Thursday, August 29, 2019

Crops & Clips: mid-August clicks

The month of August is continuing the trend set by July, when records for high temperatures and rainfall were broken. Most mornings have dawned rather clear, with storms lurking off the Atlantic coast to strike later in the day. A compact umbrella is mandatory field equipment, as weather reports cannot be entirely accurate. 

Right now a hurricane is bearing down on us in southeast Florida. I do not enjoy the prospect of hunkering down without electricity in a dark and hot home with all the windows shuttered, listening to the whistle of  the wind as things go bump all around. 

Last year we had an exceptional visit by a Louisiana Waterthrush, a species which commonly transits Florida on the way to a more southerly wintering range. It arrived in late August and stayed into October 22. I visited and photographed it almost daily.
Louisiana Waterthrush, July 31, 2018:

Louisiana Waterthrush 03-20180731

Several subtle characteristics help distinguish the Louisiana Waterthrush from the similar but more common Northern Waterthrush, whose peak migration occurs later in autumn.  Both have plain brown to dark gray backs, though the Louisiana species tends to be a warmer brown. Both have light breasts with dark markings. The Louisiana has larger markings which tend to separate into spots. The Northern's streaks are more confluent and reach more strongly up to or near the throat. Both species have a distinctive light eyeline. As compared to the color of its breast, the Louisiana's eye-line is whiter, often broader and becomes buffy and more narrow or disappears in front of the eye, not extending to the base of the bill. The legs of the Louisiana Waterthrush are usually brighter reddish pink.

The Louisiana Waterthrush has contrasting buffy flanks:

Louisiana Waterthrush 04-20180731

Note the substantial bill of this Louisiana Waterthrush, which is thicker and longer than that of the Northern Waterthrush (August 16, 2018):

Louisiana Waterthrush 06-20180816

The great majority of fall migrating Lousiana Waterthrushes appear in our County from mid-August into mid-September. July and October sightings are quite rare. eBird records reveal that there have been only 5 other July sightings and no other October reports of this species over the past 10 years

For comparison, here are some views of a Northern Waterthrush, taken on October 10, 2018:

Northern Waterthrush 04-20181010

Note the confluent breast streaks and narrow and duller duller eye-line which matches its undersides and extends all the way to the base of the more slender bill of this Northern Waterthrush (August 29, 2017)

Northern Waterthrush 03-20170829

This year, a Louisiana Waterthrush appeared in the same location as last year, on August 14. Its  buffy flanks  show up nicely:

Louisiana Waterthrush 01-20190814

Louisiana Waterthrush 06-20190814

Unlike last year, this has so far been only a one-day appearance for the Louisiana Waterthrush.  

The White-tailed Deer usually hide in the Everglades wilderness, but wet conditions have driven them to higher ground. Our homes and roads are built upon stone and gravel which was blasted and carved out of the pristine Everglades to form several lakes in the subdivisions, so our neighborhood preserve is a haven for the deer when they wish to dry their feet. 

While observing a few warblers I was startled to see an 8-point buck heading right towards me. I was nearly out of sight behind a berm:

White-tail buck approaching 02-20190818

Since it is mating season I did not want to be attacked by a disappointed suitor who confused me with one of his kind, so I climbed up the berm to be sure he recognized me. Actually, his attention was fixed upon a doe, hidden in the high grass nearly in front of me, just to my right:

White-tail buck approaching doe 05-20190818

The doe scrambled out of cover:

White-tail doe coming towards me 04-20190818

The deer were so close by that I had trouble fitting them into the viewfinder until the buck stopped to scratch an itch or shoo a fly...

White-tail buck scratching 092-20190818

...then bounded away...

White-tail buck fleeing 093-20190818

...followed by the doe:

White-tail doe fleeing 095-20190818

My desktop computer died this past weekend and I may have lost 7 1/2 months' worth of RAW images, as my Carbonite backup only saved the JPG files. After two days only 11% of my files have been restored. I am forced to write this on my laptop. Here are a few views from the previous week--

Female Anhinga in  our back yard. Her wing feathers are new and unblemished, while her tail is still molting:

Anhinga female 01-20190817

Black-and White Warblers are more numerous as fall migration gets to a slow start. This is a male:

Black-and-White Warbler male 01-20190817

Female Black-and White Warbler lacks the black face patch:

Black-and-White Warbler female 03-20190817

Glimpse of a Northern Parula warbler in poor light:

Northern Parula 01-20190915

Another bad photo of a Northern Parula in flight, but I liked the action. This is a male, which has a dark reddish area on its upper chest:

Northern Parula saturated 03-20190814

An adult  Red-shouldered Hawk flew low overhead...

