Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You've got to love Franklin County

This was a local news release, concerning a recent military operation held in the state & national forests north of here.

Operation Emerald Warrior a little louder and closer than expected

A military training operation held in Franklin County this month was not as quiet as it was expected to be.

Operation Emerald Warrior provided training to nearly 2000 troops in locations around north Florida including Franklin and Wakulla County.

The operation was supposed to be relatively quiet and much of a bother to residents but county commissioner Cheryl Sanders said that was not how it happened.

She said there were people were jumping out of helicopters and throwing hand grenades near at least one neighborhood – keeping people awake and on edge.

Miss Sanders said she supports the military program and wants them to come back next year, but with 205 thousand acres in Tate’s Hell State Forest and thousands more in the Apalachicola National forest she feels the military could move further away from homes.

And she pointed out that it might also be safer for the soldiers, because in this area there’s always the chance that residents could get scared and return fire.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Eagle attack!

I'm fortunate to have two great horned owl nests to monitor and photograph. When I checked on one this morning, I saw a large bird sitting next to the nest. My first thought was "the chick/chicks have pushed the adult out of the nest". But as I got closer, I could tell that it wasn't an owl. It was a juvenile bald eagle and there wasn't an adult owl in sight.

The eagle sat starring at the nest for about 30 minutes before leaving and the entire time the owlet did not move(see light colored lump in the nest in the picture above). Once the eagle flew on the owlet's head popped up and he started looking about.

That was early this morning. I've checked on the nest 2 more times, but I've yet to see an adult owl. I'm afraid the eagle may have attacked the owl on the nest, but I guess I'll have to wait awhile to know.

While I was working on this update a neighbor called to tell me there were 5 or 6 large birds screaming and fighting between his house and the bay. I hurried over and parked a couple of hundred yards back in the woods. I could hear eagles fighting but, unfortunately the trees were too thick to get a picture of the 4 juvenile eagles trying to take a fish away from a 5th bird. The one with the fish was shielding it from the marauders with its wings and screaming it's head off!

Eventually the attackers saw me and headed out over the bay, while the 5th eagle took his fish deeper into the woods.

We have a bumper crop of eagles this year and like most youngsters these are into everything in sight.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It looks like the herons have eggs in their nest

After seeing the heron in the nest a couple of weeks ago, they went AWOL until this weekend. This morning, they were preening away when I arrived.

Then the male was sent off for additional building materials to complete the nest upgrade from last year.

Of course what he selected and what she had in mind required considerable discussion and viewing from many diffent angles.

Finally she agreed that it would work.

I'll keep you posted on the herons along with the osprey and great horned owl nests which are all within a couple hundred yards of each other.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Spring is here and the herons are getting active

The great blue herons are beginning to sport their breeding plumage on their breasts and get their nests ready.

The black crowned night herons are starting to show their breeding "pig tail"

While the juvenile night herons are mixed in with the colony.

It won't be long until the river banks will be covered with heron and egret colonies...stay tuned.