Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Four Birds

A very dry spring has concentrated wildlife around the few remaining waterholes. This ibis was feeding at a vanishing water hole when I came along and spooked it. He didn't want to go far and only fluttered up into a nearby tree to grunt and wait for me to leave ...

...which I did after taking this shot.

Sunday, I was grilling two marinated chuck roasts out back when Bear the pup looked up at the sky with rapt, focused attention.

I followed his gaze and there was the swallowtail kite descending above me in a spiral flight path. He was just a speck at first, but grew larger as he gyred downward. I grabbed my camera off of my beloved, dead (or is it?) 1982 GMC truck and started shooting.

This is my favorite bird, and while it's not rare here at all, it's hard (for me at least) to photograph them because they are always moving. They don't fly so much as float, it's the most graceful thing I've ever seen and I never, ever get tired of seeing them, even though it's an almost daily occurence at PFHQ.

I've never seen one perched anywhere, only soaring. Oh, I've seen photos of swallowtail kites in trees, but you know how everybody (but me) photoshops these days. I figure those pictures are made in the computer by clever geniuses (like Sophiemae).

In fact, I've come to believe that even their nests float in thermals and that this bird never uses Terra Firma.

Yes, I'm pretty sure those specks you think are floaters when you stare at a bright blue sky ... uh uh, they're swallowtail kite nests floating high in the stratosphere.

You heard it here.

Here's poor princess Laya high up in an oak tree ... courtesy of Gumbo who is quite the chicken chaser.

A chick magnet he is not ... at least not this kind of chick.

Laya is a fantastic flyer for a chicken and lately she's been getting lots of flight time.

I took this picture from my front porch after our highschool graduation last Saturday. The sun had almost set, but I've gotten in the habit of scanning the canopy for owls lately.

Sure enough, there he was.

Ho hum, another owl.

I'd love to get a picture of this owl eating the waaaaaaay too many squirrels that inhabit PFHQ. They wreck my garden and blueberries ... I don't even bother growing corn anymore because they take the ears up in the oaks and laugh at me with their mouths full.
Rude rodents!

So, I don't shed many tears when I find one floating in the aquaculture tank as the newest member of the detritus club.

But, there was this one squirrel the other day ...
... dang, look at the time!

I gotta go to work!!!


lej619 said...

Hey that was not fair.
lol the pictures are great never,never get tried of seeing the wild life. I don't get a lot here in town. someday I get more out into the counrty then i am now. cross my fingers.

Mark said...

I've never seen a swallowtail kite, but I wish I could. The own seems to be staring at you very intently. I wonder how hungry he was.

Laura said...

We don't see too many barred owls or swallowtail kites around here.
(here, as in the city... ugh).

In fact, I don't think I've ever seen any around these parts, except at a bird sanctuary nearby. I've seen owls, but not the barred ones.
(Dani might have seen them in the wild, however).

Sooooo, you'll get no "ho hum" another barred owl look from me!

These are great photos and I hope you'll grow more corn to feed the hungry buggers. They're just beautiful!

Do Bear or Gumbo go into a bird dog "pointing" mode when they see the birds?
And I hope they never come across those wild pigs from the post below! (shudder). ;)

Susan said...

Hi, FC. (May I call you FC?)

I'm impressed with the Ibis and Kite photos being photographed against a bright sky but still having decent body detail. That's the downfall of all my flying bird pics. Will you share your secrets?

Princess Laya is a very pretty girl. I love chickens.

And the owl is a hoot. A really cool hoot.

Rurality said...

Green. With envy. That's me.

Floridacracker said...

Life's not fair. (I made that up)
I hope you get there.

Well, they eat really small stuff so I think I was safe. Maybe not Gumbo.
I wonder how far north they range?

You are like a fish out of water down there ... you know that don't you? Bear has pointed a couple of times when a big swallowtail butterfly caught his attention.
Too cute.

Please do.
The ibis shot was lightened a little using Picasa. It was a little too dark.
The swallowtail is the only decent shot from about 10 I took before he swirled off out of sight. Most were out of focus due to distance, a handheld camera, and his movement.
I lucked out when he banked and the late day light lit his underside.
I love Princess Laya. She's sweet, lays eggs, flies, takes care of herself when freeranging. Just a perfect chicken.
Oh and she's lovely too.

It's just a chicken.

Mark said...

FC, I'm glad you can read what I intended (own) instead of what I wrote (own). Hmm, and the "n" is not really close to the "l". That mistake is a phenomenon the guys at Language Log have talked about.

robin andrea said...

What magnificent photos, fc. Love that Swallowtail Kite. We see the White-tailed Kite out here in California. It hovers while it hunts. Quite a beautiful bird.

Great owl, as always.

Dani said...

I was lucky enough last summer to see a kite at one of the local parks that Laura and I both frequent. He was pretty far up. I was so taken aback that I just started yelling KITE,KITE,KITE!!!I'm sure the people at the park thought I was some crazy weirdo.

Floridacracker said...

When you teach, you become quite good at reading what was intended.

I've never seen one of those, except on your site!

People often think I'm nuts so I understand completely.

Sandcastle Momma said...

What incredible photos! That kite is amazingly beautiful and I never get tired of your owls.
Glad to hear that Gumbo is chasing the chickens and on the road to recovery!

Floridacracker said...

I'm glad you guys like owls so much, because I seem to be an owl magnet.
Gumbo is doing so well! He's a big nutcase.

Weary Hag said...

Your owl picture made my entire week! To think that you see them on a regular basis? I'm green with envy. Truly.
Hiya FC... good to see you're still up to this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Four is Plenty Tacking Birds Slake in the Sky.

I'll trade you some woodpeckers for all your squirrels. At least the squirrels don't mess up the house siding and have you run to answer the door every hour.

Deb said...

Beautiful swallowtail kite photo. Actually, they're all great. As usual.

Floridacracker said...

Welcome back Weary!
I took more owl shots today. Crazy.

I laughed out loud at the image of the door.

Thanks. I thought you would enjoy that bird. In late summer they will form up into migrating flocks and it is staggering to see.

Anonymous said...

Floridacracker said...

How appropo for tomorrow's post!

Alan said...

Kites are lovely indeed.

No love for the bushy tailed tree rats here, either. Very nice owl.

Miz S said...

Hi FC, I'm over here from Vicki's place. I've just spent a happy 20 minutes or so nosing around your blog. Awesome photos! Why haven't I stalked you sooner?

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Alan.

Miz S,
I was wondering that too. You'll need to brush up your stalking skills I suppose.
Thanks for the kind words and welcome to Pure Florida!!

Anonymous said...

Best.Swallow tailed kite.Picture.Ever.