Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

We had a lot of fun looking up just before we left our home in Florida. There is a big ficus (a member of the banyan family) tree in front of screened lanai. I get great joy lying on the couch and looking up into its branches. This year was especially fun because the tree was given a MAJOR pruning to control root growth – they have huge invasive root systems. The tree was introduced to southern Florida to soak up the water so the land could be developed.

Mocking Bird singing songs to me.

Mocking Bird singing songs to me.

The trimming made the tree look funny but it increased my ability to see birds that flew in.

A couple of blue jays making a lot of racket.

A couple of blue jays making a lot of racket.

I would sit and work my crossword puzzle in the morning while I watched and listened for birds. When I saw one I grabbed my camera and quietly went out, standing under the almost bare limbs looking up, thru my lens, moving carefully around trying to get a good shot. I saw some woodpeckers, but they are harder to photograph because they are smaller, they are skittish, and they move so quickly.

birds 019

bird in tree 020

For a period of time in February we heard a lot of pecking by a woodpecker. I would go out with my camera and look up. I moved around the sound trying to pinpoint where exactly it was coming from but there was nothing there. My ears could see something that didn’t exist.

One day I was looking up and realized where the noise was coming from. The woodpecker was inside a hole pecking out a nest.

MOCKINGBIRD 019

Two-story nest?

Can you imagine the wear and tear on their tiny beaks from doing all that pounding. And the holes are so perfect – do they draw a circle with a compass? Then we began to see the mama and papa going in and out of the hole so we knew there were babies, or soon would be babies.

birds 030

I think this is papa bird.

Just a couple of days before we left we could hear the babies chirping for food between visits from the new mom & dad. Jim even saw a little head peek out momentarily. I was hoping we would see them leave the nest before we left our nest but it didn’t happen. What fun we had watching all the bird activity by looking up into our bare tree.

I checked out some other entries and there are some good ones. Check them out for yourself at:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/weekly-photo-challenge-up-2/

 

Great Egret

Here are some more photographs from my trip to the Venice Rookery. It is nesting time and there was a lot of activity on the island. I think I need a more powerful telephoto lens so that I can get closer. I also learned a lot about how to get sharper images so I could have cropped these – but my learning was at the expense of this batch.

Anyway, what I didn’t notice until I downloaded these photos, are the two infants in the nest on the right. It appears that the Egret on the left is looking for some action and the one on the bottom appears to be sitting on a nest.

Rookery 041

All seemed to be in a family frame of mind. Both males and females have mating plumage from January until early summer so I was able to see families at different stages of breeding. There were two birds sitting on branches on the other side of the pond and I was told by another visitor that they were juvenile Great Blue Herons. When I checked my Smithsonian Birds of Florida book, they didn’t match the description. I think they are juvenile Great Egrets – notice the lime green legs. Can anyone confirm this for me?

Rookery 229

This one seems to be still looking for a mate.

Rookery 126

There were birds that were flying down to the edge of the pond not far from where I was standing to search for just the right twigs for a nest, then would fly off to do the work. Both males & females build the nest and they look similar.

Rookery 285

Rookery 019

They are very impressive when they spread their wings and fly. They are 37-41 inches long with a wing span of 55 inches.

Rookery 108

I am having great fun getting to know the birds of Florida and have a new appreciation for how much I learned about Michigan birds as I was growing up. Photography is speeding up the learning curve. It was also fun to run over to Barnes & Noble to pick out a couple of reference books – one on birds and one on shells.