We Are Not Normal

(Header Image:  Great Blue Heron On The Nest) 

I keep thinking if I arrive at sunrise the view will be spectacular, what with all that “Golden Light” photographers continuously seek. Unfortunately, the light still reveals the same old dusty roads and converted phosphate mines. Looking at the water is pleasant and the surrounding trees are nice enough, but it is not exactly an “iconic landscape venue”.  

Fortunately, the habitat is quite agreeable to a diversity of flora and fauna. But that wide-angle lens is in the pack, just in case. 

A revealing exercise in which we regularly engage is the “What would you like to do tomorrow?” game. Interestingly, 99% of the time, we discuss where to go birding. (Or, as Gini has come to call it:  birding, blooming and bugging.) Shopping, sight-seeing, visiting nearby Disney World – none of these has ever been discussed. Nature seekers are us. (Oh. The other 1% of the time? Once a month the vote is unanimous to visit our favorite seafood shack.) 

Over the years, we have made a somewhat startling discovery. More than a few people in the world have lost their minds. I know! We were surprised, too! What we thought were “sound” values of society have been deemed “old-fashioned” and have apparently been discarded. Things we considered just “common sense” have been ignored and replaced with what we regard as insanity. We have aching necks from shaking our heads back-and-forth. 

I blame Darwin. Human evolution bypassed us. We still wallow in the ancient ideas of our grandparents. Society has deemed us obsolete. 

It’s okay. Down deep, we always knew we were “different”. It’s just a bit startling to discover at our (very slightly) advanced age that we are “REBELS”! 

Our recent REBEL adventure took us all of fifteen minutes from the house to the Tenoroc Public Use Area where, a half-hour before sunrise, we fell in line behind a few fishermen and waited to check in. It always confuses the gate-keeper when we say we’re here to “bird”, as that activity is not on their list (despite the location being touted in the press and on a huge sign AT the entrance declaring this a “Gateway To The Great Florida BIRDING and Wildlife Trail). Sigh. We have modified our response to “hiking” which is immediately understood, we get our pass and off we go. (REBELS chuckling to ourselves that we are actually going “birding”. HA!) 

It was an exhilarating morning! A tardy Gray Catbird should have migrated north a couple of weeks ago. Spring has sprung! Nest building and courtship were evident everywhere. Dragons and damsels were active and the morning blooms of Moonflowers decorated the reclaimed mining area.  

A weekday morning, up before dawn, excited at seeing a snake on the path and dragonflies mating – we yield to the evidence. We are not — “normal”. 

Images to follow. (Surprise! No landscapes, iconic or otherwise.) 

A Gray Catbird was a bit of a surprise as most of her group left for the far north several days ago. I guess she wanted one last Brazilian Pepper fruit before the trip. 

Moonflowers (Ipomoea alba L.) are also called Tropical White Morning-glory and are night-blooming. We usually see a fair number still blooming in the early morning. 

Obligatory American Alligator image.  

The Northern Flicker male sports a black moustache while his female partner does not. The second photograph of the female in flight shows why they were formerly called “Yellow-shafted Flicker”. 

An Osprey prepared to enjoy a fresh fish breakfast. 

The very slender Eastern Ribbon Snake reaches about 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) in length and is not venomous. 

One of our more common damselflies is Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii). Typical of this family, it can be seen in different color patterns, depending on sex and maturity. 

Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Male
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Andromorph female
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Immature heteromorph female

I first spotted this mating pair of Cypress Clubtails (Phanogomphus minutus) while they were flying and getting a picture was a bit of a challenge. (Okay, it wasn’t a challenge. It was impossible.) They decided to land in the middle of the road. I lay down and got dusty, but also got a photo! 

There are around 1900 species of Leaf-footed Bug (Family Coreidae) in the world. Almost 100 of them are within the United States. I could guess at this one’s species, but there are several that are similar. Any experts who would care to offer an identification would be welcome! 

Darners are among our largest dragonflies but they seem to remain airborne most of the time. This Regal Darner (Coryphaeschna ingens) actually perched for a moment.

We love exploring nature. Whether watching a bird, admiring a flower or getting dizzy chasing a bug, it’s what we enjoy. It is understandable that many listen to us enthusiastically describe a day at the phosphate pits or in the swamp and wander off thinking: “They aren’t normal.” 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit! 

18 Comments on “We Are Not Normal

  1. This blog post, as usual Wally, is ‘right up my street’ with your entertaining and informal narrative and your super photos of all your wonderful birds, insects, etc. I was not aware of the older name for the Northern Flicker, but that fabulous photo makes me wonder why the older name was not retained!

    Thank you, Wally and Gini, for being exceptional, rather than normal.

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      • No worries, Richard. My brain didn’t even notice.

        I blame it on superior cognitive skills.
        (Okay, okay. Old age. There – the truth is out. And I wasn’t even tired from driving.)

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    • We are happy to deliver our explorations “right up your street” anytime.

