A few weeks ago we had a chance to escape to our patch before the dire weather predictions came crashing down around us. Sunny skies and warm temperatures – the way a Florida winter should be!
For something a bit different, our trip began in mid-afternoon and we remained until sunset. We had a wonderful outing and saw more than we expected. We even spotted a few critters other than birds! When we first arrived, threatening clouds moved in but quickly scudded off to the east leaving us with bright blue skies overhead.
We typically see more birds in the mornings but we scared up a few migratory visitors as well as a couple of familiar residents. The calendar said it was December. For us, it could have been March. Our thoughts were with those in cold environments as snow and wind and ice certainly make life more challenging. Once that weather system reached us a few days later, our temperatures flirted with near freezing for three or four days and rain made being outside a bit uncomfortable. Not life-threatening as some have had to contend with.
At our final stop as the sun headed for the horizon we were treated to Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks overhead, wading birds hoping for a final frog feast, a curious mammal and a somewhat pleasant view of the sun through the lakeside cypress trees. A very nice afternoon.
The scene at our first stop was pretty dramatic. As thunder rolled in the distance, we wondered if we should head back to the house. Press on, she said. Good decision. (As usual.)
Adding to the local woodpecker population during migration. a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker probes a tree trunk for snacks.
Warm weather encourages many insects to breed in late fall. One result is that we get to enjoy adults such as this Gulf Fritillary (Dione incarnata).
Florida’s state bird, the Northern Mockingbird, may be very common, but he’s also very handsome. Or, she may be very beautiful.
An Anhinga and Great Blue Heron compare wing display techniques.
A warm sunny afternoon is not only welcoming to explorers, but a Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) thinks the road is just fine for soaking up the last rays of the day. I suspect he just had a meal as he didn’t move at all when I came a bit closer to get a photograph. Normally, they disappear very quickly.
Making hay while the sun is still shining. Mrs. Phoebe finds the top of this bale just perfect for spotting any movement in the field below.
Our patch does not contain much in the way of shallow wetlands or marshes, but a pair of Wilson’s Snipe decided a small drainage ditch by the side of the road to be quite suitable for foraging. These are also winter visitors.
There were not a lot of dragonflies flitting about, but a few got our attention. This bright male Hyacinth Glider (Miathyria marcella) even perched for us. They typically remain airborne forever it seems.
Yet another of our fall/winter tourists is the Savannah Sparrow. The light was beginning to wane but we could still enjoy the bird’s warm brown plumage and the bit of yellow in front of the eye. This bird was part of a group of six other sparrows which were part of a group of 20+ Palm Warblers. Fun!
A movement in a cypress tree turned out to be a Raccoon illuminated by the setting sun. We told her we meant no harm but I think she felt better once we departed.
As we reluctantly prepared to head home, the sun twinkled through the trees and a lone little cloud appeared above the lake. Was this the beginning of our cold front?
Autumn was ending. Winter was ravishing the lands to our far north. We appreciated a warm and rewarding calm afternoon before the storm.
Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!