Leftovers

It’s time to show you my favorite photographs from blogging during the past year!

Relax. Not really. I already did that to you once. And you were all very kind. Thank you for that!

If you’ve been paying attention, you already know (or strongly suspect) that I’m more of a contrarian than a conformist. So instead of trying to determine which images I liked the best, I shall serve you a heaping dish of leftovers. Scraps. Remains. Dregs. Residue. Leavings. Remnants. Stuff acquired during 2015 which didn’t quite fit into a nice, neat blogging category. Maybe it was a picture from a Sunday drive or a single image from a trip where no other suitable images were made or a snapshot from the back yard.

For those of you who have never participated in that grandest of American feasting holidays, Thanksgiving, I’m sorry. Typically, our extended family (along with friends who we think of as family) meet at a central location and everyone brings food to share. The table is usually overburdened with roast turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, pies, cakes … it’s quite a spectacle. At the end of the day, any food items remaining are parceled out for those who are interested in taking them home. In my estimation, one of the few things better than roast turkey on Thanksgiving Day is a turkey sandwich the next day. And to enjoy that sandwich on the edge of a lake with Gini by my side while we count migrating ducks, well, that’s something special.

No sooner had we cleaned out the refrigerator of Thanksgiving leftovers than Christmas arrived. In my estimation, one of the few things better than roast ham on Christmas Day is a ham sandwich the next day. And to enjoy it on the edge of a lake…. (you know the rest).

One week later. Happy New Year! Now, although a leftover sandwich made from a standing rib roast is really good (especially to enjoy it on the edge of a lake, etc.), Gini is able to turn the remaining meat and bones into a pot of heavenly harmony affectionately known as “hash”. Originating from the French for “to cut or chop”, Gini’s hash contains the aforementioned remnants of a superb roast, including bones, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, mushrooms and ingredients so secret even the government doesn’t know about them. Just the aroma of her hash being warmed has been known to make grown men weep and Southern Women swoon. It’s that good.

Well, all of the above culinary delights are now but a memory and the food planning calendar contains a lot of salad and bean items. Sigh. Before the glow fades from these fond memories, I offer you a platter of luminous leftovers. Don’t forget your napkin.

Enjoy.

 

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the largest hawk species in North America and has been observed in an amazing range of plumages. From almost all black to almost all light-colored, the signature brick red tail is usually present in adult birds. Where better to find one of our most beautiful raptors than hiking around all day in summer at – the local landfill. (The sacrifices I make for you all.)

North Central Landfill

Red-tailed Hawk

 

Also known as “traffic warden”, this Eastern Phoebe reminds visitors to get out and walk.

Saddle Creek Park

Eastern Phoebe

 

For those with acute hearing (which would NOT be me), the Sedge Wren readily announces his location. The problem is once you find his location, he usually remains hidden deep within the reeds. This one couldn’t resist taking a peek at the guy in the camouflage shirt which he could CLEARLY SEE. (I must get my money back.)

McKendree Road

Sedge Wren

 

I stooped to new lows this past year to locate damsels in distress. This Variable Dancer remained motionless for a micro-second and a single shutter click captured a gorgeous miniature ballerina.

Mosaic FMA

Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis)

 

When Little Blue Herons are young, they are white. As the year progresses, they begin to show their slaty plumage bit by bit and it’s common to spot “calico” herons in the marsh. This fellow had an itch and is sporting the latest teen hairdo so popular in today’s heron society.

Lake Gwyn

Little Blue Heron – Immature

 

An artsy moment in which I search for my roots.

Saddle Creek Park

Roots

 

Short-tailed Hawks (Buteo brachyurus) are not common in North America and probably number less than 500 in Florida. This small tropical hawk usually soars quite high (often above vultures) and drops quickly and unexpectedly to capture small songbirds. This is the first one I’ve ever seen perched. There are two forms, light (as pictured) and an all dark morph.

Saddle Creek Park

Short-tailed Hawk

 

A Wood Stork and White Ibis may share a perch but they don’t have to speak to each other.

McKendree Road

White Ibis, Wood Stork

 

Visitors are surprised to learn there are hills and valleys in Florida. Okay, they aren’t very dramatic, but parts of the state are not as flat as most think. This pasture land is only about a half hour from our house and is prime habitat for one of our favorite birds …..

Pasco County

Trilby Road Pasture

 

Burrowing Owls love the open, closely cropped fields found in pastures. Within a couple of square miles of this burrow were eight additional burrows, all with one or two owlets last year. Here, Mom stands guard while the two youngsters begin to explore around the burrow entrance. They quickly learn to use those big eyes to scan the sky often. Hawks eat little owls.

Pasco County

Burrowing Owl

 

It has been amazing to discover the world of dragons! Incredible diversity of colors, expert hunters, dedicated parents, acrobatic fliers – and to think they spend their first three or four years under water! This Roseate Skimmer is one of the more colorful members of the species.

