Thursday, September 23, 2021

Crops & Clips: Night visions #981

The early morning hours are special. Many nocturnal birds are especially active until about a half hour before sunrise. Birding by ear, I can sometimes pick up the calls of  Great Horned and Barn Owls I have rarely had photo opportunities with these species.  Eastern Screech-Owls are easier to encounter and sometimes pose out in the open even as sunrise approaches.

Last year this one even dozed off as I clicked away in natural light:


Although early morning photos lack feather detail and accurate color rendition, I like the mood they can portray, as in this serene pose of an immature Little Blue Heron which flew in about 20 minutes before sunrise:


An adult of the same species flew in a few seconds later. Its dark plumage almost melted into the background:

As the adult Little Blue Heron flew off,  I could barely see it against the dark background and actually focused on its reflection:

A Great Egret was easier to see in the darkness:


Cameras can sometimes seem to "see" in the dark. This distant White-tailed Buck was invisible until he moved. Although binoculars provided a brighter view, he was barely visible through the camera's viewfinder. The camera tries to make up for the darkness by opening its aperture and slowing down the exposure rate. This results in a washed-out image in the RAW photo. Editing the image to darken (decrease exposure compensation) and sharpen it improved the image somewhat :

A little later, another buck suddenly walked out into the sunlight. Its antlers had only four points. 


Detail of that dark spot inside its rear leg. It is one of the several scent glands. The deer can voluntarily flare the hairs surrounding the tarsal gland. 

Factoid: Making sense of whitetails scent glands:  The tarsal gland is a pad of stiff hairs located on the inside of each deer’s rear leg at the hock. At the base of each hair is a fat, or sebaceous, gland that produces an odorless oily deposit that coats the hair creating a stage for scent dissemination. All year through, deer can flare their tarsals. Scent is released by flaring the tarsal hairs into a rosette. Whitetail deer of all ages, urinate over their tarsals (rub-urinate) throughout the year, bucks more so during the rut. Fawns may rub-urinate to locate their mother.

Early morning light cast long shadows which broke up the profile of this female Northern Cardinal: 


A male Northern Cardinal was eating the Trema berries:


In our back yard, a female Anhinga was joined by a Little Blue Heron. They lounged together amicably:

Or, did they just disagree about something?

An hour before sunrise on the last day of summer, the Full Harvest Moon was over the horizon as we walked into the Wounded Wetlands:

We had hoped to see it set over the lake but low clouds intervened:

Golden sunrise over the gravel road which leads to the lake:

Early morning view of the lake in the Wounded Wetlands:

I started Rosyfinch Ramblings on September 15, 2006, so this is my 15th  Blogaversary!

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Linking to:



Skywatch Friday

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Saturday's Critters

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All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

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Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display
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Thursday, September 16, 2021

The eagles have landed, but...

There is drama at the local Bald Eagle nest. I have been observing the nest since it was "discovered" back in 2007. Over the years, the same male "Pride" has fathered 27 known eaglets, of which all but eight survived to fly freely. Pride's first mate was Joy, who disappeared just before the 2014-2015 breeding season after producing the first 13 eaglets, of which only two did not survive to fledge. 

Pride then paired up with Jewel in December, 2014 but it was either too late in the season, or she may have been too young to breed.  However Jewel went on to hatch out 14 more eaglets. As of now she has lost 6 of them. Two (and probably their newly hatched unseen nestmates) were assumed to have been killed in 2016 and 2020 when early spring storms disrupted the nest. In both seasons the pair went on to raise second broods of two eaglets. They lost one of these to unknown causes in 2016, but successfully raised both in 2020. 

Those two youngsters hatched 2-3 months later than usual. In normal years they would have fledged in April or May, but these two were dependent upon their parents well into late summer. This probably delayed the start of the 2020-2021 breeding season, which usually begins around October 1. The pair worked to build a new nest in a very precarious location, high in a limber Australian Pine with only two major supporting limbs. 

Eggs are normally deposited by early December and hatch in early to mid-January. Instead, their first egg was laid around February 1, 2021 and two eaglets hatched around March 7-12th. Normally the eaglets fledge at about 10 weeks of age.  A severe thunderstorm on April 11 damaged the flimsy nest and a week later the younger eaglet fell to the ground. The older sibling fell on April 28 and was recovered after 5 days of searching. 

