Posts Tagged With: morning glory

After The Storm

There are times, more and more frequently lately, I sound like an old person. Not the wise old person of biblical or vintage movie standards. More like the pessimistic curmudgeon we all encounter at some point and vow to never, ever become. Driving in darkness the other morning towards the salt water should have filled me with joy and anticipation. However, I heard myself declare, to no one in particular: “I really don’t like technology sometimes.” From the other side of the vehicle I heard a little sigh. Gini was pretty sure I would be following up with more information and knew she didn’t need to prod any further. That little sigh was enough encouragement for me to bemoan the invention of intermittent windshield wipers. “Used to” I continued, “you could just turn ’em on and hum any song you wanted and match the beat to the steady rhythm of the wipers.” “Now you not only have to fiddle with the things constantly, they never match any tune at all.” Newer cars even have moisture sensors and the blame things spring into life the moment a Hummingbird breathes on the car and the driver is so startled it’s a wonder there aren’t more single-car accidents at the sudden surprise.

The weatherman promised the thunderstorms would move inland shortly after sunrise. I kept seeing flashes of lightning to the west and the rain along our journey was light (resulting in the wipers having to be set on the slowest setting, not suitable for humming even a dirge). By the time we crossed the last major highway and eased onto the quiet stretch of backroad to the coast, the rain had stopped and the sky was beginning to lighten with the coming dawn. That weatherman is a genius.

This particular backroad is better than many. Its serpentine design won’t allow one to travel very fast and punishes those who try with a saltwater and mud car wash. Salt marsh on either side of the road for miles with an occasional hammock of oak and palm trees – all roads should be like this! Everything seemed fresh after the cleansing thunderstorms roared in from the Gulf of Mexico during the night. We had hoped to spot a Clapper Rail as we have previously but it was high tide and there was too much water for wading birds. We would return later in the day as we planned to enjoy Gini’s picnic lunch on the small beach at Pine Island at the end of this road. In the meantime, we savored the salt marsh and were treated to several rainbows celebrating the passing of the storms, delicious cloud formations, a Bald Eagle welcoming the rising sun, the salt air aroma and warm, moist breeze moving across the marsh.

We visited nearby Bayport Park and found a few warblers in the picnic area, Belted Kingfishers, more Bald Eagles, gulls, terns and an amazing variety of fungus. By the time we eventually hit the beach for our picnic, a few clouds gathered overhead and a small shower accompanied our lunch. As we relaxed under a covered table, the Laughing Gulls and Royal Terns treated us to a loud chorus while we ate and the rain and lunch were over at the same time. We explored a couple of parks we had not been to previously and as the sun headed to its resting place so did we. It was another Good Day!

I know you keep thinking if a picture is worth a thousand words why doesn’t he just skip all those unnecessary words?? A good question. As I ponder the answer, here are a few of those pictures.

 

As the clouds began to clear just at sunrise, the early morning light confirms the Bald Eagle is not a bad looking bird at all.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 

The vast salt marsh, an island hammock, lingering storm clouds and a rainbow. What a way to start your day!

Morning On The Marsh

Morning On The Marsh

 

Salt Marsh

Salt Marsh

 

A fishing boat heads to port bathed in multi-colored light.

Rainbow Boat

Rainbow Boat

 

True to their name, these flowers declare: “Morning Glory”!

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

 

An immature Royal Tern begs for food. I think Mom flies away often not so much to search for food as to get a little relief from that incessant whining.

Laughing Gull, Royal Tern

Laughing Gull, Royal Tern

 

A Willet scans the edge of the tide for anything that looks like breakfast.

Willet

Willet

 

This Least Sandpiper appears to still be leaning against the wind of last night’s storm.

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

 

Size, large bill, black and white plumage – all help to identify the Black-bellied Plover.

Black-bellied Plover

Black-bellied Plover

 

At Bayport Park, every few feet we found a new variety of fungus. (Please tell Gini that I completed this entry without any reference whatsoever to anything resembling a pun. She still won’t believe you, though.)

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

 

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

Fungus

 

During our rainy lunch, a Laughing Gull dropped by in anticipation of a handout. He was quite disappointed to discover we were not the tourists he is used to hassling for a bit of hot dog bun.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

 

After the rain, a Snowy Egret really stands out against the wet bright green foliage.

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

 

As we departed Pine Island for home, we enjoyed a view of the Gulf of Mexico and a Great Blue Heron shopping for supper.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 

Long ago we learned to not let the weather interfere with our exploration. We hope you will discover that some of the best memories occur after the storm. Just try to drive with your wipers set on one speed so they can keep up with your singing!

