Thursday, July 9, 2020

Crops & Clips: Early summer clicks

For the past two weeks we have had record and near-record heat and humidiity almost every day. Heat index "feels like" temperatures often reached into the low 100's F (~38-40 C). 

As usual, MaryLou and I walked out about 45-50 minutes before sunrise to avoid enduring full sunlight. This practice has limited my ability to capture decent photos. For several mornings, dust blown over from the Sahara Desert tinted the morning skies an amber color. Fog over the lake added to the challenge.

Great Egret:

Great Egret in fog COREL 20200630  

Green Heron foraging in semi-darkness:

Green Heron 01-20200628

The pair of Eastern Screech-Owls stayed up late and I was again able to get images in natural light just around sunrise. This one seemed to be indifferent to my presence:

Eastern Screech-Owl 06-20200628

Eastern Screech-Owl 05-20200628

The plumage of a juvenile Mourning Dove had a textured "scaly" appearance due to the white edges on its wing coverts:

Mourning Dove juvenile 01-20200629

An adult Mourning Dove rested on a resident's fence:

Mourning Dove on fence 20200705

An advantage of going out early is that we pay more attention to celestial bodies. Venus has been climbing higher in the eastern sky. It shines brightly on July 1:

Venus 35 min before sunrise 01-20200701

Every four weeks, we hope to see the full moon set over the lake. The "Buck Moon" is so named because it is said to occur when the deer develop velvet-covered antlers.

The sky was cloudy on July 5 when we walked out, hoping to view the Moonset:

Buck Moon setting 0554AM 20200705

However, this was our last look as the Moon disappeared, almost an hour before setting:

Buck Moon setting 0611 AM 20200705

Appropriately, on July 5, this young White-tailed Buck showed his emerging velvet antlers:

White-tail spike buck in velvet 02-20200704

The next morning the Buck Moon was one day old in a hazy sky:

Buck Moon 1 day old 20200706

 It was 2 days old on July 7:

Buck Moon 2 days old 20200707

The first two mornings after a full Moon provide opportunities for superimposed images. I have found it impossible to get both a bird and the Moon in clear focus. This female Boat-tailed Grackle posed long enough for me to get a few shots:

Boat-tailed Grackle and Buck Moon COREL 05-20200706 

For the past two weeks, while walking out along the grassy edge of the gravel road, we startled a Killdeer which flew up in the dark and called excitedly. We assumed that it had a nest nearby in the grass. 

One morning the Killdeer confronted me as I walked towards it, fluffing up its feathers and refusing to fly from a spot out on the open path. (I almost said "her," but the Killdeer pair exchanges incubating duties. The male is more likely to spend the night on the eggs than the female). 

I trained my flashlight on it and snapped a poor photo. To my surprise, an egg protruded out from underneath the bird:

Killdeer on nest 01-20200627 

On the way back, the Killdeer flew off as soon as it saw me. Without getting too close, I could see that the nest held four eggs:

Killdeer nest 20200702

The "nest" is actually a slight depression surrounded by many small whitish objects-- pebbles, shells, even pottery chips which are added continuously all during the ~25 day incubation period. They form an irregular pattern which may help conceal the nest:

Killdeer nest 01-20200628

Yesterday morning (July 8) as I walked in I avoided the nest area as usual and checked it on my way home. It is out in the open, away from the grassy area. Even in good light it is hard to find the nest and I use visual clues such as lining up the trunks of certain trees when I am standing on a particular stone which is directly across the road from the nest. 

I was surprised to find it contained three babies, three egg shells and one apparently intact egg. One of the chicks had just hatched and was still wet.  "Where's Waldo?" Can you see the nest with its chicks and eggs? (Look for it before reading the answer under the photo -- click to enlarge):  

Killdeer chicks and egg 05-20200708

See the three chicks and one unhatched egg in the upper left quarter of the above photo, just to the left of the biggest white stone? 

