Wednesday, June 6, 2007

An artistic diversion

I've been painting lately in my spare time, which I have a lot of here in South Florida- all of the work is done before normal people are awake. Here are some fruits of my labor.

I found a photo of Harlequin Ducks in the May/June issue of Birding; the position of the ducks in the photo with the water surrounding them looked so artistic already, and of course the form and colors of the ducks themselves, that I just had to paint it.

This Northern Wheatear was irresistibly plump-looking.

These birds don't count as wild, but it's the only bird photography I've done lately. These lorikeets (Rainbow Lorikeets?) at Parrot Jungle Park had quite the appetite for nectar, and they tried to transcend the laws of physics by simultaneously shoving their faces into the tiny cup I was holding. One perched on my head to wait his turn, but he had an ulterior motive- trying to steal my earring.

This Lubber has been hanging around on the porch screen for a couple of days now. I must say, it's a little creepy looking out the window and seeing an insect as big as my hand lurking nearby...

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Cypress and Florida Panther NWR

Common Yellowthroats were everywhere, true to their name, and always up for pishing. I love the posture of the one above.

Check out the puffy throat on this guy as he sings his mighty song to drive me away.

Finally, a decent photo of a Brown-headed Nuthatch! He's characteristically upside down. Don't they get dizzy that way?

The cuteness factor on this fuzzy nuthatch fledgling is unbelievable.

They're like little gophers, always popping their heads out from behind pine branches, except they can do it right side up or upside down.

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, looking like a mini Great-crested Flycatcher.

I saw this Barred Owl at Big Cypress National Preserve shortly after dawn, sitting silently in a pine. The reason for his departure was the harassment of a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Most of the flowers around here are pink or purple.

This tree frog was hopping around on a saw palmetto.

White-eyed Vireos could be heard anywhere you listened.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Big Cypress National Preserve

We went to camp out at Big Cypress National Preserve, one of the other study areas, for a few days. Many of the same birds are there, but unlike the Everglades, BCNP has Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, and a lot more Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Swallow-tailed Kites.

There are many Brown-headed Nuthatch families around at this time of year.

Hanging upside down- circus people ain't got nothing on him.

This Swallow-tailed Kite was circling overhead for quite a while, calling and looking down at me. I even saw one in a parking lot today!

Common Yellowthroats were very pishable.

Pine Warblers were also fiesty.

YES! I did get pictures of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. There were three of them flying around squeaking at each other constantly. I even caught a glimpse of the grand 'cockade' on one of them.

Squirrel tree frogs are everywhere at night.

Titmice are actually rare in South Florida, which is very unusual to me.

Juvenile titmouse, hungry as usual.

I love White-eyed Vireos because they get really pissed off at the drop of a hat. Anytime I pished, one would instantly pop up, scolding his brains out. This one is hiding coyly behind a branch.

This one was cursing at me for a really long time. Even when I turned and had walked away, he followed me and scolded again so he could have the last word!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Backyard birds

Well, I thought I was done posting for today, but a loggerhead shrike just HAD to come along and sit right in the backyard, among the starlings and grackles. First, he sat on the fence, waiting for fate to bring him his next hapless victim.

Then, he flew to a bush in the yard, trying to catch a butterfly that was visiting the flowers.

After failing to catch the butterfly, he perched on the fence again. His beak is slightly open in this picture as he curses at the butterfly under his breath.

Finally, he flew up to the powerline before going to try his luck somewhere else.

A Blue Jay also found the fence a good vantage point.

More migrants

Here we have a distant Flicker, who wouldn't let me approach close enough to get a good shot. The flickers here have a higher-pitched, and therefore decidedly more wimpy-sounding, call. The Georgia flickers could kick their butts.

This male Downy was down for some pishing- he flew in very close and did some macho hammering.

I have been seeing lots of Pine Warbler families. Check out Junior here, who looks like he's sulking about something. There were two kids and in true siblinig fashion, they were chasing each other and fussing at each other constantly. "You took my bug! I saw it first!" "No I didn't! It was mine!"

Two Redstarts were also flitting around in the pines, a female and an immature male. This is the fourth migrant species I've seen here.

Tonight we're supposed to camp out at Big Cypress National Preserve, where I hope to photograph Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Get your gator on

The excitement began today when I was trying to cross a canal in order to get to one of the research sites and I discovered this alligator lurking there. I was considering trying to jump over it, but not after seeing that the gator was waiting for people just like me to fall in while trying to jump across.

This Pine Warbler was ready for action when I started pishing at him.

I watched a few Red-winged Blackbirds mobbing a crow.

I love Eastern Meadowlarks! They are fat and have short tails, which is a guaranteed formula for cuteness. They also sing inexhaustibly.

A group of Black Vultures was perched on the fence along the Anhinga Trail. They would jump down onto the ground and run along the trail, looking like overgrown chickens. You could tell they were a close-knit family by the way one of the parents puked into the kids' mouths.
This gator was either lying in wait or just taking a nap.

This lizard was obviously trying to come on to me.

A gigantic Florida softshell turtle, giving me the evil eye.