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.
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!