PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SUMMER 2004 - WINTER 2005
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On September 10, the first day I visited Emeralda after the passage of Hurricane Frances, I found this unusual bird - a Purple Swamphen. These birds are native to Australia and Asia, but have become established in recent years as breeding birds near Miami. This is the northernmost occurrence of this bird to date. You have to wonder if the hurricane(s) had anything to do with the dispersal.
On the left is an immature Purple Gallinule for comparison with the Swamphen above. They are in the same genus (Porphyrio), but the Swamphen is much larger. On the right is a greatly enlarged image of another unusual bird for Emeralda - a dark phase Short-tailed Hawk. This bird was seen on September 19.
Two wading birds and a frog. The Great Blue Heron is in a posture I see occasionally when it is particularly hot. It looks like a basking posture intended to absorb solar radiation, but given the context it must be used to release excess heat. Anyone familiar with this posture and how it works, please inform me. In the middle is a Great Egret, and on the right is a Green Tree Frog.
More herps. On the ends are two Southeastern Five-lined Skinks. There is one stretch of my census route that consists of an exposed edge of primarily hackberry and palmetto forest, which catches the direct early morning sunlight from the east. By about 8:30 each morning this summer, there were scads of these skinks out basking. Nearly every hackberry trunk had at least one. The Yellow Rat Snake was doing likewise one morning, but on a horizontal branch. He was singularly unconcerned by my activities.
Some winter resident passerines that increased greatly in abundance in September. On the top left and below are immature male Common Yellowthroats, and on the top right is a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. Both are frequent members of mobbing flocks, and are sometimes quite bold. Though peak numbers occur during migration, significant numbers of each will overwinter at Emeralda. Lower left is an Indigo Bunting; large numbers of these dull, winter-plumaged birds appear in October, but most continue southward. A few wintering birds are occasionally seen throughout the winter.
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