From The Back Yard To The Back Of Beyond

One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. —A.A. Milne

 

Since my recent discovery of digital photography, I have been a bit reckless in the number of images produced during a typical outing. Then came the revelation that my camera has a magic setting, which, when selected, allows me to simply depress a shiny little button to take hundreds of images in less than a second! Well, maybe it’s only nine or ten images, but let’s not get too technical. The result of all this magnificent science is a “virtual” cardboard box full of photographs which no one is ever likely to see, government agencies and the 12-year old hacker down the street notwithstanding.

I planned to be diligent in deleting images of less than perfect quality, but that strategy would leave me with no images at all. Clearly, there needs to be a middle ground. Accordingly, “spring cleaning” of photograph folders buried deep within my computer’s closet resulted in tens of thousands of images being sent to their final resting place in image heaven. (There seems to be a trend developing in this post whereby data is apparently exaggerated. Suffice it to say, I got rid of a bunch of dark, out of focus, uninteresting and just plain lousy pictures! It felt good to “lighten the load”!)

However, there were still photos I didn’t want to let go. I liked them. For whatever reason, they were never used in a blog post. Until now. The pictures below were all taken within the past three months or so and range from back yard butterflies to a deep swamp Barred Owl. A few bugs may have crawled in amongst the photos in the box as well.

Herewith are the results of my first ever “photographic spring cleaning of images left in the computer after the others were either already used or tossed out” extravaganza. In no particular sense of order whatsoever.

 

In my humble opinion, the Zebra Swallowtail is one of the most attractive butterflies I’ve ever seen.

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

 

When we first spotted this male Wild Turkey (“gobbler”), he was holding court with three hens. The hens ducked under the fence as soon as they spotted me but the “Tom” remained behind to ensure I was no threat to his harem.

Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

 

The only Anole lizard native to the United States is the Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis).  They average 5-8 inches (12.7-20.3 cm) in length and can change coloration to greenish-brown or dark brown (they are no relation to the Chameleon, however). In the past several years, Florida has seen several non-native Anoles, especially the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei), spread throughout the state and there is some evidence they may be displacing the native Green Anole. Hope not.

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

 

These are most likely eggs of a Softshell Turtle. The female turtle excavates a burrow and lays up to as many as two dozen eggs then covers the burrow to incubate the eggs. From this point, the eggs (and eventually baby turtles) are on their own. They face a dizzying array of threats. This nest was likely discovered by a Raccoon and we found no viable eggs remaining. (In the same area, we observed six female Softshell Turtles in the process of laying eggs, so Nature provides for the species.)

Turtle Eggs

Turtle Eggs

 

An Eastern Towhee prefers the very top of a bush or tree to keep a look out for threats or potential mates. Most Florida species have a light-colored eye whereas those further north have reddish eyes.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

 

The small and very fast Viola’s Wood-Satyr is not all that common and there is apparently a question if it and the similar Little Wood-Satyr are the same species. In spite of this buggy brouhaha, I think it’s pretty.

Viola's Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

Viola’s Wood-Satyr (Megisto viola)

 

Our area usually enjoys an influx of wintering Pied-billed Grebes, but only a few remain during summer and breed here. I was happy to find one recently sporting breeding plumage instead of the drab winter colors normally encountered. Now, if I can just locate those babies…..

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

 

I don’t know what kind of prey this Eastern Bluebird has, but I counted 15 times that the bird slammed it onto the top of that fence post. Suitably tenderized, he swallowed the morsel in one gulp.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

 

After attempting to follow the fast, zig-zag flight of this bright butterfly through the camera, I had to sit down due to dizziness. I wanted to find the genius who named it “Sleepy Orange” and throttle him/her! Then I discovered it was so named due to the upper wing pattern resembling a closed eye. I couldn’t see that, either.

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe)

 

While I was preparing morning coffee recently, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers appeared outside the kitchen window. Although both were about the same size, it was apparent one was a juvenile male and I watched as the adult male drilled into our oak tree and found many worms/grubs for Junior to enjoy.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

After examining a Leaf-footed Bug, I decided that science fiction animators/film makers must employ entomologists to give them ideas on how alien life might appear.

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

Leaf-footed Bug (Acanthocephala sp.)

 

Gini and I found a very young Red-shouldered Hawk last week who wouldn’t stop screeching. Not too far away, we heard one of his parents calling back, probably trying to encourage the youngster to fly home. He would climb up and down the tree limb but didn’t attempt to become airborne while we were watching. His extended crop indicates he just ate well.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Juvenile)

 

This attractive small butterfly is a Cassius Blue. The blue/violet is visible on the upper wings, which, of course, is seldom displayed. I’ll keep trying!

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

Cassius Blue (Leptotes cassius)

 

Walking down a sandy path in a deep woods adjacent to a wetland, I was startled by a White-tailed Deer springing across the path. It happened too fast to get a picture. I bent down to examine the foot prints she left. As I stood up, I looked into the deep, dark eyes of a Barred Owl. I’m sure she was amused by how I jumped when the deer bolted in front of me.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

 

 

So, spring cleaning of the computer’s closet yielded a few images I thought I’d share. Please, whatever you do, don’t tell Gini I engaged in spring cleaning!! Going into the garage is a frightening thought …..

