I’d Hate to Be an Anhinga

April 14, 2014 at 8:00 am (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Great Florida Birding Trail, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , )

Anhinga baby with large fish in its throat

Anhinga baby with large fish in its throat

I don’t know about you, but this photo creeps me out.  In addition to the anhinga chick being downright ugly in the face, the eye of the fish gaping from its throat is too unsettling.  I had just watched this baby wrestle the fish out of the throat of its parent.  And I mean WRESTLE.

Anhinga chick wrestling a fish from its parent's throat

Anhinga chick wrestling a fish from its parent’s throat

You see how far the chick has to dive into the father’s throat to retrieve its meal.  Eeewwwww.  And it really worked at it.  I thought maybe the parent’s throat would be torn, as frenetic as the fishing expedition was.  I know many birds, such as herons, feed their chicks like this.  But this was just plain hard to watch.

Success!

Success!

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These images were taken at the Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Florida.  Several species of birds nest in small rookery islands there, and it is a favorite spot for photographers with long lenses and Fresnel flashes.

Chicks being fed

Chicks being fed

Parents can get assailed by two or three of these aggressive chicks when they return with a belly full of food.

Female anhinga with chicks

Female anhinga with chicks

The rookeries are conveniently located near the boardwalks

The rookeries are conveniently located near the boardwalks

One of the anhinga’s nicknames is Snake Bird, because while in the water often the only thing visible is its long, snake-like neck.  Watching the chicks fiercely retrieve food from the parents’ throats is like watching a nest of snakes writhing and thrashing.  Eeewwww.

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Oddly, the chicks’ down is white, in stark contrast to the black feathers they will wear as adults.  Seen alone, they actually are a bit handsome.

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I know I’ve taken an anthropomorphic view of these birds, since obviously they themselves are not bothered by their feeding tactics.  But still.  I wouldn’t want to be an anhinga.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Monk(ey) Parakeets

April 13, 2014 at 7:53 am (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Great Florida Birding Trail, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )

Monk Parakeet at feeder, Boynton Beach, Florida

Monk Parakeet at feeder, Boynton Beach, Florida

Some folks love these loud, noisy exotics.  Some people hate ‘em.  The Monk Parakeet is a pet shop escapee (or likely set free by owners who tired of them) and is now a staple in Florida and other states.  It is also called the Quaker Parakeet or Monk Parrot.

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They live and travel in flocks, and can be quite entertaining.  They are also a nuisance when they build their nests in transmission power lines and cause electrical shorts.

Monk Parkeet nests

Monk Parakeet nests

America once had the native Carolina Parakeet, but because they devastated apple orchards and other crops, farmers slaughtered them.  They were also hunted for their bright feathers, and by the 1920s they were considered extinct.  This is the painting of them by John James Audubon.

Some people believe the monk parakeet now occupies the niche once held by our native parakeet and does not compete with native birds.  Exotic animals and plants of many sorts are especially harmful because they do just that – they replace native species and cause problems their new ecosystem is not equipped to handle.

Monk parakeet with twig for its nest

Monk parakeet with twig for its nest

They do prefer urban and suburban habitats and man-made structures for building their nests, and in the same way some folks love watching the antics of squirrels, and some folks hate them – the monk parakeet also has its allies and enemies.

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Apparently they make great, talkative pets.  But so many pet owners have no idea how harmful it is to release non-native animals into the wild when they tire of them, or that it is illegal to do so.  I, for one, enjoy them in the wild, the same as I enjoy feral horses in national parks and federal lands, and many species of beautiful non-native wildflowers that are now part of the landscape.  But I believe there should be a way of managing species when they harm the ecosystem, and it can be a very tricky public relations balancing act.  It doesn’t have to be a love-hate relationship.  It can be one of respect for both the immigrant, and the habitat they are damaging.  I’m glad I’m not the one to make those decisions.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

These photographs on Smugmug

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

 

 

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Blue, Blue, My Love is Blue-Winged Teal

April 6, 2014 at 10:17 am (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Great Florida Birding Trail, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , )

Male blue-winged teal flaunting his blue

Male blue-winged teal flaunting his blue

Yeah, it’s an old song but I couldn’t help it.  My two favorite bird photography sites are in Boynton Beach, Florida – Wakodahatchee and Green Cay Wetlands.  Both are reclaimed wetlands and have attracted an amazing bounty of birds and reptiles – most close enough for a decent 400mm photograph.

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I was fortunate to be able to return this January for images with my Nikon D600, but there are also images here from 2008.  You see, I used to travel South to do art shows in the winter, and stayed with another artist friend there.  I am still amazed that this highly developed area, with hundreds of gated communities and a block of shops on nearly every corner (or so it seems), is so hospitable to wildlife.  Today I am highlighting the blue-winged teal. Read the rest of this entry »

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Florida Flutter-Byes

April 4, 2014 at 7:24 am (Butterflies, fine art photography, Nature, Nature photography, Photography) (, , , , , , , , )

Zebra Longwing on Lantana

Zebra Longwing on Lantana

I have been spending downtime editing photographs that should have been edited, uploaded, and filed years ago.  This series of Florida butterflies (and one moth) is from that effort. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lovin’ the Limpkins

April 1, 2014 at 6:58 am (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Great Florida Birding Trail, Nature, Photography, Wildlife) (, )

 

Mama Limpkin, Green Cay Nature Center

Mama Limpkin, Green Cay Nature Center

” Its screaming cry is unmistakable and evocative.” - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

My friend in Boynton Beach, Florida who is kept awake by the male limpkin’s territorial screech at night isn’t too compassionate that the species is considered of “special concern” due to habitat loss.

