Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crane's Roost and the Little Blue Heron...

More from Uptown Altamonte and Crane’s Roost. Today’s feature bird is the Little Blue Heron. I just love these little guys and have taken a couple dozen photos over the last two months. These however, are the only ones worth publishing. As you can tell, I took full advantage of the fact that Maureen and Sara were feeding the birds bread and drawing them in close for me.

Did you know:
Here is an interesting fact that I did not know. Did you?

A smallish heron of the southeastern United States, the Little Blue Heron breeds in various freshwater and estuarine habitats. It is the only heron species in which first-year birds and adults show dramatically different coloration: first-year birds are pure white, while adults are blue.

Conservation Status:
Declining in much of its range in the United States. Because it does not bear long showy plumes in breeding adult plumage, the Little Blue Heron largely escaped serious population declines from feather hunting for the millinery trade. Habitat loss and human-caused changes in local water dynamics are the most serious threats.

The Snowy Egret tolerates the close proximity of white Little Blue Herons more than that of dark Little Blue Herons. A white Little Blue Heron catches more fish in the company of Snowy Egrets than when alone. This relationship may be one reason why young Little Blue Herons stay white for a year.

Another advantage of white plumage is that young Little Blue Herons are more readily able to integrate into mixed-species flocks of white herons, thus gaining a measure of protection against predators.
Did you know brought to you by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!

Believe it or not, I still have more to come from this little two hour trip. Thanks for stopping by and for everyone's kind and gracious comments!

Crane's Roost and Grackles...

All that glitters is not a gold...

Let's continue our journey at Crane's Roost in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Today's bird is the Common Grackle. Well I don't find him to be common at all. I have long been fascinated by their iridescent feathers. A blackbird with flare! They are my second favorite blackbird, behind the brown headed cowbird. I have a few shots of those coming up in a few days. I could never quite get the Grackle to sit where I wanted them so I could take advantage of the glowing hot sun on that day to really show off their color. I hope you enjoy the Grackle from Crane’s Roost.
Don't forget to click image to enlarge if you want a closer look.

Did you know:

A familiar sight on suburban lawns, the Common Grackle can be recognized by its iridescent purple and bronze plumage and long, keel-shaped tail. It's expanding its range into the far West, but is most common in the East.

Sound: (I loved the discription given of their sound)

Song a harsh, unmusical "readle-eak," like a rusty gate. Call a sharp, harsh "chack."
listen to songs of this species

The Common Grackle is an opportunistic forager, taking advantage of whatever food sources it can find. It will follow plows for invertebrates and mice, wade into water to catch small fish, and sometimes kill and eat other birds at bird feeders.
The Common Grackle commonly engages in anting, allowing ants to crawl on its body and secrete formic acid, possibly to rid the body of parasites. In addition to ants, it has been seen using walnut juice, lemons and limes, marigold blossoms, choke cherries, and mothballs in a similar fashion.
The Common Grackle has benefited from human activities. The clearing of the Eastern forests was to its liking. The expansion of agriculture, along with the use of mechanical crop harvesters, improved overwinter survival by increasing the supply of waste grain. In the West, the Common Grackle has moved into new areas by following the planting of ornamental trees.

Did you know, brought to you by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Thank you for visiting today and please do leave a comment!


Today's Nature walk...

And they say his family tree doesn't fork! It does but it grows back together. I know I just opened myself up for some redneck jokes on this one, but I thought this was a cool nature pic. So go ahead and give me your best shot! LOL

Look a dolphin! You never know what you will see when you walk with me.

As you can see I didn't get any bird photo's today. Don't worry I have plenty more from Crane's Roost and will work on another series tonight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Did I mention White Ibis...

For Hannibal and Leedra...

White Ibis are so common here that if never crossed my mind that there would be much interest in them. I forget that our blogging community spans the US and the globe. I hope you enjoy these shots from Crane's Roost in Altamonte Springs here in Central Florida. Don't forget to click on the photo for a closer look.

Did you Know:
A wading bird of the deep South, the striking White Ibis is frequently seen on lawns looking for large insects as well as probing for prey along the shoreline.

