Tell me a story: August 2021

I feel like I am always doing a nature walk for this group, but honestly that is what I did this week. After being quarantined for 2 weeks, and then an additional week while Richard was quarantined to make sure that he had not caught it from me, and then a baby shower following that, I really have not done anything else.

I had the opportunity to meet an old friend for breakfast on Friday morning. I have not been able to see her since her husband passed away earlier this year from Covid. We have tried to schedule a time but it kept getting postponed. By finally that time of blessing happened and I loved just being able to sit and spend time with her.

After breakfast I decided to take a walk through the wetlands. I needed to stretch my legs, and also to walk that food out. So that is what I did.

The wetlands is really quiet now. The wood stork have finished breeding and moved on and while there are still a few nesting birds, the amount is minimal. But I hoped that I may find an iguana and some dragon fly. I was not disappointed. Here are some images from my walk.

This Grackle was the first bird I came across in an area that the Wood Stork had vacated.
A Great Egret flying across my view
A juvenile Wood Stork still hanging out.
Alligator Flag creeping into the boardwalk
This looks like a Blue Dasher dragonfly with a badly damaged wing.
This bird is part of the Gallinule Family. I am going to assume it is a junior but I am not sure which kind.
The grasses have grown really high with all the rain we have had and this tricolored heron was attempting to do some fishing.
This picture brought a smile to my face. Yes, there are signs of fall and hopefully this really excessive heat will start to abate soon.
I don’t often see a Common Gallinule climbing on the branches. This is a common sight for the Purple Gallinule though.
Another sign of fall, falling leaves
My first encounter with an iguana but it was a little ways away.
A squirrel who looks like she is feeding babies.
New fern life
And old fern life
A four spotted pennant dragonfly
A closer encounter with an iguana who is in it’s breeding colors.
The peacefulness of the water lily.
Another sign of fall. Yes, Yes, Yes.
I think this is a Flame Skimmer
And then my fun encounter with an iguana. It was in the pathway. I took some photos and took a couple of steps closer and then next thing it squeezed it’s body between the flooring of the boardwalk and the edge of the wooden fencing. You can see the gap underneath my signature.
A close up of this incredible looking creature.
Phew, I escaped that human.
I love when you catch the Glossy Ibis in the sunlight. You can get a small glimpse here but they are so beautiful when the colors in their feathers really shine.
Nature’s still life – although it was on moving water I just loved the combination of natures falling leaves,

Walking out in the wetlands in the mid day is hot, and I have recently actively decided to wear cover up. Learning Richards story, with his melanoma, makes me realize just how important it is to have significant cover when I am out in the heat.

If you are a sunseeker like we have been, please consider using sunscreen that provides a significant cover, watch out for odd looking moles, and educate yourself. Australia, Florida, California are listed as the top 3 places for melanoma. I am going to add South Africa to that listed because where we grew up the climate is exactly the same. See a dermatologist and get yourself checked out. Melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and we are dealing with this right now. This was the first thing I did since Richard came home in February after his melanoma Stage 4 diagnosis. I am good, but the peace of mind is so worth it. While the medication has shown some positive signs of working on reducing the melanoma, we have to be aware that melanoma is very unpredictable and you honestly need to take care.

Thank you for joining me this month.  This is a circle blog so take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji of LUPJi Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.

30 Minutes in the Life: March 2021

Welcome back to another 30 Minutes in the Life. February was a difficult month for our family and heading into March I just really needed to get out and do some walking.

It’s late winter, the beginning of spring and the wetlands is slowly coming alive with birds. Mating is happening, nests are being built, in some cases eggs have been laid and in other, the chicks have hatched and are demanding food. What I love about this time of the year is the beautiful feather displays and the gorgeous mating colors that you see. The Snowy Egret develops these beautiful wispy trailing feathers that are used to attract the attention of the males. The coloring around the eyes is just beautiful.

As per the last number of years, the Woodstork fly in and take over all of the mating areas. I used to love it when I first saw them, and the chicks are really cute. However, they arrive in droves and take over the area that the Great Blue Heron would use, and by the end of the season, it is really smelly.

The male Anhinga develops this beautiful coloring around their eyes, and this almost mohawk like feather display on the back of their neck.

Mating happens and in some cases it almost appears somewhat aggressive.

If course the result of the mating is typically 2-3 chicks that totally harrass the mom for food. The first time I saw an Anhinga chick feeding from the mom, I almost gagged. Seriously that head goes right down the mom’s throat while the other two are trying their hardest to get in there as well. It really does not look like a pleasant experience at all for the mom.

Quite often you will find the Woodstork pairs hanging out together, but this time of the year, the male will head off to the trees to find sticks to bring back to the nest.

Anhinga love fishing for food. However, once they have fished, they have to hang out in the trees to dry off their wings. Neither the Anhinga or Cormorant seems to fly far before they need to stop and spread their wings.

Lurking, and I say lurking because that is what they do in season, is the Alligators. You tend to find them hanging out below the nesting areas in case a chick falls out. If the birds are stupid enough to hang out on the lower branches they could easily become food for the gators.

This gorgeous Snowy Egret is in its mating finery. I love the wispy feathers and the lime green eye make up that they sport.

This is often why you hear of so many kills by an Alligator. They hide in the reedy water so that you can barely see them. The Moorhens are a common food source for the Alligator, as are turtles. Even so, you will see them take out bigger birds as well.

I am with this Black Bellied Whistling Duck. All it’s buddies were in the water. This one not so much. I can hear him thinking “I am not putting my feet into that water, who knows what lurks below”.

