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!