On my walk today I saw…

At last sun and warmth has returned. I had to go out. So I took a walk around a small pond which feeds into the main lake here and I remembered my camera.

Round the Pond We have had lots of rain and the water levels are high. Tiny fish and a million tadpoles have made a temporary home of  submerged grass and dollarweed. (Tadpole bottom right)


Lovely shells of the fresh water apple snails are washed up.

snail.sm jpg

The grackles are grackling… as only grackles can.

The redwing blackbirds are for once letting me actually get a picture of their red flashed wings, but when I try to get one in flight….. I get this ..
redwing bbd sm     redwing feet

Coots and moorhens are dabbling, the big stately wood stork circled overhead before coming to join an egret for some fishing.

woodstork 4     woodstork 3


On one of the nest platforms by the big lake an osprey has settled with a fish in its talons.

osprey sm

On another, two cormorants are surveying their domain.

corms sm

There is a beautiful spicebush swallowtail basking in the sun.

clouded green

Also by the main lake today I see the bald eagles, which for me is a bit of a “wow!”. They may be making a nest in one of these pines.  Two people I have spoken to recently said they had seen them tearing off branches and flying backwards and forward from the trees. No 1 eagle….

bald e1

and 5 trees down the path,  no 2 eagle….

bald 2

They are big birds, this is a long shot of the tree with no 2  sitting on the second to top tier of branches on the left.


I think its quite something to see a bald eagle right in the middle of Orlando.

More Bees!
Every living thing is enjoying the sun, including me and the bees!!
Sorry .. you just can’t get away from the bees entirely. A few more wild flowers are struggling up now and there is a patch of this pretty little thing on the grass bank near the shoreline.
It is Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass  Sisyrinchium angustifolium, easily overlooked, but with the most beautiful flower structure and a lovely ultramarine blue  In the centre of each blossom is a small patch of yellow.

The style, which is long, is tipped by a  three-cleft stigma. Little tiny bees laden with pollen, which I think are probably Halicitid bees of some kind,  land on the flower and at  first seem to feed on the pollen from the top of the stigma then climb right on top, balancing on the point and thereby transferring pollen to their legs.
It is comical to watch they shake the flower vigorously, and look like spinning plates on sticks.


bee4      bee2

I may send a photo up to Buglife for an identification, but they are probably not good enough quality. Shame I can’t draw one of these for the exhibition.

Maybe my next exhibition will be USA bees..

Leaf of the Day: Assorted Wildlife…Otters, the Kmart Ospreys and the Wailing Limpkins

We went out cycling this morning and to my complete astonishment saw an otter basking on the shores of Lake Rowena near the Orlando Museum of Art. An otter, here in the middle of this big city, only yards from 6 lanes of traffic, unbelievable. It slipped into the lake and swam away too fast for me to photograph.
The otters here are river otters. This is one of many great photos taken by Jessie Dickson of the otters at Viera Wetlands here in Florida.. go and see more all together in one album page here.

This adorable pup is from the Tampa Bay Aquarium where they breed and rescue river otters. more here

Even after a year here I am completely enchanted by the huge variety of wildlife I find in this very urban environment, helped enormously by Orlando’s many lakes, over 2000 in about a twenty mile radius. If I go to the lake here I will see ospreys, ducks, anhingas, moorhens, coots, various herons, terns, grackles, egrets big and small, and platoons of strutting ibis. We live next door to a dreary concrete Mall but the ospreys have a nest on one of the big floodlights in the Kmart car park. It is not advisable to park underneath this light unless you want your car covered with twigs, droppings or bits of rotting fish, tidy housekeepers they are not.

We have a chattering belted kingfisher which every night flies around the apartments. It’s big and very noisy. I see the alligators, turtles and snakes at Leu. Out in the suburbs, where we first stayed, there was a bobcat trotting along a forested scrubland trail at dusk, as well as huge sandhill cranes who barely move as you pass. There are the ever present circling turkey buzzards, hawks, big serious owls and the ponderous wood storks. There are colourful woodpeckers, we saw one of the big red crested pileated woodpeckers today, brilliant red cardinals and sweet little mocking birds. Frogs, toads and more. All this and I am not even looking for wildlife.
A few weeks ago we went to Myakka wildlife reserve and saw, as a well as a bald eagle reliving an osprey of its catch,and the obligatory alligators, the strange little Limpkin. Aramus guarauna. My less than perfect photo does at least show how well camouflaged it is.

It is so called because of its awkward gait and is also known as the Crying bird because of its distinctive call, a piecing wild sounding scream or wail which it makes especially at night. The noise was so disturbing that the early Florida pioneers “mistook the call of the Limpkin for the haunting wails of tortured souls in the night time swamps”. It has also described as,”a hoarse rattling cry like the gasp of person being strangled, like “little boys lost in the swamps forever;” or ” an unearthly shriek” with the “quality of unutterable sadness.” Many tales and legends arose from this eerie sound and in parts of the Amazon they believe that a crescendo of limpkin calls foretells that rising river levels have reached their height.
Its eldritch shriek has also been immortalised in the soundtracks of old Tarzan movies and more recently in Harry Potter. Cornell’s Macaulay Library provided the voice of the Winged Hippogriff, read more here and listen to a great recording of its call made in Florida in 1956 here. I understand it is very annoying to have Limpkins nearby if you are a light sleeper.

Audubon’s Limpkin is wonderfully evocative…I still think he is the best by far.


This is the Pencil & Leaf sloth of sloth, signifying a day off drawing.