Even when viewed closer up, the nest and its contents blend in with the surroundings:

Killdeer chicks and egg 03-20200708

One chick is on left of the intact egg and two are on the right. Hard to see the third chick, which is still wet. It has either hatched or is in the process. Its head and part of its eye are visible behind the head of the older "dry" chick:

Killdeer chicks and egg 04-20200708

This is the vacant Killdeer nest on the morning of July 9th. Quite a remarkable collection of small whitish objects:

Killdeer nest 20200709

Adult Killdeer (July 1):

Killdeer 3-20200701

Afternoon thunderstorms often cooled us down a bit. This one, on July 7, blocked the rising sun but stayed out over the ocean:

Storm brewing 3-20200707

I exercised my "creative license" to get both subjects in sharp focus in this composite (aka "Fake") image :

Bald Eagle Buck Moon composite 20200706

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters


Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World Tuesday


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


  1. Oh I just love the owl and that last shot is great. Keep safe Diane

  2. Great shots..Love the silhouettes in the moon..The Owl is my favorite..always..Stay cool..Can't wait til winter..

  3. Beautiful! I especially love the owl, buck, and moon shots.

  4. Gorgeous shots. The little Killdeers blend in incredibly well! Nice job on the composite.

  5. That's an amazing shot of the clouds and light

  6. We are having the same heat wave here, it's very draining. Thankfully we have air conditioning. Beautiful photos, I love the owl. That sunrise pic is awesome.

  7. I am speechless. I love that July 7th image. Impressive blog. You can pretty much take an excellent photograph of anything moon, sky, are awesome!

  8. Nice pics! I always like seeing owls. :-)

  9. Great shots. The odd mist in the first one is very interesting.

  10. Hello Ken,

    Beautiful post, I do enjoy all your photos. It would be hard to pick a favorite, the birds are wonderful sightings. The Owls are always great to see! Lovely sky and moon images. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a great weekend. PS, thank you for the visit and comment.

  11. I really like the Green Heron shot and the young Killdeer.

  12. You've captured some amazing sky shots! And I love those owls. I got our more this week and it helped my mood! lol Happy weekend!

  13. Nice bird pictures, Kenneth. I especially liked the superimposed photos of the Grackle and of the Eagle. Your Reflection (I have also) picture is excellent, perfect reflections, even got the setting moon's peeking through the clouds.

  14. Wonderful post. I enjoyed playing "Where's Waldo" trying to find the killdeer baby (Surprisingly, I did find it without cheating). Hope you are in the middle of a great weekend.

  15. Hello. Fantastic photos. Thank you for sharing.

  16. I'm really running late today, and busy with a home project. So, I'll just say thanks for linking in today at I'd Rather B Birdin. I'll come back to read more when time allows later this week! Stay safe.

  17. That boat-tailed grackle shot is just phenomenal Kenneth! It's so beautiful! You took it perfectly with the moon at the back. I miss your blog, and blogging in General and I'm so happy to be back and got to post something and visit your blog :) Happy New Week!

  18. It's amazing that kildeer aren't threatened considering their habit of plunking their eggs down willy-nilly. We used to have to mow around them in the middle of our lawn.
    Thanks for sharing at

  19. Oh my, but the photo of "Mr. Owl" takes my breath away! He is a handsome fellow! Thank you and have a grand day!

  20. Beautiful! I especially love the photos of the owls.

  21. You must have sharp eyes to spot the killdeer nest. It took me a while to focus in on it. Fabulous photos.

  22. Love those owls - I think they are always indifferent! And nice picture of a field full of rocks!! (took a while to find the nests etc!)

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne.

  23. The owl really look wise! Fantastic photos.

  24. Outstanding as always. All your picture. Love that trivia about the buck moon. I shared it on my Twitter handle with credits to your blog post (added a link)

    Thank you. Would love to have you link up with us on #WW, Kenneth.

    Here's the link:

  25. Your photos are awesome as you learn to use the light that is available! I got excited with your tale of the killdeer!
    The storm cloud is beautiful as is your 'fake' shot!

    Your support for 'My Corner of the World' is much appreciated! Thanks for your link this week.


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