|With the books finally balanced I did get to some boat building and turned the water works on a bit more. More progress was made today and I can see almost having the whole surface covered with paint, then the fun begins.|
|I did manage to
work in a trip to the Alligator Farm on Monday, since I had
a day off, which becomes a day to get all those undone things
done like doctors and tests. With an early start,
even before a cup of coffee, I had the life blood
drained from me by this vampiress at the Lab, and on the way to
Jacksonville to have my bones scanned I was caught up in a high speed
police chase which had me in the middle of the bad guy racing by me
on the shoulder of the road, closely followed on my left by a police car
with sirens and lights flashing.
After picking up some paintings and running a few errands while I was in the big city, I headed on to a much needed couple of hours of relaxation at The Farm. I envied this little guy's relaxed position as he was just hanging out anchored by that tail with nary a muscle exerted. Then it was off to a Birthday Party for nephew Chris.
|This three-shot panaorama shows the reason that the birds have chosen this spot. No raccoon would dare cross this plot of land looking for bird eggs, that's for sure.|
|The Great White Egret was certainly living up to his name with this very regal pose.|
|The Cattle Egrets are now in the Farm and are in their very beautiful mating colors with their lavender eye shadow and their fluffy, buff colored feather tufts.|
|Birds are sitting on eggs everywhere, tiered in every tree, it seems, with a mixed bag of species. It looks like 8 or 9 nests in this one cluster of shrubs.|
|After all their strutting and posturing, the Snowy Egrets have graduated into the responsibilities of imminent parenthood, taking turns keeping their little prepackaged kids warm.|
|Many are still building nests as well as expanding on existing nests. This seems to go on even after the eggs are laid and chicks are in the nest to meet the needs of the growing chicks.|
|I was shocked to see that the big Live Oak we have always called "The Woodstork Tree" was devoid of Woodstorks. They have turned it over entirely to the Great Whites this year. The top is usually almost solidly topped with Stork nests like a pile of white icing on a cake. It was strangely bare.|
|The Woodstorks have not left, only moved, it seems, into surrounding trees. I wonder if it had anything to do with some pretty strong, windy storms they endured last year and maybe they had a meeting and decided the lower treetops were better, or possibly they had a meeting of the clan, deciding the property values had been too compromised and degraded by the neighbors, and they were overbuilding in a too-crowded development that was not as good an environment for their children|
|This was the mating couple of the earlier story and they were possibly checking out or turning eggs.|
|There were several very loud and startling splashes as the gators tried to nab a bird dinner, but thankfully none were successful.|
|These were the only chicks I found to photograph this time. The mom had been one of the few sitting on eggs on the last trip. My but they do grow fast.|
|The Roseate Spoonbills are the most exciting part of the story. This one napped in the middle of the beginning stages of nest building. Three other nests were in close proximity. All were closer to the boardwalk and may reap a benefit to photographers who will most assuredly will be trying to capture those little ones.|
|The Rosettes had quite large nests last year so hopefully this one is just a starter because it certainly doesn't look as if it would hold very much right now, just a few twigs thrown in the fork of the tree. The Woodstorks seemed to all be tired out from all this expended energy or maybe just the heat of the day.|
|Some of the Snowys were still strutting their stuff and being aggressive to anyone who got too close.|
|This Roseate decided to put on a fan dance for the on lookers below. If you have to take pictures of bird butts then this is one of the prettier ones. The tail feathers have an orangish tint that is sometimes hard to see from another angle.|
|Lots of preening as those hard-to-get spots get lots of attention.|
|Most all of the eggs are this beautiful shade of blue. This Tri Colored had 4 eggs in her nest. There are usually only three.|
|The Palm tree which most often is the nesting site of the Little Blue Herons seems to have been taken over by the Snowys as about 4 of their nests were stacked up the sides of the palm tree. The Little Blues are later showing up so I guess, 'you snooze, you loose'.|
|This Pink beauty seemed to be as interested in watching me as I in her.|
As we were gifted with Charles the Monarch at Christmas time we have now been suddenly been thrown into another round of butterfly tending. Our family expanded almost overnight from two Monarch Caterpillars found on the same Butterfly Weed as Charles had been discovered. They were about the same size. I went to Ace Hardware to try to find some Butterfly Weed since it was obvious that I was not going to have enough to feed these guys. Monarchs will only lay their eggs on a Milkweed plant and the caterpillars will only eat Milkweed. Unfortunately people have mowed down or eradicated so much of the butterflies milkweeds, that the Monarchs have begun to suffer from lack of habitat. The reason to bring them inside is to protect them from predators which will often eat the cats before they can become a butterfly. To aid the butterflies in your area try to set aside an area where you plant the right kinds of plants, and expect them to be eaten up by the caterpillars. They are voracious eaters. Do not spray with pesticides or be upset when something eats your plants, that is their purpose.
The surprise was that when I got home from Ace Hardware I found that my plant had 8 more tiny Monarch caterpillars on it. More Butterfly story will surely follow.
|The commission I just finished was picked up on Sunday. As promised here are the photos of the two. One was a sunrise over the ocean and...|
...the other was a sunset over the marsh. Its all in a day here on our little Mayberry by the Sea.
As our ever expanding family increases I am doing my best to keep these royal guests entertained and tummies filled as I bring in a replacement plant, which I have waiting in the wings, when one is almost devoured. I was told by one lady at the Hardware store who was also looking for butterfly weed that this is not really the best kind for them, but it is all I could find for now and they are happily munching their way through them. I guess in an emergency situation you make do with what you have. "It is what it is".
Investigate the plants that are necessary for various butterflies. One only likes Curly Parsley, another only citrus trees, and even another only Passion Vine. After becoming a butterfly they need nectar giving flowers and water around. They can only drink their meals since they are only equipped with their version of a soda straw. Sometimes a sugary mixture in a butterfly feeder is a possibility for food as well as fruit like smashed banana or a piece of watermelon.