Finding Our Way

This will probably not be too shocking to those who have read any of our past articles, but we like to explore.  New places are wonderful but re-visiting familiar haunts can be exciting for us as well.  Some of our trips are fairly well thought-out and for others we “fly by the seat of our pants”.  (For those not familiar with the term, it originated during the early days of aviation and meant to fly without benefit of instruments, relying, rather, on the pilot’s experience and intuition.)  I typically refer to Gini as my navigator, although she generally figures I know where we’re going and doesn’t consult maps and compasses much.  Her navigator’s input is usually in the form of something like:  “Was that the road you wanted we just passed?”.

I looked “navigator” up in the dictionary.  It said:  “One who navigates.”  Sigh.  I looked “navigate ” up in the dictionary.  The origin of the word is from Latin for ships and steering.  One of the meanings said:  “to find one’s way”.  I like that one.  Gini has been helping me find my way for a very long time.

(Full disclosure.  We have been married for over 45 years.  Gini has always been and always will be the “pilot” in this relationship.  She has occasionally allowed me to believe I was in charge of something or other, but I have never questioned her absolute authority!  Shhh.  Don’t tell her I know the truth.)

So, there we were in south Hardee County the other day.  The plan was to drive along several rural roads with no particular “target” to visit and see if we could spot any birds.  Hardee County is not heavily birded and has no large bodies of water to attract birds.  It has been mined for phosphate for decades and much of the area is agricultural.  It was a really pleasant day and once the morning was over we had seen over 40 species of birds.  The highlights included a large collection of Egrets, Herons, Roseate Spoonbills and over 200 Wood Storks, all of the above feeding in a relatively small pond in a large commercial dairy pasture.  We also saw four immature Bald Eagles in the same area, one of which was busy feeding on unidentified prey.  It was surprising the other eagles were not “helping”.  As the morning came to a close, Gini spotted over a dozen Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies feeding on a single bush.  It was  a wonderful morning of meandering with no destination in mind.

Here are a few images of the day.  Sorry we can’t share with you the very special “aroma” produced by the hundreds of dairy cows!

Our day began watching a Sandhill Crane couple grazing for breakfast.

River Road

Sandhill Crane

 

The Eastern Meadowlark has such an outstanding yellow front that we tend to ignore the other side.  I found the warm, rich brown plumage and textures of the feathers to be really pleasing.  No matter which side we view, the sweet morning melody is always refreshing.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

 

A Crested Caracara perched in the tallest tree he could find to better survey his kingdom.

Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

 

Eastern Bluebirds seemed to follow us all morning.  Now, if I could just get one to perch on something besides a utility line!

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 

This Northern Mockingbird has just lifted off of his fence post perch.  Notice how the breast feathers are fluffed upward as he prepares to raise his wings to keep him aloft.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

 

A young Bald Eagle was busy feeding on some sort of prey which we couldn’t see due to the long grass.  There were three other young eagles in the same field and we weren’t sure why they weren’t flocking in to help.

Bald Eagle (Immature)

Bald Eagle (Immature)

 

Requisite alligator since we’re in Florida.

American Alligator

American Alligator

 

A female Little Blue Dragonlet.  These very small dragonflies tend to stay in the same area even when disturbed.  I wish birds were like that!

Little Blue Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax minuscula)

Little Blue Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax minuscula)

 

These Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were very busy feeding on a White Crownbeard.  We counted 15 of the large butterflies on the same bush!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On White Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)

 

 

Whether on a familiar path or searching for a new place to explore, we hope you remember to have fun, because that’s what it’s all about.  It doesn’t hurt to bring along a navigator, either – to help “find one’s way”.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

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21 thoughts on “Finding Our Way

  1. It sounds like you and Gini were made for each other. Great shots. Don’t see immature bald eagles often. Liked the alligator, too!

  2. Gorgeous photos. That Eastern Meadowlark is extraordinary.

  3. Ron Dudley

    Wally, Like Gini is your navigator (sort of), Mia is mine. I generally know where I’m going but sometimes get distracted or miss something and Mia ever so gently (like Gini) points out the error of my ways. She waits until the last possible moment to do so, giving me every chance to pick it up myself and salvage my ego. Every time I change lanes on the freeway I can see her eyes going to the mirrors to make doubly sure the change is safe and she’s very good to be as subtle about it as possible if I’m pushing the limits. And then there’s her incredible eyesight (compared to mine) at spotting birds. Her only shortcoming is that she gets a little grumpy if she doesn’t have her mandatory chocolate donut to go with her coffee as we’re heading to our bird destination…

    I think you and I would be lost without our “navigators” in more ways than one. One more thing we share.

  4. Hello Wally!
    I loved the humor in this post!!
    Sure it’s all about having fun first, but still, your photography is excellent! You are discovering new landscapes and fauna and this is quite exciting!
    The species of swallowtails you have are absolute beauties really more striking than ours.
    Sub-tropical insects tend to be much more flashy than in good old Europe!
    I was thrilled to learn about the expression “fly by the seat of our pants”, it is so descriptive of some situations!! LOL!
    Cheers, keep well!

  5. What a wonderful exploring day! I cannot wait until we get caught up enough to go outside and play. I like the way Ginny navigates.

  6. Wally, My Sue finds it hard to grasp that one inch on a map might equal a hundred miles, but we’ve never lost our way together.

    Just love the meadowlark picture and with the looks that go with a name like that I know I’d just love listening to them. You know a Caracara is a winner with me and the Swallowtails are just wonderful.

    Take care – Don’t get lost in that alligator swamp.

    • Successfully navigating a relationship is infinitely more difficult and rewarding than trying to locate a bird. Kudos to you and Sue!

      The song of the Meadowlark is clear and refreshing, like a splash of cold water on your face first thing in the morning. We won’t get lost in the swamp, although we may wander around in it a bit before finding the exit. 🙂

  7. HI Wallie Another great posst. I love your sense of humour. So men never get lost!!! I have NO sense of direction at ALL! Even my Satnav doesn’t have one at times!!! The lighting in all your shots is superb. The feathers in the second shot are marvellous, the butterflies are brilliant, love the Caracara perched on that stick, and that full on front shot of the Mockingbird is fantastic. Like seeing the GAtors but at a distance. Have a great weekend.

    • Margaret, thank you so much for your very gracious remarks! Some of our best discoveries have been made while lost … I mean while “confused”!

  8. Always a treat to visit your blog, amazing photos and post. I love the butterfly shots and the Caracara. Happy birding and have a great weekend!

  9. Such gorgeous shots of the Swallowtails!

  10. Chuckled at your comments about your wife, the navigator. Too cute!

    Very impressed that you got THREE eastern tiger swallowtails to pose. They are beautiful, as is the meadowlark and caracara. Wow. Very nice series. Such excellent photography, as always. You see the most interesting critters and come back with such impressive photos.

    Btw, hubby and I fly by the seat of our pants most weekends on our nature excursions. Two weeks ago we got lost and I had to summon Siri on my iphone to get us out. I have no sense of direction and my usually grounded husband was turned around as well. We laughed later, but I wasn’t laughing at the time. :/

    • Thank you! Got lucky with the butterflies. Men never get lost. Even the great explorer, Daniel Boone, when asked if he’d ever been lost said no, but he had been confused for a few days! 🙂

  11. so cool to see the eagles feeding! great shot of the caracara, too!

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