“There’s a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico.” Not what I wanted to hear earlier this week.

In late August, we called our son in Houston to see if he and his family needed to visit us in Florida until Hurricane Harvey passed. My son reminded us ever-so-diplomatically that if he were to have any flood damage at his house he would have to turn in his geology degree. They weathered the monster storm just fine.

A couple of weeks later, our son was on the phone asking if we needed to visit them in Houston until Hurricane Irma passed.

Mother Nature. Who knew she had a sense of humor?

I have no degree in geology but assured him we had weathered storms before. Of course, that was just bravado. We did the requisite stocking of supplies and prayed a lot. The intensity of our praying may have increased with the ferocity of the winds howling outside as rude Irma passed directly overhead during the night.

The current storm, Nate, is churning toward my sister’s house in Florida’s panhandle. It shouldn’t give them any problems. Shouldn’t. I don’t trust Mother Nature to play fair.

A couple of days after Irma caused devastation to Florida, Gini and I ventured out to survey our local area. We didn’t get far. Within just a few miles from the house, roads were covered in water and blocked by downed trees and power lines. We returned to the house and prayed some more. For those who would be weeks without water and power.

After a few more days, we again set out and found most roads passable. (A HUGE thank you to the responders from law enforcement, tree companies, utilities workers – literally thousands from other states – who have worked so hard to get Florida back to a sense of normalcy.) Since our normal birding haunts within public parks and reserves were closed we checked on accessible areas such as pastures, country roads and lake shores. Wildlife was abundant and we remain amazed at how resilient nature can be.

We have made a half-dozen forays since Irma tromped on Florida and life is returning to its normal pace. Today’s photographs are a compilation of what we found within two weeks of the hurricane’s passing. Migratory songbirds don’t read headlines and don’t watch the Weather Channel, so they have been showing up in treetops as they have for millennia.  We appreciate it.


We visited this area in southern Hardee County a week before the hurricane and could see no water at all.

County Line Road


A pair of Crested Caracara found something of interest in a field and keep a sharp lookout for thieves.

10 Mile Grade


Wading birds don’t mind the flooded fields at all! An immature White Ibis flapped by us on his way to probe the soft mud for breakfast.

10 Mile Grade


This Northern Mockingbird extracts a grub from an oak tree branch.

East Lake Parker


A Caspian Tern takes a dive at a local lake. There was a pier between me and where the tern entered the water but I was able to peek through the railings in time to see him fly off with his prize.

East Lake Parker

East Lake Parker

20170913 Lake Parker 00047


Ants are on the menu as the sticky tongue and bill of this Red-bellied Woodpecker are covered with the little morsels.

East Lake Parker


Driving along a remote country road, we found a Roseate Spoonbill taking advantage of water running across the road and washing all sorts of goodies into his waiting, well, spoon bill. I don’t know if he was looking to the heavens in thanks or wishing we would move along!

Green Pond Road


Water is returning to somewhat normal levels in many wetlands and residents, such as this young Red-shouldered Hawk, are thankful to find old perches and fresh food.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetland


With so much water, vegetation is flourishing. A Cloudless Sulphur finds nectar from Caesar Weed (Urena lobata), an invasive species with an attractive bloom.

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetland


Near Lake Kissimmee, about an hour east of us, we found several large and small flocks of Wild Turkey.

Joe Overstreet Road


A pair of European Collared-Dove perched picturesquely on a pier.

Joe Overstreet Landing


It’s the time of year Bald Eagles begin courtship and the males can display some pretty spectacular aerobatics as they try to impress the ladies. I managed to follow one such fellow through a series of tight turns as he screamed throughout the show. There were four eagles involved in the demonstration but I tried to ignore the others (not easy!) to get a series of this guy. Here are four out of the two dozen images I took.

Joe Overstreet Landing

Joe Overstreet Landing

Joe Overstreet Landing

Joe Overstreet Landing


Limpkins are plentiful in our area thanks to a plethora of Apple Snails. These large waders are the only members of their species (Aramidae) in the world. Their name comes from their “limping” gait.

Joe Overstreet Landing


Along one dirt road, we stopped counting the webs of the Golden Silk Orbweaver, as they seemed to be everywhere. The strong silk is very effective at capturing large insects, such as the grasshopper here.

