Heading South

     By now all the snow birds are back home in “cooler” Northern climates. The Editor and I just returned from our trip to Northern Maine to see the Atlantic Puffins and really had a great adventure. Prior to our trip I got to observe a gathering of Kites in Florida. The Swallow-tailed Kites are preparing to head south and return home for a while. Can’t blame them. It is peak hurricane season.

     This time of year, the Swallow-tailed Kites begin to gather along secluded rivers and lakes in Florida and the Gulf coast before beginning a mass migration south. As if on cue, they begin the long trek along the Yucatan and across the Gulf of Mexico to return to South America and homeland forests mainly in Brazil. This is one of the most aerobatic birds I have ever observed. As they roost in the treetops in large gatherings, a few of us intrepid photographers also gather to capture the start of this incredible journey. As the sun begins to rise and warm the air a few kites would test the thermals. They then began to rise in large circular formations called a Kettle. Some would swoop down to get a drink in the river before heading out to hunt for the morning in a skimming maneuver that is a challenge to capture for even the best of photographers.

     Hope you enjoy these few photos of these incredible birds as much as I did taking them. Puffin photos will be coming soon. Blessings. 

The Swallow-tailed Kites are starting their migration gathering to head back to Brazil

Prior to dong their morning hunt, the Kites swoop down and skim the surface of the river to get a drink. 

It is a challenge to catch them as they pull up from the skim with a beak full of water..

As they rise, they shake off the water in thousands of sparkling drops..it takes fast shutter speeds and skilled tracking to capture the action. 

Sometimes you get lucky with incredible shots such as this

Nothing like a refreshing drink of cool water to start the morning.

Topshot- Swallow-tailed Kite

I'm not a kite..Looking forward to seeing those Puffin Photos next time?...me too!

Crowning achievements...

     July continues to heat up and the tropical storm train is beginning to form in the Atlantic region, so far so good though. The Editor and I are currently in the great state of Maine on a Puffin adventure again. I am hoping to achieve one of my bird bucket list shots of a Puffin coming in on a landing with a mouth full of fish for the youngsters. A very famous photographer recently said he shot about a zillion attempts before he got his first one with no wings or feet "clipped" in the photo. Ya’ll pray for me now. I won’t have a zillion chances.

     Back on the Broward I did capture a "crowning achievement". While trying to sneak up on an illusive Anhinga for a shot, I saw a Black-crowned Night Heron coming in low and slow. I swung the camera around, locked on, and pushed the doohickey. At 14 frames per second, the landing sequence captured in the photos below was a notable achievement for this amateur bird photographer. Most of the shots were in focus and with no "clipped" wings or feet.  The Black-crowned Night Herons red eyes really lit up in the morning light. It then hopped down off the piling and peered into the mud. Quickly it poked its beak into the muck and pulled out what I call a mud eel and gobbled it down. George the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron was also in the mud looking for the same thing and captured a few. George shook them like a crab several times. In the photo however, It looked the hapless eel was twisting George’s head instead.  In the end though it was Night Crowned Herons four, eels zero.

     Moral to the story, life’s achievements are done by keeping a keen eye on where you are going in life, fly the straight and narrow path and do not be afraid to get down in the mud and go for it at times. A crown awaits us for our efforts.  Blessings. 

Anhinga maie drying its wings in the morning sun

"I don't want my photo taken Mr Doohickey" the Anhinga seemed to say..

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a Black-crowned Night Heron coming in low and slow.

The landing sequence captured with its red eye on the goal, the landing on the piling..

Feet down, wing flaps out for landing

Touch down..

Safe landing achieved, now for time for breakfast. 

I don't want my picture taken either Mr. Doohickey! 

Time to get down in the mud..what do we have here?

Yum Yum,,a tasty eel snack..

Did someone say eels? Where? George hops in for breakfast too. 

Not sure who has who,,but the eel lost...It's breakfast for the Crowned Herons. 

Shirley birds...

     It is blistering hot in the July sun. The world seems to heating up too! But it does that every summer. Must be climate change (chuckle).  Not a whole lot of activity on the Broward so I decided to put up a few bird feeders and capture Shirley Birds in the act. A “Shirley Bird” is a scientific term for birds found in the front yard instead of the back yard on the Broward. 

     Bird feeders are not cheap I discovered, neither is the food found at the upscale bird feeder store. The Editor insisted that I add a few extra ornamentations to the feeder pole to make it more attractive to the birds. I think we succeeded. Until my new Redbud tree grows and produces flowered branches these fake ones will do for now.  Don’t tell the birds about the fake branches though, enough fake news going around. 

     A pair of Northern Cardinals is busy raising young in one of the nearby trees and frequents the feeder now. Got lucky one morning and captured a nice photo. The House Finches have more or less claimed the new bird feeder and make frequent stops there each morning. They can empty that feeder in less than a week. I think they should be named House "Pig" Finches. 

     I hope you enjoy these glimpses of summer found at the feeders. It is a new challenge to me and I hope the results are making you smile. The local squirrels are also benefiting from the seed spillage but that is another story. Blessings. 

New Bird Feeder is very popular with the House Finches. 

Female House Finch awaiting a turn on the feeder.

Young Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse visits the feeder...

