Tag Archives: winter

First Winter Sightings of Ducks on My Lake

It’s always a thrill to see the birds starting to flock on the lake.  I was able to see only lone ducks this time – but, I’m sure – others will soon follow.

first sighting 3

first sighting 5

“Aves” is Latin for Birds

For the purpose of this post, I looked up the Latin word for “birds.”  I know about “flora” and “fauna” but never thought about Latin for “birds” until I started thinking of writing this post.

As you all probably know by now, I live in South Florida, and there is a small lake (Bob used to call it a “pond”) out back.   The aves (birds) scenery changes with the seasons.  The best time is during the winter, when many different species make their appearance.  I’m very much looking forward to that aves show.  And I have a front row seat right on my patio!

When Bob and I moved into our new home back in 1997, we discovered a resident large white duck that presented himself, strutting around on the grass and enjoying the clean lake on the property.

Donald Duck in back of our house.

Donald Duck in back of our house.

Some people on the other side of the lake thought Donald was lonely, so they bought another white duck to keep Donald company.  Donald was visibly happy with his new companion.  Unfortunately, one morning, after a couple of years of all of us enjoying our resident friendly white ducks, they disappeared.  It was later discovered that they must have been attacked and killed by a roaming bobcat, which was sighted in the neighborhood on occasion.  We were all very sad that our ducks came to such a terrible end:  the gloom was palpable around the lake.

Our nextdoor neighbor moved in about a year after we did, and she loved feeding bread to the birds around the lake.  Everyone was warned there’s a Florida law forbidding the feeding of wildlife:  they have to be left alone to hunt their own food.  There’s no lack of enough food here in South Florida:  there are plenty of insects for them to feast on!  And, since the lake was stocked with fish and turtles by the state, there’s a plethora of dining delights for all!

I have to admit, even though I felt uneasy seeing the birds being fed bread, I enjoyed the activity of the birds running to get their “treats” thrown by my neighbor in back of her house.

Common Moorhen - male [courtesy of Bingdotcom]

Common Moorhen – male [courtesy of Bingdotcom]

Female Common Moorhen in back of house.

Female Common Moorhen in back of our house.

Most winters, a pair or two of Common Moorhens make their appearance.  They are recognizable by the red streak running down the front of their faces onto their bills.  They are funny, aggressive birds which make me laugh when I see them.  They run like someone is chasing them – with their necks stuck out far (which makes them look like they’ll lose their balance and fall on their faces); actually, it’s the other way ’round.  They are usually chasing other birds, no matter how big, who are unfortunate enough to meander near the Moorhens’ “camping grounds” in search of their own all day insect feast.

It becomes more special and entertaining when there are babies that have recently hatched.  Mom and Dad are teaching them where delicious snacks and treats are available, courtesy of my neighbor.  So, you can see why I feel somewhat uneasy when I see these wild birds are being taught to eat things that are not good for them.  When I first saw this happening, I did speak to my neighbor about it, but she didn’t want to hear of it.  You’ll have to excuse my wandering a bit about this, but I am an advocate for animals (birds included, of course).

Over the course of time, I’ve photographed other birds that appear in my sights.  I dug up a few more:

The shy, endangered woodstork in back of my house.

The shy, endangered woodstork in back of my house.

 

Woodstork finishing up his grooming.

Woodstork finishing up his grooming.

The woodstork is a loner, as most large birds are, and is a big, tall and not elegant bird; in fact, he is very gangly, and has a walking gait that looks like someone who is hobbling.  It could be due to his very large, incongruous, heavy beak.  There was one, several years ago, which my sister described as looking like a “rumpled bed.”  His feathers never seemed to be neat!  BUT, when this bird is in flight, he soars and glides and NOW he IS elegant.

Great Blue Heron in back of my house.

Great Blue Heron in back of my house.

The heron in this photo was a young adult; the older adults are larger and have more body mass and are taller.  There are some that we call the “grandpas.”  These herons are magnificent birds, and, in contrast to the woodstork, they are so elegant when they walk.  Of course, when flying, they are exquisite gliders, and their wingspans must be around 5 or 6 feet when mature.

Soon after I moved to Florida, I was driving and slowed down to turn into the apartment complex in which I was living.  Suddenly, a low-flying Great Blue flew right in front of my car.  He had evidently taken off from the clumps of bushes that were near.  My heart stopped at the sight.  I remember that experience as one of the most exciting and exhilarating in my life.

 

This photo shows the Great Blue Heron trying to swallow a fish from our lake.

This photo shows the Great Blue Heron trying to swallow a fish from our lake.

Caught in the act.  I had to run to get my camera, hoping that I would get back in time to snap this.  I didn’t have to rush, as it turned out.  It took this persistent heron at least 5 minutes to finally get that fish down into his gullet.  He was very patient, and kept tossing it, trying to get the angle just right.  He also let the fish down onto the grass and then picked it up again in his attempts to swallow it.  Bob and I watched in spellbound silence.  We were so sure that fish was too big.  We were wrong.  He finally got it into his mouth, and as he swallowed it (with difficulty), we watched it slowly move down that narrow neck.  We shouted after his triumph.  Amazing!

