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

Linked with Stewart for 

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 

Monday, October 10, 2016

St. Catherine Creek NWR

Charlie and I got away for a short trip last Saturday to St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge near Natchez, Mississippi.  The refuge is located on 25,000 acres which provide essential habitats for various species of birds.  It is a designated "Important Bird Area" by the National Audubon Society. Bounded by the Mississippi River and loess bluffs, birds are drawn to the area as they follow the river and bluffs during migration or in search of a suitable habitat.

We had a brief but wonderful visit to the refuge.  The weather was near perfect with plenty of sunshine and an occasional breeze.  There were plenty of photo opportunities and I took more than my fair share of them.  We observed scores of butterflies and dragonflies in the open fields but I didn't get but a few photos of them because they were constantly on the move. 

The autumn colors were gorgeous, especially in the open fields of wildflowers. I intend to share some of the better wildlife photos in upcoming posts.  I hope you'll enjoy them.  Have a great week!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fall Migration of Hummingbirds

The first arrivals of fall migrants appeared September 26th this year.  Days later, there were scores of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds competing for sugar water at our feeders.  It seems though they used most of their energy fighting with each other- such territorial little things they are.  

My family and I have all enjoyed watching their show of speed and acrobatic skills.  They've been our morning and evening entertainment on the back porch.  

Our little friends have moved on now.  There'll be a straggler or two passing through for a couple of weeks so I'll leave the feeders up for now.  I wish them a safe journey to their wintering grounds and look forward to their spring return.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Monarch Butterfly

I finally had the opportunity to get close enough to a Monarch butterfly to snap a few shots. There were dozens of them flying among the autumn wildflowers in the fields surrounding St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge located southwest of Natchez, Mississippi.  I observed several different species of butterflies but had difficulty shooting photos because they were constantly on the move.  

Such beautiful creatures...