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.
Earlier this morning we saw a snowy egret enjoying an early trip to his favorite dining spot, the salt marsh. On this day however, the only item on the menu was shrimp. But this plucky snowy knows where to find the freshest seafood in town.
Not only is the food fresh, no cooking is even required, he loves it still wriggling around!
Checking back over in the swamp, we find another alligator casually enjoying the warm sun on his back. Heating up will be an important part of the day’s activities (or lack thereof) as he slowly begins to emerge from his lair and wait for feeding time.
It will likely be another few weeks until the full on hunt for food becomes a major driving urge for him and his friends in the swamp. Soon, some might make their way over to the salt marsh area where visions of fresh crab will be dancing in their heads!
It’s a sure sign as temps warm up that Spring is approaching.
One other significant sign is when we start to see the alligators awake from their swampy slumber and begin to venture out to inspect their world in this new year.
It’s reassuring to see that nature carries on properly, relying on untold eons of instincts to guide the way.
For the past few years we have been receiving fairly regular December visits by the white pelicans. They can and will arrive at other times of the year, but the marsh pond in December seems to be on their standard reservation list.
They generally don’t do excessive amounts of flying, most of their time is usually spent gliding through the water in search of a meal. This is the opposite of the brown pelicans who fly quite a bit and feed by diving face first into the water, landing with a head pounding splash!
I can sympathize with the white pelicans whose sheer size and bulk make flying more of a chore. The wing span of the white pelicans is second in length only to the California Condor here in the States.
These guys also tend to float and fish in tight groups, their scoop and swallow technique appears almost choreographed, so it must be successful for them!
There was also one Roseate Spoonbill in attendance today which is uncommon for them, but who knows? Maybe they will ultimately become year round visitors which would be a nice change.
I had forgotten I took this photo, I never posted it here, but apparently did email it to a friend who posted it on social media where it attracted a bit of attention.
In this case, the spoonbill is entirely back lit by afternoon sun, making the water so bright.
I’ll have to dig around, as I’m sure there’s hundreds of various photos like this I’ve completely forgotten about that have never seen the light of day!
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.