All Natural Ingredients

Header Image: White-eyed Vireo

So many things to do!

The garage really needs to be sorted out, the extra bedroom looks like the aftermath of a craft warehouse explosion, bags of donation items need to be hauled away, a couple of small trees are awaiting excavation, the birding-mobile is overdue for an oil change — where, oh where, to begin?

Sunrise in the forest is so quiet and peaceful. In early spring, we are blessed with uncharacteristically low humidity and can almost understand why so many people who reside in northern regions like it so much. Rays of bright sunshine illuminate small bright flowers emerging from hibernation. The staccato of a Downy Woodpecker hammering on a limb seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Nature.

Early singers included a Northern Cardinal, the soft cooing of Mourning Dove and the incessant questioning call of a White-eyed Vireo. Soon, Northern Parulas joined in with their ascending notes sounding as if they were practicing their scales. A Red-shouldered Hawk screeched as a couple of Fish Crows harassed him from his tree-top perch.

Newly sprouted leaves on all the trees are so green! Pine trees are all sporting new growth at the extremities of their limbs called “candles”. Indeed, it seemed as if we were admiring a forest of chandeliers. As the morning sun dried the grass and weeds, insects set about their daily tasks mostly unobserved by humans. Other creatures, however, took intense notice. Life is a constant effort to survive, for all creatures.

Gini and I munched slices of tangerine and once again marveled at how blessed we are. To be able to simply travel a very short distance, enjoy a peaceful morning surrounded by nature, revel in the company of someone we not only love, but actually like to be around – this is what we wish everyone could experience.

A few of our observations were recorded for posterity.

Swallow-tailed Kites have returned from wintering in South America. They will soon select a tall tree near water for a nest. Watching these aerobatic hunters is mesmerizing.

The paths and forest roads were busy with dragon patrols. Today, we saw a few Carolina and Red Saddlebags, but the main actors were Hyacinth Gliders (Miathyria marcella).

We don’t often get a good look at the namesake underside of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, but this male offered us a glimpse as he is sporting fresh breeding plumage.

Not only were the “road warrior” dragons active, those who prefer to perch for their dinner are starting to become abundant as well. This male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) will soon have emerald green eyes once it fully matures.

We found a group of a dozen Savannah Sparrows foraging in a recently planted field. Soon, they will all depart for their northern breeding grounds.

Yet another dragon hunting technique, the Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) is one of the few skimmers which prefers to perch on the ground. The bright green of this female will blend very well in the grass and weeds, once she moves from that white rock.

Old blue-eyes. Not much in the singing department, but those eyes along with white plumage a red bill, face and legs certainly make the White Ibis a stand-out!

Damselflies are so small it’s very easy to miss seeing them altogether. If you do happen to spot one, identification of the specific species offers it own special challenge. In the case of Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii), the challenge becomes almost ridiculous! While the sensible male has a single green form, the female can be green like the male, blue, olive or orange! Good luck. We were fortunate today and found males and three of the four female forms – all within ten feet of each other.

Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Male
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Blue-form Male-like Adult Female
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Immature Orange-form Female
Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii) – Male and Olive Form Female

From the underbrush throughout the morning came the tireless singing of White-eyed Vireos hoping to attract a mate. We didn’t mind one bit. When one occasionally offered us a glimpse, well, we liked that even better!

In Florida, our largest breeding Buteo is the Red-tailed Hawk. This magnificent raptor has a wingspan of up to 52 inches (133 cm). Masters of the air, they can spot movement from great altitudes and silently swoop down to snatch a rabbit with incredible speed. Gini once glanced up from reading to see one grasp a squirrel from atop our fence. She had the additional joy of watching the big bird clean the mammal, eviscerate it and consume virtually the whole thing! Who needs the telly?

All of us lead very busy lives. Work, family, chores, finances, politics, world conflict, disease – we must pay attention to all of these. Try not to become overwhelmed. Take time for yourself and those you care about. The recipe for our overall well-being is a simple blending of All Natural Ingredients.

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

28 Comments on “All Natural Ingredients

  1. The older I get the more that chores become an unwanted intrusion on my life, so I ignore them as much as possible. Great shots of the wildflowers of your area. Nature in one of its many glorious forms!

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    • Gini reminds me we have children and grandchildren to do some of the things we no longer find easy to accomplish.

      I remind her, very gently, most of those helpers are over 1,000 miles distant.

      Rainy days are for chores. All other times are for exploring Nature!

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  2. It really can be overwhelming when you have so much to do….and the weather is so nice! lol We put off some of our projects to get out more often while it’s less hot and less humid. And we appreciate having so many places to go for our hikes and day trips. You just never know what you’ll see. And you have to look up…look down…look all around! Love the details of your Kite pics and the Vireo is very special! Have a wonderful weekend!

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    • Putting off projects is my specialty!

      Especially when the birds are singing and the cicadas are buzzing.

      Thank you for dropping by! Can’t wait for your next walking tour in the far north of west-central Florida.

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  3. Getting all those chores completed is difficult I know. I actually retrieved a paint brush from the garage on Friday and then painted a whole wall – impressed?

    But that’s enough DIY now spring is here because there’s a meat and potato pie to make for our Sunday guests. I hope you joined Gini for the cooking Wally, rather than sitting there at the table with knife and fork at the ready and an expectant look on your face.