Joe Overstreet Road


Purple Gallinules are not very accomplished songsters, but they sure make up for it in the colorful looks department!

Lake Parker Park


Fall migration is in full swing. Most of the time, the birds are too high in the tree tops or in dense cover which makes photography impossible. Occasionally, I get lucky.

Yellow Warbler

East Lake Parker


Prairie Warbler

East Lake Parker


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Itchepackesassa Creek Wetland


Black-and-White Warbler

Saddle Creek Park


Northern Parula

Saddle Creek Park


Cape May Warbler

Lake Parker Park


Baltimore Oriole (female)

Saddle Creek Park


American Redstart (male)

Saddle Creek Park


There is nothing “fun” about a storm, especially a huge tropical Hurricane. Damage to our region has been severe. The same is true for Texas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, other islands of the Caribbean and even Nate, while “just” a tropical depression, has taken 22 lives in Central America.

We are extremely thankful to have had minimal damage.

Our routine has been disrupted but our lives have not. Nature continues its cycle of life and we continue to be in awe of its magnificence.

As Gini and I recover from the storm, to be fortunate enough to see a mighty Bald Eagle perform a courtship flight or to marvel at the flash of bright orange as a Redstart startles insects from a hiding place – this is how we know we are truly blessed. To be able to do it together is something really special.


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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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13 thoughts on “Recovery

  1. I am loving your bird photos. They are so challenging and so rewarding when you get them right, aren’t they? G;ad to hear you “weathered the storm.”

    • Thank you so much, Jeanne! Still trying to get the photos “right”! LOL! Really enjoyed going on safari with you. Exciting stuff!

  2. Hi Wally. And well done for mostly ignoring those storms and looking for a chance to go birding. Me too, I had some pictures to mention but as I got near the end I’d realised how good tghey all were. maybe I should mention the warblers because I know that small birds, especially the tree dwelling kind are pretty near impossiblle to picture so I think you must have an immense amount of patience. Or is that Gini?

    Love the Bald Eagles – spot on.

    And I know you didn’t much want those hurricanes but please don’t send any more our way.

    • Happy to hear you suffered no ill effects from you own stormy weather. Thank you for the kind remarks on the photos. Since Gini is still married to me after almost 50 years, she’s definitely the one with patience! She inspires me to try to do better in that department.

      Lots of birding lately. Will try to share some soon!

      All the best, Phil!

  3. All beautiful shots! I think we over here at the coast did better than those in central Florida. I’m hoping my favorite central spot (Circle B) opens soon.

  4. noushka31

    Oh my, those hurricanes….
    We got Floyd as we were in Florida about to put an offer on an avocado farm near Homestead and guess what…. It pulled us out of the idea! What wreck the place was after with zoo animals running everywhere and our friend’s parrot facility devastated.
    So believe me, I understand the threat, all my best wishes for the recovery and hoping these terrible storm subside some day.
    Great series of pics Wally, I am always in awe of your diverse species and your photography!
    That Fish eagle is truly a beaut!!!!
    Enjoy the new week 🙂

    • Merci, Nouhska! Ahh, we live in the sub-tropics to enjoy its delights so we must put up with some occasional inconveniences. Hurricanes, mosquitoes, snakes. But it’s worth it!

  5. Richard Pegler

    I’m delighted to hear that the recovery is progressing well, Wally, but sorry to hear that the threat of further destruction is still there with additional hurricanes a probability. My fingers will, of course, be crossed for everyone for everyone facing that threat.

    I was truly joyed to hear that the wildlife has weathered the storms so well, as witnessed by your super images – every one of them is excellent! However, my personal favourites (because of the iconic bird, and the action expertly captured ) are those of the Bald Eagle.

    Best wishes to you and Gini, and to the rest of your family. Keep safe – – – Richard

    • We appreciate your positive thoughts, Richard! So far, so good! Things will return to normal eventually. Hopefully, we’ll document some of it along the way.

      All the best to you and Lindsay as we begin a new week.

  6. Truly stunning images. Yes I had favourites, but they kept changing as I scrolled through.
    I hope and trust your sister is safe.

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