Ever Have That Dream Where You’re Falling?

Naive. I think that’s the best word to describe us. When we were young, of course. Now that Gini and I are all grown up, we are quite sophisticated, worldly and wise. Well, Gini is wise. I’m just along for the ride. After a whirlwind wedding squeezed in between military assignments, these two Florida native kids pointed a fully loaded station wagon north and our continuing trip has been glorious!

Growing up in central Florida, we enjoyed the changing of the seasons to the fullest. The green of Spring, the green of Summer, the green of Autumn and the mostly brown of Winter. Ahh, Nature’s infinite variety. Thus, in the Spring of our marriage traveling from Florida to Syracuse, New York, we were quite perplexed during a roadside picnic in western Pennsylvania. The setting was gorgeous. Forest on all sides and a fast-running stream of clear water by our table. Gini gazed upstream and asked about all that white foam along the shoreline? At that time, I still had nimble legs and an intrepid (read: “not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed”) nature. I scrambled down a bank of wet, slippery leaves, scampered across boulders, investigated thoroughly and reported back to my new commander-in-chief (yes, she still makes me call her that). “It’s snow.” Our first encounter with the white stuff of northern legends. We looked at each other and blinked. “In March?” Of course, back home, waaaaay to the south, it was still 90+ degrees (F) and 100% humidity. Since then, we’ve experienced changing seasons in several parts of the planet and marveled at Nature’s beauty.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years. We really love all the places we have lived and each has its own beauty. I think the most pleasant surprise for us was discovering the kindness of the human race. It still fuels our hope for this world. Once settled back in our central Florida landscape, we again became accustomed to the local “changing” of the seasons. Usually, the calendar is the only way we know what time of year it is as Mother Nature doesn’t give us a lot of hints here in the Sunshine State.

One little hint she does provide – our bird watching changes. That’s happening now and it makes routine birding forays a bit more exciting. There is an expectant feeling that today you might see a flash of color belonging to a seldom seen warbler or a flock of brown shorebirds hunched over feeding in a sod field or a raft of ducks floating on a usually barren lake surface. Hooray! Fall is here!

Our local park at Lake Parker didn’t provide a plethora of passing migrants, but we found a few visitors enjoying the tree-top buffet. In our listing of 54 species were migratory Yellow Warblers, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Spotted Sandpiper. The coming weeks will be fun!

Here are a few images of regulars, visitors, non-avian fauna and one red flower to begin the day.

 

The bright Scarletcreeper is a native vine which certainly adds some nice color to the landscape.

Scarletcreeper  (Ipomoea hederifolia)

Scarletcreeper (Ipomoea hederifolia)

 

This Eastern Gray Squirrel had just visited the local home supply store for his living room remodeling project. He didn’t have time to stop and talk.

Gray Squirrel

Gray Squirrel

 

A fairly common butterfly locally, Horace’s Duskywing looks pretty drab at first glance but upon closer inspection has a lot of design detail to see.

Horace's Duskywing  (Erynnis horatius)

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

 

Another “drab” butterfly which is more attractive than initial impression is Dorantes Longtail, one of the spread-wing skippers.

Dorantes Longtail  (Urbanus dorantes)

Dorantes Longtail (Urbanus dorantes)

 

One of Lake Parker’s residents, the Great Egret is quite regal looking on its perch by the shore.

Great Egret

Great Egret

 

We are at the southern limit of the Northern Paula’s breeding range so this may be a year-round resident or a visiting migrant. No matter. It’s a pretty bird.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

 

As with the Northern Parula, the Yellow-throated Warbler may breed in our area. Today I found four of them and at least one or two may be likely migrants.

Yellow-throated Warbler

Yellow-throated Warbler

 

The bright Yellow Warbler is one of our earliest fall migrants and a half dozen were in the park this morning.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

 

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are year-round residents but are always striking with their contrasting plumage. These big tree ducks were virtually unknown in our area 25 years ago but now are quite numerous.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

 

Shorebirds often migrate in large flocks and remain together even once they reach their winter destinations. The Spotted Sandpiper may fly in small groups for safety but prefers his own company when feeding. Distinctive black spots on the undersides usually disappear during the winter. They feed with a distinctive nodding and teetering action.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

 

Although autumn is approaching, our semi-tropical weather permits late season breeding and this Mourning Dove is fortifying an existing nest. I found the nest and a second bird appeared to be brooding eggs.

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

 

This young Red-bellied Woodpecker is fully fledged and even though he can feed himself he still shouts for Mom to bring him something to eat. Kids are the same everywhere.

Red-bellied Woodpecker  -  Immature

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Immature

 

A pair of young Limpkins were nothing more than small lumps of feathers a couple of months ago. Now they have no problem locating their own Apple Snails among the cattails and making quick work of extracting the meat.

Limpkin (Immature)

Limpkin (Immature)

 

Just as a reminder of how damp our summer has been, a small sampling of fungi encountered during the morning walk.

