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04/14/12
Catching up
Filed under: General, Birding & Outdoors, Florida & SE US, Birding "Patches", Bald Eagle Nest
Posted by: Ken @ 6:31 am

Our two Illinois granddaughters are visiting, and birding must take a back seat to grandfathering. We finally were able to get out the past three mornings while they are away visiting the theme parks in Orlando. This morning, pouring rain is allowing me some computer face time.

As is our habit, we got out before sunrise. This is the view looking back east, towards the gate where we enter the gravel road that leads into the wetlands.

Sunrise HDR 20120411

From the same spot, looking westward towards the Everglades, the ground fog is lifting, but sunlight has not yet reached the tops of the Royal Palms. Sad to think that this placid pathway will some day soon become the busiest parkway in our city. Actually, it will be the only road that traverses our entire city, running 22 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to Okeechobee Highway (US-27), which borders the Everglades preserve.

Fog lifting 20120404
   
Welfare checks on the heron rookery have found them doing well, with eggs in five Yellow-crowned Night-Heron nests and one Green Heron nest. A sixth Yellow-crowned nest is difficult to see, but it appears to have been abandoned before any eggs were laid. We suspect there is a second Green Heron nest but is is probably deep in dense vegetation.

The Bald Eagle chick that disappeared from our local nest was probably not flight-ready. During the past three breeding seasons,  we observed  that the eaglets were usually seen branching or “helicoptering” for eight days prior to taking their first flight. This was never reported for this year’s single chick. Since we found no remains under the nest it probably had been carried off by one of the Raccoons, Bobcats or Gray Foxes that roam in the area. There was even an alligator trail that led to the base of the nest tree from an adjacent canal, also attracted by prey remains. Follow events at the nest and see summaries of observations over the past nesting seasons at the Pembroke Pines Eagle Watch FORUM.

Since we had been walking our birding patch every morning until arrival of our guests, I’ve developed quite a backlog of photos and observations.

At risk of overwhelming readers with heron photos, I must share my first video, taken with a Canon 60D DSLR. Our Texas grandson, after showing me how to set up Skype, then coached me on the features of Windows Live Movie Maker. It is a short clip of a threat display by a male Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Yellow-crowned Hight-Heron male  20120413

Here is the link to the video, as some software does not support embedded code:



Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers have disappeared. We saw our last American Kestrel in late March.

American Kestrel 20120325

We have not yet seen the hoped-for influx of northbound warblers, tanagers, vireos and orioles. Small flocks of Prairie Warblers have passed through. Some will stay to breed locally.

 Prairie Warbler 20120402

However, there are signs of spring. The Common Ground-Doves are cooing love songs.

Common Ground-Dove 20120325

Eastern Towhees are singing on territory. Their whitish eyes identify them as local birds.

Eastern Towhee 20120325

In early April it was not unusual to see a half dozen Brown Thrashers along the paths. Most are passing through, but a few will nest locally.

Brown Thrasher close 20120402

Least Terns have arrived at the lake. Soon the males will be offering little fish to their mates. They probably will nest on the flat roof of a nearby elementary school as well as that of a shopping center.

Least Terns 7-20120411

Least Terns 5-20120411

A Fish Crow unceremoniously displaced them from their perch on the rock, but they returned to dive-bomb the crow and chase him off. My reflexes were too slow to catch the action.

Fish Crow 20120413

The water levels are dropping in the wetland next to our South Florida subdivision. This concentrates prey and attracts long-legged waders. This week we had our first Black-necked Stilts, a flock of four birds.
 
Black-necked Stilt20120402

Black-necked Stilt 2-20120402

A Double-crested Cormorant dries its wings.

Double-crested Cormorant 20120413

The lake margin provides a nesting tree for a pair of Green Herons. Expert contortionists, they assume many different sizes and shapes. During breeding season, the female’s yellow legs distinguish her from the male, which has orange legs.

Green Heron female 3-20120411

The female ruffled her feathers as the male flew in, perhaps a recognition signal.

Green Heron female 5-20120411

They flew together back to the nest tree, where the male transformed from a compact ball of feathers…

Green Heron 2-20120410

…to a long-necked monster.

Green Heron male 4-20120411

As the male took flight he provided me with an image of intricate feather patterns (click on the photo and view it in large size to study the plumage detail).

Green Heron taking flight  (view large) 20120410

Before  our guests arrived, I visited Plantation Preserve with the Tropical Audubon Society. There we saw this Limpkin.

Limpkin 2-20120324

Rather unusual, at least for me, was to witness the Limpkin’s habit of dunking into the water like a puddle duck.

Dunking Limpkin 20120324

13 Responses to “Catching up”

  1. eileen Says:
    Awesome post, ken! The photos and the birds are just wonderful as usual. The Green Heron shots are my favorite. Happy Birding!
  2. Laurence Butler Says:
    Looks like you had some great forays into the bird world! Your heron photos are exceptional, both of the biologically bizarre Green Heron (where Does he put that neck when he’s not using it?) and the beautiful Yellow-Crowned. We’re still awaiting our big migrant influx in Arizona, but I suspect that next weekend things will start to really heat up. I’m looking forward to what y’all find!
  3. dawn Fine Says:
    I love the photos of the Green Heron and the different shapes it takes on..very cool. Nice patch!
  4. Boom & Gary Says:
    Grand post again!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
  5. Andrew Says:
    Your wildlife always makes me so jealous. Wonderful images of all of them.
  6. Mick Says:
    A very interesting post again. The first two photos of the scenery are superb and I really like the photos of the Terns.
  7. NatureStop Says:
    Great set of images specially the Herons!!Have a great Wednesday! Shantana
  8. fjällripan Says:
    Wonderful post! So many interesting birds you get to see! :)
  9. Modesto Viegas Says:
    Great post!!!
  10. Pat Says:
    What a great variety of birds. The Night Heron shots are beautiful as are those of the Green Heron.
  11. springman Says:
    Another great look at Florida’s impressive bird life. Clarity like that, must be a Canon! Always a pleasure Sir… Cheers!
  12. Richard Says:
    Great photos, Ken. Limpkins, though… they sure have an annoying call during mating season. Still, I like seeing them.
  13. Ken Says:
    Thank you all! Yes, Springman, it is a Canon 60D. And, Richard, those Limpkins can really make a racket. Looking forward to spring warbler migration in Illinois, as it never happened here in South Florida.

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