      The “Yellow-shafted” and “Red-shafted” Flicker used to be considered separate species. The yellow is found mostly in the eastern U.S. while the red is primarily in the west. Those “experts” eventually discovered they have the same genes so “they MUST be renamed!” We now have the bland-sounding “Northern” Flicker divided into two sub-species. I shall never be a bird-naming “expert”.

      Gini wants you to know you made her day. She now wants me return the Tee shirts I had made for us which say “Abnormal” across the front and replace them with brightly colored ones declaring “Exceptional”. I blame you.

      Continue to rest so you will have enough stamina to process the Scottish trip images!

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  2. What a delightful post. If someone made a film of your life, it clearly would be in 3B: birding, blooming, and bugging are just the antidote to some of today’s foolishness. Personally, I’ve always thought that, were Dante to be writing today, he’d tuck Vegas, Disneyland, and assorted cruise ships into his circles of hell. Given that I have maybe twenty good years left, I’ve made it my goal in life to avoid the stupid, the irrelevant, and the boring, and those venues seem to qualify on all counts. Nature? Never.

    That tropical white morning glory is a stunner. I looked at the USDA map and found it shown in only four Texas counties, but one of them is Harris, just north of me. I’m going to have to explore that a little more. Also: there’s an east Texas flower that looks roughly the same, except that it’s only about an inch across. It’s called Pickering’s Dawn flower, and now I’m wondering if it has the same habits as your Ipomoea alba. Something else to explore!

    I love that alligator image. The advantages offered by blue sky and clear waters are obvious in that one. I am fond of those creatures.

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    • Thank you for such thoughtful and pleasant comments!

      We have been very blessed during our 53+ years of marriage in that we are in synch when it comes to our priorities. Needless to say, “touristy” has never made it on our “to do” list.

      With vines up to 40 feet long and those blooms almost six inches wide, an early morning mass of those Moonflowers along the back road to the lake can be pretty impressive.

      Come on down. I feel certain that little ‘gator would be quite fond of you, too! 🙂

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  3. I laughed so hard at this one! Thanks for sharing your “hike!” with your fellow rebels!

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    • Hi there, Jess! We do tend to have more fun than the average citizen!

      Thank you so much for sharing the fabulous photographs of your adventures at the Fort. You bring a whole new definition to “adorable”!

      (For anyone who has not discovered Jess’ incredible photography, please visit her at : https://www.blog.catandturtle.net. Click on her “blog”. You will NOT be disappointed!)

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  4. Good morning Sir and your First Lady in the sleepy south of the USA. From one rebel to two of the same ilk, I salute you both. The world has indeed gone mad, bad and ugly. Fortunately there are still birds and even bugs with which to remain sane as you amply demonstrate.

    Those alligators are interesting but for scale purposes of the photos perhaps you could find a volunteer from the woke brigade willing to pose next to the harmless little creature?

    Once again I envy your clear blue skies and implied temperatures. We are promised our summer on Tuesday next before winter returns on Wednesday.

    I rather like that Leaf-footed Bug, it reminds me of a well-known British politician who even as we speak keeps putting his foot in his mouth

    Those forktail pictures are super, so good that for a split second I almost began a Google search for “macro lens” but then thought better of it.

    Enjoy your sunshine. I’m looking in Sue’s drawers for a pair of shorts to wear on Tuesday

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    • Good Morning, Sir Phil!

      Yes, as long as we keep our focus on nature and away from the telly there is a slight chance for sanity.

      There is not much chance we will locate a woke brigade volunteer as we maintain a healthy (for us) unsocial distance from them. The subject of this post’s photo was a youngster and measured about five feet on the Scaly Reptile Scale.

      Again, I urge you to seek counseling. I succumbed to the siren song of a sale a few weeks ago. That “new lens smell” hasn’t even worn off yet. Each time the macro lens is attached to the camera, my head now automatically turns from the sky and tree tops down toward grass and leaf bottoms. It’s a trick. Don’t fall for it!

      We shall continue to embrace our sun and blue sky while we hope for just a bit of rain, only in the afternoons so as not to interrupt our exploration schedule.

      Good luck in finding appropriate attire for your short summer, however, an image of you in Sue’s drawers has been burned into my brain.

      Like

  5. Thanks for the laugh and for the great photos, Love to see birds from other parts of the world, Your visit was appreciated. Have a great remainder to the week, Diane

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    • Thank you very much, Diane!

      Isn’t it amazing that the birds of our planet can be all at once familiar and so diverse?

      It is almost a new weekend. We hope yours is peaceful and filled with joy.

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  6. I have a fridge magnet which reads ‘the only normal people are those you don’t know very well’. Which makes sense to me.
    As does your form of abnormality.
    Disneyland? Theme parks? Shopping? Shudder.

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  7. You certainly saw a lot and got some great photos on your “hike” Wally!

    Thanks for the info on Northern Flickers. I didn’t know that.

    Like

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