Finally! The American Goldfinches found my feeder this week! It’s been a few years since I’ve heard my favorite “Potato Chip” call. So you can imagine my excitement when I peeked out and saw four of them stuffing their faces with niger seed. Welcome, friends!
Whiskey has big news from his butterfly garden, too. His fat caterpillars hung themselves upside down in the bush outside his window. We got to watch as one of them turned into a bright green chrysalis. In another week or two, we’ll get to see beautiful butterflies emerge!
But my mom gets the prize for the best bird video of the week. Look at what she’s getting with her Christmas birdcam! Make sure to turn up the sound when you watch these hummingbird close-ups. :)
Rich joined me for an afternoon walk at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last weekend. The drive closes to cars at 3pm, so the trails are perfect for biking/walking in the late afternoon. Afternoons are never as birdy as mornings, but we still had a good time.
After passing the kiosk on Lust Road, we came across a cluster of cypress trees in full color. The red leaves were gorgeous against the backdrop of blue sky and green plants. A small Yellow-rumped Warbler hopped around in the branches.
It’s duck season and there were plenty of visitors to welcome. This male Blue-winged Teal was so happy to see Rich that he thrust his wings back and flapped.
Several Great Blue Herons stalked their prey along the edges of the path. It’s already nesting season for these birds, and I checked several trees that have hosted nests in previous years. Alas, the forces of nature and hurricanes have reshaped the landscape a bit, and the great nesting trees are no longer there.
Rich and I walked up to the Crazy U, then turned around and walked back. In the afternoons, the return trip always has the best light. The sun was getting low on the horizon, and the grebes and teals were beautiful in the golden-colored water.
I’ve never seen so many White Ibis at the wildlife drive! There were easily 100 of them perched in the trees and bushes, all along Lust Road. Flyby opportunities were plentiful. Who can resist a good flight shot?
Cloudy days are perfect for backyard birding. With the absence of sun, I can aim the camera in any direction. On New Year’s Eve, I headed out to hang out with my new backyard celebrity – the tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird who has been with us since Hurricane Ian. After the Christmas cold snap, the hummer was paying more attention than usual to my feeder. This is the first time I’ve gotten to photograph a hummingbird at a feeder in my own backyard!
If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a tiny red dot at the base of the bird’s gorget. Yep, “Ruby” is definitely a juvenile male! I guess I’d better get used to calling “him” Zippy…
My Painted Buntings are not used to sharing my attention. After all these years, I still can’t believe I get buntings in my own backyard! On this particular afternoon, it was getting ready to rain. So the birds were more interested in feeding than in posing nicely for the camera. There were a few squabbles…
In the past few years, some Tufted Titmice have moved into the neighborhood. I love how they come to the feeder, grab a seed, and quickly fly off with their prize. This one posed with the finial on top of my feeder pole.
I put out a peanut feeder this fall, and the Pine Warblers have been appreciative. The photo below is a male. His wife also came to snack.
I can’t watch a male cardinal without taking a few snapshots for my dad. He loves these bright red birds. Mrs. Cardinal is also starting to look quite spiffy. Despite the freezing weather this week, the birds know that springtime and nesting are right around the corner.
A couple of days before my backyard photo session, I noticed this small hawk sitting in the backyard. I grabbed the camera and got a few shots through the kitchen window. Due to the small size, I knew this was a Sharp-shinned Hawk instead of the normal Cooper’s Hawks that keep an eye on my yard. He looked for lizards for a few minutes, then got bored and flew off.
It felt great to get out in the yard with a camera again. It’s been a while! As it started to rain, I packed up my bag – but not before capturing a final farewell from Zippy. Here’s a tongue out to celebrate the start of 2023!