Thursday, September 24, 2020

Walking Bar Ditch Trail

Despite the threatening afternoon clouds and thunder almost every afternoon, we received relatively little rainfall during August. I was anxious to take advantage of the fact that the Bar Ditch Trail might still be dry. An hour before sunrise on September 5, I set out in the pitch dark, planning to walk back after about two hours, before the sun got too hot. Indeed, the path was not flooded and even dryer than my last walk a few weeks before.

High clouds persisted after sunrise. The shade was welcome, but made it difficult to identify and photograph some birds in dark foliage against the ground-glass sky. One rather large bird showed very little color. Its very large bill stood out. Luckily, I had attached a flash unit. Before it flew off I captured a burst of full-color images which revealed it to be a female Summer Tanager, only the third I have recorded in my patch over the past ten or more years: 

Summer Tanager 01-20200905

Summer Tanager 03-20200905

Summer Tanager 04-20200905

Earlier, I heard the call of a Green Heron but could barely see it:

Green Heron 20200905

About five minutes before sunrise, an adult Bald Eagle passed overhead against an amorphous pink sky. Its image is grainy at 1/1000 second exposure and ISO of 6400, but I like the effects:

Bald Eagle 02-20200909

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were numerous:

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 01-20200908

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 0220200907

A male Northern Cardinal carried a berry:

Northern Cardinal male 02-20200905

A female cardinal with a berry-stained bill peered out of the shadows:

Northern Cardinal female 20200908

My flash brightened up a female Prairie Warbler...

Prairie Warbler female 01-20200908

...and brought out the hooked bill but  not the eye color of a Red-eyed Vireo:

Red-eyed Vireo 20200908

A Brown Thrasher scolded me briefly:

Brown Thrasher 09-20200909

Brown Thrasher 08-20200909

A Loggerhead Shrike kept watch from a treetop:

Loggerhead Shrike 02-20200908

A Gray Squirrel was almost invisible as it crouched on a limb. I think I can see my reflection in its eye:

Gray Squirrel 01-20200907

Sunrise over the Bar Ditch Trail:

Bar Ditch Trail 03-20200905

This is my favorite stop along the far reaches of the trail. Here the ditch widens a bit and is surrounded by Cattails and Sawgrass:

Bar Ditch Trail and ditch  05-20200905

Back on September 3, the Corn Moon reflected in the lake in pre-dawn twilight:

Corn Moon 02-20200903

While photographing the Moon, about 10 minutes before sunrise, I caught motion out of the corner of my eye. It was a Coyote, carrying something in its mouth:

Coyote with prey or cub 02-20200903

I then adjusted my camera settings to "see in the dark" by manually cranking the ISO up to an unprecedented 25,600, which allowed the shutter to function at 1/1000. The results were poor, but I hoped to identify whatever the Coyote was carrying. Was it a prey item, or possibly one of its pups. It might be relocating its den?  

 Coyote with prey or cub 01-20200903

The (same?) Coyote soon walked out from the same area of brush. It appeared to be a female with swollen teats. She wandered off to the north, sniffing here and there as if hunting:

Coyote prob female 06-20200903

Moments later, a second Coyote emerged. This looked like it was probably a male, larger and with a robust tail:

Coyote prob male 02-20200903

To my surprise, when I turned around, a third Coyote was staring at me. As soon as I raised my camera it fled (a Mourning Dove stood by):

Coyote third one  05-20200903

On the way home, looking back from the Levee Trailhead, clouds were gathering to the south:

Levee Trail 02-20200908

Are those birds flying or angels dancing?

Angels dancing 02-20200908

Links to earlier posts about the Bar Ditch Trail (the last two tell how things were here ten years ago, quite a contrast now in the Wounded Wetlnads):

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

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. Wow, lots to see on your early morning walk! Your sky shots are fabulous.

  2. Love this set of photos and I think you did remarkably well in low light. The sky photos are also remarkable. Keep safe Diane

  3. Beautiful shots..Love the story that goes with them..Cool Eagle shot!! The Coyotes were circling..Grey Squirrels make nice pictures..Very photogenic..I was not aware that there was such a thing as a Summer Tanager.. Wonderful sky shots. Thanks for sharing your story and your pictures.

  4. What a wonderful walk! Our sky's are a bit ho-hum compared to yours.

  5. Wonderful shots of the Tanager. Must be fun to spot a rarely seen bird. Modern cameras are amazing to me. Their ability to "see in the dark" just keeps getting better and better.

  6. Hello
    these pictures are worth it, as well as getting up early, exactly the right time, I myself am also on the road so early, great atmosphere and few people and little light ... that's not so good ...
    Greetings Frank

  7. Great critter pictures and stunning skies! Have a good weekend.

  8. Hello, Love your beautiful sky captures and scenic photos. The coyote look likes a skinny critter. The Summer Tanager is beautiful, I love the Green Heron, Brown Thrasher and the Shrike. Awesome bird photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great weekend. PS, thank you for the comment!

  9. Oh, I love the clouds in the sky..dancing! And how amazing to see 3 coyotes. I get a little scared when I see one in the wild but they are out there, I know. The Summer Tanager is gorgeous! I would love to see one of those this week. Happy weekend!

  10. Thanks for sharing with us at I'd Rather B Birdin this week...always appreciated!

  11. Great contrasts in the skies ... the birds are gorgeous and nice coyote captures.

  12. My first ever time to see a Green Heron! It's plumage looks like a painting! Thank you so much my dear friend Kenneth for sharing this to us and thank you so so so much for always joining Timeless Thursdays :)

  13. As much as I enjoy and admire the bird shots, Kenneth, it is those amazing sky shots that captured me this post (and others). The final two are favorites here and yes, angels dancing for sure.

  14. Your last cloud picture was the best. We have wolves in our area, but no coyotes. - Margy

  15. You get to see such a great variety of birds! The summer tanager is very pretty bird. And I always love seeing your sky photos. Hope you've had a great weekend!

  16. Incredible photos of the birds, and then the skies, and then the coyotes.

  17. Wonderful photos of the birds, especially the cardinals. Thank you!

  18. Great set of pictures. I wish I had a similar 'patch' close to home. I three weeks I may be able to travel to my (much missed) local birding locations again.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  19. So many fabulous photos. Love the variety of wildlife you encounter on your walks. The cloud formations are so unusual.

  20. I am always amazed at your fabulous photos especially with birds that move so quickly. Love the shot of the eagle..

  21. Wow, this series is stunning! I love the yellow color of the first bird but they are all so pretty! And the sunrise, wow! I love how you captured the coyotes, too. So many great shots this week!!

    It's great to see you at 'My Corner of the World' this week!! Thanks for linking up.

  22. The clouds are mesmerizing! It mus have made your day to follow the coyote hunting! As always your posts for All Seasons are delightful and looking so professional! Much appreciated, Ken. Have a great rest of the week, Jesh


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