it? The images where the white Egret has its wings out is stunning - I would not call that recycling! By the way, never have seen a junk man, so I must have come later to the USA.
    The green heron looks a lot more slender from the front than the back, but I love the color of the feathers. The sunrises you show are enviable! Many thanks for showing this beauty to All Seasons!

  21. All marvelous images, but the egret photos are positively stunning!
    Thanks for linking up at

  22. Great photos especially the egrets. Lucky for you, you didn't head that nest of bees.

  23. Beautiful bird photos! And I love the squirrel!

  24. So many great photos! The egret is remarkable. I found your intro to be interesting, although not appetizing.

  25. Thanks for taking us along on your little walk. I love all the things you bumped into (and didn't bump into!). The birds are just fantastic.


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