Friday, December 2, 2016

Bathing Blue Birds

There were 5 bluebirds in the bird baths a few days ago. The water level in the baths were extra low which is perfect for bathing birds. I enjoyed watching them splash around in the water- love my bird visitors! Oh yea, I've since replenished them with water. Birds depend on a good source of water year around, even more so when we are in drought situations.

Digital photo art is my "therapy".   Sometimes I like to get a little more creative and play around with my photos.  The photos below had either too much light or too much dark in their backgrounds and I couldn't edit them to my satisfaction.  With the help of PicMonkey I washed the backgrounds with color which made them appear softer.  I like the results.  What do you think?  

I hope your day is a great one!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Already?

December already?  Doesn't seem real, does it?  How quickly time escapes us!  I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Just around the corner is Christmas and I'm nowhere near ready for it.  There's so much to do and the days pass too quickly.  I had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and truly enjoyed a little time with extended family.  

I haven't been on Blogger much the past few months, mainly because I have other projects going- working on family genealogy, trying to finish up a nature book and catching up on much needed house cleaning a little at a time.  My health hasn't allowed me to return to work yet so I've taken advantage of the time off to catch up on several things.  

Hopefully I'll have my Christmas tree decorated by this time next week.  I wish you all a wonderful weekend.  Thank you for stopping in!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers, measuring in from 5 to 6 inches in length. They are long-distance migrants that travel from 1,800 to 2,500 miles from the southern United States and northern South America to breeding areas in the extreme northern regions of North America.

Least Sandpipers have brown upper-parts and white lower-parts with black slightly decurved bills and thin yellowish-green legs.  They feed on invertebrates along the edges of water and favor muddier shores than other sandpipers.  

I spotted this pair of sandpipers foraging along the muddy edges of the creek bank as we traveled through St. Catherine Creek NWR.  They suspiciously watched me as I tried to clear my camera lens across the top of the tall grasses that obscured my view.  They're so small I nearly missed them.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

Banded Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

While walking along the lake's edge during our visit to St. Catherine Creek NWR, I happened to spot a caterpillar curled up in one of the grassy plants.  Its size (about 3 inches long) surprised me and I broke off the small stem the caterpillar rested on so I could get a closer look.  I haven't seen many caterpillars in my life and I had no idea what kind of moth or butterfly this one would eventually morph into.  

Of course, Google search provided an answer.  This is a Banded Sphinx Moth caterpillar, a common species in the southeastern part of the United States.   Host plants include primrose-willow and other plants in the evening primrose family.  An adult moth has a wing span of approximately 3.5 inches. Photos and more information about the sphinx moth can be found here.  

Have a wonderful weekend!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cattle Egrets

Native to Africa, Cattle Egrets arrived in the United States in 1941.  They have since become one of the most abundant of North American herons.  Cattle egrets are small and compact compared to other herons.  They have short legs, a short but thick neck and a straight dagger-like bill.  During non-breeding season, adults are all white with a yellow bill and legs.  When breeding, they develop golden plumes on their head, chest and back.  Juveniles have dark legs and a dark bill.

Cattle egrets spend much of their time in fields, stalking insects and other small animals. They're commonly seen at the feet of grazing cattle where they can easily snatch disturbed insects.  Crickets and grasshoppers are typical items on their menu.  They also consume horse flies, cicadas, wolf spiders, ticks, earthworms, crawfish, millipedes, centipedes, fish, frogs, mice, songbirds, eggs and nestlings.  These egrets will ride on the backs of cattle and horses while picking at ticks.  

Most Cattle egrets breeding in North America migrate to Mexico, Central America, and the Greater Antilles. Several populations stay in the southern United States, mainly in coastal areas where the temperature rarely falls below 40° Fahrenheit.  Although their migration pattern is usually predictable, they may sometimes wander erratically and appear well north of their normal range.

Cattle egrets form dense breeding colonies and non-breeding roosts. They leave their roost or nesting colony just after sunrise, feed in the morning and afternoon with a rest at midday, and make their return flight an hour before sunset.  They are usually monogamous within each breeding season, with occasional trios of two females and one male.  Cattle egrets are sometimes seen as a nuisance because their colonies can be large, noisy, smelly, and close to populated areas.

These photos were captured at the St. Catherine Creek NWR in Tupelo, Mississippi.  I was surprised and grateful when they allowed me to move in close enough to get some good images.  

Thank you for visiting my blog.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and information on one of our most common birds.  Have a great Wednesday!

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Eastern Dragonflies

What a beautiful breezy day we've had today!  
Signs of autumn are finally beginning to settle in.

