Red Bellied Woodpecker – Gender differences

A dead palm tree on a vacant lot down the street has attracted a pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers who have decided to nest there.  It may not be a good choice since the owners have just had a dock and boat lift installed which means that a house will be going up there soon.

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You can see that they have pretty well smoothed the bark around the hole and I could see that they were still working on excavation.  You can tell the difference between the male and female by the amount of red on their head.  The males coloring is more extensive and includes some read feathering around the beak.  The female carries her coloring further back on the head.  Here, the male is on the left and the female on the right.  They are both looking for food in the ruff of a living palm next to the dead one in which they are nesting.

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I hope I’ll get to see some young ones before long.

 

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Monarch Butterfly Eggs and Peaches

Today I went out in the yard to see what was happening.  I know folks think Florida doesn’t have seasons but that’s just not so.  I few weeks ago we had peach and mango blossoms on the trees and my Butterfly Weed was well in bloom attracting ants as the pollinators.  But, it also did it’s job and attracted Monarch Butterflies.

Today, I notice the scattered Monarch eggs on the plant.  They set them in spots.  A few on one leaf, a few on another.  Not like the tighter patterns of laying I see with other insects.

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I probably would have taken the blurry leaf out of the foreground but it had a couple of eggs at the base.  The eggs are actually egg shaped and have a pattern of striation.

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I hope I catch them hatching.  As to the peaches, well they are pretty small now and some of these will self select and drop with the healthiest remaining.  The mangos seem to attract seed eating birds when they are about 1/4 inch across so we don’t get too many.

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The magnolia buds are forming and I should be getting some shots of those in a week or two but while I was looking into the tree, I found a Corn Snake coiled and watching me.  They are harmless but will nip when disturbed so I just took a couple of pictures and left it alone.

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Not a good day for an Airshow

This weekend is the Florida International Airshow at the Punta Gorda Airport (KPGD).  Unfortunately, the weather hasn’t been very cooperative.  I did get a few shots of the T6 team flying around on Thursday.  On Friday, I went over to the industrial area at the end of the runway to see what I could get.  It was a pretty grey day but I stuck around anyway and managed a few shots.  It’s tough to get anything really good on a dull day.  I was fortunate that I took the time though.  Saturday has been a fairly steady rain and I doubt that a lot of flying was going on.  Still, the show is on tomorrow so I might get a chance to go.

Here are a few shots from the last couple of days.

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The T-6 flyers had a variety of livery from all branches of the service that had used this aircraft as a trainer.  The yellow one at the top here is actually a T-16 which is what the Canadians called it when it was built under license.

Another trainer flight team is Lima Lima and they fly their formations in the T34 Mentor.

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The theme of the airshow was a salute to veterans.  I didn’t see the usual flyby of a modern jet fighter with the old warbirds but, they did have an all warbird formation.

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The B25 ‘Panchito’ led the flight with an F7U Corsair and P51 Mustang on the wing and a Douglas SBD in the slot.

We also Had the B17 ‘Texas Raider’ at the show offering flights.  I managed to get one as it took off just before the show.

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And, of course, we had the stars of the show, the USAF Thunderbirds.

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I’ll probably head to the show tomorrow if the weather holds off to see the static displays and shoot from the flightline.

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Just a walk around the house

Spring is coming to Florida.  Maybe some folks don’t see the changes in seasons but they are as real here as anywhere else.  For example, one part of my yard now smells like orange blossoms.  The blooms are here and some are already fertilized

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and some are beginning to set fruit.

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Unfortunately, this is an old orange tree with a lot of problems so I’m not likely to get the sweet juice oranges that we used to get.

The peaches are another story though.  We bought this tree two years ago to replace an old grapefruit tree that was in worse shape than the orange.  It’s established now and covered with blossoms and likewise beginning to set fruit.  I need to work on  how to protect them from birds and bugs though.

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I was also reminded that Butterfly Weed isn’t just for butterflies.  These small ants were having a good time in the early dew.

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So, I did spend more time looking

Right outside my Garage is a Queen Palm that occasionally has a bird visiting.  Today I noticed an odd green patch in a green palm on a green flower pod.  Looking a bit closer, I saw it move.  It turns out that a Green Anole had climbed the tree and was sunning itself.

I usually see a lot more of the invasive Cuban Brown Anoles in my garden so this was a treat.  I had the 55-200mm on the V1 so I grabbed a couple of shots.  This one shows the pod as seen at 55mm which would be roughly a 150mm lens on a full frame camera.

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I zoomed out to 200mm (540mm equivalent) and got a bit more magnification.

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The lens is sharp enough that I could crop to get an even closer view.

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Note to self: Spend more time looking.

Last week, we went to Orlando to see Cirque de Soleil.  Sorry, photography not permitted so you won’t see anything from that fabulous show.

But, I did look out my hotel window and see the usual highly reflective building and couldn’t resist a few shots even if they aren’t particularly special. This is the original view as I started doing a bit of post processing.

DSC_9401ar107 I kind of like this one because it reflected a windowless side as something of  a solid while the balcony sides looked like some special effect digital destruction.  But, I didn’t need the industrial components at the bottom or the trees on the right.  So I decided on something of a square crop to focus on the part I first saw.

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That’s a pretty good shot of what I thought I was looking at.  But, then I noticed another element that I hadn’t seen while shooting and which I could have done a lot better job of exposing and cropping.  The flight of outside stairs on the left which actually went several stories higher.  So, I cropped them into a bookmark and liked the slight difference in each cell as the angle of view changed.  Had I seen it taking the shot I think I could have done more with it.  Here it is rotated 90 degrees.  I still see some subtle shading in there that could have been fun to play with.

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At Last

We were away for a few days and when I returned, the young heron had finally left the nest.  Now I can start looking for other things to shoot while I’m on my walk.

Oh, wait, there is another pair of Great Blue Herons who appear to be building another nest in the tree over the Peace River Wildlife Center.  The nest here is bottom left and the guardians perch top right.

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That’s going to be a tough spot to shoot compared to the Osprey pole so I probably won’t spend so much time on it.  But, there are other things to see in Ponce Park.

Like this sunlight through a Sea Grape leaf or a hermit crab in the shallow water taking advantage of an Apple Snail shell.

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