Janine's Blog

Florida Scrub Jay, little dinosaur, and other birds

Jan 21, 2018 by Janine |
Some time ago, there was a petition to change Florida's state bird from the Mockingbird to the Florida Scrub Jay. It never passed, but I think the scrub jay would make a much better state bird for us. I love mockingbirds, but several other states claim it as their state bird. The Florida scrub jay is endemic to Florida and would be much more unique. They are becoming harder to find unfortunately, so it is a special treat to see one.

This fierce little green anole was fighting with another male. I have seen the dinosaur-like crests before, but I have never seen the war paint!

Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Cassius blue

White-eyed vireo checking out the bird bath in my garden

Garden birds and bugs

Jan 15, 2018 by Janine |
We had some unusually heavy rain this past week which is not normal for this time of year. The yard was soggy which was great for birds and bugs. We had a small flock of juvenile ibises foraging for worms.

Water levels are high in Riverbend Park

Usual visitors to the garden. So far the goldfinch count is holding at around 12. The flock of waxwings has increased to about 50 in number but I have not noticed them land in the yard yet.

I planted some giant milkweed for the Monarchs and got a customer right away! I do have the native milkweed too, but the caterpillars defoliate them too quickly. So the giant milkweeds are a backup food source :)

Friday night we braved the cold and stormy weather to see a cool local band called NZM, and the Graham Bonnet Band. We were front and center for a night of 80's metal!


Graham Bonnet Band

Happy New Year 2018

Jan 01, 2018 by Janine |
Wishing everyone a great year to come!

We wrapped 2017 with some nice birdwatching weather. Checked in at Jupiter Ridge to see how the Scrub Jays are doing. We haven't had a chance to see them since the Hurricane. We heard at least one but didn't see any. Other birds were abundant, including swarms of blue-gray gnatcatcher, palm warbler, and American goldfinch.

A cooperative Downy Woodpecker

We also took advantage of the cooler weather and time off work to do some gardening and enjoy our birds at home.

Yellow-rumped warbler

Abundant painted buntings

Carolina wren

Ovenbird and monarch

Female redstart

The goldfinches are increasing in number. Had 5 the other day. I bought a 50lb bag of nyjer seed in case more turn up!

Also, a flock of waxwings flew over the yard but didn't stop. Riverbend park had loads of robins.
We are supposed to see some even cooler weather this week, so I am hoping to see some more interesting visitors from the north soon!

Holiday Wishes

Dec 24, 2017 by Janine |
Wishing everyone a rockin' Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!

Sanibel, other sightings

Dec 22, 2017 by Janine |
We went to Sanibel over Thanksgiving for our annual chill-out. As always, it was very relaxing.

Bad hair day for this reddish egret

Sitting pretty

Evening herons

Tree crab

At home, we had a new visitor to the garden, a Least Flycatcher.


Lots of Atala butterflies

In metal news, we saw Devin Townsend a few weeks ago. I was totally blown away by it. We also went to the Rock and Roll Ribs anniversary party with a friend and saw Nicko McBrain's Iron Maiden cover band. Nicko was great as always. He takes the time to do a meet and greet with everyone at the end of the evening, which is really nice.

Did some field inspections for work last week and saw some cool wildlife.

Immature bald eagle and red shouldered hawk

Diamondback rattlesnake

It was nice to get out in the field again! Looking forward to seeing some different birds over the holiday break.

Garden birds and other visitors

Nov 25, 2017 by Janine |
Still getting a few warblers along with the painted buntings and hummingbirds

Black-throated blue warbler

American redstart

Get in mah belleh!

Catbirds and phoebes are lounging around too

The atala butterflies are doing well. Loads of adults, caterpillars, and hatching!

Last week I had to go to Edmonton, Alberta for meetings. It is the farthest north I've ever been!

I was just leaving for the airport when I encountered this fellow traveler in the yard.

Canada was pretty but cold!

While I was gone Rich took some photos of this blue grosbeak. Think this might be a first for the garden.