Sunning itself in the trees is the Green Iguana. The Green Iguana is not native to South Florida, but they sure do love the climate. Typically they are found in South America. Somehow they made their way to the States. While I love Iguana, many do not. People find them invasive and they breed like crazy. A really cold winter will affect the Iguana populations, with many of them dying. Other times, crazy as it sounds, the Iguana goes into a frozen state and will fall out of the trees. As the weather warms up so does the Iguana. During mating season the male Iguana can turn a bright orange.

I happened to capture this beautiful display of feathers by the Snowy Egret. It flew into the trees and tried to balance itself in the wind.

Last but not least is the litte Cattle Egret in it’s mating colors. I love the orange mohawk, and the fluffy tail feathers. He had a mate sitting higher up in the branches on her nest.

There is such beauty in nature that always amazes me and with all the chicks about to hatch I can’t wait to take another walk in the wetlands.

Thank you for joining me for another 30 Minutes in the Life.

This is a circle blog. I would encourage you to take some time to visit my very talented friend Meagan Dwyer Photography, she is about to get the party started. You will definitely love what she shares.

You can also find me on Facebook, and Instagram.

Tell Me a Story: January 2021

When I first started walking in the wetlands, many years ago, I loved to see the Great Blue Heron’s nesting at Wakadohatchee Wetlands. You got really close up to the nests in spring when the babies were being born. Fast forward some years and the Woodstork started coming in. The Great Blue Heron struggled to maintain their nesting areas against this colony of birds. They came in droves and took over. At first I was impressed with the Woodstork. They are definitely interesting to look at, but over the years I’ve kind of got annoyed with their take over routine. The Great Egrets used to nest in the trees as you first entered the wetlands and now the Woodstork have taken over that area as well. The Great Blue Heron’s have moved to trees at the back of the park which are much further away. The amount of Woodstork that move in means by the end of the season the area is super smelly and I am so over them.

My first sighting beyond these smelly, take over birds, was one of the resident Alligators who is probably looking forward to Spring as well. They tend to lurk below the nesting trees, when they aren’t sunning themselves out of the water.

Holding tight onto their spots in the trees the Woodstork have taken over is the Anhinga. Towards the end of winter the birds fly in and start to build their nests. Mating season is happening and one of the most incredible birds during mating season is the Male Anhinga. The eye color of this bird is stunning and it develops a very fluffy neck. The female however, does not change color. When the chicks are born they are the cutest things. The have these tiny bodies and these long necks. They feed like scavengers and it is incredible to watch them doing they. The chick puts it’s whole head down the mothers throat. The first time I witnessed I had a gag reflex. Yikes the poor mom.

As I continued along the walkway I spotted this Great Blue Heron wading in the water looking for lunch. I love them, To me they are majestic birds. We used to have one come to our back garden. Clearly someone had been feeding him and he was looking for that. I did not want to have him become dependent on me feeding him, but I would throw bread out for the fish in the canal so that he could go fishing. He would come by every day for the the summer and then he just disappeared. I used to call him Big Blue. Hanging out in the same waters sunning itself in the sun, fortunately for the Great Blue Heron, was another of the parks Alligator.

On the opposite side of the walkway there were a few Great Blue Heron, and surprisingly early, were two Great Blue Heron chicks. I am not sure if the first bird was protecting eggs or just trying to cool down. We have had interesting days down south right now that are sometimes warm and sometimes cold. This particular day was warm. The second photo is the chicks. When they are born they looks so cool. All head and beak with a mohawk. I am so disappointed that the Woodstork took over their nesting place.

And then I come to the walkway. I have committed to taking 1 image a week using my different lensbaby optics and so today I had the sweet 35 and I created a portal through the walk way. So come and join me with the second half of my walk.

Hanging out in the walkway trees are typically the tiny birds and this Palm Warbler was so challenging to catch. I probably took about 15 photographs just to get this one. The flit from tree to tree.

The Swamp Hen fascinate me. They are so rich in color and very similar to the Purple Gallinule. What fascinates me with these birds is their feet. They have the longest, possibly ugliest toes that I have seen on birds. They utilize them like fingers holding on to the reeds that they pull out of the ground to eat. Normally you will see a group of them wading around.

The glossy Ibis is another beautiful bird that hangs out in a group as a rule. This one had moved away from the group and started digging for food in a slightly different area. They are named glossy Ibis because of their stunning feathers. In normal light they look brownish but when the sunlight catches them their feathers become glossy and a different array of colors.

In the last stretch of my walk I spotted this Little Green Heron in the reeds also looking for food. This is a small bird of incredible colors and I love to watch them look for food. They are patient and they will wait probably longer than I am willing to watch them to catch their food.

Of course, I could not resist the tiny bit of fall colors in the wetland. When I spotted this leaf lying on the railing, I had to capture it. This is one of my favorite ways of shooting leaves.

Always a favorite for me is the Iguana that we find in South Florida. Not native to this region, they are often unpopular with local inhabitants. However, I think they are pretty cool. They are so unique in their markings and as seen below, quite vibrant in their mating colors. Of course, the are prolific in repopulating the area which leads to them being disliked. These Iguana live in the southern states due to the climate. During cold spells in winter, the Iguana freeze and will often fall from trees. Sadly some of them fall into water and drown or become gator bites. Others, surprisingly enough, seem to thaw and get up and start moving again.

And with that I am back to the smelly Woodstorks again, and heading back out of the park. I always enjoy this mile long walk out in the fresh air. I am going to need to get back out again soon.

Thank you for joining me this month.  This is a small group of bloggers so when one or two are out it seems like it is a quiet month for blogs however, this is a circle blog.  Take some time to view what the other artist has for you this month. My friend Lupji Photography is up next. I look forward to reading what he has to share.