Their call... thanks to Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

It occurs in marshy wetlands and pools near the coast. It also occurs on mowed grass, lawns, and has become common in some city parks, where it can be found feeding alone or with other Ibis. It builds a stick nest in trees, bushes, or over water, and 2 to 5 eggs are typically laid. White ibises are monogamous and colonial, usually nesting in mixed colonies with other wading species.

This ibis feeds by probing with its long, downcurved beak. Its diet consists of various fish, frogs and other water creatures, as well as insects and small reptiles. Adults are 65 cm long with a 95 cm wingspan. They have all-white plumage except for black wingtips (visible in flight) and reddish bills and legs. The red bill blends into the face of breeding birds; non-breeding birds show a pink to red face. Juveniles are largely brown with duller bare parts; they are distinguished from the Glossy and White-faced Ibises by white underparts and rumps. Over all both sexes look alike.

Like the other species of ibis, the White Ibis flies with neck and legs outstretched, often in long, loose lines. The song of the male is an advertising hunk-hunk-hunk-hunk. The female squeals. When feeding, the birds often give a soft, grunting croo, croo, croo as they forage.

Above Research from Wiki.

The juvenile White Ibis...

White Ibis and Mallards compete for bread...

No more bread??? gotta go...

Thanks for stopping by. Remember more birds to come from my trip to Crane's Roost.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Having fun with Seagulls...

All of these our from my outing with Maureen and Sara to Crane's Roost in Altamonte Springs. I hope to give you more details of the place soon. I know that Seagulls are not the favorite but they do have a flare. I will be following up with other birds from todays photo's but really hope you enjoy these action photo's of the Seagulls.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Clerodendrum indicum...

Turk's Turban; Skyrocket; Tube Flower...
Family: Verbenaceae (verbena or vervain Family)

I found an interesting flower today on my lunch walk. Took some time for research and ultimately failed and sent out a few emails for help. Paul Rebmann from Wild Florida Photo was the first to answer my plea. Please check out his photography website. It is filled with great information about Florida wildlife as well as plant life. Thanks so much Paul for you help.

I thought this was a curious looking plant and flower and wanted to know more. There is a certain enjoyment in knowing the names of plants and animals. I don’t know why. I hope you enjoy this strange plant as much as I did on my walk.

Did you know:
Turk's turban or tubeflower is a semiwoody shrub or returning perennial, 6-9 ft (1.8-2.7 m) tall and only slightly, if at all, branched. The stem is hollow and the leaves are elliptic and 6-8 in (15-20 cm)long, borne in whorls of four on very short petioles.
The inflorescence is huge, consisting of many tubular snow white flowers in a terminal cluster up to 2 ft (0.6 m) long.
The tubes of the flowers are about 4 in (10 cm) long and droop downward, and the expanded corollas are about 2 in (5 cm) across.
The fruits are attractive dark metallic blue drupes, about a half inch in diameter.
Tubeflower is native to the Malay Archipelago. It is widely cultivated as an ornamental and has become naturalized in South America, the West Indies and much of the southern U.S., where it grows in disturbed sites and especially along road shoulders.

Did you Know research from Floridata.com.
Yay, Tubeflower!

Nothing sunbathes like a gator…

I see this little guy often on my walks. He has however been scarce for that last few weeks. I did catch him out today trying to stay warm. The tempeture is in the mid 70’s today so the sunshine was mighty inviting to a little alligator.

This one is about 3 feet long and is quick to run for water if you get too close. I was able to get this shot off before he too off. He lives in a retention pond adjactent to a building. The water is super clear and it's fun to watch him when he thinks he is hiding just under the surface.

Did you know:

The average size for an adult female American alligator is 8.2 feet (2.6 m), and the average size for a male is 11.2 feet (3.4 m). Exceptionally large males can reach a weight of nearly half a ton or 1,000 pounds.

Both males and females have an "armored" body with a muscular flat tail. The skin on the back is armored with embedded bony plates called osteoderms or scutes. They have four short legs; the front legs have five toes while the back legs have four toes.

Alligators have a long snout with upward facing nostrils at the end; this lets them breathe while the rest of the body is underwater. The young can be distinguished from adults by the bright yellow stripes on the tail; adults have dark stripes on the tail.

Did you know research from Smithsonian National Zoological Park.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Justin: Just in Time for Wood Storks...