 

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

 

Additional Information

Bayport Park

Alfred McKethan/Pine Island Park

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Late Spring Roundup

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been slow to blog lately. To all of you who put a lot of time, effort and love into your blogs, I sincerely apologize for not visiting much. Now for the confession. I have no good excuses for my behavior. It just seems every time I think about putting together a post or reviewing all the wonderful sites on my list – Gini insists we go visit a new birding spot she heard about. What am I to do? I have learned over the m-a-n-y years we have been married that it is not in my best interest to contradict her wishes. So, gentle readers, you now know where to place blame for my seeming inattentiveness to blogdom. —->(Rushing to hide her laptop even as we speak. Shhh!)

So, there we were, approaching the local park once again. It’s so close to the house we overlook its potential all too often. Today, Lake Parker Park held a few surprises. The morning fog hung just at the water’s surface as the sun began to bathe the shoreline in that special light only visible at dawn. The eerie calls of Limpkins sounded all across the north side of the lake, which is a vast area of bulrush, cattail and lily pads. Most of the wading birds were still asleep in the tops of trees. Common and Purple Gallinules cackled and a large Caspian Tern materialized just above the fog, trying to peer down into the water for a morning morsel. A Great Blue Heron looked into the sun and just beyond him a Limpkin preened in the top of a small Cypress tree. As the animal world awakened, a few energetic humans arrived to walk, jog and bike the nicely laid out pathways around the lake shore. One nice lady saw the gear around my neck and asked if I had seen any Robins? “Not yet”, I replied, knowing full well the American Robins had left for their northern breeding grounds almost a month ago. As soon as I had uttered those words and had that thought, I spied an orange and black bird atop a large tree. A Robin???? Nope. Much better, for me at least. An Orchard Oriole! By all accounts, the first one seen in our county in over 20 years and only my second one ever. The short morning held another unexpected pleasure. I had been chasing Cedar Waxwings all season and not seen a single one. Then, there they were. A flock of two dozen in a Pine tree. Another dozen in a Mulberry tree. The day was complete! We headed to the house for a late breakfast of steaming Irish oats, fresh blueberries, pecans and cinnamon. Wish you were here.

Some images follow to illustrate why we do this as often as possible.

 

A Great Blue Heron greets the dawn as a Limpkin preens in the distance.

Great Blue Heron, Limpkin

Great Blue Heron, Limpkin

 

A very nice surprise was a male Orchard Oriole.  They are seen regularly during migration but typically much closer to the coast.

Orchard Oriole (Male)

Orchard Oriole (Male)

 

During the breeding season Great Egrets develop long plumes on their backs and their facial skin turns a pretty shade of green.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

 

Limpkins are adept at finding food in the water as well as on the land. They prefer Apple Snails, but will also readily eat amphibians and insects.

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

Limpkin

 

Fish Crows breed in this area and this one was collecting nesting material. I watched him visit three trees, gathering twigs and branches at each stop before flying out of sight to his nest location.

Fish Crow

Fish Crow

 

If it hadn’t been for those red eyes, I might have walked right by this almost hidden Black-crowned Night Heron.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

 

A male Anhinga shows off his breeding plumage. These are sometimes called “Snake Birds” for their habit of swimming submerged except for just head and long thin “snakelike” neck above water. Their relatives in other parts of the world are called “Darters” and they certainly look like darts when flying.

Anhinga

Anhinga

 

Cedar Waxwings! Finally! In the Pines, eating mulberries, flying around with that high-pitched twitter. A really handsome bird.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

 

Even the Common Gallinule looks uncommonly pretty today, floating atop a bed of green.

Common Gallinule

Common Gallinule

 

A glorious morning punctuated by – what else – a Morning Glory.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory

 

A Pileated Woodpecker probed this stump for breakfast but had the rising sun directly behind him making for a poor photograph. That’s okay. I enjoyed watching that large chisel of a beak rip under bark and pull out grubs. I didn’t even mind laying in wet leaves to take his portrait.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

 

The Mallard family performs a few stretches and enjoys the breakfast buffet.

Mallard

Mallard

 

This picture of an Osprey nest was taken through my spotting scope which isn’t exactly ideal for producing a quality photograph. The nest was atop a light pole at the park’s soccer field and was well beyond my normal camera lens’ range. You can see the orange eye of the Osprey chick on the left. Even at this distance, Mama was not happy I was hanging about. (I was gonna say something about Gini having that same glare, but now that I have given it due consideration, I shall refrain from such a comment.)

Osprey (Digiscoped)

Osprey (Digiscoped)

 

What a wonderful morning to be out. We were rewarded with some unexpected encounters, beautiful sights, fresh air and all before breakfast! If no further blogs are issued from this journal, you may assume my lovely spouse does not, after all, possess any sense of humor and has taken steps to ensure I will not disparage her character, albeit in jest, ever again.

 

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

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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