Posts Tagged With: brown anole

A Drive In The Country

“Clouds of insects danced and buzzed in the golden autumn light, and the air was full of the piping of the song-birds. Long, glinting dragonflies shot across the path, or hung tremulous with gauzy wings and gleaming bodies.”

Arthur Conan Doyle

 

“That alligator came up almost completely out of the water chasing that fish!” Gini was filling me in on what I had missed when I took a short walk under the oak trees, searching in vain for small, colorful migrating warblers. After about an hour’s drive from home and another hour poking along looking at flowers, birds and bugs we were taking care of granola bars and tangerines. A late, but satisfying, breakfast.

The scene before us was a tranquil lake bordered by tall cypress trees mixed with bay and willow. A small island was decorated with the white, black and brown of dozens of egrets, herons, anhinga and cormorants. In a couple of months the population will swell as raucous courtship, mating and nesting occurs. This annual cycle of renewal is not unknown to other creatures as well. Such as birders, like us. Oh, and we counted well over two dozen alligators chasing fish, watching us, watching the birds, disappearing into the depths of the lake.

Some days it’s nice to just drive with no specific destination in mind. Explore side roads. Decide to unexpectedly turn left instead of right. Today was such a day.

We were in the southwest corner of Polk County, Florida. The Peace River flows a few miles to the east and the area is dotted with deep lakes, former phosphate mining pits which have been reclaimed and the surrounding land restored to something resembling its former state. There is a robust agriculture industry here as well as several large cattle ranches. The mix of farming, pasture land and lakes provides an excellent environment for diverse flora and fauna.

We didn’t find any migrating warblers today and most of the birds we did see were very camera shy. One migrant, an Eastern Wood-Pewee, took pity on us and posed for a moment. Distant woodpeckers, high-flying hawks, the aforementioned water birds – all good to see but none came near enough for photos. The day was beautiful, so was my partner, and we just kept driving.

Off the main road, we followed a path along a fence line. On one side, a pasture with curious cattle. On the other side, a pair of lakes with tall hardwood trees and dense undergrowth. A very nice combination!

The strands of barbed wire were quite popular for all sorts of insects, mostly dragonflies. Perching, eating, obelisking. And what a nice collection of different species! The water and trees attracted a whole separate set of specimens. It was well past lunch time and getting hot when we reluctantly headed home.

Our trip to nowhere in particular had been spectacular.

 

I almost walked into this awesome creature! Both me and the spider, a Spiny Orb-weaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), were happy no web was harmed in the making of this picture.

Mosaic FMA-Haul Road Pit

 

A new dragonfly for us! The Twilight Darner (Gynacantha nervosa)  is quite plain and blends in with twigs as it hangs around waiting for – twilight. Then it will fly along the bank of the lake dining on some of the pesky mosquitoes we’ve been swatting all day.

Mosaic FMA-Haul Road Pit

 

Mosaic FMA-Haul Road Pit

 

It’s a bird! Eastern Wood-Pewees are not residents here and we see a few of these small flycatchers each fall as they head for South America.

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

 

A female Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida) has smudges on her wings whereas the male displays large black spots.

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

 

The facial pattern of a Two-striped Forceptail (Aphylla williamsoni) is quite menacing. Reminds me of a hockey player.

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

One characteristic of the darner family is they like to hang vertically. They are strong flyers and can fly for long periods without landing. I got lucky and found a Blue-faced Darner (Coryphaeschna adnexa) taking a break.

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

 

On about every other fence post, a lizard was waiting in ambush on the shady side. Most were Brown Anoles (Anolis sagrei).

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Native to Asia, the Scarlet Skimmer (Crocothemis servilia) was introduced to southern Florida in 1975. It has spread throughout the southern part of the peninsula since. The male is distinctive as it is all bright red. The female is golden.

Mosaic FMA-Pine Lakes East

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Dragonflies aren’t the only fence-sitters in these parts. A Whirlabout (Polites vibex), one of the small grass-skipper butterflies, thinks the view is just fine from up here.

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Another one of those hanging jewels, the Common Green Darner (Anax junius) can really blend with the leaves of certain trees – like this one!

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Small but aggressive. A Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) is “obelisking”, holding its abdomen vertically, which is thought to help with heat dispersion.

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

The male Roseate Skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) is hard to miss all dressed in purple. The female may not be as brightly colored, but she is still quite the looker. This one is finishing up a meal.

