The Rise of the Stonechat

incidental naturalist

Sunday afternoons were a sad time for me as a kid. It meant the weekend was nearly over and I despised school. It also meant that we would be taking my nan home after she had spent the weekend with us. No fun at all! The great news, though, was that dad would drive us home via The Fort Road. The Fort Road ran alongside an old fort at Tilbury in Essex that dates back to King Henry VIII, who created the original structure to defend against French invaders. The fort was given a 1588 upgrade when it was visited by Queen Elizabeth I where she addressed the troops in their successful endeavours to repel the Spanish Armada. The land surrounding Tilbury fort was open and unkempt common land, scribbled with drainage ditches. It was a chance to see wildlife. Winter afternoons were particularly exciting, because every few years we…

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The Miracle of the Monarch

incidental naturalist

This is the story of perhaps the most extraordinary creature on the planet. An insect that forces us to question everything we think we know about life on earth. Individually beautiful, collectively mesmerizing, the Monarch Butterfly has a remarkable story hidden deep within.

untitled (643 of 730) A Pacific Grove Monarch

My Monarch experience started in New Jersey. I knew something about them, so when I saw my first specimen floating south, like a piece of tissue paper fluttering on the hot August breeze, I was thrilled. Another wildlife encounter to check-off the list. But in reality, I knew little of their incredible lives and my relationship with Monarchs hadn’t really started.

It was a year later when I visited San Francisco that I started to realise what Monarchs are all about. I had thought that all Monarchs migrated to Mexico, but I discovered that the western population travel down the coast to a…

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Waterfowl at Lake Mira-mar in The Villages, FL

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Today’s almost wordless Wednesday offering is view of the White Ibis flock, a Wood Stork with the White Ibis, Mallard/Mottled Duck hybrids, a couple of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a Great Egret, and a Canada Goose.  All were at the little Lake Mira-mar at Spanish Springs, The Villages, FL, a few days ago. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

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Eufala National Wildlife Refuge, Alabama

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Red-head Woodpecker

We escaped what we had feared would be a hit from Hurricane Dorian and thankfully was not.  We went North to Alabama and camped at the lovely Lakepointe Resort State Park campground in Eufala, Alabama.  The Eufala National Wildlife Refuge is about 3 miles from this campground so we visited the refuge several times.

We did not see many animals or birds but I think it may be that the action really happens in the Winter months.  We did see a juvenile White Ibis, some wonderful Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a few Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, a family of wild piglets with their mother (too fast to catch with my camera as they sprinted across the road) and a few really large American Alligators.  We saw the woodpecker at the campground and some of the alligators and the vultures, at the state park’s marina area.

This refuge is…

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Eufala National Wildlife Refuge Part 2 of 2

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Great Egret

I was in Eufala, Alabama last week and visited the Lakepointe Resort State Park Campground and Eufala National Wildlife Refuge.  Here are some more photographs I took during this visit.  I loved spotting Kildeer, a lone male Northern Cardinal, a pair of Gadwall ducks, a flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a Northern Mockingbird, and several Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons.  It was a fun visit!  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

Northern Mockingbird

Gadwall Ducks

Male Northern Cardinal

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret with State Park Resort Hotel in the Background

Flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks in Flight

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Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Tri-colored Heron

These wading birds and the duck were all spotted at the little Freedom Pointe Lakes on El Camino Blvd.  in The Villages, FL this past weekend.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture.  Enjoy!

Wood Stork


Tai-Colored Heron and Snowy Egret

Muscovy Duck

Snowy Egret

Osprey and Common Cormorants

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Wading Birds & Bird of Prey in Flight

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Little Blue Herons

These birds were spotted here in Central Florida in the last several months at various spots.  I love to see larger birds flying!  Very beautiful.  Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the photo.  Enjoy!

Wood Stork

Snowy Egret

Mississippi Kite

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Elk & Turkeys at Oconoloftee in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildlifewatcher's Blog

Elk and wild Turkeys were spotted this last week in the area of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, between the Smokemont Campground and the town of Cherokee on the highway, U.S. 441.  I was off on vacation camping at the Smokemont Campground where I spotted these animals and the birds.

The Elk herd had been re-introduced back into the Great Smoky Mountains in about 2001 and seem to be doing quite well.  I spotted 2 huge bulls and two unique groups of cow elk.  I believe these are Roosevelt Elk but I am guessing about that.  The turkeys were along side of the road on U.S. 441 as well.

The bull Elk ran into the area next to the parking lot of the Oconoloftee Visitors Center where it definitely was not supposed to be.  Apparently there  was an enticing small water hole with mud…

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