Lake Gwyn

Roseate Skimmer – Male (Orthemis ferruginea)

 

The American Redstart is seen in our area only during spring and fall migration. They flash their tails and wings frequently as they move through a tree’s foliage to flush insects from hiding.

Saddle Creek Park

American Redstart – Female

Saddle Creek Park

American Redstart – male

 

Although the Sedge Wren above likes to remain hidden, the Marsh Wren aggressively jumps out of the weeds to see who’s invading his territory. A lot of attitude for his size!

Saddle Creek Park

Marsh Wren

 

This immature Wood Stork isn’t as handsome as the adult yet (okay, maybe there’s no difference), but he still can’t help but admire himself as he quenches his thirst.

Banana Lake Park

Wood Stork

 

Almost any visit to the marsh offers a vision in pink overhead. The Roseate Spoonbill is hard to miss in clear sky.

Lake Gwyn

Roseate Spoonbill

 

A trip to refill the back yard bird bath revealed a surprise. A Cooper’s Hawk, who usually invites birds to dinner, decided to try squirrel for a change of pace. He was polite enough to wait to begin his meal until I returned with the camera.

Polk County

Cooper’s Hawk

 

Even though the population of the Red-headed Woodpecker has declined significantly over the past 25 years, it has been a bit encouraging to discover they are nesting successfully in good numbers in our area. Hopefully, they will continue to stage a comeback.

Lake Garfield

Red-headed Woodpecker

 

Our community hosts a modest farmer’s market every Saturday and it’s a nice way to find locally produced goods. There is often a good selection of organic fruits and vegetables. We even have a train that goes through the center of town. (Much to the chagrin of commuters every day.)

Lakeland Market

Market

Lakeland Market

Tomatoes

Lakeland Market

Produce

Lakeland Market

Peaches

Lakeland Market

Pastry

Lakeland Market

Flowers

Lakeland Market

Produce

Lakeland Market

Train

 

 

Well, we hope you enjoyed your leftovers this year! I’m already dreaming of Gini’s hash for next year. After such a feast, there’s only one sensible thing to do —

Rolling Woods Lane

Mourning Dove

 

We hope you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “Leftovers

  1. Wally, I would hardly call these leftovers, dregs or residue! ALL are simply amazing and depict your love of nature. It’s hard to single out any one in particular, so I will just say well done, my friend. Thank you for dazzling my eyes.

  2. Your leftovers were wonderful; as good as your first helpings were all year. Thanks for sharing them. I have been wondering if the tornado that touched down in Cape Coral (next town to us) had any effect on the many burrowing owls that live there.

  3. Wow! Your images are just amazing! I especially like the dragonflies, spoon bill and wood stork…

  4. i, for one, have always liked leftovers. πŸ™‚ and a good photo dump is cleansing! πŸ™‚ enjoyed these!

  5. Hi Wally. I enjoyed your platter of appetising leftovers but now searching for the arrival of the sumptuous main course, as long as it’s not beans and salad alone. And yes, I noted that in between the fruit and veg you slipped in that picture of sugar & chocolate coated treats. Was your camera unable to resist?

    Oh yes, the birds – A tasty selection of colourful treats for everyone to enjoy. The ibis looks in awe of that huge Wood Stork by its side. Meanwhile the owls are right to beware of marauding Floridian creatures from above, below and either side; it is a dangerous place in which to sit out in the open, especially enjoying a sandwich (you know the rest).

    By the way, Gini took a great action shot of you driving that train.

    • Thank you, Phil! The sugary treats were definitely not due to any fault of the camera’s! Hopefully, before the year is over, there will be some main courses served up.

  6. I really liked your description of what Gini does with all those leftovers! And the fresh food at the farmers market looks pretty good too. Of course, the bird photos are magnificent. My top pick is the little Sedge Wren looking out at you.

    • Gini is a true magician when it comes to converting leftovers into gourmet cuisine! I spent a half-hour waiting for that wren to make an appearance, so it’s one of my favorites, too.

      Hope your new week is off to a great start, Mick!

  7. I imagined that hash; guess in my mind’s eye I “imaged” it as well! πŸ™‚

  8. Elephant’s Child echoes my sentiments about those adorable little owls.

    Having been lucky enough to have my feet under Gini’s table, my mouth definitely watered imaging that “heavenly harmony” of a hash. Brings back aromatic memories of a bowl of soup shared on a houseboat’s screened porch last October.

    So much to feast on here: your leftovers are way better than most folks’ firstovers. From the poetic description of the lovely Variable Dancer, to the “calico” heron, and the gorgeous plumage and terrifying talons of the short-tailed hawk, to those gnarly roots, I loved every bite. And while the Farmer’s Market shots surely don’t require the same photographic skill as capturing creatures on the wing, I enjoyed them a lot. I love that communities all over the country gather like this. It’s one aspect of the best of us, and medicine for the national heart.

