Sunday, July 31: My yard

A check at the Swallow-tailed Kite roost counted 126 visible kites, spread out over a number of trees. The last two weeks of July and the first day or two of August are the peak times. The first of the adults begin leaving during the first week of August and all will be gone by the middle of the month.

So it was really nice to be able to enjoy them on a sunny morning.

Elsewhere in the yard, the Epiphyllum (Dutchman's Pipe Cactus) are blooming each night with blooms hanging on through the first hour of sunshine the following morning before fading and dropping off.

One trail cam has been capturing the pair of Gray Foxes, Opossum, and Raccoon each night, and occasionally a Cottontail Rabbit in the front yard while a second trail cam at the side of the house has been recording an Armadillo about every other night. No Bobcats or Black Bears have appeared during the last two weeks.

The regular birds are at the feeders and bird bath in the front yard during the day: Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Northern Mockingbirds, and occasionally Carolina Wrens and Brown Thrashers. Hispid Cotton Rats are on the ground gleaning seed that the birds drop. Northern Flickers are in the more wooded area away from the feeders. Common Nighthawks fly over and call each evening. So it's always entertaining.

Note: The kite roost was checked again on Thursday and only 41 kites were present. The trek to South America has begun for many of the kites. Hawk Watch in Key West is also reporting the first Swallow-tailed Kites flying over.

Tuesday, August 2: Flint Pen Strand

An early start, about 15 minutes before sunrise, paid off as large flocks of White Ibis and Mottled Ducks were in the air. The two flights of ibis totaled 83 individuals while one flock of Mottled Ducks numbered 10 individuals. There were also quite a few Tricolored Herons coming in to the lakes and marsh, but they were arriving as individuals rather than in groups.

The ibis were the most frequently seen birds. Other species with individual numbers in double digits were Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Common Ground Doves, Mourning Doves, Northern Mockingbirds, and Boat-tailed Grackles.

It was a good woodpecker day.

In addition to the Red-bellied Woodpeckers, three Red-headed Woodpeckers, plus Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers, and one Pileated Woodpecker were spotted.

The Red-headed Woodpecker at the upper right was with a very recently fledged juvenile. It was all gray with just the white rump patch.

The adult was following closely and keeping an eye on the juvenile. It appears to have a cicada in its bill, but it didn't do anything with it or feed it to the juvenile while I was watching.

The Pileated Woodpecker at the right was happily tapping away on a snag when a Boat-tailed Grackle landed right above it. The Pileated looked straight up at it as if it were wondering what had the audacity to land on its snag and disturb it. After giving the grackle a good look, the woodpecker went back to tapping.

It was also a nice day for insects, especially dragonflies and damselflies.

Wading through the calf to thigh high water stirred lots of them up, especially in areas where there were also tall grasses. Halloween Pennants were the most often seen with 102 individual counted. The next most common were Rambur's Forktail damselflies like the one in the bottom left photo. They did seem to fly as did the dragonflies but more just "floated" from one perch to the next. Forty-nine individuals were counted, but they were only noticed when looking down and almost directly at them.

One damselfly species remained a mystery, and three of them were seen. They were about 3/4 the size of the Rambur's Forktails, which weren't large themselves. The mystery ones were a solid pale green with no bands or segments visible on their abdomens. Nothing in my dragonfly/damselfly field guide comes even close. Not counting those, nine species of dragonflies and damselflies were identified.

There were only seven species of butterflies, and not many of any of those.

A few other insects were interesting. The Bumblebee in the photo was just arriving at a Passionvine bloom. The ant was already on the bloom but quickly yielded its spot. It went back for more nectar once the Bumblebee moved on to the next bloom.

The insect in the middle photo was a new species on SFWMD-CREW lands. It's a Milkweed Assassin Bug and is one of the "good" garden insects. It preys on aphids, stink bugs, house flies, and other less desirable insects.

The only herps were a lone gator, Pig Frogs, Cricket Frogs, Squirrel Treefrogs, Oak Toads, and one Brown Anole.