So Much – LIFE ! (Part The Second)
Breakfast was delightful and enhanced by the local ambience. Alligators now recognize us on sight and popped up to the lake’s surface every few minutes to be sure we were still there. Wading birds probed the soft mud by the water for their own breakfast. Waves of cicadas sang in unison, volume rising then falling, reminding us how much we love our Sunshine State and all the natural beauty it has to offer.
Along with her ageless beauty, sparkling eyes, alert mind and incredible zest for living, Gini possesses uncommonly keen hearing. (The actual kind, in addition to the “Mother’s Radar” which knew what our children were doing even when they were at someone else’s house.) I rely on her to report which birds are chipping nearby as well as who’s singing in a field a mile away. My own hearing disappeared during my Air Force days (20 years worth of radio noise). We won’t discuss my skin, eyes, mind, etc., thank you very much.
She heard a lot this morning. White-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird. Alas, today most remained beyond camera range.
Gini pointed out a Fish Crow and Osprey perched together in a treetop. They appeared to be having a conversation. A pair of big Pileated Woodpeckers flew overhead. The commuting lanes of the morning sky were beginning to fill with White Ibises, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Boat-tailed Grackles, a Little Blue Heron and a Red-shouldered Hawk. We were getting busy, too. Every step seemed to reveal another nugget of joy Mother Nature wanted us to see. We were happy to oblige.
We have tried to tailor our trips to birding or looking for bugs or concentrating on flowers – all to no avail. It’s the “shiny object” syndrome. If we go birding, Gini will invariably exclaim: “Look at that big dragon!!” So, we attempt to multi-task as best we can. All I know is after each trip, we look at each other and agree it was a good day. Who could want for more?
Images of our after-breakfast explorations are below, if you care to glance.
I had the distinct impression I was watching two old fishermen exchanging stories about technique and the one that got away. Fish Crow and Osprey.
***NEW SPECIES*** >>>> Coffee-loving Pyrausta (Pyrausta tyralis). Now, how could I NOT adore a moth who is coffee-loving?? Sorta nice to look at, too.
We saw a familiar butterfly which at first glance seems nondescript. As you gaze at the amazing patterns on the wings, you realize how beautiful Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius) really is.
The blue wash on the upper side of a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) identifies this as a female. The male has a greenish color instead.
Easily mistaken for a wasp, the diminutive Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) is the smallest dragonfly in North America. Wings are mostly clear on the male while the female has a more dense pattern.
As far as I’ve been able to find out, the common Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) does not occur in Florida. A smaller relative, the Round-tailed Muskrat (Neofiber alleni) inhabits lakes, rivers and wetlands throughout the state. This is the first one we’ve ever seen.
As beautiful as the Monarch it mimics, a Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) hopes would-be predators know how bad that other guy tastes and will leave him alone!
Using a method different than the Viceroy of warding off predators, a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia Hübner) hopes the big “eyes” on its wings will confuse or scare a hunter.
Unconcerned with the drama of being devoured, a Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae) simply hangs around all day looking beautiful.
An adjustment is needed to change my focus from trees for birds to shrubs for butterflies to individual blades of grass for the tiny damselflies. It would be a shame to pass by a Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) without saying hello and snapping a quick photo.
This cooperative Two-striped Forceptail (Aphylla williamsoni) posed nicely on a waist-high twig. Probably had been watching me struggle to kneel down and get up shooting the damselfly picture and took pity on me. I appreciated it.
Wait. What? It’s noon already? As if in answer, a roll of thunder from the south advised we should probably head home. It had been a morning of relatively few opportunities to photograph birds, but nature provided a smorgasbord of alternative subjects! Once again, we had been overwhelmed to encounter So Much – LIFE!
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!
Another very enjoyable post, Wall! And so full of information! I too like all of your photos, but the header image is my favorite.
I have been trying to remind myself to photograph the habitat as well as the subjects. At my age, developing new habits is tough!
Thanks for visiting, Ed!
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Another great excursion before the rains came! There was a nice rhythm to your sightings– lots of variety and for me, discovery. I had never heard of the round-tailed muskrat until a beginning birder photographed one and identified it as such. I guess growing up away from Florida just never provided me with a hint that all muskrats did not have flat tails.
