Night (Heron) Watchman

There seems to be a new volunteer security force at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

This young yellow crown night heron kept close watch over a distracted photographer’s car and napping spouse recently.

Click on any image for a larger view.

For more information visit: https://dingdarlingsociety.org/

What is on the dock this morning

We get so many great birds on our dock: eagles, great blue, green, tricolor and little blue herons, eagles, osprey, ducks, yellow crown night herons, and an occasional kestrel.

It is always fun to walk out first thing in the morning, to see who is visiting today.

Guess who dropped in

Well it isn’t a kestrel.

Making myself beautiful

Sprucing up for the photo shoot.

Is this my good side?

Is this my good side?

Or is the right profile better?

Or is the right profile better?

 

Why is he looking at me with a glint in his eye?

Why is he looking at me with a glint in his eye?

 

 

I see you, too.

I see you, too.

When vultures fly over me, I usually shake my fist and yell, “Not Yet!” But they are leaders in the art of locally sourced food, and it is nice to spend some quality time together once in awhile.

At Home with the American White Ibis

I haven’t been out and about as much as I would like lately, so it is good I can find so much entertainment at home. We live on a lake, which is actually an 11-acre retention pond. Fortunately a lot of wildlife stops by.

This week, the most entertaining guests was a small group of American white ibises. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

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To learn more about the American white ibis, please visit: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/white-ibis

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset Gathering at the Causeway

Every month or so, a group of us gather at the Sanibel causeway for sharing, caring, sunsets and fellowship. Click on any image to see a larger version.


We are members and friends of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Myers, http://www.uucfm.org/.
Photos (c) John Swank.

Dynamic Dock Day: Part 1, Otters

We love having wildlife visit our dock in South Fort Myers. We have had a variety of critters over the years, but Sunday was special. First up were four otters, who were not at all concerned we were nearby.

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Have another minute? Here is a video of the otters in action

For Elaine’s fun blog including a narrative of this wonderful event see http://www.ewswank.wordpress.com.
Part 2 coming soon.

Ozzie and Harriet in Good Times

Ozzie and Harriet, our North Fort Myers eagles, have been favorites throughout Southwest Florida, and, thanks to an eagle cam, in many other places around the country and globe. Unfortunately, Ozzie recently died after being attacked by another male eagle. Here are some of my photos of the pair and their family, from the past several years.

Eglet

Ozzie in Flight 3

Ozzie in Flight 3

Ozzie in Flight 2

Ozzie in Flight 2

Ozzie in Flight 1

Ozzie in Flight 1

FWetOzzieEagle

Ozzie

Ozzie

Harriet and Chick

Harriet and Chick

That's a strange bird.

That’s a strange bird.

Checking in.

Checking in.

Harriet relaxes by the pond.

Harriet relaxes by the pond.

The look out.

The look out.

Big bird, small bird.

Big bird, small bird.

Looks like a big world out there.

Looks like a big world out there.

Mom's up there.

Mom’s up there.

All together a little longer.

All together a little longer.

Let's figure out how these things work.

Let’s figure out how these things work.

This could be fun.

This could be fun.

Look out for the tree.

Look out for the tree.

Letting go.

Letting go.

Flapping.

Flapping.

Calling.

Calling.

Getting the hang of it.

Getting the hang of it.

Clean up time.

Clean up time.

Flying low.

Flying low.

Where has E4 gone?

Where has E4 gone?

Family time.

Family time.

Coming in.

Coming in.

Big tree.

Big tree.

Checking things out.

Checking things out.

Take off.

Take off.

Six Mile Cypress Slough

I visited Six Mile Cyprus Slough last week, before its temporary closure for boardwalk repairs. It is well worth visiting when it reopens.

