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!

24 Comments on “Our Favorite Day

  1. I am a bit worried about those ingredients Gini is planning to use for her recipes.

    You like saying “Exuvia”…I do also…but I really like saying “Maidenhair Spleenwort”.

    You are fortunate to live in an area so hospitable to the vast variety of creatures you see. All those wonderful butterflies and dragonflies. I agree with Pooh. Today is my favorite day. It’s impressive the wisdom found in so many children’s tales. Adults should take heed. 😀


  2. Dear Wally,
    As always, I enjoy seeing who is hanging around your local patch. The series showing the diving pelican is marvelous and I really loved being reminded of the Pooh quote. It could be extended to everything and everybody we look at at any given moment, something like “this is my favorite bird/butterfly/flower.”
    Wishing you and Gini only favorite days.


  3. Wally, the link to your blog has disappeared from your Blogger profile. I know that you have to keep a low profile but I thought I had best tip you off for when anyone comes looking for you.

    My favourite AA Milne quote is “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing”. I often remind Sue of that when she asks what I’m actually doing in front of my PC. I have done quite a lot since returning from Greece. Two book reviews, three ringing sessions this week alone, a final cut to the lawns, and several telephone calls to arrange for workmen to cut autumnal trees and fix the leaking roof.

    I digress, and must return to mention your inadequate breakfast of grapes and boiled eggs. This not much to sustain you both during a hard day in the field with cameras and field guides in your backpack. For our ringing trips at first light, my “bagging” is legendary in containing several items of fruit, chocolate snacks, bread in some form, and coffee. In fact, I can see why I rather like Pelicans and their ability to scoop up so much food in one go.

    I do like the photo of the Zebra Longwing, the way it is perched on the flower.

    Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget – bacon, eggs, hash browns, beans and mushrooms.


    • Thanks for the heads up about our blog link. It seems to be fixed but let us know if you still see any issues. Low profile, most certainly, but wasn’t going for “no” profile!

      I love your favorite Milne quote and have inadvertently practiced it throughout the years.

      Alas, life continues to be unfair. Once you reach our advanced years you may discover your described delicious British breakfast is fine for the occasional Sunday brunch but if you attempt to consume it more than one day per week the entire universe of medical specialists shall descend upon you like a swarm of locusts bearing bowls of porridge and fresh fruit. I draw the line at no coffee.

      When I go at least I’ll go happy. And caffeinated.

      A new week has begun! Make good use of it.


  4. Your favorite day is much like ours! I always say, you can’t have a bad day on the days you spend time in nature. It just sets your mood for the whole day. I saw the tiny red bloom of the Cypressvine this week on a hillside. The red caught my eye! And yesterday we saw so many different birds, we were flitting around as much as the birds were. Enjoy your weekend and this fabulous weather! Diane


  5. After a good long while spent staring at your photos of the Brown Pelican, I still was perplexed. We have plenty of pelicans, but I can’t remember seeing one with that white ‘stripe’ along its neck. It might be that I miss the white neck during their dives, while your camera caught it, but I don’t think so. I finally decided that yours is a breeding adult, while most of ours are the non-breeding; they have that yellowish wash on their heads. Anyway: great photos of one of my favorite birds.

    I laughed at your casual reference to Gini’s menu planning. Who needs blackbirds for a pie, when so many other species are available?

    The Cypressvine is beautiful. It looks rather like a cross between Nicotianas and one of our natives called Standing Cypress. Each of the three plants is in a different genus, but the flowers certainly resemble one another. No wonder we get confused!


    • I forgot! When I read the conversation between Pooh and Piglet, and your comments about your favorite days, I thought immediately of a song that I think Pooh would enjoy!


    • You’re right about the breeding adult pelicans. Once breeding season is in full swing the heads turn yellowish.

      Add enough cinnamon and allspice to the recipe and four-and-twenty anythings will work for a holiday pie.

      I love the delicate look of the Cypressvine leaves and the bright blooms really stand out. It can take over pretty quick though.

      Thank goodness for those Latin names to keep us straight. And taxonomists who are always so reliable – oh, wait.


  6. I was not aware of that A.A. Milne quote, Wally, even though my mother used to read Winnie the Pooh stories to me as a very young child. I have, in front of me as I write this, a copy of Whinnie the Pooh’ and the flyleaf is inscribed “June 1947 – To Richard – With all best wishes on your first birthday – from Uncle Derek – a beginning of a growing library” I might just read it again!

    As always, I am uplifted by this blog post. Your butterfly images are sublime, and that diving pelican is masterful.

    Good news today – Lindsay has a date for her replacement knee, and it’s a couple of months earlier than originally expected! Only three more medical-based visits to go this week, having had my Covid and Flu jabs this morning.

    My very best wishes to you both – – – – Richard


    • Throughout the years I have found Pooh to be the ultimate Philosopher.

      Thank you for the kind remarks on the snapshots.

      Please pass along our best wishes to Lindsay on her surgery. Gini is on a physical therapy routine even as we speak to prepare her for the same procedure.

      All good here. Doctors and birds. Doctors and birds. Doctors and odes. Etc.


  7. I’m right in there with Pooh. What a great collection of photos! I’m envious of your diving pelican, what a great shot. I’ve considered growing the Cypress Vine (or Cardinal Vine) here, but am a little leery of the “somewhat invasive” designation. The cicada skeleton looks like a ghost suitable for the coming Halloween festivities. Hope the visits to the medical facilities aren’t anything serious… take care of yourselves.


    • You are welcome. Muchly.

      Hope your Spring will give you a break on the rains, but the forecasts are not very encouraging. Let us know if you need a boat.


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