Nearly Extinct Atala, Birds & Bugs & Reptiles too, Oh My (9/17/21)

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zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 34,467
Nearly Extinct Atala, Birds & Bugs & Reptiles too, Oh My (9/17/21)
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Time for another wildlife thread from the wetlands - this time, I'm posting photos taken on May 15, 2021 - a short day out as the heat and humidity were getting pretty strong by then...heat indexes had moved into the 105-110 range, and the humidity is even higher when you're standing in a swamp over hot, shallow dark water which creates a constant steam of moisture hanging over the area - it's essentially 100% humidity.

The very small but quite beautiful atala butterflies were laying their eggs on the one and only plant that they will lay them on - this butterfly only exists in the southeastern tip of Florida and some Caribbean islands, and the Florida subspecies will only live and nest on one plant - the coontie.

The coontie was harvested heavily at the turn of the 20th century for its edible starch, and the last of these butterflies was seen in the late 1930s, and though to be extinct.  Then in the late 50s they discovered some living on a small coastal island.  Since then, they've replanted coontie throughout the area, and the butterflies have made a comeback

A juvenile pied-billed grebe, trying to figure out where its mom went diving off to, and hoping she'll come up with some food.  The bright red bill and black-and-white stripes on the head are how you know it's a juvenile

The black-necked stilts had started their nests and were guarding eggs - so they were very active - anything that comes within range of their nests gets circled, yelled at, or chased.  Even me walking by on the boardwalk will get some cautious circles of alarm to make sure I'm not a threat

If you follow my wildlife posts, you know red-winged blackbirds all recently had a lot of young chicks too...so that means a big, threatening red-shouldered hawk flying casually by must be chased and harassed by poppa blackbird, to get it away from the nest.  The hawk commonly eats birds like this - so it's quite ballsy to see them chasing their predator so aggressively!

That hawk flew through the same grounds as the stilt nests - so they too were quite upset and still calling alarm and circling around the sky, trying to make sure it didn't come back

On the low passes, the male stilt would fly past its nest and mom sitting on it, calling out to make sure she's OK

One more shot of the vigilant stilt on flying guard duty

And we can't have a thread from this time of year without a shot of the ubiquitous pig frog!

Another black-necked stilt, relaxing in some shallow water

A Needham's skimmer dragonfly at the end of a reed

This fish crow had landed on the rail to claim some leftovers - probably left there from a hawk.  Hard to tell just what it was, but it kind of looked like a basilisk lizard's tail - whoever the original predator was seemed to have eaten all the meat and just left the entrails - which the crow was claiming for himself

A blue dasher dragonfly - they really love to perch at the tip of the reeds to dock and rest

This cooter turtle had climbed onto a submerged palm tree, and was looking up yearnfully - it's surprising just how high off the ground these turtles can get themselves with that bulky heavy shell - he seemed to be considering the ascent of his own Mt. Everest

Speaking of basilisk lizards - here's what one looks like from the outside rather than the inside - hanging out on a cypress palm trunk to get some sun

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as ever.

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Justin
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Joachim Wulfers
Joachim Wulfers Veteran Member • Posts: 5,321
Re: Nearly Extinct Atala, Birds & Bugs & Reptiles too, Oh My (9/17/21)

I like those black necked stilts. I have never seen one, however according to my smart app they seem to be around here along lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.

The Red-winged black birds are tough and they don't care what or who they attack. I had them go after me and hitting my helmet while riding my bike.

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zackiedawg
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Thanks Joachim,
1

Joachim Wulfers wrote:

I like those black necked stilts. I have never seen one, however according to my smart app they seem to be around here along lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence.

They are fun birds to watch their behavior too - so quick to call alarm and fly circles around any threat - and the parents when they have chicks will split up - the mom will pull in all the chicks and find some reeds or plants to hide in, while the male will call loudly and constantly while walking around in the open, far from the nest, to attract any predator who's a threat to follow him instead.  Like some other birds, they'll even feign injury sometimes, walking with a wing extended out on the ground or limping...to look more tempting.