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

 

 

We may not have the extensive change of tree foliage or freshly fallen snow to soften our footfall in the woods, but our seasons here bring excitement just the same. If you’re having that dream – go ahead and “fall” into a great birding trip!

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Ever Have That Dream Where You’re Falling?

  1. Well Wally, firstly I must apologies for not getting back to seeing this. Post sooner and I have 2 after this one to read. But as you know I do like to time my time reading them as I love your humour. I had yo laugh at the thought of you sliding down to see the snow. Now the red flower image is stunning and a wonderful way to start a post. Then you had me laughing at the squirrel with his mouth so full.i love the twin Limpkin image and a lot of the fungi are like tiny fairy parasols and the some of the others are like funnels. I send my good wishes to the commander in chief ( I like that) and to yourself. Now onto the next post. I WILL. Catch up.

    • You never need apologize for not responding to my blog, Margaret! Goodness knows, I miss way too many of your wonderful posts! Besides, you are always so kind and generous in your remarks, any visit at all is most welcome!

      The Boss (Gini) sends all her best. And so do I.

  2. Hi Wally and thank you for following our adventures in Greece. There’s more to come soon.

    How interesting that Florida gives few clues about the seasons. I suppose we in Northern Europe have the upper hand here although with global warming (if you are a believer) the seasons become less obvious whereby they simply merge into one grey mass throughout the year.

    Where you do have the better cards to play is in your warblers – Parula, Yellow-throated or simply Yellow we can but drool. I’m still grilling every Common Sandpiper just in case you sent a Spotted our way. You did ?

    A word of warning my friend. Do not fry those toadstools or fungi for a tasty snack – Florida is a place of great danger.

    • We received much vicarious pleasure in reading about your Mediterranean exploits! All of that sun and scenery – and birds, too! It almost seems unfair such a place exists.

      It’s easy to tell when it’s winter around here. The mosquitos all wear long underwear.
      I’m still challenged each fall and spring by those quick little balls of color in the very tops of the very tallest trees. But if it was easy it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun, would it??
      No worries about fried fungi sneaking on my plate. I’m all about hunting and gathering but only if I’m well acquainted with the groceries.

      We look forward to more odes about a Grecian tern – or something poetic from you! Have a wonderful week!

  3. Very nice post – we still talk about the first time my kids saw snow. It ended in cold feet and a great need for hot chocolate and soothing words – both of which I was able to provide!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • My wife and I were like a couple of kids when we experienced our first heavy snowfall. Snowball fights, snow angels, sledding on the garbage can lid. About the third week of shoveling the driveway and chipping the ice from around the car door every morning and we were ready to get back to the Sunshine State!! Then, the Air Force sent us to Northeastern Germany, where they REALLY get a lot of snow!!

      Have a good week, Stewart!

  4. I like the sound of your place that refuses to have snow or winter weather – rather like my place! Your birds are different and I would especially like to see some of your shorebirds – that Sandpiper is beautiful.

    • We’re both really blessed, Mick! I still think snow is beautiful – I just appreciate it more in pictures! This time of year we get a lot of migrating shorebirds, some even stay all winter. I’ll try to post some images if I get lucky enough to get any.

      Hope your new week is off to a great start!

  5. We’re enjoying cool mornings and falling leaves tinged with yellow and gold way up here in the northwest — of Florida, that is. You know I’m fascinated by fungi — your photos of both the sublime and the ugly are great. And I loved that shot with the squirrel. You’ve got a steady hand on the camera, that’s for sure. And patience.

    • Good Mornin’, Young Sister!

      I can’t call it “cool” outside this morning, but it sure is pleasant! Most of those ‘shrooms were within sight of each other so the conditions under the pines must have been just right. As for steady hands and patience, you have me confused with a doctor. I depend on the tried and true techniques of the professional nature photographer: timing and luck!

      More coffee. Talk to you later!

  6. Your post is ‘the start of migration, beautifully observed’, Wally.

    I’m going to print off the latter part of your post as a definitive identification guide to a genus that is forever giving me problems. Problem solved!!

    Not sure about confessing to ‘falling’ dreams – someone might uncover some murky secret about my psyche!

    Have a great weekend – – – – – Richard

    • Wow, Richard, that’s downright poetic!
      With all you’ve written about birding and other adventures in the wee hours of dark mornings, I suspect most of the secrets about your psyche are already well documented! Or, as my family members say (in whispered tones) –“He’s a birder.”

  7. snow in march? bwahahaha! snow in may is more like it. 🙂 loved all your shots. love the whistler, of course.

    • Yeah, we discovered that cold, wet, white stuff didn’t care when it fell on us! I’m on the hunt for whistler babies. Hope I find some!

  8. Hi Wally just writing to wish you and Gini a lovley weekend. You post will have to waituntil I return from my weekkend away on Copeland Island. Just rushing out to pick up the rob to take us there. Thanks for your visit to me post today. If you want to see the cows being milked turn in on Monday and Wednesday of next week. Bye fore now.

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