Great White Egret in back of house.

Great White Egret in back of my house.

Sorry about this photo.  Couldn’t find a better one.  But, I didn’t want to leave out this regal bird, who also has an elegant gait when slinking on his spindly legs.  He is slightly smaller than the Great Blue Heron, and has less body mass.  If you can believe it, his neck is even thinner than the heron’s.  I certainly can’t imagine him even thinking of trying to swallow that fish.  The Great White is also a super sight when sailing overhead.

 

3 Smiles on My Face

Gorgeous winter day in South Florida.  Slight wisps of white clouds, and the blue is a perfect baby blue.

Inside today, catching up on chores that have been waiting a long time.  Love to clean out closets and cabinets – yes, I really mean it.  A great sense of satisfaction after the job is done; in fact, I keep looking for more things to throw out.  I get in to a “getting rid of things I don’t need anymore” mode and truthfully, I am disappointed that I can’t find anything more with which to fill my garbage pail!

The disappointed feeling  didn’t last very long.

Something on the TV caught my ear as I walked into the kitchen (I usually keep it on even when not in the room).  Treehouse Masters.  On Animal Planet, of all places!

treehouse masters

I’ve seen Pete Nelson’s amazing treehouses before, but this day, I was taken all over the US – California, Ohio, Upstate NY, Manhattan, and even Alaska!  This guy is a veritable “globetrotter” in the States.  He’s from Washington State – a real “down homebody” kind of guy.  Loved my trip!

brewery treehousebrewery treehouse 2

Above is the interior of a “brewery tree house” he designed and built for a family where they could brew their own beer.  His vision for them was a house that resembled a church.

Below is the tree house built and owned by a homesteader in Alaska – very crude, but strongly built.  No design – just used nails and a gas-powered saw.

alaska treehouse

The guy, a helicopter pilot, brought Pete to his house (he hadn’t been there in 7 months), hoping it would still be there, considering the weather in the Alaskan wilderness.  It needed a new part to the smokestack of his woodburning stove inside the tree house.  It was a tricky and dangerous job, but Pete managed, without getting killed.

Finally – Sunshine!

The day has been really beautiful.  Yesterday was nasty and rainy and I remember commenting to my sister as we rode in the car, that it seemed like a Fall day in New York:  misty, drizzly, cloudy and wondering when we were going to see the sun again.

The night was horrendous.  It rained very hard all night, and the thundering on the roof prevented me from having a good night. 

I went out to the driveway to pick up my newspaper; it wasn’t there.  Then I realized the street was flooded.  I am not one to keep checking the weather report, so I just accepted the fact of the small lake in front of my house and went inside, sans newspaper.

I called the Sun-Sentinel and a recorded message told me today’s newspaper will be delivered tomorrow with tomorrow’s.  What good is that?  OK.  Had to accept that.

Was expecting a visitor this morning, but she telephoned that all the access roads to my community were flooded; in fact, there was a BMW stuck in the deeper water near the entrance.  Posted all the “good” news on the community website.  Daughter’s street was flooded and many major roads as well.  Heard there was a tornado in the area during the night, and her phone and electric were out.  She couldn’t get to work and went back to sleep.

The good news?  Most of today has been sunny and mild, allowing the excess water to disappear and there is no more flooding in my community!  January will probably be the wettest winter month in years, here in South Florida.  No prospect for a drought, that’s for sure.  And my Rusty is keeping me company on my desk.  Check out my blog for my cats:  pussycats3.wordpress.com

What is your good news for today? 

 

Brrrrr! Am I Living in Florida?

Maybe this pup is an exaggeration of my morning experience when I went out to get the newspaper from the driveway.  But, for South Florida, it was chilly – in the high 50’s.  I guess I’m trying to be sympathetic about the parts of the US that are reeling from the terrible cold and storms.

Watching the weather reports, and listening to all the flight delays, makes me happy about the fact of where I live.

Still didn’t get any email from WordPress re the disappearance of my colorful background for my theme; however, hopefully, this problem will be solved – one way or another.  I might have to completely change my theme, if there is no fix.  I found out the theme, Malata, is no longer supported.  It’s about 2 years old.  Well, things could be worse, right?

Happiness is found in many forms, of course – each to his/her own.  One of my happy moments is when I treat myself to SHRIMP.  Had some today for lunch.  Love those curvy, ridged, headless, tail-on pieces of white flesh.  Don’t know why.

It’s almost like an addiction – sort of like chocolate.

Happy moments pop up when least we expect them.  Today, I’ve enjoyed several.  Got an unexpected phone call from a long-time friend.  It was good to hear her voice and we did some needed catching up.  Left me with warm feelings.  Daughter’s phone call cheered me up.  One of my favorite sounds in this world is hearing her voice.

You know, happy doesn’t have to be exciting.  Sometimes it comes from little seemingly unimportant things.  Sometimes we don’t realize they happened until we think back and remember what happened in the day.  Today was a happy day for me.  I hope it was for you all.