The Red-winged black birds are tough and they don't care what or who they attack. I had them go after me and hitting my helmet while riding my bike.

Indeed they are!  I've been swooped a few times when walking within vicinity of a nest by the male.  Mockingbirds in our area are probably the most aggressive when they nest - they attack anything and anyone, as I've had to discover many times when a pair decided to nest in the hedge by my front door for several years in a row - no one wanted to visit my house and delivery people could be seen on camera running away from the doorstep after leaving packages!

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snapa
snapa Veteran Member • Posts: 5,221
Justin,

zackiedawg wrote:

Time for another wildlife thread from the wetlands - this time, I'm posting photos taken on May 15, 2021 - a short day out as the heat and humidity were getting pretty strong by then...heat indexes had moved into the 105-110 range, and the humidity is even higher when you're standing in a swamp over hot, shallow dark water which creates a constant steam of moisture hanging over the area - it's essentially 100% humidity.

Another very nice set of pictures. It's still in the 100-105 range, even in September.

I'm looking forward to some cooler weather, and the migration to begin in a November!

If I were that hawk, I'd find that blackbirds nest, and have a feast.

Those leftovers that crow is eating looks more the the remains of a rat if you look at the feet. Basilisk lizards feet look much different.

If you follow my wildlife posts, you know red-winged blackbirds all recently had a lot of young chicks too...so that means a big, threatening red-shouldered hawk flying casually by must be chased and harassed by poppa blackbird, to get it away from the nest. The hawk commonly eats birds like this - so it's quite ballsy to see them chasing their predator so aggressively!

This fish crow had landed on the rail to claim some leftovers - probably left there from a hawk. Hard to tell just what it was, but it kind of looked like a basilisk lizard's tail - whoever the original predator was seemed to have eaten all the meat and just left the entrails - which the crow was claiming for himself

Comments, questions, and critique welcomed as ever.

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zackiedawg
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Snapa,

snapa wrote:

Another very nice set of pictures. It's still in the 100-105 range, even in September.

Yep - was just out there Saturday.  Still brutal!

I'm looking forward to some cooler weather, and the migration to begin in a November!

Migration will kick in big by October (it's already started with the pass-throughs, but the wintering birds should start next month arriving)...but the temps probably won't really cool down until December.  If we're lucky, we'll get more consistently in the 80s by November and if we're really lucky, maybe get a small cool front or two pass through like last year.

If I were that hawk, I'd find that blackbirds nest, and have a feast.

I think that every time I see those little birds charging a hawk - they could almost hit the brakes, turn around, and open their mouth, and get a meal right in the air.  Most of the time, the hawks play it cool though.

Those leftovers that crow is eating looks more the the remains of a rat if you look at the feet. Basilisk lizards feet look much different.

I definitely thought the same - the tail looked more lizard like at first, but there were other clues it could have been some kind of rodent.

Thanks for commenting and looking, and for the picks.

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zackiedawg
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Overflow
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Some additional shots with some of the same critters plus a few other ones mixed in, from the same shooting time period as the originals:

Raccoon on top of an owl box, trying to catch a nap

Baby pied-billed grebe chasing down mom after she surfaces

More circling stilt in flight

The red-shouldered hawk perched on a tree, with the vigilant red-winged blackbird male screaming at it

Hawk takes off, and red-winged blackbird is in pursuit!

Here's the momma stilt sitting on her eggs while poppa tries to scare off the hawk

Poppa stilt flying past

Juvenile tricolored herons at their nest

A green iguana in the grass

A young basilisk lizard on a branch

Baby cattle egrets looking all wet and messy

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DNSJR
DNSJR Veteran Member • Posts: 5,457
Justin

an other informative series well captured; so glad to hear that beautiful atala butterflies are making a comeback! I've never seen one before

I never knew how aggressive the red winged blackbirds are, nature is amazing

my picks, pig frog and the lizard

thanks for posting!

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