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Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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A Monarch butterfly visited two days last week. You see the result here. Last count, there were nine, very tiny caterpillars. The cycle begins again.

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owls-020-1There is really no story behind this shot. The neighborhood kids alerted me that two owls were in the palm tree, so I ran out with my camera and got this shot of one of the barred owls. She really is a beauty and her cooing who-who’s are soothing music wafting through the orange blossom scent on a Florida day in March. We have wonderful neighbors on this block, and not all of them live in houses.

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It was like shooting (or spearing) fish in a barrel for these big guys down at the pond today.  When water levels are high, birds dive for food in the glassy water. When it gets low, as it is now, the long legged water birds like egrets and herons just wade out and pick fish off until they are stuffed. There is another stage when it is reduced to puddles and mud and dead or dying fish lie all around. You would think that part would not be desirable. Ah, but you would not be a vulture. That’s when the clean-up crew comes in and takes away the stench, leaving the pond bottom clean and ready for summer rains that will keep it full most of the season. That’s when the soft shell turtles, bass, gar and other fish swim back over from adjacent lakes and ponds. No cycle is wasted as long as we let nature take its course.

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A local news story stuck in my craw the other day. That phrase from my Texas upbringing came to mind, and perhaps appropriately. The TV news reported a real stink in a neighborhood pond in the Orlando, FL area. Dead fish had floated to the surface and almost covered the pond. The resident interviewed was very upset. She could not open her doors or windows because of the smell. (Like we do that in Florida in August, anyway.) She pointed out that adding to the terrible situation were flocks of ugly, horrid, black birds all around the water’s edge.

 

I am, of course, yelling at the TV screen. “You *&#@. They are vultures, the clean up crew!”

 

Next day there was a follow-up report. Amazingly all the fish were gone. So were the vultures after filling their bellies. The lady was much calmer and surprised that BOTH her problems were taken care of. I will accept an apology on behalf of the vultures!

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So much hope, so little realized yesterday. Going door to door for our Neighborhood Watch group, I encountered wildlife without my camera, a major sin. As I stood waiting at the door, bushes began to rustle and shake. That was no lizard, but what? Suddenly an armadillo came waddling toward me. That is not what you expect in a suburban neighborhood, even one as wooded as ours. In a bit of a shock at seeing my first live armadillo outside Texas, I ran next door for my camera, for this house was right next door. But he was out of sight when I returned.

 

I walked around the neighbor’s house with the camera, hoping they would not mistake me for a stalker. And then: WHO WHO—WHO WHOOOOOO came a hollow sound from one of the live oaks down by our pond. I am easily distracted and the armadillo was obviously hiding. I followed the repeated bird call. It did sound like he was calling me. When I approached the tree the WHO WHO stopped. I waited and waited. Nothing. Was it a ploy, cooked up by the armadillo and owl to distract me? I’ll never know, but if it was, it worked. I have no pictures to post, just a futile search.

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These little golden Cuban tree frogs have taken up residence on our broadleaf milkweed plant. In a rain shower they moved to use the petals as an umbrella, but otherwise have posed for my camera for two days. I think I am supposed to put them in a plastic bag and freeze them. It is the humane way to kill them, I’m told. There is a reason for this. As this species has taken over in Florida, they are eradicating our native green tree frogs–which were also very beautiful. What to do, what to do.

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ibis10-7-0011.jpgsnake10-7-0041.jpgThese shots were taken yesterday in our yard, located in a suburban, metropolitan area slashed by an Interstate, busy roads, malls and strip malls, etc. I point this out to show that where ever you live there is wildlife that would love to share your plot of earth. After all they considered it theirs before you came. It is in your hands to help save species—and you will be richer for it. Follow the link to National Wildlife Federation on the right and see how it easy it is to be certified a Backyard Habitat. Then get your camera ready.

(Photos are ibis in process of changing feathers and Fred, our beautiful black racer.)

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