Red-shouldered Hawk 05-20190813

...and its wingtips in this better view did not entirely fit into my composition:

Red-shouldered Hawk 07-20190813

I love the honeysuckle scent of the Ligustrum in bloom, and so do the Honeybees. In coming weeks its berries will feed the hungry migrants:

Honeybees and ants on Ligustrum 20190814

A  Horace's Duskywing butterfly sips nectar from a Bidens alba flower:

Horace's Duskywing 20190815

We hear the Coyotes uttering harsh barks and a few whining howls early in the  mornings. These are the fresh tracks of a Coyote in wet sand. The rear paw (to the left) is smaller than its front paw. Note the somewhat oval shape of its prints as opposed to those of of most domestic dogs, which have rounded prints with more widely spaced toes. Also, the latter usually have shorter nails because they wear them down on floors and pavement. The two middle toes of a Coyote  are so far forward that the nails of the two outer toes emerge almost behind them:

Coyote tracks 01-20190813 

Just after sunrise, a westerly breeze stirred the surface of the lake on an otherwise peaceful morning:

Westerly breeze at sunrise 20190811

A cloud tower rose in a great column to the northeast about 15 minutes before sunrise on August 26:

Cloud Tower 20190826

Behind the Pine Bank, about 40 miles away to the west, a thunderstorm raged over the Everglades. My path into the lake is no longer on a peninsula. Rather, it is an archipelago:

Cloud ove Pine Bank before sunrise 20190826

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Common Ground-Dove

The Common Ground-Dove is an easy species for us to overlook during our morning walks in the Wounded Wetlands. Only about 6 1/2 inches (17 cm) long and drab in appearance, it does not gather in flocks which are so characteristic of other members of its family of pigeons and doves. Instead, it forages quietly in the grass or at the edges of woodlands, flying away low before being approached too closely.

It has a sprightly scientific name, Columbina passerina, which could be danced to a Macarena or a salsa tune and translates as "tiny dove sparrow." 

Common Ground-Dove 20170309

We usually see them in pairs or with one or two of their offspring. Indeed, they are said to mate for life. Its major population is in the tropics, but it ranges into the extreme southern USA, including all of Florida and parts of the other Gulf States, southern California, southwestern Arizona as well as much of Mexico, Central and South America.

Common Ground-Doves 3-20170314

Common Ground-Doves 2-20131004

Common Ground-Doves 20130531
A brown bird with a lighter grayish head, the Common Ground-Dove's plumage has a scaly appearance, especially on its neck, breast and undersides. The similar but slightly larger Ruddy Ground-Dove wanders north of Mexico and sometimes breeds in southwestern US.

The Common Ground-Dove's song is also unassuming, a repetitive and monotonous soft "woot, woot, woot..." Yet it has a strikingly brilliant plumage feature--  bright reddish brown primary wing feathers and underwing linings, which only show when the bird bursts into flight.

I have only captured a few (very poor) views of a Common Ground-Dove in flight:

Common Ground_Dove in flight 01-20190815

Common Ground-Dove in flight 20120731

Common Ground Dove 20100209

Common Ground-Dove in flight 03-20130531

Common Ground-Doves 20121005

Adult female Common Ground-Dove:

Common Ground-Dove 3-20170311

The male is more brightly colored, with pink highlights on its neck, breast and crown, and bluish gray crown and nape of his neck:

Common Ground-Dove 20130805

I encountered this male up fairly close and in bright sunlight:

Common Ground-Dove 01-20190811

Common Ground-Dove 02-20190811

Common Ground-Dove 06-20190811

By accident, I discovered an active Common Ground-Dove nest on August 17, 2014, the first ever reported in Broward County. While I was walking along the side of the gravel road, a dove flew up out of the grass just to my side. The flimsy nest contained two white eggs, barely visible the vegetation. (Photos from the roadway with telephoto lens):

Nest of Common Ground-Dove 20140817

Common Ground-Dove nest 20140817

This is the female which had been sitting on the nest:

Common Ground-Dove 20140817

 During the next several days I checked the nest without disturbing it and the eggs remained intact. This was the nest on August 22:

Common Ground-Dove nest 20140822

However, ten days after I had located the nest, the landscapers came through and mowed all along the side of the road (August 27, 2014):

Common Ground-Dove nest site 20140927

They left no sign of the nest structure or remains of the eggs:

Common Ground-Dove nest site 2-20140827

An encouraging sign-- Two years later, on August 19, 2016, a pair was tending to two fledgling young (to the left), along the same roadside weed patch:

Common Ground-Doves 20160819

This is one of my favorite photos of a Common Ground-Dove. It seems such a peaceful setting:

Common Ground-Dove HDR 20160311

Trees felled by Hurricane Irma almost two years ago reflect chaotic beauty in the wetlands, now flooded after our area's wettest July ever:

Flooded windfall area 20190807

On August 8 it was 80 degrees F (26.6 C) just after sunrise. A westerly breeze, so welcome, stirred the surface of the lake:

Westerly breeze at sunrise 20190811

An adult Bald Eagle often passes over just around sunrise, flying from the nearby nest tree to forage in the large lake to the southeast:

Bald Eagle 20190808

Butterflies are still scarce. I have not seen any Monarchs for several weeks. A Gulf Fritillary rested on a grass stem:

Gulf Fritillary 20190811

This is the view to the south along the large canal on a fair morning. The Wounded Wetlands are on the right (west) side, opposite "civilization"  (August 14):

196th Ave Canal 20190814

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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