Our Favorite Day
Header Image: Red-eyed Vireo
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
As we entered the month of September, thoughts turned to fall migration. Even in a region which barely alters appearance during “autumn“, we can sense all sorts of changes. We actually do have some trees which have leaves showing us a golden or reddish hue instead of forest green. Annual bird migration is turning into an almost constant drip of Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Northern Waterthrush and the formation of mixed gangs of Tufted Titmice, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Downy Woodpeckers. Gini is researching new recipes for upcoming holidays.
September should be the seventh month since it derives its name from “septem“, Latin for seven. That was under the Roman calendar. Then an ancient bureaucrat decided that system wasn’t very accurate and suggested the Gregorian calendar instead. So now we have the “seventh” month appearing on our walls and phone apps as the “ninth” month instead.
With the notable exception of visiting medical facilities, our lives are mostly uncluttered by schedules. Most evenings come to a close with “want to go for a ride in the morning”? Occasionally we plan a trip further afield and must figure out how much food and gas to accumulate the day before.
This day was a typical casual visit to the local patch. Boiled eggs and grapes are good “mobile” breakfast items. From the house to the entrance gate is a ten-minute drive so we get to sleep in a bit. The area is not huge so we can cover it fairly well before lunch. Did I mention there are usually some interesting things to see?
I’ll show you.
A Brown Thrasher is a strikingly handsome bird. The bright brown plumage and golden eyes are highlights of this large member of the mimic family. Mockingbirds get credit for copying the songs of other birds, but the Brown Thrasher is equally proficient.
It’s easy to forget the Eastern Towhee is actually a sparrow as it doesn’t quite resemble the “little brown job” appearance of their cousins. This female appears to be in the late stages of molting. Florida has a native species of Eastern Towhee which has pale eyes instead of the red eyes of more northern birds.
Pelicans are normally associated with salt water. We are about 50 miles from the nearest salt water but a small group of Brown Pelicans breed in our local lakes annually. This one spotted a school of small fish, made a dive and filled its pouch with breakfast.
Looking a bit tattered, a Velvetbean Caterpillar Moth (Anticarsia gemmatalis) wandered among the dew drops early in the morning.
The colorful Northern Parula warbler will soon be absent from our woodlands as they head to South America for the winter.
One of the many members of the morning-glory family is the small-flowered Cypressvine (Ipomoea quamoclit). I believe it is not native to Florida and the feathery leaves certainly don’t resemble those of others in the family.
Looking more like some sort of thrush, the Ovenbird is a warbler which prefers foraging among the leaves of the forest floor instead of chasing insects among the high-altitude limbs of trees.
Exuvia. I just like saying the word. This one belongs to one of the 19 species of Cicada found in Florida. If you prefer, you may call this a “cast nymphal skeleton”, but I find “exuvia” more pleasing.
It seems this young male Northern Cardinal has just about completed his first molt and will soon be more completely red, just like Dad.
We have three species of large dark members of the King skimmer family which are common in our area. The Bar-winged, Great Blue and Slaty Skimmers. This is a female Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta).
As birds begin preparing for migration, they eat almost constantly in order to have sufficient fuel for their long journey south. Some smaller birds form loose flocks which can help provide some protection from predators. For the next several weeks we’ll see larger and larger groups of birds such as the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher chasing down anything that moves in a tree or bush.
We are so fortunate to have a climate that allows us to see many creatures much later in the year than other parts of the world. A Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) was kind enough to allow a photograph from underneath, an angle we don’t always have a chance to capture.
As bright as our famous citrus, a fresh Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) visits a Spanish Needle for nectar.
Another visitor to the Spanish Needles is a Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia), Florida’s state butterfly.
A Red-eyed Vireo silently probes through the trees. They breed in our area but more show up during migration as they head to South and Central America.
Another favorite day! We saw so much yet feel like we could have seen so much more. I suppose we shall just have to return for yet one more favorite day.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!