    • Thank you so much Dear Sister! It’s fun running around seeing Nature’s sights and to be able to share a bit of it is rewarding.

      Having enjoyed open markets in several different states and in some very quaint and very special locations in Europe, I would amend your very pertinent statement to “medicine for the heart of our planet”. If we could figure out how to let the people selling their wares and the people visiting those markets decide how to run the world — oh, wait, 1776 — we started down a path that seemed so promising. I think that path is still there, we just need to remove a few roadblocks that have been erected.

  9. I’ll take your leftovers anytime. That spoonbill in flight is a stunner. Amazing capture.

    • Ingrid, thank you! I sometimes become so overwhelmed at the beauty of these birds that I almost forget I have a camera in my hands! I remembered this time.

  10. Your leftovers, Wally, are more appetising than any banquet that I’ve ever attended! Your narrative was delightful, and the images are fabulous. My favourite is, without question, that of the Roseate Skimmer – yes, even outstripping that of the Burrowing Owls!!!! If I ever found one of these dragons, I’d want to spend the whole day photographing it (and I’d still probably not match the quality of your image!).

    Best wishes to you and Gini – – – – Richard

    • Those Roseate Skimmers are like little flying jewels of bright neon flitting about the marsh. I have literally made myself dizzy while trying to get one in focus! Thankfully, they eventually land once in awhile for a nanosecond!

      We’re glad you enjoyed a few leftovers.

  11. Great set of pictures – really like that Wood Stork. For a couple of weeks it looked like I would be going to a conference in Florida this year – but that seems to have fallen through. With birds like this about I am not sure the company would have got value for money out of me!!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

    • But, Stewart, your company would have benefitted greatly from your resulting positive attitude at seeing such a wonderful diversity of birds! (Now all you have to do is convince THEM – :).)

  12. Nice eclectic bunch of photos – the white little blue heron is my favorite. Thanks for posting!

  13. Stunning series.

  14. Hello Wally,
    Well you can certainly repeat leftover pics of this quality as often as you wish!!
    I’ll take them all!!
    The flying spoobill is awesome but I am also taken by the stork fishing, the wren so beautifully perched in the reeds, the hawk and the squirrel and……. OK, too many to name them all πŸ˜‰
    Brilliant stuff!
    Keep well and hugs to you both πŸ™‚

    • Merci, Noushka! You make my leftovers sound pretty appetizing. Which confirms my theory about leftovers! Thank you for the hugs. We appreciate it!

  15. Hi Wally You crack me up. My sides are sore laughing at your narrative and even at you photographs (in a good way)I had no idea that dragons spent 3-4 year under water first and that is an amazing capture of one. The colours are brilliant. Loved seeing all the ‘goodies’ at the Saturday market. The refections shot of the Wood Stock is fabulous although I cannot seen what the difference is from the adult. is the bill not as coloured? Now those Burrowing Owls are so cute. I sure would love to see them someday. I think you ‘Roots’ need touching up!! Perhaps you need to follow the tready Little Blue Heron’s hairstyle! I bet you were in your car paying no need to the traffic warden and his sign!!! I suppose if I had too and had a gun to my heard, my favourite shot would be the flight of the Roseate Spoonbill. Well all your talk of feasts and food has made me hungry for my breakfast. Any chance of Gini’s hash? Finally I am trying to learn a few birds before I go to Costa Rica in a couple of weeks and thought I could ID you last bird but even that one I got wrong. Back to the drawing board! Thanks for a very entertaining post and may you and Gini have a wonderful weekend.

    • Good Morning, Margaret! We’re happy you enjoyed a few leftovers. Sorry, but Gini’s hash is so magical that it seems to evaporate into thin air once it’s been made. I can’t seem to find any trace of it. I suspect “hash elves”.
      The immature Wood Stork has bits of feathers on its head which the adult does not and the bill is yellowish which turns dark on a mature bird. (The image further up the page of the stork and ibis is also of an immature stork.)
      Enjoy your Costa Rica trip! What a birding paradise!
      Gini says top o’ the mornin’ and we both wish you a wonderful week!

  16. Hiking in and around a landfill is WAY beyond the call of duty. Most wrens seem to be packed with attitude. Enjoyed your birds and wildlife, and the colorful farmer’s market. Someone here locally got a shot of a Bald Eagle landing in someone’s yard to snatch a rabbit! A full-size rabbit, at that, and struggled to get away with it. You just never know what you’re going to see. Happy New Year!

  17. Colour me jealous.
    Particularly of the Burrowing Owls which make my heart melt even seeing them on screen.
    Your leftovers are a true feast. Thank you.

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