    You are so lucky to have those Swallow-tailed Kites back on cue, wheeling and dealing in the blue skies above. A detailed description of the hawk consuming the squirrel too, just as well I am not squeamish as I suspect some readers might be and thereby vowing not to read your nature in tooth and claw on future occasions.

    Enjoy your visit to daughter whose name shall remain a secret. Thinks……..

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    • A whole wall! That IS impressive.

      Of course I joined the Boss for cooking. Well, more like chopping, washing and tasting. Not “actual” cooking. I know better.

      Out the door soon to enjoy good company and good food. A winning combination.

      Gini and I hope your day with family is all you want it to be.

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  4. The photograph of the White-eyed Vireo is wonderful. This is a real rarity here and it is at least fifteen years since I have seen one, and I always think it is an especially appealing bird. Maybe this spring I will get lucky – but don’t hold your breath!

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  5. It’s always interested me that I see damselflies around the marinas, but no dragonflies. In fact, the damselflies often land on my freshly varnished rails. I always wonder if they mistake the reflectivity for water, and hope they wait until the varnish has dried. The love bugs aren’t so smart; they’re drawn to the smell of varnish (and house paint, I’m told) and in love bug season I plan my work around their working hours: they fly from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. or so.

    After much pondering, I finally tentatively identified a bird I found at Brazoria as a Savannah Sparrow, and your photo seems to confirm it. There’s certainly no mistaking Old Blue Eyes! What a wonderful photo, Wally.

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    • Now you’re gonna have me looking around the docks and marinas for dragons and damsels and freshly varnished surfaces.

      I shall not purposefully look for love bugs. Ever.

      Sparrows are so diverse, birders had to invent a catch-all phrase for ’em: LBJ’s. Little Brown Jobs.

      There are flowers everywhere we go now! Trying to successfully photograph and identify them, well, that’ a whole ‘nother story.

      Have a great Texas weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your spring reflections are so comforting and true. That perspective of the kite is quite unique, putting the shadows to good use. Having moved to Connecticut I will miss many of those Florida resident birds and dragonflies. Hoping you will send some spring migrants our way. Here, the “peter-peter-peter” calls of titmice and the “fee-bee” love songs of chickadees are punctuated by songs of Song and White-throated Sparrows and cardinals. Soon hope the warblers will be joining them.

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    • Based on the dwindling number of warblers in the woods, you should be seeing them soon!

      That kite was quartering a field I was hiking through right at sunrise so the shadows and angle of the photo seemed awkward, but I ended up liking the result.

      It’s almost a weekend again! Take good care.

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  7. The start to your day is similar to what some call the “Dawn Chorus” here…maybe there also. It’s nice to know that you in Florida can have the morning coolness when so many flock there for the warmth. My picture is of sweltering days.
    You really do get to see so many species on your walks. Here in the woods I mainly hear the birds. I am not an avid birder so see a lot of flitting in the trees without know the ids.

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    • Our sweltering days will be here soon enough! My native Florida blood doesn’t mind them, but, having said that, I remain thankful for the invention of air-conditioning!

      The bottom line for us is “getting out”. Being able to identify a bird, bloom or bug is icing on the cake.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was right there with you two!!! Enjoying the sights, the sounds, the birdsong!! All your photos are enchanting with your narration!! Of course, my favorites are the birds …especially that picture post card perfect photo of the kite in flight!!

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    • Thank you, Anni. We were pleased to have you along with us!

      It’s a great time to be outside. Oh, wait, ANY time is great for that!

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  9. Thank you for another fabulous post and wonderful advice. I also feel lucky to be able to explore natural places without having to travel too far, and to witness all the wonderful goings-on. I knew Florida’s forests were fabulous, but not that they grew chandeliers. What marvels will you share next? 🙂

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  10. The chores will still be there when you get home, Wally. At least they are at our house!

    The Swallow-tailed Kites are amazing flyers. I enjoy watching them, especially how they use their tales.

    Great photos and writing, as usual. And thanks for the new word I learned: “candles”!

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    • I keep hoping the “chore elves” will show up while we’re gone. No luck yet.

      Thank you for your nice comments, Ed. The next post will likely have a picture of the “candles”.

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  11. Interesting that your Forktail is very similar to our Blue-tailed damselfly and the females of the Blue-tail also come in several colour forms. ID is pretty easy as it’s our smallest damsel and we don’t have as many as you folks do!
    Love that Swallow-tail Kite, fantastic looking bird.
    Great post Wally thanks for another insight into your world.

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    • I think my frustration with damsel identification increases each year as my eyesight and ability to bend or kneel decreases!

      Don’t get old.

      Those kites are truly amazing to watch as they soar over an open field snatching dragons and eating them on the fly!

      Very happy to hear about your Berlin trip. I know you’re glad to be home.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Having eagerly devoured this blog post from you, Wally, I find myself wondering if one day I will find that you have written a book. If so, I will buy it immediately. It matters not what the subject matter might be as I know it will be a joy to read, and if it was illustrated by photos from your good self that would just seal the perfection.

    Thank you for treating me to beautiful birds and fabulous dragons.

    Must go now as Lindsay has just announced that it’s bedtime!

    Best wishes to you and Gini – – – Richard

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    • If I ever consider a book (which won’t be happening), rest assured I’ll be hiring you as my public relations agent! You caused me to blush all the way across an entire ocean.

      Gini and I wish you and Lindsay sweet dreams.

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  13. Turning to birds and nature in the company of someone you love and like trumps the tyranny of the to-do list. Each and every time.
    Thank you for sharing some of the wonder. And the joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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