Thursday, March 26, 2020

Seeking social isolation but not alone

We are voluntarily restricted to the confines of our home for most of the day. However, well before sunrise almost every morning, we do walk out with our flashlights into the Wounded Wetlands. MaryLou finishes the 2.5 mile round trip at a fast walking pace. I start out with her but soon lag behind, listening to the sounds of the night. We meet again at about the halfway point, two torches passing in the night. She: "Hear anything?" Me: "No Whips or Chucks but there's an owl to your right on the way back."

It is too dark for photos in the deeply shaded rookery, but it is worth trying as I encounter a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron subduing a frog, but then having trouble swallowing it:

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 03-20200323

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 02-20200323

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron immature with frog 01-20200323

Now feeling the darkness, I muse about the Virus and how it is affecting our lives. Instead of trips to supermarket we order online. Items such as eggs and other dairy, produce and meat products, many of which were "in stock" when we requested them are "out of stock" by the time they got around to fulfilling the order. 

The airline reservations will almost certainly need to be be canceled for a trip to Illinois in May, along with our children and grandchildren. We planned to celebrate our granddaughter's Quinceañera* and our 60th Wedding Anniversary. We are bombarded by an incessant flow of reports on the progress (or lack thereof) of combating the pandemic.

A Mottled Duck is barely visible in the darkness. I turned on the flash and was later surprised at how well this image turned out after being brightened and sharpened. Since I was some distance away, the flash caused a "glass eye" reflection which I had to darken:

Mottled Duck 01-20200308

High in the sky, my steady hand (correction, the image stabilizer of my camera) allows me to count the moons of Jupiter and even see the pink cast of Mars:

Jupiter and Mars 20200320

A few days previously my focus was poor but the two planets were closer together and colors of Mars shone through:

Jupiter and Mars 20200319

Out in the dark, my nearest overhead neighbor is the Red Plant, but I am not lonely. I catch the eye-shine of an anxious Raccoon, a semi-submerged alligator, or a deer frozen in the glare of my flashlight. What are they thinking? 

Are they just programmed by instinct and "stimulus-response," or am I surrounded by consciousness... that of the moths attracted to the beam of my flashlight... the mosquitoes sensing my carbon dioxide emissions..  the viruses, unseen and locked as we are in a drive to survive, to live, to reproduce? 

A virus is just a chemical  that it needs to make. Its progeny cannot kill the host too rapidly or it will never have the chance to spread and multiply. Does the ant feel pain when I crush it underfoot? Does the Panther grieve when it visits the place where its cub was run over, only to meet the  same fate? 

Overnight, the "Wreckreational Vehicle" drivers had gathered to wreak more havoc on the South Wet Prairie. One such participant must have had engine failure and left his four-wheeler behind. In the glow of my flashlight it looks surreal, two-dimensional:

Muddy ATV in spotlight 01-20200323 

By dawn's light, the landscape shows scars left by their fun-filled night of wheelies, donuts and jumps:

ATV Damage 02-20200323

Thigh-deep in muck, two immature White Ibises add life to a desolate scene:

White Ibis immatures 02-20200323

White Ibis immatures 03-20200323

White Ibis immature 04-20200323

So many younger folks seem to feel reassured that COVID-19 will not be much of a problem for them. It may cause them discomfort but not death. The statistics from Italy zone in on the risk to older victims. For those over 70, the average age of death is 85 years. I do not like being "average."  No, I am "above average," like all the children in Lake Wobegon.**  

Being stuck at home does force me to appreciate what I have. Certainly MaryLou's company and the helpfulness of neighbors who offer to pick up groceries or simply inquire about our welfare are reassuring. Having a lake in the back yard and a shaded patio is a real plus. 

Seen through the back sliding glass door, a Double-crested Cormorant rests on the goose decoy which serves as the float for the intake of our lawn irrigation system:

Double-crested Cormorant 03-20200318

Here are the modest "crests" which earn the bird its name (and check out those jewel-like eyes):

Double-crested Cormorant 02-20200318

This female Anhinga, seen through the glass, is drying her wings:

Anhinga 01-20200306

A window-viewed Tricolored Heron is backed by the lake's wind-disturbed surface:

Tricolored Heron thru window 20191103

With stealth, I can creep outside and even get some photos  which are not distorted by window glass (or darkness, as was the case in all the foregoing "Pixillated Masterpieces"). 