 

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

 

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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30 thoughts on “From The Back Yard To The Back Of Beyond

  1. As usual you have an amazing variety of nice images in this post, Wally. And again, as usual, I enjoyed your narration as much as your images. Regarding image culling – it’s arguably the only thing I don’t enjoy about digital photography (well, that and the skeeters and biting gnats that I often run into in the field). After almost 5 days in Montana recently I had many thousands of images to cull (my “keeper” rate generally runs at significantly less than 10%) and it took me a couple of days of almost full-time effort to get that dreaded job done. What a pain in the patoot! The only thing that keeps me (relatively) sane during the process is the very occasional gem I run into among all that garbage…

    • Ron, sure sounds like you had a terrific camping experience! Thanks for the generous comments. I was going to follow the advice of the experts when I started blogging and only post top quality images. Alas, that’s when I discovered when it comes to birding and photography, I am a “jack-of-all-trades, but master of none”! 🙂

  2. Great set of pictures – the number of images we can make these days is huge – just done a couple of day trips and managed to stuff full my memory cards! And working on them later -s a bit of fun too!

    Sorry for slow reply – hectic weeks!

    Cheers – Stewart M

    • I totally understand hectic weeks, Stewart! I’m always amazed you find time to host the superb Wild Bird Wednesday! Thank you for the visit!

  3. The photos are gorgeous, this is some of your best work.

  4. Yes, being able to take a million pictures is the blessing and the curse of digital camera.

    I have a deal for you — you give me all your throw-away pictures from now on (because I’m sure they’re better than my best) and I won’t tell Gini that you do spring cleaning ;>)!

    The two woodpeckers picture is breathtaking, I would love to see that! Every picture is beautiful. Seriously, I’m SO glad you saved and shared them.

  5. I thought I’d already posted a comment to this post, Wally, so if I’m repeating myself, please delete this one!

    I’m really worried that you nearly didn’t show us these wonderful images. If I had to nominate favourites, it may surprise you to know that all the butterflies, and the Red-shouldered Hawk are right at the top of my list. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy your writing style.

    Another delightful post. Thank you.

    • Hi, Richard! Only received the one post so you must have done it correctly! Thanks for the very kind remarks! We have the same favorites.

  6. Oh yes, I’ve been there, I am there. Far too many images in daily folders that incriminate as to where I’ve been and who I’ve been doing it with.

    I think you’re kidding us Wally. There are images there which are far too good to junk – the Zebra Swallowtail for sure, Pied Billed Grebe, and the young hawk – now you are definitely pulling our legs. It’s a brill shot unless you have some even better?

    OK ,the Towhee is a bit suspect and your coffee steamed up the lens for the Pileated Peckers, but otherwise I think you should put the rest back in your secret place.

    Enjoy your birding weekend and stay clicking.

    • Well, by “spring cleaning”, I really did delete a lot of images, but found a few that just didn’t seem to “fit” into a blog post. Thanks for the compliments! We’ve been having regularly scheduled monsoons every day lately and I’m able to get a quick birding fix in if I’m in the bush a bit before sunrise. I’ll definitely keep clicking!

  7. These are all so gorgeous!

  8. Wonderful assorted images! Spring cleaning is way overdue for me.

    • Is spring cleaning a misnomer, since the cleaning part never seems to be complete? Thank you very much for visiting us today, Pat!

  9. My goodness Wally!
    I would have been really happy to take only half of those stunning shots!
    You can finish the job, if any pics are left forgotten in a folder, I won’t complain about seeing more of them! LOL!
    The hawk, the owl the bug, not to mention the Tiger swallow butterfly are fantastic and I am thrilled to discover a new species here, the Pied-billed Grebe! gorgeous!!
    Cheers, keep well!

    • Thank you, Noushka! I consider your words high praise indeed since I have seen the outstanding quality of your artistry with a camera!

  10. HI Wally What a wonderful collection of varied photographs you discovereda again due to your spring cleaning. Gorgeous bird and butterfly shots. I love the way you bring himour into allyour posts. it cracks me up and I always feel better from having read them. Spring cleaning, bith of computer and house are low on my list of priorties. Have a good weekend with Gina

    • You’re always so nice with your comments, Margaret, and I really appreciate your thoughtfulness! A little levity seems to creep into most of my daily routine. I suppose it demonstrates I’m having fun each day. My wonderful Gini is the reason!

  11. You always have beautiful little treasures to share, even if they look alien! Isn’t digital wonderful? I have housekeeping duties that need to be done on photo files, too. I’d much rather do that than the other kind!

    • Sure do appreciate the kind remarks, Patti! Yep, I don’t really consider culling images “cleaning”, since I am allergic to that type of work!

  12. I am so glad you saved these images for us! The Cassius Blue and the hawk are particularly sweet. But the pied-billed grebe–that’s one of my favorite birds!

    I “clean house” often…should be my real house, but I digress. It gets easier over time to relieve my hard drive as it becomes bloated so quickly. Not really ready to buy a new computer, so I gotta keep this one cleared and ready to go!

  13. Your spring cleaning certainly brought out some exciting discoveries! They are all beautiful photos and well worth showing – but I think I like the wild turkey best. Such beautiful sheen and coloring to the feathers and I don’t think I have ever seen detail like that in a photo of one before. Hmm! A close second would be that Green Anole!

    • Thanks, Mick! When the early morning sun shines on a turkey there is an iridescence a photograph can’t really reproduce. One of my favorite birds.

  14. awesome ‘hodge podge’ shots! love the butterflies, bug, birds, anole. several of these shots have fences in them, so i’d be happy if you wanted to link in to good fences today!

    • I take so many images of things on fences I have come to view them as natural parts of the landscape! I wonder what birds would do with no fences or utility lines? Oh, yeah. Trees.

      Thank you!

  15. What a wonderful series of photos and descriptions – you should clean out your hard drive more often!

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