Tufted Titmouse gives thanks for its daily bread (or birdseed)

Sealed with a kiss..Northern Cardinal entices its mate with a seed offering.

Northern Cardinal on (Fake) flowering branches by the feeder. 

Yippee! Found the peanut!. Red-bellied Woodpecker with the prize

Feeling Squirrelly but that is another story

Dune Life

     The summer solstice has passed. Hope you had a great 4th of July too. Heat and humidity are rising each day. I think weather guessers in Florida have it easy in the summer with their forecasts. The local forecast is nearly always calling for afternoon thunderstorms. They have been correct most of the time. The grass is enjoying the rain but not those of us trying to drive in it. Yet we are thankful for gift of the water which replenishes our aquifer.

     So far the bird stewarding duties have been a delight. I got to see some old photographer friends and made some new ones. Life in the dunes is flourishing yet very precarious too. All three of the recent Oystercatcher hatchlings were soon victims of predation. The Laughing gull chicks will soon fledge (those that survive) and the Royal Tern chicks are just beginning to venture out of the dunes and onto the beach. As they do, the adults gather round them for protection, unlike the gulls which are left to tend for themselves much of the time. The adult Royal Terns are busy flying food back and forth to the hungry chicks. They must pass the food off in a split second to avoid the Laughing Gulls stealing the food. Often the adult is pummeled by three or four gulls who steal the fish before it can make it to the hungry chicks. The anxious Royal Tern chicks often search the sky for their parent and constantly cry for more food. And life in the dunes goes on. 

     Dune life is not as easy at the photos appear. Life is precariously on the edge but somehow each year most seem to survive and flourish. It does seem safer than Chicago though. Hope you have a safe and wonderful summer. Blessings. 

Dying Breed, a Mayport Shrimp Boat returns to port with a loyal following. Unfortunately these shrimpers are becoming dying breeds. 

The Royals have hatched and gather in groups called a "creche" to venture out of the dunes..always with parents standing by

Sadly all three Oystercatcher Chicks succumbed to predators.

These Laughing Gull chicks are almost fully feathered and will fledge soon. Many did not make it this far. 

Laughing Gull parent tries to herd the chicks out from under the cars so they don't get run over. 

Danger lurks beneath the sand with the Ghost Crabs trying to eat the eggs.

Ain't that a foot stomper!

  Laughing Gull chick, one morning we picked up 41 that had succumbed to the heat

Laughing Gull chick, one morning we picked up 41 that had succumbed to the heat

  A few Sandwich Terns are also found in the Dunes....If the beak looks dipped in mustard, it is a Sandwich Tern..

A few Sandwich Terns are also found in the Dunes....If the beak looks dipped in mustard, it is a Sandwich Tern..

Follow me ladies, the beach is this way..Royal Tern chick leads the way

Where is Dad with the fish? Little Royals always search the sky for incoming food.

Somebody feed me!

Fresh fish coming your way!

There is a mouthful for you junior

Almost got it down..and yes, the chick swallowed it whole!

No Gull is going to steal this one from the Osprey!

How do these wingy things work? They make it look so easy..

Well Praise the Lord! Royal Tern hatchling..

This Royal Tern chick in nearly ready to fledge..

Will I look like you when I grow up Mommy? Royal Chick interacts with parent.

Independence Day

     It is hotter than a firecracker and almost the 4th of July. Happy Birthday USA! Can you believe 2018 is half gone? We as a nation have much cause to celebrate this week. As we do this in remembrance of the founding fathers of our nation, I also want to celebrate the most infamous bird on the Broward. None other than George Washington Broward, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

     It is hard to remember a summer when George and his family was not seen on our property. When their primary roost was blown down in Hurricane Irma last year I was wondering if he would return. Thankfully he did, but it was sporadic at first. He has been observed flying into the "secret Broward hideout" area to roost.  Now George is a daily fixture along the river bank. George is indeed an expressive character. He couldn’t contain his joy when the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup. Recently "sweet Georgia", his mate, has joined him feeding on the Broward. She is a rather “Independent” one. Her morning Yoga routine is usually followed by some fiddler crab snacks. Won’t be long before another George Jr. joins them I hope. Feeding primarily on small crustaceans and their favorite Blue Crabs, George and his family find abundant living on the Broward. As does the Editor and I. Hot dogs will be our Independence Day fare though.

     The Editor and I wish you all a safe and happy Independence Day. We pray a sense of national pride and spirit will return to this nation and that we find a way to come together for the common good of all. Blessings. 

Happy Bird Day USA! The statue of Libirdy stands tall

George Washington Broward also stands tall and  proud in honor of our Independence Day on the Broward. 

Sweet George, mate of George..

Georgia, is an Independent gal, she like to start the day with some Yoga, Heron-style!

All that exercise makes Georgia hungry, time for a fiddler crab snack..

Gulp! Yummmm...Is it all the crab you can eat tonight? 

George, do those crabs make me look fat?

George says don't get your feathers ruffled to easily over all the politics..

George does his Elvis impersonation of "I'm all shook up.."

George is excited the Washington Captials won the Stanley Cup..Something to celebrate! 

May the true Spirit of America sweep again over this Nation. Happy 4th of July and may God continue to  Bless America!

email: selsorhd@me.com

All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.