In our local south Florida wetlands I photographed this Female Northern Cardinal, on September 4th:
Prairie Warblers had returned from their nesting areas in coastal Mangroves:
September, 2017 opened as Hurricane Irma, an extremely powerful Cape Verde hurricane, was building up strength to Category 3. South Florida remained firmly in its projected path as it moved slowly towards us. At first we thought it would be safe to ride out the storm. On September 4 Irma was approaching the eastern Carribbean and had reached Category 5 with winds of 180 mph (285 km/h). It was expected to strike Florida on or about September 7th.
The view before sunrise on September 1:
Walking home under an unsettled sky:
Ahead, a Raccoon crossed the path:
Queen Butterfly on Bidens alba:
We then decided to shutter our home and find higher ground, but could not book a flight to our condo in Illinois. Alternatively, we decided to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico via a 2-stop itinerary, reaching there on September 6th.
The hurricane almost stalled before reaching Cuba on September 9 and the next day made landfall along the west coast of Florida. It spared our home a direct hit but we were in its huge wind field with hurricane-force winds extending out 80 mi (130 km) and gale-force winds spanning an area 220 mi (350 km) in diameter.
In Albuquerque we stayed in Kirtland Air Force Base lodging with the Sandia Mountains as a backdrop:
We wasted no time and drove up to Sandia Crest (elevation 10,678 ft / 3,255 m), birding along the 12 mile road which winds its way to the top. About halfway up, we stopped at Capulin Spring with its famous water feature which is very attractive to birds in the dry habitat. When we lived in New Mexico, MaryLou and I spent several years as volunteer interpreters with the US Forest Service and this was a prime objective on our nature walks.
Our retreat from Hurricane Irma to "high and dry" New Mexico provided me with great memories of when we lived here. In the early 1990s I worked with other USFS volunteers to rehabilitate an old hollow log which had served as a wildlife watering trough. It was rotted at one end and the pipes which fed water into it from Capulin Spring had shattered after the rock wall which enclosed it deteriorated into rubble.
We replaced the pipe and reconstructed the wall, restoring the flow of water, and we covered the hole in the log with a rubber plate. This worked well for over a dozen years but the log had to be finally replaced by one hewn out painstakingly by a new generation of US Forest Service volunteers. It had now been flowing for about two years and this was the first time I visited the (now new) "Bird Log at Capulin Spring" in more than seven years. It lives up to its reputation, attracting nearly every local and migratory bird and mammal species to this only source of water over an expanse of mountainous forest in the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque.
The "Bird Log" at Capulin Spring:
Traveling light, I carried only my new mirrorless camera and still had not mastered all of its adjustments, so my photographic record is poor. Among the avian visitors to the log, a Townsend's Warbler...
...a Mountain Chickadee...
...a Dark-eyed (Gray-headed) Junco...
...and, among many other species, a Green-tailed Towhee...
...and a Chipmunk:
Nearby Balsam Glade Picnic Area provided a panoramic view to the northeast:
At the top of Sandia Crest was the Gift Shop and Restaurant where I instituted the Rosy-Finch feeding program which has grown into an important research site for these threatened species. They would not be visiting here until the snows of November, but the sugar water feeders attracted Black-chinned Hummingbirds:
The Crest House deck overlooks Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley:
We returned to Florida on September 12 to find that we had suffered no wind damage and only had a few hours' lapse in electric service. We then took our previously planned flight to Illinois only 4 days later. The view of Port Everglades as we took off from Fort Lauderdale early on September 16:
Lovable Tibetan Mastiff Agramonte, our daughter's family pet, greeted us:
Fall migration was underway. A rainwater impoundment in St. Charles attracted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper...
...and Wilson's Snipe...
...as an immature Red-tailed Hawk kept watch:
We visited Jones Meadow Park near our condo:
The bridge over Blackberry Creek in Bliss Woods:
I love this barn scene at Hannaford woods, which I reproduced as a simulated oil painting (click to enlarge):
Along the trail in Hannaford, there were Red-headed Woodpeckers...
...and a Magnolia Warbler was surrounded by a bokeh glow:
On September 30, MaryLou was dwarfed by the lone oak at Hawk's Bluff Park, a few doors from our daughter's home in Batavia:
A White-breasted Nuthatch explored its spreading limbs:
Hurricane Irma caused at least 134 deaths, 92 in the contiguous United States. Florida's estimated economic agricultural damages alone totaled over $2.5 Billion, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. There was massive loss of flowering and fruiting plants in the wild lands as well. It took over two years for several species of butterflies to rebound from the loss of adults, eggs, larvae and nectar sources.
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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