There were hundreds and hundreds of dragonflies at the St. Catherine Creek NWR when my husband and I visited a few weeks ago.  I love dragonflies, always have.  Watching them dart around wildflowers and the lake was fun.  However, they move much too fast for me to capture decent shots of them in flight.  

I managed to sneak in a few shots of a couple dragonflies while they rested.  The first three photos are that of an adult male Eastern Pondhawk, also called a Common Pondhawk or Green Jacket. Females and young males of this species are green with square blackish spots on the abdomen. While browsing through my photos, my grandson pointed out that "he looks like he's smiling!".  Sure enough, he does.  The last group of photos are that of an Eastern Amberwing.  The Eastern Amberwing flies low, just above the water's surface, feeding on small insects.  These small dragonflies were quite numerous around the lake and many of them were either mating or seeking a mate.  

 Thank you for viewing this series of photos of these amazing creatures.  
Have a pleasant weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

White Ibis

The White Ibis is one of the most common wading birds on the southeast U.S. coast.  They're highly sociable and nest in large colonies close  to swamps, marshes or dense thickets.  

The ibis forages in shallow water, sweeping its bill from side to side and probing at the bottom. Their diet is variable, but crawfish and crabs are major items. They also eat insects, snails, frogs, marine worms, snakes, small fish.

The white ibis is about 2 feet tall and has a wingspan of about 3 feet. It is entirely white, except for its black-edged wings. Its blacked tipped wings may not be noticeable when the ibis is at rest, but they are easily seen when the ibis is in flight. It has a long, down-curved, reddish-orange bill and a reddish-orange face. It legs are long and gray, except for during breeding season when they turn reddish-orange. Young white ibis are brown on their uppersides and white on their undersides and they have brown bills and legs.

The white ibis can be found on the Atlantic Coast from Virginia south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast west to Texas. It is also found in Mexico and Central America.

Photos taken at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Natchez, Mississippi

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Glossy Ibis

Glossy or White-faced?  It was difficult for me to decide which group of Ibis these birds belong to.  I looked at scores of online photos and read information on them from several online birding articles.  I zoomed the images in as far as I could, looking for the subtle clue to the right answer.  I changed my mind at least a dozen times.  Finally, I concluded that they, more than likely, are Glossy Ibises. One reason I made this decision is because the white lines around the eye do not appear to meet behind the eye; whereas, on the white-faced ibis, the white feathers encircle the back of the eye.  Another difference I noticed is leg color- where the glossy ibis has gray colored legs with dark pink knees, the white-faced ibis has pink colored legs with darker pink knees.  Identification by leg color is more difficult though during non-breeding season.  If you're familiar with this bird species I ask that you check out my photos below and give me your opinion- it would be most appreciated.  

The glossy ibis can most commonly be found along the east coast of the United States from Maine to Texas. It spends winter from the Carolinas south to Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas. It is also found in Central America, South America, Africa, southern Eurasia and Australasia.  The glossy ibis is seen in a variety of wetlands including marshes, estuaries, coastal bays, flooded fields and swamps where it probes in the mud and silt with its bill looking for prey like the fiddler crab, crawfish, insects and small snakes. 

Photos taken at St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Black-Necked Stilts

In the United States, Black-necked Stilts are commonly seen around flooded lowlands, salt and sewage ponds and shallow lagoons.  They are strongly territorial birds, particularly during breeding season and winter.  The territories are aggregated, and adults will participate jointly in anti-predator displays, therefore there is some degree of coloniality.  When not breeding, they roost and forage for food in groups.  

Black-necked Stilts wade in shallow waters for their fare of aquatic invertebrates and fish. Crawfish, brine flies, brine shrimp, beetles, and tadpoles are commonly snatched up by their long, thin beaks.  

The Black-necked Stilt is both striking and delicate in appearance with its black and white plumage, long, thin red legs, and long neck.  It has a black needle-like bill, black or dark brown upperparts, and a white breast. The iris is red, and there is a white spot above the eye. Breeding males have glossy black wings, back, and back of neck, and a pink tinge on the breast. Non-breeding males lack the glossiness and pink tinge. Adult females have a brown tinge to the back. Juveniles have brown upperparts with buff feather margins, and a white trailing edge to the wing in flight.

When foraging, they appear as if they're slowly "skating" through the shallow water- quite fun to observe.  

These photos were taken at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Natchez, Mississippi. I hope you enjoyed the images and tidbits of information about these attractive, fascinating birds.

Linked with Stewart at Paying Ready Attention