Florida Skies: Sunrise Clouds and Midnight Rocket

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Spectacular Cloud with Rainbow at Sunrise

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Close-up of Rainbow Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Tall Glowing Tropical Cloud

Rocket Launch After Midnight

Rocket Launch After Midnight

We’ve had the most beautiful sights in the sky both day and night this week.  One morning at sunrise we woke up to tall tropical clouds that seemed to glow from within.  One cloud even had a rainbow in it.  After midnight last night we watched a spectacular rocket blastoff.  A Delta 4 rocket successfully launched two satellites into orbit at 12:52 am.  Our 30 second photograph’s unusual effect is the result of light fog and a full moon.  High humidity made the roar of blastoff over 60 miles away quite loud and long.  Since light travels faster than sound, we saw the liftoff before we heard it.  

Florida: Gorgeous Beach Day!

Boardwalk to Beach

Boardwalk to Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Summer Day at Sebastian Beach

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Marked Sea Turtle Nest Sites

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Caution Sign

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Sea Turtle Nest Totals

Today was a gorgeous day at Sebastian Beach, Florida.  The weather and water are warm, and the sea turtles are busy nesting at night.  In fact as of today, the area has recorded the second highest count ever of documented sea turtle nests.  Scientists rope off the nest sites to keep the eggs safe until the turtles hatch.  Great time of year!

Florida: Pink Baby Spoonbills!

Group of Birds Onshore

Group of Birds Onshore

Spoonbill Family

Spoonbill Family

Baby Spoonbill Front View

Baby Spoonbill Front View

Baby Spoonbill on Rock

Baby Spoonbill on Rock

Baby Spoonbill's Beautiful Feathers

Baby Spoonbill’s Beautiful Feathers

Roseate spoonbills are one of our favorite birds in Florida.  The babies are born with pink skin, which Is quickly covered with fluffy down.  We recently saw groups of the babies leaving their nests and feeding along the shore.  What a treat!

Florida: Year Round White Pelicans

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans at Goodwin Marsh in Summer

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelicans in Shallow Water

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

White Pelican with Unique Water Reflections

Recently we’ve noticed there is still a flock of 2 dozen white pelicans at Goodwin Marsh near our home in Palm Bay, Florida.  The white pelicans have been hanging out there for months – long past the time they should have migrated to breeding grounds in the far north for summer.  I wrote the Treasure Coast Audubon Society and was told that we are fortunate to have some isolated groups of white pelicans stay year round in Brevard County and at Lake Okeechobee.  There are also a few white pelican colonies that stay year round along the Texas coast.  Love these magnificent birds!

Florida: Night Blooming Cactus Time!

Single Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Single Night Blooming Cactus Flower

Four Cactus Flowers

Four Cactus Flowers

Seven Flowers Open at Once

Seven Flowers Open at Once

Cactus Flower Buds During the Day

Cactus Flower Buds During the Day

The night blooming cactus flowers are opening up in the evenings now in Florida.  The flowers are as big as dinner plates!  Spectacular!

Purple Martin Nests and Babies!

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Adult Male Purple Martin Looking Out Nesting Gourd Entrance Hole (note iridescent purple feathers)

Hungry Babies

Hungry Babies

Baby Ready to be Fed - Still Partially in Shell!

Baby Ready to be Fed – Still Partially in Shell!

Hatchling Hug

Hatchling Hug

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Looking through Gourd’s Entrance Hole (love the “lips”)

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Bark-Lined Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Leaf and Cedar Chip Nest Containing 5 Eggs

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Cedar Chip Nest Containing 3 Eggs (probably a first-time nester)

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Frog on Nesting Gourd

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky:  All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Silhouette of Purple Martin Gourd Rack and Sky: All Tucked-In for Night (click to enlarge for details)

Last weekend we did a nest check of our two purple martin gourd racks.  So far we have a total of 11 nests containing 49 babies and eggs!  There are also 4 more early nests that may or may not progress on to eggs within the next 2 weeks.  One nest contained a baby that wriggled out of its egg as we watched.  The baby even opened its mouth to be fed while it was still partially in the shell!  The birds seem to have their own individual nest styles. Some martin parents gather lots of leaves, some add hard red bark to the nest, and others simply lay eggs on the cedar chips provided as a base.  Each nest usually contains 3-6 eggs.  Love this time of year!  If you would like to host your own purple martins, more info is at:  https://www.purplemartin.org/education/75/getting-started/.

Big Fuzzy Anhinga Babies!

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Three Fuzzy Anhinga Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Feeding Time for Babies

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Nest of Anhinga Babies in Treetop

Female Anhinga

Female Anhinga

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Male Anhinga in Beautiful Breeding Plumage

Anhinga babies are so fuzzy!  The birds are nesting in the treetops now at the Viera Wetlands, Florida.  Anhingas are also known as water turkeys or snake birds (because of the way they stick their long necks above water when hunting for fish).  The babies sleep by tucking their heads over their backs and down into their feathers.  Their parents have quite a time feeding them.  Neat birds! 

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