Monday, December 23, 2013

Elliot Before and After

Well, Elliot lives here for a little over 3 months and what a difference.  His coat has thickened up so that the skin doesn't show through any longer.  His eyes have cleared.  He is a happy, healthy, sweet boy. We are glad that he came into our life where he will stay forever. 
 
Welcome Home, Elliot!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Arnold surfs the windshield

I was riding home from the grocery the other day, doing my usual 60 in a 55-mile zone. Suddenly, from out of the hood crawled a green anole.

He hung out behind the wipers, tail flapping in the breeze.

We reached a speed limit change so I cranked it up to 65 for the 60-mile speed limit. Arnold (as I named him) didn't seem distressed and I thought of pulling over to let him off, but I know that some of the anoles hang out in my car engine. I figured it might be crueler to drop him off in parts unknown, rather than return him home to his friends. I have a healthy population of green anoles, the only anole native to Florida.

Arnold seemed to get bolder as we rode along. He moved up slightly and firmly planted his feet on a low part of the windshield, but up above the wipers. Now he was surfing. Head turned, smile on his face, he seemed to be enjoying the breeze. I kept an eye on him, for if at any time he looked like he was losing a grip in any way, I would have rescued him, but he held tight.

He got a slight reprieve as we approached the only traffic signal on the 13-mile journey home. He seemed to let up the grip for a moment and I thought he might jump off, but once again he hunkered down as we smoothly transitioned from the stop to 70mph. He actually appeared gleeful with the freedom of the wind in his scales. I gave him the countdown....8 more miles, 7 more miles.....two more blocks...we're nearly there Arnold HANG ONNNNNN!!!!

You may think this borders on reptile cruelty, but if I tried to remove him, my fear was that he would run for cover under the hood and maybe get fried on a hot engine part.

Even with a full stop at the mailbox he didn't look to jump off the car. We drove the next two blocks home and when I pulled into the carport and shut down the engine, he looked around as if to say, "oh, finally we are home".

It wasn't long until he wondered over the top of the car and leaped onto the post that holds up the carport. "Home to my favorite spot, at last!"

I think perhaps I need to do a public service video of the car grill covered in bug wings to show the potential dangers. Something along the lines of "Car surfing can have deadly results".

Photo depicts another of the native anoles that rode home on the sideview mirror from the mailbox recently; they are an adventurous bunch. Arnold was nowhere to be found when I returned with the camera...probably went to take a nap.

Friday, September 20, 2013

New Love, Good Karma

Meet Elliot, a six year old English Setter boy who has joined my family.  We found Elliot online and it is all Twitter's fault.  I wasn't looking for a dog, but the SPCA of Central Florida tweeted something that took me to their website.  I figured while I was there I would just peruse the homeless doggies' list.  I didn't spot any dog that struck my fancy, but I decided that since I had come this far, I'd do a quick search on petfinder.com for "setter".  A bunch of local dogs popped up and Elliot was among them. 
 
I said it is all Twitter's fault, but that, in fact, isn't true.  Twitter played the starting role, but my friend Janet from Colorado, mistress of the Colorado cuties (mostly of the labrador variety) is the major one at fault.  She adopted a labrador about a year or so ago and named the tyke Elliott (two t's).  I probably never would have clicked on my Elliot's profile if his name was Harry, but I was drawn to the name so I had to look.
 
My Elliot is a wonderful dog who just had bad karma.  He was adopted and loved twice, but change in job and housing circumstances for the humans had him returned to the rescue group both times.  Not his fault.  Just lives changed and now, so has Elliot's.  He is in his furever home and we couldn't be happier.  In just a week's short time he fits in like he always lived here.  He has adapted to our shedule and is eating heartedly now, putting on some much needed weight.  The initial timidness is fading and he is holding his own with the resident setters, who are learning to accept him as well.
 
In reality, Elliot never had bad karma....his karma was good all the while.  He was given a good karma name when he initially entered rescue as a stray.  His prior stewards kept his good karma name which led him to me.  Funny how that works out.
 
 
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nature's voyeur

These Carolina Satyr Butterflies (Hermeuptychia sosybius) are pretty regular visitors to my place. It looks like the generations will continue.  Larval hosts include various grasses.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Gator-ette

I'm not indicating that this is a girl alligator, I haven't a clue.  What I am trying to convey is that it is a baby gator, maybe 1.5 ft long.  I'm rather glad that Albert, the 2.5 to 3 foot one has "left the building". 
 
 
Alexander (I thought it was a fitting name) was just sunning himself on the tussock (island).  I saw him one other day doing that dead man float thing in some deeper water. I'm not sure how they get here and where they go when they leave.  I just find it interesting that they DO find my little inland pond.  A friend Kim reports that they are capable of climbing a fence.  This one is small enough to fit under the gap of the back gate.  For a comparison of the two, it's like barbie shoes versus size 7s.
 
At any rate, I walk very carefully these days around the pond.  Don't want to be a peg legged gardener ;)
 
 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Brood Three Bluebird Fledgee....What Are You Waiting For?

Although the Bluebirds chose to raise their third brood up in the Purple Martin house where nosey me can't see how the babies are doing, I was at the right place at the right time this week.
 
