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.
Green Heron foraging in semi-darkness:
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:
The plumage of a juvenile Mourning Dove had a textured "scaly" appearance due to the white edges on its wing coverts:
An adult Mourning Dove rested on a resident's fence:
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:
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:
However, this was our last look as the Moon disappeared, almost an hour before setting:
Appropriately, on July 5, this young White-tailed Buck showed his emerging velvet antlers:
The next morning the Buck Moon was one day old in a hazy sky:
It was 2 days old on July 7:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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):
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:
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:
This is the vacant Killdeer nest on the morning of July 9th. Quite a remarkable collection of small whitish objects:
Adult Killdeer (July 1):
Afternoon thunderstorms often cooled us down a bit. This one, on July 7, blocked the rising sun but stayed out over the ocean:
I exercised my "creative license" to get both subjects in sharp focus in this composite (aka "Fake") image :
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Fences Around the World
Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)
Our World Tuesday
Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display