July Squares: Grumpy Great Blue Heron.

David M's photoblog

A contribution to Becky’s July Squares: Blue photo challenge.

A double blue with a grumpy looking windblown Great Blue Heron in front of blue water on the Lake Huron shoreline in Southampton, Ontario, Canada.

July Squares: Grumpy Great Blue Heron.

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David M's photoblog

The new One Word Sunday challenge is Fashion. My initial idea was a photo of a bird species preening. However, birds preen to maintain their feathers, not to make themselves look smart so you can’t really say it’s a fashion statement.

But the idea of birds feathers made me think of the trade in birds feathers for the fashion industry. At the end of the 19th Century colonies of Egrets, Herons and other species were being slaughtered to supply the fashion industry with feathers. Frequently the adult birds were killed in the breeding season leaving the young to starve or be eaten by predators.

An adult Great Blue Heron with its feathers blowing in the wind. Photographed on the Lake Huron shoreline in Southampton, Ontario, Canada.

Great Blue Heron with its plumes blowing in the wind.

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A very special Sanctuary

Birder's Journey

fullsizeoutput_30f9Are you familiar with the infamous plume trade that supplied the millinery industry just over 100 years ago? This sign at the entrance to theCorkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida, provides a glimpse into the history behind this practice . . . and, this incredible place.imageI cringe to think about it, but literally millions of beautiful wetland birds, like those pictured here, were slaughtered (many, nearly to extinction) in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s – just so their stunning plumage could adorn the hats of fashionable, wealthy women.Read more in this 2018Audubon articleand on Wikipedia, Plume hunting.IMG_3116Thankfully, the advocacy efforts of a group of women eventually led to an end to the plume trade in the U.S., to the establishment of the Audubon Society, and eventually to the historic Migratory Bird Treaty Actover a century ago (Smithsonian Magazine).

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You never know who you’ll meet . . .

Birder's Journey

Great Egrets are plentiful and we see them year round in our lush southern Palm Beach County wetlands.

Cormorants are among the other ‘regulars’ we see here all the time, no matter what time of year.

The Mottled Ducks nest and raise their delightful ducklings here – they’re so serene, never seem to be in a hurry!

TheRed-winged Blackbirds nest in great numbers and, even though we’ve had lots of babies hatch already, the females are still bringing building materials back to their neat little nests, woven in the crooks of Pond Apple trees and other shrubs.

I’m always amazed at the way these plump little Marsh Rabbits seemas comfortable munching at the plants along the water’s edge as they are in the thick grass – though these look like a particularly yummy spots.

Still. . . . you never know who might be lurking unseen. The mama Gator

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Shy Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Birder's Journey

fullsizeoutput_314bThis Yellow-crowned Night Heron was enjoying his grooming in the privacy of this leafy cypress tree, when suddenly . . .fullsizeoutput_314cHe noticed that he was being watched – AND photographed!fullsizeoutput_317eSo, he raised his wide wing to hide from view, and stayed this way for the longest time. I confess, I got the message! . . . Gave up waiting, and moved on down the boardwalk.

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Still nest building in May

Birder's Journey

This powerful Wood Stork has flown to the very top of a tall cypress tree to get just the perfect branch to take back to the nest.  Even though it was the end of May when I took these photos, the Storks were still busy raising their young in our local wetlands.“The Wood Stork is one of Florida’s signature wading birds, a long-legged, awkward-looking bird on land that soars like a raptor in the air (Florida Audubon).”During ‘The Season’ (winter/spring) here in Palm Beach County, people flock to the boardwalk to watch as the adult Wood Storks fly back and forth, bringing nesting materials back to their families. fullsizeoutput_3104Much as I love Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, I believe this sign above is a bit outdated. I would venture to say the Wood Storks are now nesting in Palm Beach County in greater numbers than perhaps…

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One of a kind

Birder's Journey

When I first started noticing wading wetland birds on my trips to Florida about a decade ago, one particularly large, somewhat awkward-looking bird really caught my eye – the wonderful, one-of-a-kind Wood Stork! Wood Storks are the only stork native to North America, and they are found in the marshes, lakes, swamps and other wetlands of Florida.

IMG_1525One often hears descriptions such as ‘A face only a mother could love’ when people refer to Wood Storks.  But personally, I think these lovely creatures are just spectacular!  They are uniquely beautiful with their bald heads and extra-long, thick bills, specially designed for capturing small fish and crustaceans in shallow water. IMG_1535We are fortunate to have many breeding Wood Storks in our local wetland preserves. In fact, they are just coming back in greater numbers now, and will soon choose the best nesting spots for the season.IMG_1511However, these extraordinary birds…

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