Both eaglets suffered broken bones, but the injuries to the younger bird (P Piney 27) were more serious and eventually fatal, while the older sibling (P Piney 26, a male) was successfully rehabilitated and released to the wild on June 14. It was sad to see Jewel visit the site of the demolished nest several times during the summer. Suddenly Pride showed up and joined her on  Freed from the burden of rearing any eaglets, they instituted courtship and began rebuilding the failed nest.

On September 11. Pride occupied a dead branch near the site of the original (old) nest, about 100 yards away:

Jewel was roosting above the remains of the failed nest. This was not a good omen. Some researchers report that the female more frequently chooses the nest site. Her position corresponded to the placement of the main nest platform (bole). The empty space under her had been occupied by nesting material which collapsed during the storm and began the process resulting in the grounding of both eaglets: 


The next day, both adults were carrying sticks and exhibiting courtship behavior with copulation attempts. On the morning of September 14 the eagle watchers saw Jewel fly into a tree and attempt to break off a large dead branch. It would not budge...

...so she settled for a smaller one, indeed a twig...




...and added it to the sparse material already deposited in their restorative effort:

Some of the structure of the failed nest is still lodged below its original site. The nest was placed between the main trunk and a single side branch. We are not very optimistic about their chances this breeding season:

She then roosted nearby and Pride flew in to join her. They perched shoulder-to-shoulder. Jewel is to the left in these photos. Note her very long rear talon (hallux), a distinguishing characteristic of the female:



Both called together. Their fixed fierce facial expressions made the lovers' interaction look more like a hostile encounter: 

Fall migration is getting off to a slow start. Prairie Warblers have migrated "sideways" from their coastal breeding habitat:

An Ovenbird foraged in the damp leaf litter:

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flitted about actively, in search of insects:


Sleek Red-eyed Vireos scavenged for ripe  berries:

A distant Coyote crossed the path:

The Coyote's track was imprinted in moist sand. The smaller rear paw print is to the left of its front print:

True to its name, a Halloween Pennant perched like a flag atop a tall stalk:

Just after sunrise, clouds reflected on the still surface of the lake:

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Linking to:

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Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

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Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display
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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Avian Red-eye special

Scores of Florida Trema trees* in our local Wounded Wetlands were destroyed by Hurricane Irma back in October, 2017. Nearly all the taller ones were either felled or stripped of their leaves. Most went on to die within a year. Those remaining were mostly saplings which flowered but did not bear the fruit which is so attractive to wildlife. Tremas normally produce abundant berries just in time for autumn migration. This year, some of them have matured and been very productive.

Southbound Red-eyed Vireos usually arrive ahead of most of the other songbirds, often by mid-August and become quite common by early September. On the first day of September, a half hour after sunrise, a flock of five were eating the Trema berries: 







Three days later, just after sunrise, lighting conditions were poor. I did not carry my flash unit, but the vireos provided some nice views as they harvested the fruit:



A male Northern Cardinal joined in the feast. His tail feathers were molting::



I wondered why one of my favorite warbler spots was so quiet. Blue Jays were calling from hidden perches in the area. Then this Cooper's Hawk flew in from an adjacent tree. This species is a "true hawk" ( Accipiter) with compact body, short wings and long tail suited for chasing smaller birds through the branches:



The hawk took off, but patrolled the area and returned several times:

Spotted Sandpipers are returning. In spring and summer they have spotted breasts, like this "early bird" on July 11:

Adults like this one photographed on September 3, have clear breasts in fall and winter:

African dust lingered in the atmosphere just before sunrise on August 31, showcasing the dark shadows cast by cloud tops over the Atlantic Ocean. I followed the emerging solar (crepuscular) beams...

...across the southern horizon. Though straight as an arrow, they seemed to curve down opposite the Sun...

...appearing to cluster with other cloud shadows as an anti-solar (anticrepuscular) mirrored "sunrise:"


*Florida Trema (Trema micrantha) is a shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall. It is grouped with Hackberry and Hemp in Tree Family CANNABACEAE.  Leaves are egg-shaped, up to 9 cm long, green on top but covered with white, woolly pubescence underneath. Flowers are greenish-white. Fruits are yellow to bright reddish-orange, up to 4 mm in diameter.

REF: https://www.southfloridatrees.org/?page_id=530

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Linking to:



Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

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
________________________________________________