Bird for the Win!

This scene was quieter than I would have expected but the dancing and flashing of the Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) certainly caught my attention. The coiled up object near the center of the frame is a snake.

Based on the brief glimpse I caught of it quickly slithering away later, I am guessing the bird was harassing a Black Racer (Coluber constrictor priapus).

In case anyone is keeping score: Thrasher 1, Racer 0. And yes, I know, I need to work on my videography skills!

Don’t Lie to Me

“Don’t lie to me, it makes you look bad,

don’t lie to me, it’s all that you have,

don’t lie to me, you’re never gonna live it down”

I know I shared this song not that long ago, but sadly, it is all too relevant to my life right now. Lying, to me, is one of the Unforgivables (borrowing a term from the Harry Potter universe).

Aside from the little white ones we all tell to smooth societal interactions, of course. I am a very forgiving person but once you’ve lied to me about anything important you’ve revealed the truth of your character. And that, I won’t overlook. I’ve learned the hard way, there’s just no room in my life for anyone like that.

On a positive note, it’s a damn good tune!

 

Stunning

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Sunset, Treasure Island, Florida June 2020

Sunset this past Saturday was pretty spectacular but according to NOAA more dramatic ones are on their way, courtesy of the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). These plumes of hot air from the Saharan Desert form every summer and float across the Atlantic Ocean.

The coming plume is notable as it is unusually large and densely loaded with reddish dust. This dry, hot air will deter the formation of tropical storms for a few days and will make for stellar sunsets but it will also kick our temperatures up. Ah well, like they say, beauty has a price.

 

 

Lacking Red Eye

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Eastern Towhee, Walsingham Park, Largo, Florida June 2020

I was fortunate to watch this Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) for quite a bit of time the other day. The common name is onomatopoeic, based on one of the common calls. The species name is Greek for red eye (distinctive on birds that live in the northern part of the east coast but lacking on southern residents, like this one).

They spend most of their time on the ground, very busily shuffling through leaf litter looking for seeds and insects. This quick hopping and scratching behavior made it difficult to capture a decent photo. Many of them turned out like the one below.

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Change in Perspective

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Snag Reflection, Walsingham Park, Largo, Florida June 2020

When I’m bewildered by my life I seek solace in nature. The fresh air does wonders for my thinking process and watching wildlife grounds me in the moment. Sometimes, nature even provides me with little life lessons.

I’ve walked by this pond dozens of times in the past few months. But yesterday I noticed this reflection. To my eye, the reflection was even more alluring than the real tree standing across the way. It proved to be a gentle nudge, a reminder, to look at the vexing things in my life from another angle. Amazing what a shift in perspective can do!

Minerals Matter

The peaceful afternoon I was sharing with an Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) was short-lived. A second butterfly swooped in and forced off the first one. Apparently, a good mud puddle is hard to find.

Puddling is usually practiced by the males of the species to gather sodium, minerals, and amino acids which are not found in nectar. They store these necessary supplements in their sperm and pass this nutritious bundle to the female during mating.

This, in turn, helps the female with egg production. So in essence, though the male has no contact with his offspring, he’s actually being a good dad.

My difficulty with this experience is, that as best I can determine, these butterflies are not males. I’m basing this on the white coloration of the two rows of spots as well as the iridescent blue scaling on the upper side of the hind wings, which are both female characteristics.

Then again, nature doesn’t have to follow the book, its not like these butterflies can read…

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