Patch Work

There is an old line familiar to anyone who has served in the military about how you are taught to be a “Jack-of-all-trades” but master of none. My local birding locations are like that. Most who take up birding seriously have a “patch”, a place with which they are (or become) familiar and visit on a regular basis. Thus, they learn the species which are likely to be found in that area in any given season, become accustomed to the terrain and environment and are quick to notice any changes in the local avian population.

We are blessed with an overabundance of patches. I pretend to know a lot about each nearby place that I visit frequently, but in reality I seem to encounter something new on every visit. So, in keeping with my military training, I have become an average birder who claims several patches but am an expert in none of them.

Last week, I made a short visit to one of those patches in the hope of finding some nesting activity. Mister birding expert located exactly zero nesting birds. Adding insult to injury, I came away with no photographs of a bird I would display in public.

It was, however, a very pleasant morning! Okay, it was extremely humid, but that goes with the territory at this time of year. I have a new lens I wanted to try so somewhere below is an “artsy” swamp image. Flowers are blooming, bugs are buzzing.

I came home birdless, but happy.

 

Patch: Colt Creek State Park

The morning sun was largely obscured within a dense hammock. The large cypress and bay trees allowed a reflection in a small pool. These swampy spots are peaceful, still places which I really enjoy exploring.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Last month, some fields were almost solid violet, white and green as the Purple Passionvine (Passiflora incarnata) responded to just the right amount of rain at just the right time. On this trip, there were still a few blooms around, to the delight of a large amount of pollinators.

Colt Creek State Park

 

A female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) uses a thistle bloom as an ambush platform.

Colt Creek State Park

 

Large eye-spots and its flight low to the ground help identify this butterfly as one of Florida’s most abundant, a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).

Colt Creek State Park

 

Similar in overall coloration to the Buckeye but a bit more orange, a Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia) is a more energetic flier and it’s hard to get one to hold still for a portrait.

Colt Creek State Park

 

In our area of central Florida, there are only three commonly seen white butterflies (family Pieridae). This Checkered White  (Pontia protodice) stopped its nervous flight for a moment and I managed one image.

Colt Creek State Park

 

A trip to any outdoor area can be pleasant. If you know the area well and find some of the local inhabitants that’s even better. When you know your patch so well you can complete your birding checklist from your favorite armchair – well, that’s a whole other level of expertise!

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

 

Additional Information

Colt Creek State Park

Categories: Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Coast

A dictionary provides two different definitions of “coast”.

  1. Noun – the land near a shore : seashore
  2. Verb (intransitive) – to proceed easily without special application of effort or concern

Not too long ago, Gini and I visited the “land near a shore” where we were very careful to “proceed easily without special application of effort or concern” for a few days. Hard work, but SOMEONE has to do it!

As the philosopher/sailor/singer, Jimmy Buffet, sings:

“These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, Nothing remains quite the same. Through all of the islands and all of the highlands, If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane”

I’m happy to report there was much laughter and we returned no more insane than when we departed.

The coast is a wonderful place for us. In our sub-tropical paradise, the salt water is warm and the currents gentle. Sand caresses your toes and there is always a fresh breeze to cool your brow. We attempted to overdose on boiled fresh shrimp but were unsuccessful. There were plenty of birds to see especially if you put forth the effort to visit a few different environments. But we constantly reminded each other of that pesky definition. To coast: “to proceed easily without special application of effort or concern”. We wouldn’t want to violate an actual definition.

Here’s some stuff we saw while we were coasting through the days at the coast.

Sunrise from the back porch of the houseboat.

Apalachicola

 

Ring-billed Gulls were abundant. And noisy.

Apalachicola

 

Across the marsh a prescribed burn in the nearby national forest produced what Gini called a “smoke monster”. Happily, it didn’t head our direction.

Apalachicola

 

A bright male Northern Cardinal provided a nice splash of color in the reeds of the marsh.

Apalachicola

 

Sunsets were somewhat spectacular. A Great Blue Heron headed home after a day’s fishing.

Apalachicola

 

On our second day, we drove into the national forest (past that burn area!) for a little exploration. Sunrise along the way caught our attention.

Apalachicola

 

In the heavily wooded forest, a Hermit Thrush was curious about us.

Apalachicola

 

A male American Kestrel was annoyed with us because he was tracking a small critter in the understory.

Apalachicola

 

Back on the houseboat, we watched a pair of Bald Eagles fish as the tide receded. The two mates, perched on that sign made me think of Gini and I. Like the eagles, we’re partners for life and like the sign says, we’re going through life at a slow pace trying not to create much fuss.

Apalachicola

 

The Laughing Gulls always sounded the alert when they saw us on the porch, hoping we had brought a helping of shrimp for them. Nope.

Apalachicola

 

Brown Pelicans are fun to watch as they soar and dive onto a school of fish, scooping them up with their net-like beaks.

Apalachicola

 

A final sunset from the porch. Heading home in the morning. Sigh.

Apalachicola

 

We coasted to the coast and back again. Can’t wait for an encore. If you don’t have a coast nearby, coast away somewhere special for a day or two. Laugh a lot so you don’t go insane.

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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