Posts Tagged With: blue dasher

Swiftly Flow The Days*

Time. We talk about slowing it down. Reversing it, even. Many throughout history have tried to stop it altogether. About 500 years ago, a guy from Spain tromped around not too far from here looking for a spring from which a sip of cool water, it was said, would keep him eternally youthful. (Not a bad yarn to tell your Queen if you need a load of money for men, ships and supplies! “And of course, Your Majesty shall be the only recipient of such a precious gift.“)

I am a time criminal. I waste it profusely. There are important tasks to be performed and I delay beginning them. Perhaps at some point the important tasks will diminish in significance and I won’t have to accomplish them at all. Alas, I was assigned a Time Guardian. She knows my proclivity toward procrastination and will not allow my idleness to interfere with important tasks. Once upon a time, I thought I could disguise my laziness by “appearing” to be busy. That is when I discovered my guardian could read my mind. She can divert my inattention before I even know I am about to delay the start of an important task. It isn’t natural. But it sure is effective.

Fortunately, my Time Guardian is, on occasion, amenable to looking the other way if she thinks my avoidance of an important task might be of a worthy nature. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest she may be an actual accomplice to my crimes against time, but …..

Me:  “Tomorrow the sunrise and moonset times are close to each other and it might present a chance for some interesting photographs at the beach.”

Time Guardian: “There’s some cold chicken in the fridge and we can throw in some fruit. What time do we need to leave?”

The following images are from the past several days and were taken from various places of local interest which we have visited many times. Each represents a trip taken on “the spur of the moment” and each was an avoidance of some important task on my part. I could not have been successful in these endeavors without assistance from a complicit Time Guardian.

 

Sunrise can be the most beautiful part of any day! Or, it can be shrouded in fog where one has to strain to see anything at all. The sun rising over Lake Kissimmee begins to give shape to familiar objects such as the bridge over the river.

Lake Kissimmee

 

Before the woods begin to glow from a rising sun, many creatures enjoy the cover of darkness to carry on their business without being seen. With huge light-gathering eyes and a sort of “radar”, the Eastern Screech Owl can easily locate some of those creatures for breakfast. We had been hearing Whip-poor-wills calling and thought that’s what this was until a flashlight showed our error.

Gator Creek Reserve

 

On a rainy morning in the Lake Marion Wildlife Management Area (east of Haines City), we found several Barred Owls hunting over the upland pine tract. This one didn’t want to leave his perch as we walked underneath.

Huckleberry Island Tract

 

Hillsborough River State Park was established in the mid-1930’s and is one of Florida’s oldest parks. With the rainy season beginning in earnest, the river’s rapids are higher than normal.

Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park

 

It seems no matter where we go, if there are trees and bushes, there are White-eyed Vireos.

Huckleberry Island Tract

 

In between rain showers, dragons are on the hunt. This one is a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).

Lake Parker Park

 

It is still spring and many birds are courting, nesting and raising chicks. This pair of Eastern Towhees were likely not pleased at our intrusion.

Huckleberry Island Tract

 

One of our favorite places to stop for a quick look is close to a very busy highway. SUMICA is a French acronym (Societe Universelle Mining Industrie, Commerce et Agriculture) which described a turpentine and sawmill town which existed from about 1917 to 1927. A Loggerhead Shrike welcomed us with song. (Okay, he was more likely singing to a nearby female shrike.)

SUMICA

 

As with the dragons, a few moments of sunshine brings out other insects, such as a bright Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae).

Tenoroc FMA

 

Closer to home, nearby Lake Parker Park is host to a diverse population of birds, especially water birds. I found this cute pair of new Green Herons close to one of the footpaths.

Lake Parker Park

 

Also at Lake Parker Park, a young Limpkin is impatient for Mom to show her how to open a freshwater mussel. Their bills are especially adapted for getting into an apple snail, but the mussels require brute force. Mom used her bill like a hammer until the shell broke open.

Lake Parker Park

 

With our abundance of rain, it hasn’t always been possible to enjoy a sunset. This one was from an area near the house which is a reclaimed phosphate mining area. Saddle Creek Park offers fishing, camping, hiking and some of the county’s best birding, especially during warbler migration. This evening, storm clouds remain, but parted just long enough for a pretty spectacular end to the day.

Saddle Creek Park

 

“Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years”*

 

Time is an issue for all of us humans. There never seems to be enough of the stuff for us to do what we want. It is important to have a Time Guardian to help us efficiently organize what limited time we have. And if she happens to understand the importance of bending the rules once in awhile, consider yourself lucky. I know I do!

 

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

 

*(From Sunrise, Sunset, written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick for the musical Fiddler On The Roof.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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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