Heat stress and the prospect of an active hurricane season make this my least favorite time of year in south Florida. Absent a storm threat, the mornings are usually clear and despite the humidity, the coolest time of day to get out in the wild. Entering the wetlands under a dark sky, we bird by ear, but now there is less to be heard as compared to only a few weeks earlier.
Many land birds are molting, resting and feeding during a very energy-intensive phase of their life cycle, following nesting and presaging the stress of migration. The predawn chorus of cardinals and mockingbirds nearly shuts down during the first week of August.
Northern Cardinal in predawn darkness (with fill-flash assist, July, 2020)...
... and, a month later, this one is replacing several tail feathers:
Northern Mockingbird in fine feather (February, 2020), and...
...a motley molting mockingbird:
A Boat-tailed Grackle was handsomely clad back in February...
...Oh, but look at him now:
About 40 minutes before sunrise on August 6, Constellation Orion was just to the right of the Planet Venus as we walked into the wetlands. Sirius is closer to the Sun, lurking behind the palm tree (Click on photo to see the 3 stars in Orion's belt):
Red-winged Blackbirds have suddenly departed from their inland breeding areas to congregate in large roosts, often nearer the coast. The coos of doves are heard less frequently, and Killdeers are no longer busy distracting us when we intrude on their now-abandoned nesting areas.
European Starlings are gathering in flocks. This is a brown-backed and speckle-breasted juvenile starling:
Our day is divided between morning walks and COVID-19 lock-down, when we remain alert to the presence of backyard wildlife. I captured this Great Egret through the back window as it foraged lakeside, one of the first test shots with my brand-new Canon EOS 90D:
The back yard Muscovy Duck still had 9 of her 15 ducklings on July 26. She was down to 2 on August 18:
Before sunrise on August 3, I heard the cry of several Coyotes to the north. Knowing that they would need to cross the gravel track to return to the wild lands, I stood in front of a shrubby tree to obscure my profile and waited. After about 5 minutes of silence I was ready to give up when I detected motion some 300 meters/ 330 yards away. I could barely discern the shapes of an adult Coyote with two half-grown pups. Look closely and enlarge to see all three:
Both pups were watching their mother:
One pup paraded out in the open:
Walking in darkness makes me ever so mindful of the travels of heavenly bodies across the sky. The August Sturgeon Moon was two days old on August 5:
As is so common during the Dog Days, the Sun heats the land and hot air rises, drawing in moist ocean breezes and setting up the dynamics for afternoon thunderstorms:
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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