Island in the sun

     I am composing this adventure from somewhere in South Florida. The morning fog blanketed the ground in one of the west coast of Florida's premier birding spots. In my humble opinion birds just don’t seem as pretty in a shroud of fog verses the golden rays of morning I am normally used to. Our workshop instructor said consider this a challenge and so it was. Thankfully the fog lifted and the sun was shining bright for our afternoon adventure. We boarded a small fishing vessel with an able captain and paid a visit to an island in the sun.

     Birds love to roost in secluded islands. Predators can’t swim there and it provides a safe place to lay and hatch the young. The only trouble is every bird in South Florida was trying to roost on this tiny island sanctuary it seemed. The island was no more than 100 ft in length by about 20-30 feet in width with thick shrubs growing to a height of 10-12 ft above the waterline. Nearly every branch there contained a nesting area claimed by either Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Tricolored Herons, Snowy Egrets or White Ibis. We watched as one bird after another left the island to go find some nesting material by the river bank and return to place it carefully in their nest stick by stick. We were so busy capturing photos that within a few hours most of us had over a thousand photos to cull through. We clicked until the sun set with its last ray of light.

     Hope you enjoyed these photos of the birds on this island in the sun. Stick by stick the nests are built and although there are occasional territorial squabbles, the birds of all different feathers seemed to get along just fine. We humans could take a lesson. Especially the politicians. 

This normally stunning Reddish Egret says the fog ruined its head feathers!

As the fog began to lift I captured this Red-breated Merganser female shaking off the dew.

This Roseate Spoonbill brings another stick and carefully lands among the bird covered branches below.

Fly softly but carry a big stick...this Great Egret brings a pole like stick to anchor its nest. 

Bring another stick she says...ok..here it comes..

Bring another stick she says...ok..here it comes..

Look out I am coming in fast.!

Great Blue Heron with full flaps down for landing..

Rocket approach to landing as the sun fades ...

Bald Eagle carries breakfast to the nest.

A Bald Eagle male rests after providing breakfast to some newly hatched eaglets.

Snowy reflections..

     While I am starting to get proficient in the area of bird photography, I have a lot to learn about night time lunar and star photography. I attempted to capture the recent “Supermoon” rise over the ocean on 31 January. I had too much lens (too large) to capture both the quickly rising moon and its reflection on the ocean. I totally missed the blood moon eclipse because of my location but my friend Kathy Williams captured a stunning photo of this eclipse event in the mountains of Arizona which she shared for this blog. Thanks again Kathy.

     A flock of over about a hundred Black Skimmers were on the beach the night of the Supermoon. I captured a few images of these unique birds along with a Ring-billed Gull in the last rays of sunlight over the beach. Later in the week back in my more familiar territory I spotted Sam, a familiar local Snowy Egret standing near the bank. As I slowly crept toward it I could hear the crunch of frost covered grass which made my trek a bit treacherous and slippery. The light was perfect and the winds were light, excellent conditions for reflection photography. The Snowy was aware but not alarmed by my presence and I made all my movements low and slow so as not to spook him. Sam ignored me for the most part as he stood on one of the cement blocks/debris lining the bank while the tide rose around it. This hungry egret intensely peered into the water and would pounce on passing minnows, sometimes with success, sometimes not. My arms finally tired and I retreated to find a chair to sit in and spent another half hour clicking away with this intrepid minnow hunter. It is cold and flu season and at one point poor Sam appeared to have to sneeze. With his belly full, Snowy Sam finally lifted off his watery perch and took flight. I only had five hundred photos to sort through now to find the few keepers.

     I hope you enjoy these reflective moments, I strive for these kinds of images. In like manner, we too are to be a reflection of our Maker. I must admit I doubt my daily reflection is a good as these Snowy’s are most of the time. Something for all of us to reflect on.  Blessings. Harry

Blood Moon eclipse over Arizona by Katy Williams (with permission)

Black Skimmer on the beach before moonrise.

Last ray of light illuminates this Ring-billed Gull in the shadows. 

The tide is rising..Snowy Sam reflects on the morning

My feet are getting wet and cold!

Snowy Sam knows the tide brings minnows...

Snowy Snack time..got one..!

Missed it!

AHHH ChOOO!  Cold and flu season ya know..

Sam, you are indeed a handsome looking fella..

Early Spring..

     Did you see that supermoon? I missed the early morning eclipse/blood moon, could not see it from my vantage point. Well Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. That means six more weeks of winter. Ole Phil is wrong!  Yes, "officially" spring will still start on 21 March but winter weather is ending early! The Birds of the Broward told me that weeks before ole Phil made a prognostication. There is still plenty of winter left to deal with but at least we have assurance of warmer and brighter days coming now.

     I usually don’t venture out to the front yard area for my bird photography unless I spot a particular bird like one of the local hawks or woodpeckers. However, recently I have begun to keep an eye out my new office window which now faces the front yard. With the leaves gone from most of the trees, the front yard or "Shirley" birds are easy to spot. The Northern Cardinals in particular really stand out with their bright color. A flash of red caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. But it wasn’t a Cardinal. It was a pair of American Robins. It has been a while since I have seen these red- breasted beauties. This pair must have known spring was coming early and are heading North. The early bird gets the worm as they say and they must plan to be the first to arrive back in Ohio I bet. A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers are also frequenting the hickory trees in the front. A flash of yellow is a tell tale sign of the “butter butts” or Yellow Rumped Warblers. House Finches and Chipping Sparrows are also regular visitors to the neighbor’s bird feeders.

     As I was photographing the House Finches another bright flash of color filled my lens. It was a Painted Bunting, a member of the Cardinal family. It is one of the most colorful birds found in North America (and a first time capture for me)! I warily approached the bird feeders and this stunning male Painted Bunting hopped from the feeder to a nearby branch. I then captured a photo of this colorful bird on a natural perch. If you look carefully I think this bird is giving me "the bird".

     Think warm thoughts of an early spring. The Official Florida Palm Tree saw it's shadow too but that means six more weeks of Florida! The former rains are coming and will be followed by the latter ones in due time. Blessings. Harry

31 Jan 18 Supermoon..I learned I have a lot to learn about lunar photography

Not a big fan of feeder shots but this is the only place I got this Northern Cardinal in the open

Sure sign of spring is the American Robin..this one is heading North to be the Early Bird.

Red-bellied Woodpecker..(female)...Knock on Wood!

Yellow-rumped Warber aka Myrtle Warbler or "butter butt"

Male House Finch

Female House Finch

Chipping Sparrow

A flash of color revealed this striking Male Painted Bunting on the neighbors feeder

Is this beautiful bird giving me the bird?

email: selsorhd@me.com

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