Thank you, Ken. It’s so neat that something like birding can open up whole new natural worlds to explore!
Wally, man! So good to see you’re still chasing after nature, and combined with your gift of writing, your posts are so fun to read. You have quite the collection of flutterbys! Cool that the gators recognize you. I’ve grown very fond of the alligators while kayaking. They’re so chill. Now to figure out how to follow you on here…
Happy you found us, Gail!
Let me know if you have further difficulty with following or your email not being recognized and we’ll see what we can do.
The question of the day, of course, is, “What did you have for breakfast?” I am assuming that you took it with you and munched in the car, or perhaps at a strategically-placed picnic bench, or astride a fallen log. Your pictures, as always, are pleasure to look at, and reflect as you mention the amazing variety of nature, and it would be sin to give any of it short shrift. If I could start a career all over again, I think I would be a taxonomist. Can you imagine the pleasure in having these names roll off your tongue every day? Many moths seem to have quite outrageous, and therefore appealing monnikers, but I think my favourite of all remains a bird – Oleaginous Hemispingus. Whoever it was that came up with that deserves the Nobel Prize for Naming!
The answer to your burning question may be a bit of a let down, David. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Enhanced significantly by Gini’s homemade strawberry preserves. Munched in the car overlooking a lake with large cypress trees.
I love your choice of favorite names. And that is its common name!
We hope your new week is off to a great start!
Wally. A word or two of advice. Those Alligators – they want to eat you, not to make friends.
Fortunately my own ears are pretty good apart from birds that call at high frequencies like Treecreepers or Tree Pipits. My hearing is so good that I have to leave places where boom boxes are in residence; or maybe that’s old age? Good to hear that at least one of you can hear a popping cork. Sue has a wonderful sense of smell – she can detect an open gin bottle from a hundred yards away.
How did that Coffee-loving Pyrausta acquire that name.? I’m guessing from lve for the plant and not by imbibing the drink straight from the coffee on Floridian lunch tables.
Once again, you show us some wonderful insects, their names alone enough to generate interest. I have a butterfly book coming for review soon, I may have to send it to your good self as you almost certainly know British butterflies better than I do.
More likely, the ‘gators smelled our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and were plotting to grab them. We devoured them quickly and laughed in the faces of the overgrown lizards!
You are correct about the moth being named for its larval plant, the wild coffee Seminole balsamo (Psychotria nervosa, Rubiaceae). No mention of whether it takes cream and sugar.
All is well here in hurricane country as the two storms appear to be skipping our house this time.
Have a wonderful week.
I do enjoy these outings with you and Gini. You have so much to see there, I think the Coffee loving Moth is one of my favorites. Beautiful butterflies and lovely post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great week!
Thank you so much, Eileen! As long as we keep having fun, we’ll keep doing it.
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Huge thanks to you and Gini again.
I am so grateful that you see, capture, share the ephemeral wonder and beauty around you.
It is totally our pleasure, EC!
Thank you for your gracious remarks and for continuing to visit with us. Means a lot.
My goodness, Wally – an almost bird-free blog post! This is getting serious although, as I am sure you are aware, this is no problem for me as you are featuring some of my favourite subjects.
The face on that Forceptail looks rather interesting.
I’m wondering if your Pyrausta is as tiny as the Pyrausta aurata that we get every year in our garden – they are similar in appearance.
All is well here, apart from the actions, or inaction, of other parties!
My best wishes to you both – – – Richard
No worries, Richard. Soon you will be wondering where all the insects have gone.
That Pyrausta has a wingspan of 0.67 inch (17 mm) and it seemed VERY small when trying to photograph it with a 600 mm lens! Akin to using a sledge hammer to push a thumb tack into a wall.
Gini and I hope you and Lindsay make the new week special, despite what others may or may not be doing!
Hi Wally 🙂 You and Gini sound like a happy couple. 🙂 It’s nice to read your post. I love all of those photos, but the birds in deep conversation has to be my favourite! 🙂
Hi, Rain! Thank you for visiting with us and leaving such kind remarks. We really appreciate it.
(And, yes, we really ARE happy!)
My favourite is the Buckeye shot, excellent, but then they are all superb!
Thank you, Brian! Sure was fun finding them.