Limpkin calling

Limpkin calling

The limpkin thrives on native apple snails and freshwater clams.  In the U.S. it only breeds in Florida, but they are common in Central and South America.  Although limpkins resemble herons and ibises, they are more related to rails and cranes, and are in a taxonomic family of their own. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Oddest Little Baby Birds I’ve Ever Seen

March 23, 2014 at 11:17 am (Bird photography, Birds- Florida, Great Florida Birding Trail, Nature, Wildlife) (, , )

Common Gallinule newborn chick, Green Cay Nature Center, Boynton Beach, Fl

Common Gallinule newborn chick, Green Cay Nature Center, Boynton Beach, Fl

First off, I was fussed at by a snobby birder in the Everglades a few years ago when I called this bird a Common Gallinule, since by then the American Ornithological Union had changed the name to Common Moorhen.  See, I learned my birds 50 years ago, and I still have a Peterson’s Guide with  the original names.  However, in 2011 the AOU changed the name back, to distinguish it from its European relative.  So there, Miss Snobby Bird Lady.

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Wearin’ o’ the Green

March 17, 2014 at 5:51 am (fine art photography, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Photography) (, , )

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Green is the color of the day (sure and begorrah!) and here are some views of the new greenery coming up at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.  Featured:  Virginia chain fern and white water lily pad.  I think there was a leprechaun in the pitcher plants, too.

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Santa Claus, Georgia

March 16, 2014 at 6:00 am (Uncategorized)

Me in Santa Claus, Georgia

Me in Santa Claus, Georgia

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus, Georgia.  (How many articles about this teensy weensy town start like that?)

While on my way to visit a friend in Swainsboro, GA with another friend (all of us worked at Okefenokee NWR) I simply HAD to see if the little town of Santa Claus shown on Google Maps was really there, or if somebody at Google was playing a joke.  Well, it was there alright.  But if we had blinked, well, you know…

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Only 165 residents were recorded in the 2010 census.  This hamlet was carved out of 60 acres of Calvin Greene’s pecan farm in the 1930s.  He thought it was a sure-fire way to lure people to his farm on U.S. Route 1 near Vidalia – a major thoroughfare before the interstate system was put in.

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City Hall at … wait for it… 25 December Drive.

The town was incorporated in 1941 – on the eve of U.S. involvement in World War II – and farmer Greene served as the town’s first mayor.

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The town has no post office, but letters put into this mailbox will receive a non-official Christmas-themed postmark before being forwarded to the Lyons post office for proper cancellation.  I swear if I had known about this I would have dropped all my Christmas cards into this mailbox this past year.  How cool is that?

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The streets have Christmas-y names, but despite the jolly idea, the town has a sordid blemish on its history.  In 1997, three weeks before Christmas, four members of a family were murdered in their beds by a disturbed young man they had befriended.

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I’m not sure where I’ll be living this December, but you can bet I’ll see if there’s some little Christmas-named town where I can mail my holiday cards.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

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Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Cool Camellias

March 15, 2014 at 7:57 am (Uncategorized)

Camellia in the rain

Camellia in the rain

Although camellias came from Asia, they are a staple of the South in this country.  They are among the earliest blooming shrubs in late winter, but I have rarely seen any as perfect as those in my friend’s yard in Swainsboro, Georgia this week.

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Usually camellia flowers I’ve seen are in various stages of decay.  These trees flaunted the most perfect flowers.

Well-pruned camellia bush

Well-pruned camellia bush

The morning’s drizzle and soft light showed off this well-pruned bush to advantage, with its skirt of fallen petals neatly arrayed underneath.

Fallen petals

Fallen petals

A mosaic of petals. I am now a fan of camellias.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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Okefenokee Tapestry

March 13, 2014 at 5:49 pm (fine art photography, Georgia, National Wildlife Refuges (US Fish & Wildlife), Nature, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Photography) (, )

Sunset at the first shelter

Sunset at the first shelter

Even though I don’t work there anymore, I am able to stay after hours at Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge because of my friend Marilyn who volunteers there.  She loves recording nature’s beauty with a camera, too, and even if we don’t plan a trip on the boardwalk together at sunset, we sometimes encounter each other there.  Here she is with a Houston friend who went paddling with her this week.

Water reflections

Water reflections

Photography helps us focus attention on things often overlooked.  I, for one, dilly-dally, looking high and low for some interesting treasure.  Abstractions and semi-abstractions often catch my attention. Read the rest of this entry »

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