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

A large grasshopper along the trail got our attention. It’s a new one for us, called an Obscure Birdwing Grasshopper (Schistocerca obscura).

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Yet another large dragonfly, the Regal Darner (Coryphaeschna ingens). This female is ovipositing on lily pads near the lake shore.

Mosaic FMA-SP12 South

 

Having a goal is always a good thing. Once in awhile, though, wandering aimlessly about the countryside can be very rewarding. Try it!

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Doldrums

“A state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump.”

 

It’s hot.

Raining almost every day.

Oppressive humidity.

Mosquitoes worse than ever.

No birds singing. Most are molting. Fall migration hasn’t started. No use even going anywhere. Just the same old same old. Sigh.

 

Wait a minute! This is Florida! There ARE birds to be seen! If not in the forest then in the swamp. If not in the swamp then at the coast. If not at the coast then at the water treatment plant or the mega-supermarket parking lot with retention ponds or the landfill or ……..

Whew! I almost blacked out there for a minute. Fortunately, finding birds to watch is NOT a real issue where we live. They may not be the birds on our great big WISH LIST, but there are plenty of birds out there!

A case in point. Although not yet open to the public, there have been periodic tours offered of the newly developed Lake Hancock Outfall Wetlands near Lakeland and Bartow in Polk County, FL. I was lucky enough to be included in a recent group. Since I’ve been here several times, I wandered away from the herd and enjoyed some late summer birding around the larger wetlands cell in the area. Total species for the morning was 40 and included over 60 American White Pelican, 5 Least Bittern, 32 Osprey (20 gathered in one group of bare trees), a dozen Limpkin, 16 Black-necked Stilt, Gull-billed and Caspian Terns, Roseate Spoonbill and a host of water/wading birds. Additionally, I found a few White-tailed Deer, a Banded Water Snake, a thieving Raccoon, plenty of healthy alligators and Bobcat tracks in the wet sand. To think, I could have sat home and complained instead!

Huh? Pictures? But of course!

 

A delicate-looking Black-necked Stilt pauses during its search for breakfast.

Black-necked Stilt

Black-necked Stilt

 

Snowy Egrets are very common here but I still can’t resist taking pictures of them.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

 

The wonderful clear song of the Eastern Meadowlark was absent today, even though I found a half-dozen of the beautiful birds. I think they’re molting and may be vulnerable to predators until their new feathers arrive. Not a good time to announce your presence.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

 

A muddy bill leaves no doubt where this Little Blue Heron has been searching for his meal.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 

I was laying in the weeds trying to get a photo of a dragonfly when this Osprey flew in low over the tops of the reeds. I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised.

Osprey

Osprey

 

A Limpkin thinking outside the lunch box. It appears he was probing the wet sand for, well, I’m not sure what he was after. Pretty certain it wasn’t the Apple Snail he usually hunts.

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

This pair of Red-shouldered Hawks faced the rising sun over the wetlands and scanned the marsh for anything moving. They did NOT appreciate my presence. It got very noisy and I retreated.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

 

He knew I was there, but this Brown Anole didn’t take his eye off the ant he was tracking.

Brown Anole

Brown Anole

 

One of the man-made structures above a spillway made a fine perch for a Great Blue Heron to spot fish swimming too close to the surface.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 

Grow a little algae on your back, dab your face with a bit of duckweed and “voila”, you’re completely hidden from potential prey. Nope, couldn’t possibly spot this fellow. Absolutely invisible.

American Alligator

American Alligator

 

A few female Boat-tailed Grackle found a convenient preening place.

Boat-tailed Grackle - Female

Boat-tailed Grackle – Female

 

Turtle eggs excavated and eaten by a predator. A raccoon running from the scene, not with an egg, but with an entire turtle! All of this plus the black mask – your honor, the evidence is overwhelming.

Turtle Eggs

Turtle Eggs

Raccoon

Raccoon

 

A female Four-spotted Pennant atop a spent cattail.

Four-spotted Pennant - Female (Brachymesia gravida)

Four-spotted Pennant – Female (Brachymesia gravida)

 

Yep, it’s hot and very tempting to remain within the cool air-conditioned hut. But then you’d just have to listen to me complain some more. Now, we wouldn’t want that — would we?

Avoid the doldrums.  Go birding!  Now!

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

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