Happy belated Thanksgiving to those in the US! Very thankful for my garden birds :)

Everglades, Keys, Mr. Malmsteen

Nov 14, 2017 by Janine |
It has been a very busy few weeks! I've been on the road a lot for work and we also decided to take a couple of days out to visit our beloved Everglades and the Keys. And see Yngwie Malmsteen for the third time this year :D :D :D

Everglades National Park was not yet fully reopened when we visited last month. The park took some damage from Irma and many areas were still closed. We still had a lovely time and got to visit with lots of colorful characters!

Croc at Flamingo

Lots of manatees mudbathing in the marina! No boat traffic so they had the place to themselves (except for the crocs)

Sassy crow

Female redstart

Barn swallow

A beautiful sunset with the broomgrasses

The next day we visited the Keys and checked out Robbie's Tarpon. They have done a great job rebuilding after the hurricane. The tarpon were still there, plus some other interesting folks!

I didn't think the manatee would be interested in a fish

This guy was definitely interested in fish!

Last night we saw YJM in Melbourne, FL. It was magnificent!

Meet and greet before the show. We brought a mini Marshall stack to go with the mini Strat that we brought him last time.

I also brought a print for him to sign, my favorite shot from the Ft. Lauderdale show. He really liked it!

Once the show started, he invited his front rows to gather around the stage for the performance. It was unreal to be that close!!!

We had an amazing time, met up with some familiar faces, and made some new friends too! Can't wait until the next show!

The buntings are here

Oct 22, 2017 by Janine |
The first painted buntings of the season arrived on October 2, right on schedule. They have increased steadily in number since then. I think we have 7 or 8 right now.

Lots of hummingbirds still.

The Carolina wrens are back as well. We also saw a house wren, but they are a lot more secretive. No photos yet.

An interesting sighting while out doing errands- a "spiderman lizard," or red-headed rock agama. The males are incredibly brightly colored, while the females are a dull brown.

Had some work trips outside of Florida this month so I was able to enjoy some fall foliage and cooler temperatures!






The painted lady butterflies were migrating through the Denver/Boulder area while I was there. It was amazing to see so many butterflies, even amongst patches of snow!

While I was in Wyoming, I was passing through Casper for work and decided to seek out some places we had visited back in August for the eclipse. During the eclipse festivities, they had a huge world map set up downtown for visitors to pin their home towns. It brought back happy memories to see it again! Lots of visitors from Florida.

Next week we are having a cool front move through South Florida. Hooray! Hoping it brings some interesting birds!

Hummingbirds and Hurricanes

Sep 30, 2017 by Janine |
Our first hummingbirds arrived over Labor Day weekend, the week before Hurricane Irma. We had a pulse of migrant activity that weekend that also included ovenbird, red-eyed vireo, blue-gray gnatcatcher, magnolia warbler, and american redstart.

A pair of red-shouldered hawks were attracted by all the activity

So was a black racer. The birds were too quick so he had to settle for a treefrog.

The storm wasn't too bad for us in Palm Beach. Had some trees down and some minor flooding but nothing terrible. We did see some unusual insects after the storm, such as this nasty looking carpenter bee.

A mockingbird snagged a preying mantis once the winds died down

The hummingbirds were back immediately. The storm blew away most of the flowers so they swarmed my feeders. It is unusual to see more than one on the feeder at a time. Normally they aggressively chase each other away. But in the days following the storm, they tolerated each other. Barely!

The Arlo cams have been great at capturing them while we were busy with storm recovery.

Here's a clip of the "barely tolerating" each other from the Arlo.

I have never had this many hummingbirds in the yard. Many have moved on in the weeks after the storm, but we still have several at any one time.

Other recent visitors include Baltimore oriole and yellow- throated warbler

Looking forward to the arrival of the painted buntings! They usually arrive in early October.

Great American Eclipse

Aug 29, 2017 by Janine |
Our first trip to Wyoming was to see the eclipse. We stayed in Casper and really enjoyed it.


Before the big day, we did some sight seeing and hiking.

Ayre's Natural Bridge


I am obsessed with spirals, so I loved these bushes.




Red Squirrel




Electric Violin with the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra


Devil's Tower




We saw the eclipse from the Casper College with the AstroCon group. It was surreal. Kind of surprised that I got any photos because I set the camera to timer and just hit the shutter randomly. Was completely blown away by the experience.




The next US eclipse is going to be in 2024, but I don't know if I can wait that long. Might need to head to South America in 2019 or 2020 :D