J Man hit the mother load this time! Look at these babies! How would you like to have a visit from one of these guys? In fact, I know Dave over at Dave’s Bird Watching Blog had a visit just this month. Congrats to Dave and family. The Wood Storks have been the highlight of my year for bird watching. I hope you enjoy them as well. Especially since Justin made his older sister take him to the park again this morning so he could get some more shots for his Uncle. Thank you Kayla! I have had at least a dozen sightings this year but only captured a few with my camera. Justin blew past me in two outings!

Did you know: Wood storks are tall, white denizens of freshwater or brackish wetlands and swamps. They can be identified by their long legs, featherless heads, and prominent bills.

These waders feed on minnows in shallow water by using their bills to perform a rare and effective fishing technique. The stork opens its bill and sticks it into the water, then waits for the touch of an unfortunate fish that wanders too close. When it feels a fish, the stork can snap its bill shut in as little as 25 milliseconds—an incredibly quick reaction time matched by few other vertebrates.
The storks prefer to employ this technique in isolated pools created by tides or falling freshwater levels, where fish congregate en masse. In some areas, such as Florida, breeding begins with the dry season that produces these optimal fishing conditions.

Though wood storks eat small fish, they eat a lot of them. An average nesting pair, with two fledglings, may eat over 400 pounds (181 kilograms) of fish during a single breeding season.

Wood storks are social animals. They feed in flocks and nest in large rookeries—sometimes several pairs to a single tree. Females lay two to five eggs, which both sexes incubate for about one month. Young fledge about two months after hatching.
Wood storks breed in the southeastern United States and are the only stork to breed in the U.S. They also breed in Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina. Though U.S. populations are endangered—probably because of the loss of optimal feeding habitat—the South American stork populations are in better shape.

Did you know research from NationalGeographic. com

Thanks again Justin.

Uncle Craig

Monday, December 22, 2008

Justin: Nature Stalker and future Nature Blogger...

I would like to welcome Justin back to the blog this week. Justin is my 13 year old nephew and contributing photographer to my blog. According to Scot, his daddy, Justin is a member of the FBA (Future Bloggers of America) and has already put in his request for a camera of his own for Christmas. I think all of my readers would agree that it would be quite the shame if he doesn’t get one! (Sorry Scooter)

Personally, even though I love my little Justin, I think he is just showing off! I am sure you will all agree after my next series of post featuring him and his little outing to a park in Brevard Co Florida known as Chain of Lakes. Just kidding little man, and don’t you worry. I will be the first in line to be your number one follower when you start your own blog! Now let’s get on with the show.

The Anhinga:
Did you Know:
The Anhinga is frequently seen soaring high in the sky overhead. It is a graceful flier and can travel long distances without flapping its wings, much in the manner of a Turkey Vulture.

The Anhinga is often referred to as the snake bird. When they come back up from a dive for fish their long neck looks like a snake coming up out of the water.

The Female Anhinga in Flight: (OK, now you are showing off!)
I think this is a Mallard Female but not sure. Another nice in flight photo. Beginners luck I say!
The Great Blue Heron:

Did you Know:
The white form of the Great Blue Heron, known as the "great white heron," is found nearly exclusively in shallow marine waters along the coast of very southern Florida, the Yucatan Peninsula, and in the Caribbean. Where the dark and white forms overlap in Florida, intermediate birds known as "Wurdemann's herons" can be found. They have the bodies of a Great Blue Heron, but the white head and neck of the great white heron.

Although the Great Blue Heron eats primarily fish, it is adaptable and willing to eat other animals as well. Several studies have found that voles (mice) were a very important part of the diet, making up nearly half of what was fed to nestlings in Idaho. Occasionally a heron will choke to death trying to eat a fish that is too large to swallow.

Great Blue Herons congregate at fish hatcheries, creating potential problems for the fish farmers. A study found that herons ate mostly diseased fish that would have died shortly anyway. Sick fish spent more time near the surface of the water where they were more vulnerable to the herons.

Grand Finale:
He deftly throws the camera in the air with the timer set and takes his own picture. Show off. Love you J man, keep up the good work and thanks for your contributions.

Uncle Craig