Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bluebirds of the Everglades

As you may have seen and read in my last post about our Everglades trip, we had a lovely encounter with a pair of Eastern Bluebirds – our first sighting in Florida. Well, that first encounter wouldn’t be the only one for that trip.

Thistle in the Everglades

A sunny flower in the Everglades

After taking a much-needed rest out of the Florida sun (in what little shade we could get at our campsite), we went out for a late afternoon stroll through a nearby trail just down the road from the Long Pine Key campground. It was pretty quiet in the area. We heard a woodpecker pecking somewhere that sounded close, but we couldn’t locate it. And as we walked along the trail, there was almost nothing (in terms of birds) but quite a few butterflies, which we later found out were Variegated Fritillaries.

Variegated Fritllary

But we didn’t give up quite yet, and good thing we didn’t. Again we saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. We saw the duller female first. And soon to follow was the male. The female flew off and kept her distance, but the male let us get pretty close to him. We inched our ways closer and closer to him, snapping shots of him along the way until we were just beneath him. We watched as he would swoop down to grab a tasty morsel and then fly back up on his perch.

Duller, Female Eastern Bluebird darting across

Female Eastern Bluebird perched

Male Eastern Bluebird swooping up from foraging

Male Eastern Bluebird returning to his post

We watched him for a good while, admiring his brilliant blue feathers and that gorgeous burnt orange throat and chest contrasting with his bright white belly. You can see from the pictures that he is banded. We enjoyed his occasional singing and calls as he did a funny little behavior – swaying back and forth on the branch where he was perched. There wasn’t much of a breeze to cause him to move this way, so it was quite amusing – like watching Charlie Chaplin rocking back and forth on his heals while swinging his cane.

Eastern Bluebird Going back to his Perch

Putting the "wheels" down for a landing

Male Eastern Bluebird keeping an eye on us

When we finally decided to move past him, he would fly off of his perch and just get ahead of us again. It was a nice to have this encounter with him. It almost seemed like he didn’t want us to go, but I’m sure it was more like him making sure we were going to leave his territory.

Male Eastern Bluebird

Male Eastern Bluebird

Male Eastern Bluebird

Male Eastern Bluebird

We continued to walk the trail with no other sightings. So before it got dark, we decided to turn back around and head back to the car. On our way back, we somehow happened upon a grasshopper that perfectly camouflaged with the sand and dead grass. We watched it a little while, noticing it dipping its abdomen (probably its ovipositor) in the sand and being very still otherwise. We’re guessing that it was laying eggs.

Grasshopper... Possibly laying eggs?

Back at the camp, we were greeted by a contemplative mouse. He looked about as we approached him along the path. And then he quickly dashed back into the tall grasses. And then a Green Stink Bug (possibly a Southern Green Stink Bug) stopped by in the evening during our dinner.

Mouse in the grass 

The Contemplative Mouse

(Southern?) Green Stink Bug

So that was our adventure with the Everglades. We avoided being attacked by snakes, alligators, and panthers, but had a great time nonetheless ;-)

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