I previously worked as a news and sports photographer. Recently I have been enjoying wildlife photography. My approach toward bird photos is similar to sports photography. I attempt to capture mostly action and hopefully a unique perspective.
None of the usual wading birds and alligators today, instead I have a more unusual aspect of nature and wildlife to present.
We generally have a small garden with potted flowers just outside our back screened porch.
However, this past Spring we decided to try something different, and use plants that are known to attract butterflies, especially the Monarchs. These plants include milkweed and fennel, some of which we grew from seed, and we already had large pots of Mexican Petunias for the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to feed on. For the past month or so we began to notice an increase in butterfly traffic, some of which we hoped were laying eggs. A few weeks ago we began to see some scattered caterpillars among the milkweed and fennel and we noticed two types. The ones with spots and stripes we learned, were Swallowtail, while the Monarch caterpillars were just stripey.
It wasn’t long before we had our first chrysalis but not from a Monarch, it was a likely a Black Swallowtail, who it turns out, are partial to fennel. Soon though, we had Monarch caterpillars coming out of our ears. They are voracious eaters of the milkweed and within days had almost completely stripped the plants of most of the foliage. This required an emergency supplement of butternut squash this morning which the caterpillars also began to devour.
We also had an unusual sighting of a pale Luna Moth, which was exciting because they’re rarely seen during the day! It stayed motionless on a leaf for a couple of hours before finally flying off. A Monarch who after emerging, will also stay still in one spot drying and stretching it’s wings before starting it’s new life.
So far, we have yet to see a Monarch chrysalis but expect to start seeing those soon. This entire process amazes us and is a true miracle of nature, when the caterpillar ceases to exist, and in it’s place, a beautiful, delicate butterfly will emerge.
Earlier I was watching this adult brown pelican flying circles around the marsh area during high tide.
I waited for a bit until the big guy came gliding in right toward me just above the water level. I wondered if he was using his wing tips to help judge the proper flight height. Humm…”Flight Height”, sounds like a great name for new flying app. 🙂
I did a quick stop over by the salt marsh this morning and there was a pretty good crowd of the usual suspects in the area. Great blue and great white egrets, white ibis, a ton of wood storks and a few alligators. But I only saw one young spoonbill who was fishing there in the marsh at low tide.
On the way out I also grabbed a shot of an anhinga that had just finished an underwater prowl and was now fluffing her feathers.
It was good to see a variety of wildlife all in the same area with one stop shopping!
We have had several of our pink visitors coming and going in the area the past month or so, and you never know where they will show up.
Earlier we caught this one just as he was coming in for a landing in the salt marsh. Always great fun to see these colorful birds with their spatula shaped bills drop in!
We were at the salt marsh at the inlet watching some brown pelicans flying, fishing, napping, and just in general being pelicans. Some were scavenging for food when one juvenile came up with a fish. This quickly attracted a crowd which included one particularly aggressive adult. After a brief scuffle, the older bird managed to gain possession of the prize and had his victory snack to enjoy!
The beach and salt marsh area had only been opened by the state about two weeks, and after hearing reports of Roseate Spoonbill sightings we had to head over and check out the scene.
Well there were indeed several spoonbills out feeding during low tide. One of the older birds was off by himself having a delightful time scooping up numerous amounts of fish and shrimp. After a short time another younger spoonie came flying in to join the fun. That did not initially go over too well with our more mature friend who concluded it was time to express his displeasure by attempting to bite the leg of the newcomer. He just barely missed with that one, but the message was received.
Just before we left, yet another of the big, pink visitors came in for a landing. Now it’s only a matter of waiting to see if they end up sticking around for the entire season. In any case, always great to see these fun birds!