Thursday, February 25, 2021

Purple feathers and green goggles

At nearby Chapel Trail Nature Preserve in Pembroke Pines, two purple relatives exist side by side. One is a newcomer, appearing first in the wild after escaping from a local private bird collection in 1996. The Gray-headed Swamphen (Porphyrio Poliocephalus) is related to the gallinules, coots and rails (Rallidae family). Native to the Middle East through India and southern Asia into northern Thailand, the species has adapted to Florida's wetland habitats and has spread widely in the State. 

At first considered to be a threat to native birds, in 2006 it was subjected to an eradication campaign in which over 3,000 were gunned down by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This futile attempt to exterminate the species did not stop their expanding population.

The colorful Swamphen uses its prehensile toes to dig up the roots and emerging shoots of water plants such as this Spike-rush:



Gray-headed Swamphen in flight:

Gray-headed Swamphens were first considered to be a subspecies of the Purple Swamphen before being reclassified as a separate species. Large and muscular, they are often said to look like a "Purple Gallinule on steroids." . 

A Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) was foraging for one of its favorite foods, the buds and seeds of Spatterdock (AKA Cow Lily or Yellow Pond Lily). Its long toes allow it to "walk on water" over the bed of lily pads:





Also at Chapel Trail, another Rallidae family member, American Coot...

...and Common Gallinule:


A male Anhinga was roosting on an island out in the wet praitie:

During breeding season the bare skin around the eyes of the male turns bright green. Lady Anhingas must find this irresistible:

On the adjacent pasture, a Cattle Egret is chummy with a Longhorn calf:

The boardwalk at Chapel Trail preserve:

Sunrise at our corner on February 23:


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Linking to:

Fences Around the World

Nature Thursday

Skywatch Friday

Weekend Reflections

Saturday's Critters

BirdD'Pot

Camera Critters

All Seasons

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Natasha Musing

Our World 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, February 18, 2021

Placid lake on a foggy morning

On a still and very humid morning, fog accumulated over the lake as predicted. It peaked just around sunrise, before lifting as the sun's rays penetrated and heated the surface of the water. 

A Great Egret descended, white feathers against white fog,...

...mirrored on the surface:

A Wood Stork arrived...

...and joined the egret:


With bubble-gum pink feet, the stork stirs the water to frighten fish into its beak:


A Mottled Duck looked on...

...and provided my favorite shot of the morning:

Another egret waded in the foggy wet prairie:

A female Belted Kingfisher perched at the edge of the prairie:

A pair of Pied-billed Grebes carved a wake on the lake's surface:

Before sunrise, the Wood Stork and Great Egret punctuated the landscape:


The Pine Bank was shrouded in fog as sunlight illuminated the foreground:

Moments later, rays of the sun reached the shore of the Pine Bank

Over the wetlands along the canal, fog persisted after sunrise:

There was no fog to spoil our view of the sunrise from our back yard on February 16th: 


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Linking to:

Nature Thursday

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
________________________________________________

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Feathered and furry favorites

I would be a terrible judge in a beauty contest. Selecting one bird or other critter over another is difficult. Its behavior can be as important as its appearance. While looking at it through my camera viewfinder, any creature is my favorite. Usually the photos do not do it justice. It is the same with skyscapes and sunrise images. Pixels do not seem to truly capture the subtleties of color and scope.  

A male American Kestrel occupies a territory very close to our home. He may be the same one which has returned to this spot every winter for for 3 or more years. He generally roosts on top of the emerging leaf spire of a Royal Palm. He prefers to face into the wind, which can be a problem if this causes him to present only a back view. 

However, the morning light and the soft easterly breeze worked together for these views:


Hidden  beauty was revealed when he ruffled his feathers while preening:

At Chapel Trail preserve near our home, a male Anhinga roosted on a post:

A Tricolored Heron permitted me a close approach, too near the subject for my telescopic lens, so I put my iPhone to work:

The heron flew down to forage in the shallow water, barely fitting into the frame. I liked how its posture and suspended foot communicated the intensity of the hunt :

Looking down from the boardwalk I obtained top views of another Tricolored Heron. This perspective distorts the normal proportions of a bird. However, it did display the beauty of its emerging plumes:

As it moved away from the boardwalk, the effect of elevated aspect was reduced:

The Tricolored Heron flew over to the shore and was briefly joined by an adult Little Blue Heron:

Little Blue Herons have white plumage for their first year. This one shows a few emerging adult blue feathers:

Walking along the trail, I was startled to see a Bobcat staring at me from the edge of the track:

For a moment I thought the cat would move across in front of me, but it withdrew into the tall grass: 

It had retreated into a well-worn path. I do not know whether the Bobcat and/or other mammals such as Raccoons, Opossums or Marsh Rabbits had created it:

Over a two month period the local pair of Bald Eagles worked together to build a large new nest. 

One very long stick gave them trouble as they cooperated to move it up into the nest ("Heave-Ho!"):

They appeared to have finished building their nest near the end of January, when they were adding large amounts of soft lining material.  On January 28 the male (Pride) was bringing in clumps of freshly mowed grass which he was picking up very close to a busy thoroughfare. 

I was watching the nest when Pride flew off, circled high and then plunged down almost as if he were trying to catch some  prey:

He landed on the shoulder of the highway and flew up carrying some of the recently cut grass...

...right out low across the road:


He then flew directly over my head and deposited the grass in the nest: :


 On February 1 the female (Jewel) settled down deep and appeared to have started incubating her first egg. Indeed, when I checked the nest I thought it was empty:

However, a greatly enlarged crop of the above image provides a partial view of the head and beak of the female:

The sky overhead was completely clear, but an odd bowl-shaped cloud hung over the eastern horizon, in full sunlight just before sunrise. It reminded me of an alien invasion, but it was an unusual example of a lenticular cloud: 

Lenticular clouds are isolated clouds which form in the Earth’s troposphere (the lowest level of the atmosphere). They usually  occur over mountain peaks and are rarely seen over flat or low-lying terrain. They result from fluctuating wind speeds, created by the action of atmospheric fronts. Perhaps this one was caused by an uplift of warm moist air over a body of water. It persisted at the same location as lower clouds moved under it after sunrise:

The day-old Wolf Moon shone brightly over the lake, about a half hour before sunrise: 


Late breaking news about another furry creature. Our daughter's family in NE Illinois has a new puppy, another Tibetan Mastiff only 8 weeks old. Although no dog will truly replace Agramontehe is from the same breed line as Agramonte, whose Great Uncle won the very first Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Competition in 2007, and this puppy's Grandfather won the Westminster Best of Breed in 2008. Also, this puppy's Dad is the current Best of Breed winner. And, he already has had his COVID-19 Vaccinations!

His name is Calixto Garcia IƱiguez!! (They will call him Calixto or Lixto for short.)


Calixto meets his "brothers" Cazador (Standard Poodle) and Moncada (Tibetan Mastiff)...


...and his two new "sisters:"

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Linking to:

Fences Around the World


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
________________________________________________