The following is from its web site; click to view: The Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is over 3,400 acres of a wetland ecosystem. A myriad of animals like otters, alligators, turtles, wading birds, and more live at the Slough (pronounced “slew”) year round. Others, like migrating birds and butterflies use the Slough as a feeding area or a winter home

Here are some photos from my vist:

Woodstorks

Woodstorks

Great Egrets, Reseate Spoonbill, Ibis

Great Egrets, Reseate Spoonbill, Ibis

Great Egret

Great Egret

Wood Duck Pond

Wood Duck Pond

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Web

Web

Woodstork Flying

Woodstork Flying

Lichen

Lichen

 

Floating Feather

Floating Feather

To learn more about Six Mile Cypress Slough, please visit Friends of Six Mile Cypress Preserve.

Please see the blog roll at the top right of the page for other Swank family pages.

Mothers Day 2015: A Whale of an Adventure

Mothers Day finds me reflecting on an experience Elaine and I shared just a few weeks ago.

We were traveling a long way from home and came across a group of new mothers and their babies.  We found them enormously attractive.

Elaine loves to hold and talk to babies, and I love any opportunity for a good photo.

But we were the interlopers and stayed a respectful distance away.

In just a little while, one of the moms brought her baby close to us. She didn’t say anything, but seemed to encourage us to pat the young one and had no objection to my camera.

Pretty soon others joined us. They seemed to be as curious as we were and to enjoy the encounter.

Elaine didn’t get to hold the babies but did get the pat them, kiss them, and put her hand in one’s mouth.  I got some photos and I believe we all had a great sense of connection.

Happy Mothers Day to all who have the title officially, and to all who help support this interconnected web of life we share.

Grey Whale Group

Grey Whale Group

Watchful Whale

Watchful Whale

Grey Whales, Cow and Calf

Grey Whales, Cow and Calf

Mom and calf

Mom and calf

WCloseWhale

Blowhole

 

Below the Surface

Below the Surface

Balleen

Balleen

Notes: This encounter took place in a protected area in Mexico as part of a small group eco tour. Only a few boats are allowed in the preserve at a time, all piloted by licensed personnel. All wildlife was treated with a great deal of respect. Many thanks to the professionals who conducted this tour, and to our fellow searchers.

Here is a link to the tour operator: http://www.bajawhales.com/.

ANOTHER GREAT DAY AT DING DARLING NWR

For the second year, Elaine and I were pleased to offer a guided birding/photo tour of our favorite National Wildlife Refuge at our church auction. Four other members of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Myers joined us for fun, fellowship and adventure. We saw 25 species of birds in a few hours, and had many photo opportunities.

 

Yellow crown night heron

Yellow crown night heron

Reddish egret preening

Reddish egret preening

One white pelican, many willets

One white pelican, many willets

Little blue posing, no zoom required

Little blue posing, no zoom required

Pileated woodpecker near exit

Pileated woodpecker near exit

White pelican landing, cormorants ignoring

White pelican landing, cormorants ignoring

Osprey taking off

Osprey taking off

Yellow crown night heron watching the watchers

Yellow crown night heron watching the watchers

Here are the 25 bird species we were lucky enough to see:

Reddish egret, great egret, little blue heron, tri-colored heron, white ibis, yellow-crowned night heron, pie-billed grebe, red breasted merganser, double crested cormorant, white pelican, brown pelican (on causeway), willet, spotted sandpiper, bald eagle, shortbilled dowitcher, dunlins, osprey, pileated woodpecker, roseat spoonbills (fly over), royal tern, fish crow, mourning dove, Eurasian collared dove, red-shouldered hawk, northern cardinal.

There were other critters and plants to see as well:

 

Tree Çrab

Tree Çrab

Needle nose fish

Needle nose fish

Flowers by the education center

Flowers by the education center

 

Mangroves, critical to our ecosystem.

Mangroves, critical to our ecosystem.

 

 

 


							

FUN WITH A RED SHOULDERED HAWK

I was looking for crested caracara, but one of my favorite birding moments was when this gorgeous red shouldered hawk flew in front of me and landed nearby.

Red shouldered hawk flying by.

Red shouldered hawk flying by.

Nearing touchdown

Nearing touchdown

 

Final approach

Final approach

This illustrates one of my basic principles of nature photography: Take the photo you are given, even if it is not the one you were seeking.

By the way, I did find my caracara.  More later.

Want to learn more about red shouldered hawks? Visit http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-shouldered_Hawk