One day I spotted the Swallowtail Kite, a type of a hawk bird soaring over the property.  That means it is close to fledge time for some poor unsuspecting nestling.  I'm not sure how the kites know that the babies are ready...perhaps they use a calendar much like I do:  See food going in?  Check in 16-18 days for bluebird babies coming out.
 
The next day I was walking around the pond when I heard the unmistakable chatter of the bluebird parents.  Flutter around, sitting high in treetops, seemingly telling the kids to hurry up.
 
I stepped far enough away to not upset the parents, but close enough to get a view of the babies.  I got to witness one dancing in and out of the various holes in the martin house, leaning out onto the balcony, contemplating the first flight.
 
(S)he seemed a bit hesitant and was taking a bit too long, so I snapped a few photos and headed inside with the hope that it had a successful first flight and that the hawks and kites weren't waiting in the wings with bibs on.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

In the throws of passion: Rated "R"

I was having a cup of coffee and looking out the back window which faces the pond.  Out of the corner of my eye I was SHOCKED to see my green friends with an open display of affection, right there on my fence.  I felt like a voyeur so I looked the other way.  Oh, ok, I grabbed the camera and began snapping away through the window like a detective on the prowl for a cheating spouse.
 
I'm happy to see the potential for an increase in population of our native green anoles that are being displaced by the invasive brown cuban anoles.
 
The antics of these adorable lizards is fascinating to watch but they apparently have NO SHAME!  Perhaps I don't either. ;)
 
Ah Nature!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Right Time, Right Place

I heard quite a bit of chattering as I walked around the back pond area, but I didn't give it much thought.  I saw a bluebird bringing nesting materials to the purple martin house.

I walked over to look at the "bog" section which during dry season isn't boggy at all.  As I glanced up, I saw a Blue, B-52 bomber headed straight for me.
I stared at the bluebird and reminded him that I was pretty far away from the nesting box and to chill out.  I looked up at the pine tree and saw an interesting coloring on the pine cone so decided to take a photo.  Just then Mr. B-52 flew at me again.

$*(#&)% WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM??? I exclaimed.  As I turned, not 3 feet in front of me was a new fledgling, standing quite still.  Ahhh, dad was on the ball.  And I guess mom was too.  Already building for brood three when brood two is JUST out of the nest.

FLEDGE DAY!  So often missed as the babies quickly leave for parts unknown.
Somewhat later in the day I saw not one, but TWO hawks positioned around in the trees, waiting, waiting, waiting.  They didn't catch anything on MY watch.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Baby Sings the Blues

There was a bluebird convention at the nest box the other day. Birdies had hatched as I saw mom and dad dutifully bringing live insects to their babies. I was walking by and two birds took flight. Since I assumed that it was mom and pop, I neared the box to take a quick peek at how many babies there were while the adults were away. All of a sudden, MOM came flying out the hole. I was a bit perplexed. I was sure that I had seen two birds take flight just moments before.

The next day brought me my clue. There were 3 birds on the top of the box and a beak sticking out of the box. That's four birds and the newly hatched eggs are too little to be counted as "birds". I got the field glasses and noticed them fly away, yet not far. I saw pop with an insect quickly return and then I noticed the weak flight of a second one stumble up top the box. Through the field glasses I got a good look at a somewhat pitiful sight. There was a baby from the first 2013 brood begging dad for a bite. Pop stuck his beak inside the box to feed the newborns and quickly shooed away big sister.

I felt a little sorry for her, but you have to make it on your own in life, as dad was clearly trying to point out.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Apartment living wasn't for these birds!

Hip Hip horray.  The bluebirds decided that apartment living really wasn't for them and have built their latest nest back in the nesting box I monitor in my yard.  As of yesterday there were four eggs and one happy garden mistress.  I've already started the daily photo documentation of this second brood of 2013.  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Those Dastardly Bluebirds

This year the bluebirds have taken the wind out of my sails by nesting in the purple martin house.  Oh, I'm thrilled that they are nesting, but I have a perfectly nice blue bird nesting box that they have used since 2007.  The nest box is about 6 foot off the ground and has a swingdown door for easy access.  I always enjoyed taking a daily peak at the progress and seeing close up the miracle that are bluebirds.  This year…20 feet up, high in the sky.  I am blaming the mockingbirds for being mean to them and causing the move. 
 
Still, I am enjoying seeing the flurry of activity many times each day as mom and pop feed the new babies.  I'm just frustrated that I don't know how many.  I suspect a LOT because they fly back and forth non-stop all day long.  In with the food, out with the fecal sacs. 
 
So, from my ground perch I dream about the growth of downy feathers and hungry open mouths and think that with my field glasses and zoom camera I merely have a different view than past years.
 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Mountains in Florida?

I was stunned to see a snow covered mountain out east the other day.  Surrounded by clear blue skies, it rose high above.  This is Florida, of course, so a snow covered mountain is unlikely, but I was mesmerized by the beauty of a single cloud mass billowing.  So much so that I took the photograph with the intention of sending it to our local news station which asks for our weather shots.
 
