Nothing Fishy Going On Here

I have laid aside business, and gone a’fishing.Izaak Walton

 

I enjoy fishing. The preparation of tackle, the anticipation of the day, the skill involved, a tug on the end of the line, the beauty of the creature in my hands, the total relaxation which comes with being outside, near the water, “in” the elements. Dad passed along this trait, whether by teaching or example or actual genetic composition. I am forever grateful to him for this precious gift. He would have enjoyed our destination on a recent trip. A fish hatchery dedicated to improving the Florida Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides).  His favorite quarry.

The hatchery is located not far from home and is surrounded by pine woods and swamp. Rectangular ponds are laid out in neat rows over almost 200 acres of cleared land and a large covered building houses carefully controlled pools where fish eggs develop before being transferred to fishing locations throughout the state. Other fish raised and studied here include catfish, bream, crappie and grass carp. A new visitors center includes an interesting aquarium and an overlook of the indoor pool area.

Naturally, with all of the emphasis on fish here, we came to watch birds. It was our first visit and we weren’t sure what to expect. (Note to self: birds are sometimes not all that active in the middle of the hottest days of summer. Go earlier next time.) Almost noon, almost 100 degrees (F), almost no birds in sight. I had the camera. There were bugs. The rest is history.

With all of the ponds in the area I was mindful of Florida’s main tourist attractions: alligators and snakes. Walking around the edges of the impoundments stirred up all sorts of insect life. As the colorful bugs settled down on the end of grass stalks, I settled down for some portraiture. It occurred to me that laying down in weeds which concealed my presence also concealed the presence of potentially curious reptiles. What was that rustling sound behind me?

A few images may serve to illustrate how magnificent Nature can be, even on a day so hot no self-respecting birds made an appearance.

 

Okay, I had to include a few birds, but these were observed on the way to the hatchery.

This Limpkin appeared in a small wet area near the road where he found an Apple Snail.

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

Roseate Spoonbills follow cattle because they know the large beasts will stir up the muddy pasture to reveal all sorts of tasty treats. The Spoonie in the second image appears to have found a tadpole or small fishy thing.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

 

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

 

Golden-winged and Needham’s Skimmers are quite similar in appearance. Here are females of both species. The Golden-winged typically has blackish legs whereas those of Needham’s are more brown. There is also a subtle difference to the thorax pattern (where the brown meets the lighter color).

Golden-winged Skimmer - Female (Libellula auripennis)

Golden-winged Skimmer – Female (Libellula auripennis)

 

Needham's Skimmer - Female (Libellula needhami)

Needham’s Skimmer – Female (Libellula needhami)

 

This male Eastern Pondhawk captured a white moth and made quick work of devouring it. The time elapsed from when I first observed him with a nearly whole moth until it was completely gone is 40 seconds.

Eastern Pondhawk - Male -  (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk – Male – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

Eastern Pondhawk - Male -  (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk – Male – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk - Male -  (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk – Male – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

Eastern Pondhawk - Male -  (Erythemis simplicicollis)

Eastern Pondhawk – Male – (Erythemis simplicicollis)

 

You may tire of my frequent posting of pictures of the Halloween Pennant but I never get enough of seeing this beautiful dragon.

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

 

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)

 

Another Eastern Pondhawk , this time a female, has secured a meal, possibly a Needham’s Skimmer. It was interesting watching other dragons trying to steal the prize, unsuccessfully.

Eastern Pondhawk - Female -  With Poss. Needham's Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk – Female – With Poss. Needham’s Skimmer

 

Eastern Pondhawk - Female -  With Poss. Needham's Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk – Female – With Poss. Needham’s Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk - Female -  With Poss. Needham's Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk – Female – With Poss. Needham’s Skimmer

 

Eastern Pondhawk - Female -  With Poss. Needham's Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk – Female – With Poss. Needham’s Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk - Female -  With Poss. Needham's Skimmer

Eastern Pondhawk – Female – With Poss. Needham’s Skimmer

 

Scarlet Skimmers are so brightly colored they seem almost artificial.

 

Scarlet Skimmer - Male  (Crocothemis servilia)

Scarlet Skimmer – Male (Crocothemis servilia)

 

Many butterflies, such as the Black Swallowtail, are sexually dimorphic. It would be easy to think these are two different species instead of a male and female.

Black Swallowtail - Male(Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail – Male(Papilio polyxenes)

 

Black Swallowtail - Female (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail – Female (Papilio polyxenes)

 

I’m learning that locating specific butterfly species involves learning what plants they most favor. The Pearl Crescent is a member of the Brushfoot family (Nymphalidae) and prefers the small plant in these images, called Fogfruit (sometimes Frogfruit), Lippia nodiflora.

*Thank you to sharp-eyed Cole Fredricks who correctly identified this as a Pearl Crescent, not a Phaon Crescent as I originally reported.

