Thursday, August 12, 2021

Silent sunrise

We usually set out into the local Wounded Wetlands preserve about an hour before sunrise. This provides an opportunity to hear (and sometimes see) nocturnal bird species such as owls and nightjars. 

For the first half hour it is nearly pitch dark unless the Moon is in an early phase. Flashlights are essential, if only to keep us from stumbling on the rocks or avoid stepping on a snake. Wildlife photography is essentially impossible without artificial light. 

Below the horizon, the sun progressively brightens the sky and its glare obscures the stars and all but the brightest planets. Depending upon the seasons (which affect the angle at which the sun approaches the horizon) "civil twilight," also known as the "crepuscular" period, begins when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon and ends 20-30 minutes later at sunrise. The morning chorus of bird song usually builds up during this period and tapers off after sunrise. 

Now, many birds are undergoing the post-breeding molt. To save the energy needed to replenish their feathers, they are quiet and reclusive. For the past two to three weeks the morning chorus has dwindled into a few solo notes from...

...Northern Cardinals...

...Northern Mockingbirds...

...and Carolina Wrens:

One advantage of the early walks is that we are spared the heat of the sun. Heat exhaustion is a threat when, soon after sunrise, temperatures and humidity quickly become oppressive.

Another advantage is the opportunity to see some marvelous skies. I know that trying to interpret cloud formations can be a bit silly, but could this possibly be a swordsman ready to do battle with a monstrous dragon?

Persistence of Saharan dust in the atmosphere this past week enhanced the morning colors. Shadows of clouds on the eastern horizon created ever-changing interruptions of the crepuscular rays:

On the opposite horizon, the anticrepuscular rays filled the sky and converged over the Wet Prairie...

...and reflected on the lake:

In the poor morning light, an immature Red-shouldered Hawk roosted next to the lake:

It took flight and landed on a flimsy branch atop a Pond Cypress:

At nearby Chapel Trail preserve, an immature Little Blue Heron foraged with a Mottled Duck:

In our back yard early in the morning,  a Muscovy Duck loafed on the decoy which serves as a float for the intake of our lawn irrigation system:

An Anhinga entertained us by resting on the same decoy: 

Later, the Anhinga decided to bask on our patio. These are my iPhone photos, taken through the glass of the patio door:

Since my DSLR camera cannot zoom, its viewfinder captured only the Anhinga's neck and head as it aired its wings. It was next to a Coontie which I had recently planted. I liked the aesthetics of the portrait as well as the symbolism. The Anhinga is a representative of the ancient Darter family whose fossil records date back 40-50 million years. The Coontie is a primitive Cycad which originated some 280 million years ago:

As to be expected, my visits to medical facilities increase with age, but they can provide photo opportunities for some interesting reflections:

That's Planet Jupiter, still visible high in the blue sky above the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida:

The fountains turned on and spoiled the reflection:

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

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. Good afternoon Mr Kenneth.
    What fantastic photos!
    Very good description of your hiking and photo capture moments. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and sensitivity.
    Good week.

  2. Your skies and reflections are mighty fine. Very nice photography!

  3. Hi Kenneth! :) Those sky photos are spectacular and the Cardinal completely steals the show. I love the reflections photo! The theme for my art date next Thursday is Reflections and should join in on the link party!!! :)

  4. so many beautiful photos - the skies are striking and I love the birds

  5. Stunning skies and anticrepuscular rays!

  6. The rays of light are amazing.

  7. Thank goodness you are an early riser, Kenneth, and so can be there to capture the first rays of sun and these gorgeous skies. And, those bird closeups of the male cardinal, carolina wren and hawk are as impressive as always.

  8. Also, the reflections of that very colorful medical facility were noteworthy, even with the fountains on.

  9. I knew about bird song rising and then dwindling again around sunrise, but I didn't know about the phases of a sunrise. Interesting. I hope you don't stumble over snakes too often-that gives me chills as I think of those pythons in the wild of Florida now. More beautiful bird photos too. Hope August is going well.

  10. Good luck with your medical issues. I hear you. We're all trying to hang in there.
    Lovely birds and sunsets.

  11. Beautiful collection of birds. Yet another fantastic post

  12. Greetings and Salutations! Love, love, love those photographs with the anticrepuscular rays in the sky. A lot of my images are taken inside or outside medical facilities too.

  13. I am still trying to catch my breath from seeing all the beauty here. Seriously breathtaking photos. The Cardinal is simply stunning. Have a wonderful day.

  14. Spectacular cloud formation and rays display in the sky. Beautiful birds. Great shots of the hawk in flight and with wings spread out. Beautiful sky and reflection of the clinic. Happy weekend.

  15. Hello Ken, that was a nice range of different motifs. The sunrises are absolutely spectacular. Thanks for linking to Nature Thursday.
    Herzliche Grüße – Elke (Mainzauber / Frankfurt / Germany)

  16. Great photos as usual and the reflections are spectacular!

  17. Spectacular skies, and your birds are marvelous again.

  18. Wow, your reflection images are awesome. I love the sky shots too, beautiful photos. Great captures of the birds. I would be watching out for the snakes too, while walking. Love the Cardinal, Little Blue Heron and Anhinga. But, they are all lovely birds. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend.

  19. Fantastic photos! Few of my favorites are Northern Mockingbird, Carolina Wrens and the surreal rays.

    My latest post:

  20. Sorry Ken, you must have come at a time that I was changing my blog theme, that you got an error message. At your convenience, please try again.
    (One word) living between two realms (.) wordpress (.) com. Let me know if it still does not work - then I will send an email with a perma link. Thank you for trying!! Emille (Jesh)

  21. Hi Kenneth, beautiful photos of the red-shouldered hawk, landscape and other birds.

  22. Terrific images, Ken!

    Yes, the birds are a bit sulky now as the molt continues. We have been seeing a bit more activity in the last couple of days and even a couple of early migrants.

    Your "skyscapes" continue to evoke a "Wow"!

    Stay hydrated and as cool as possible!

  23. The anhinga fascinates me. Such a gangly fellow, almost looks like he was put together with spare parts!
    Thanks for sharing at

  24. Beautiful photos, but the crepuscular rays and anticrepuscular rays as seen by your yard are the icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned. Always love to visit your blog.

  25. Wonderful colors and creatures! I like your interpretation of the cloud and think you are spot on!

    Thanks for sharing your link at My Corner of the World this week!


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