A case in point is this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker duo, cooperating to riddle the bark of our West Indies Mahogany tree. They did their best to stay on the opposite side of the trunk, so I rarely got full-body shots. This is the immature bird, which lacks the red cap:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker immature 01-20200322

The adult female sapsucker has red on her head but not the red throat of a male:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 05-20200322 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker female 02-20200322

Because of our habit of walking out so early, we often miss a colorful sunrise over our backyard lake. Out on the wetlands, we can watch as the shadow of the earth sinks into the western horizon over the Everglades. 

The North Wet Prairie before sunrise on March 18::

View to west before sunrise 03-20200418

Ten minutes after sunrise on March 24, the sunbeams have not yet touched the opposite shore, but they brighten the sky overhead to create a shadow-free foreground: 

Sunrise2 plus 10 minutes 20200324

Sunrise plus 10 minutes 02-20200324

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*Quinceañera, (Spanish: “15 years [feminine form]”) also called quinceaños or quince años or simply quince, the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday, marking her passage from girlhood to womanhood; the term is also used for the celebrant herself. The quinceañera is both a religious and a social event that emphasizes the importance of family and society in the life of a young woman. It is celebrated in Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean, as well as in Latino communities in the United States and elsewhere. REF: Encyclopedia Britannica

**Lake Wobegon is a fictional town created by Garrison Keillor as the setting of the "News from Lake Wobegon" segment of the radio program A Prairie Home Companion...  Keillor's weekly monologue about Lake Wobegon included recurring elements... The closing words of the monologue were "Well, that's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." RE: Wikipedia

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday

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


  1. Beautiful photos!
    We are nestled in and managing.
    The misinformation and the news is just shocking, though.

  2. Oh Kenneth! You shared these photos that tells a lot of stories in itself again. Just absolutely lovely as usual. That cormorant perching over that goose is so cute and funny at the same time! Stay safe in these times Kenneth.

    Greetings from the Philippines and Happy Skywatch! Stay Safe :)

    Cavite Daily Photo
    Stevenson Que Blog

  3. A beautiful sunrise. It's sad that some ATV riders give us all a bad name. My husband and I ride when we are home in Powell River but stay on logging roads and established trails. There are so many of those that we aren't tempted to go off into the bush and cause any damage. - Margy

  4. Wreckreational is a great name for them! Have to feel a little sorry for that frog, but amazing photos. Stay healthy!

  5. The last 3 photos are gorgeous. I'm glad to hear you are adapting to the stay home order while still keeping your walk (in the dark). Stay well.

  6. Professionel birdshots and that sky is really stunning. Good work.

  7. Hello, your are in a great area for your walks during this social distancing. I am not sure if I could go out walking in the dark with gators hanging around. The birds are all awesome! I love the night heron with the frog and the white Ibis. Your sky captures are lovely. Take care and stay well! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, happy weekend! PS, thanks for the visit and comment.

  8. Wonderful photos of the animals and birds and this night hike was class of them. Everywhere it is so bad because of the virus and I ride a bike where there are almost no people, I am glad that I can do it.
    I wish you all the best, take care of yourself and stay healthy, Elke

  9. We have remarked over and over that we are glad we are here in Florida right now. The weather is good and we have trails we can walk in the morning too....not as early as you walk though. And there's always so much to see. It's so dry this Spring that the wildflowers are suffering but we still see a nice variety. Take care of and your precious wife both! Stay healthy! Diane

  10. Enjoyed reading your thought on the global crisis. Too bad you can't travel for family celebrating. What a shame. Those that tear up the landscape just don't get it, do they? I think my favorite photo today is the 'created cormorant!
    Thanks for stopping by to add your link today & share with us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin!

  11. Wonderful shots! The poor frog was having a very bad day. :-(

  12. Splendid post. I love early mornings - its one of the advantages of having a range of hobbies that suit the mornings. Although at present, most are one hold!

    Hope all is well - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. The eyes on the cormorant are mesmerizing!
    Thanks for sharing your photos at, and please stay healthy!

  14. Beautiful series.
    Best regards!

  15. What a fabulous pre-dawn trip! Thanks for taking us along. Your photos are just wonderful to see and I'm glad you are getting out and about, it's good for the soul :)

    Your link is a great addition to 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks for linking up.

    My Corner of the World

  16. It has been too long since I visited your blog - now I remember why I liked it so much - the stunning photography and the elegant prose. I share your dismay when young people/adults see no issue in destroying habitat. Sigh. Glad I joined you today from My Corner of the World. Stay healthy, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  17. Great web site you have got here.. It's difficult to find quality writing like yours these days.
    I seriously appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


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