 

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

 

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

 

The handsome Blue Dasher in the first photo is “obelisking”, pointing his abdomen skyward, believed to help cool its body. The pink in the background of the second image of a Blue Dasher is a blooming Morning Glory (Ippomea sp.).

Blue Dasher - Male (Pachydiplax longipennis)

Blue Dasher – Male (Pachydiplax longipennis)

 

Blue Dasher - Male (Pachydiplax longipennis)

Blue Dasher – Male (Pachydiplax longipennis)

 

 

If you haven’t tried fishing, please consider it as a wonderful way to relax. If you find yourself doing something fishy and you are not fishing – well, quit it! If the fish aren’t biting and there are no birds around to watch, I strongly suspect Nature will provide you an alternative!

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Nothing Fishy Going On Here

  1. Wally, it is always a great joy to view your work and see not only terrific (and often, unusual) photos but to also read about a new place or animal (or sometimes a person like your Dad in this post or the Holloway’s in the last) where each time I learn something new and learn it in a fascinating way that holds my interest. You are a excellent writer who has a gift of sharing what you know in an easy to understand way, as well as a talented nature photographer. I’d have to say that after viewing so many of your photos over the years you have a very special way of connecting with animals where they clearly feel comfortable in letting you capture their beauty, presence and essence. It is an exceptional gift and one I’m constantly grateful you share with us in here n the blog. Many many thanks. ~ Rick

    • Rick, once again you are WAYYY too kind in your comments! But I certainly appreciate the time you take to make them! Your fantastic art continues to inspire me to push the envelope of experience. Thank you!

      (If anyone has not yet seen the work of Rick Braveheart please stop by his website: http://thegreatamericanlandscape.com/.
      It’s a very special place!)

  2. I could have sworn I commented on this post! I am so behind and I apologize. These are amazing images, as always. You manage to always catch nature in action. Unique action. The dragonfly shots with prey are a rarity for sure. You really have a gift.

    • Gail, as you well know, the gift is provided by another power. Some of us just happen to be in the right place at the right time to enjoy it! Don’t worry about being behind – it’s my normal state! 🙂

  3. I was surprised at the food choices of the dragonfly.

    • They are very efficient predators! Growing up here, we called them “skeeter hawks”, and I welcome them to eat as many mosquitoes as they can!

  4. My seven-yr-old is the one who clicked the LIKE. =) We enjoyed the photos together. Stunning!

    • Your seven-yr old is obviously an individual with outstanding taste! 🙂

      Thank you for enjoying our photos. We hope you’ll return and visit us again.

  5. Nature seems to perform for you on command … but I know it is because you know how to open your eyes to the wonders. Absolutely beautiful dragonfly shots … I had no idea that there even were so many kinds . And the butterflies are so lovely. Appreciate the pictures and the information.

    (I miss Florida, but boy does it sound hot this time of year.)

  6. You had me worried for a mo there Wally. I thought you had thrown away your bins.
    The Rosy Spoonbill is so tiny or certainly looks it next to those cattle, a bit like our Euro Cattle Egrets who seem large until they stand starling size on a cow’s back.

    Some great insect pictures and those dark Swallowtails are just fabulous.

    Never done fishing but they do say if you sit there long enough (as most do) a Kingfisher will sit on your rod end. No jokes now.

    • No worries about my bins, Phil, they are permanently affixed around my neck! Taking the time to write, however, is another story!
      Thank you for your usual very kind comments! Our fall migration has not yet gotten into full swing but once it does maybe I can take more pics of birds than bugs. 🙂

      Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

  7. Such a beautiful series. Besides all the magnificent flying insects, I really like the Spoonbill and the cow.

  8. Well up to the amazing standards that we have come to expect from your posts, Wally!

    I particularly like the sequences of the dragons with prey – and what a surprise the Pondhawk with such a large Skimmer as prey was! The Halloween Pennant is just fabulous, and I’d probably want to spend hours with the camera if ever I found one!

    The butterflies, particularly the Black Swallowtails, are wonderful, and your images of the two bird species are also superb, with my favourite being that with the cow!

    Have a great weekend – – Richard

    • Good Morning, Richard! I first saw the Pondhawk with the Skimmer flying and thought it was two dragons mating. I was wrong! I liked that Spoonbill with the cow, too.

  9. Fabulous pictures of dragonflies!
    This Eastern Pondhawk with a Needham’s Skimmer as a prey is a fantastic series!
    And the Halloween pennant is probably my favorite of the dragons you’ve got in Florida!
    Back to the birds, the Spoonbill beak opened is a killer!! LOL!
    WOW, that is quite a post,
    Congrats, Wally!

    • Merci, Noushka! It’s a lot of fun observing the diversity Nature offers and as long as I’m still having fun I’ll keep doing it!

  10. Amazing details in those dragonflies! Didn’t realize they were cannibals.

  11. I really enjoyed the dragonfly photos, quite amazing.

  12. nice insect activity! can’t believe you found two dragons devouring prey!

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