South Florida is in the middle of one of the worst droughts in its history. The water levels of Lake Okeechobee are the lowest since the record was set in 2000. Palm Beach and Broward Counties are under Phase III water restrictions
Earlier in May, before the rainy season started, our skies were blanketed with smoke from the wildfires burning throughout the Everglades. These conditions have not been good for the traditional season of our nesting birds. There were fewer nests this year, and even fewer eggs that actually hatched. It’s even evident in the number of young birds that normally visit our backyard feeders at this time of the year.
The drought seems to have had an opposite effect for the birds in water controlled areas such as Wakodahatchee Wetlands
. There the birds have had to contend with higher than normal water levels in these areas, as water managers pump more water into them to force the replenishment of the aquifer. Some Black-necked stilts
at Wakodahatchee and Green Cay, have had their nests flooded out by high water several times. The success of nesting birds in South Florida depends on delivering the right amounts of water at the right time, and this just isn’t happening for many species this year.
One species that seems to be having a good year are Crows. At least is seems that way, because I’ve seen many more of them this year. They have been busy raiding the nests of grackles and blackbirds. For the second year in a row, they’ve also managed to tear up the nests of the Purple Martins at Wakodahatchee.
A bad cold and some rainy weather have kept me indoors for a good part of May, so I wasn’t able to catch the tail end of spring migration. Having missed all the Swallow-tailed Kite action this year and having had a rather poor migration season, has me longing for some better photography opportunities. We’re in June now, so there will be fewer different species to photograph. To keep me occupied this summer, I recently purchased a ring flash to use with my macro lens. I’m going to try to get some close-ups of insects. Hopefully I’ll have some successful shots that I can post in the gallery
In the meantime I’ve been working on improvements to this website. Most of which have been invisible to visitors, like the upgrade to the gallery program. I’ve also been working on launching the Everglades Photographic Society
June marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season
. An El Niño
effect kept South Florida safe last year, but we have no such protection this year. Be prepared, and keep safe.