As luck would have it, my photo was centerstage on the 5pm news.  Beauty!  and I didn't have to shovel.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Freshwater seafood?

It's always an interesting time when I take the trash out to the curb (like we have a curb HA!). Today I discovered three new-to-me species of plants in the area close to the culvert where I leave the trashbin for pickup. One species, a lobelia is endemic to FL and one species, a clover, is introduced. The other native is a carnivorous bladderwort.

As I perused the dry culvert, I noticed that something had been chowing down. There were remnants of snail shells smashed and then there was the evidence shown in the photo. Mud bugs! I wonder who came to the "sidewalk" cafe to eat. Mind you, the mudbugs (crayfish) can regenerate claws, but I think that whoever stopped for lunch ate the whole thing and just tossed these claws to the side.

And here I didn't leave out any butter sauce.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Birds: and what a week it was

What a bird week. Oh, the usual: bluebirds, the phoebe, cardinals, blue jays, warblers, mockingbirds, mourning doves, red-bellied woodpeckers, vultures and my daily visitor, the red shouldered hawk. 

I was greeted by a few treats though.  The swallow swarm was back, bigger and better than ever and they added to their antics and my joy by swooping down to drink from the pond a hundred at a time "on the wing", causing only a slight ripple in top of the water.

Then, there was a robin, a soaring eagle, a common dove (not so common around here) and likely the best of all:  6 soaring wood storks (picture shown, which you can see enlarged by clicking on it),   There may have been more up there, but 6 was all that fit into the photo frame ;)

On Saturday, I met a new "life lister": Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus).  I glanced out the window and saw red in the oak.  Not exactly unusual, the cardinals often hang out in there, but this was close to the trunk.  As I studied it, I thought it was a Downy Woodpecker, a species I was blessed with in huge numbers while living in New York, but that I have yet to add to my Florida life list. I crept outside and got out my field glasses for a closer look.  WOW, kinda big!  As I angled the camera to try and catch a photo (s)he took off up into one of the tall pines. 

I studied it through the field glasses some more and made unsuccessful attempts to get a photo.  I realized it was indeed too large to be the diminutive downy so I headed inside to grab my field guide.  After thumbing through, I decided that Hairy Woodpecker seemed a good match and then I headed in to the computer to confirm.  YEP!  CHECK!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lousy photo, fleeting encounter

One morning about a week ago I saw a splash of color out of the corner of my eye. It was gone before I even could make identification, but I had in the back of my mind what it COULD be. Long ago I had seen some photos taken by my friend Jenny of pretty little birds called Painted Buntings (Passerina ciris). The next day I glanced out the window and I was thrilled to see one who was actually stationary for a moment. Awe struck, I reached for the camera but as fast as it was there it was gone.

The next day I again glanced out the door and saw one of these beauties, a male. I quietly grabbed the camera and stealthy opened the door as the little bugger flew over into the grapevine. This photo was the best I could do before it disappeared in the tangle of vines.

The next morning I stationed myself on the stair landing, camera in hand waiting...waiting...waiting. In the distance I could see color, but much too far away for a photo. I've been patiently waiting ever since. They are migratory here and I think that the four days was my window of opportunity. So, I am reporting my encounter and secretly hoping that Murphy's law kicks in and I get an outstanding photo minutes after this blog post goes live :)

Another tick mark on my Florida birdy life list, and a blurry reminder...but a reminder nonetheless, of a very rewarding encounter. Head on over to the Cornell site to see beautiful photos of this magnificent beauty. www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Painted_Bunting/ so you can share what I saw with my own two eyes.

Monday, January 14, 2013

One for the Bugguide record books!

In March of 2010 I had taken a photo of a moth and spent the better part of an hour trying to I.D. it by comparing to pictures at bugguide.net.  No Luck, so I posted the photo at that website.  One of the resident moth experts wrote the following: 
 
"Probably 3731.96 - Sparganothis n. sp.
This is a pretty good match for a specimen from Alabama found in the Mississippi Entomological Museum where it is labeled as an undescribed new species."
 
So, I moved it to that genus and left it to languish with others that didn't have enough detail to be identified as to species.
 
This past week I received a "subscription update" on my entry.  Seems that another of the experts moved my entry to
Cenopis unicolorana - Hodges#3707.1 (Cenopis unicolorana), a new guide page he created. 
 
I'm pleased to say that my encounter with photos is the ONLY one listed for this species.
 
You can see the posting here: http://bugguide.net/node/view/379551/bgimage

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Four, I tell you FOUR!

I had a wonderful encounter last week.  I glanced out the window in the kitchen door and saw four northern bobwhite quail munching away in an area next to the patio.  They were so close I could almost touch them.  I grabbed the camera and quietly opened the door.  I got off this one shot when Chili decided it would be a good time to bark from the living room, making the birdies scoot.  These birds tend to walk rather than fly, although they will take flight and I've seen them up on tree limbs.  They are FAST!  I desparately tried to zoom to photo capture the other three, but it was not to be. These birds are rather rare due to loss of habitat so I'm glad they find my place an acceptable place to dine.  I hope to see them again soon!
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