Spoonbills Get Points for Style

This group of wading birds was moving down the impoundment as a pack, presumably following the fish.

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbills moving with the crowd that includes Great Egrets and Stilts with Wood Storks and more Egrets in the back

Many of the Roseate Spoonbills broke off on their own, preferring to feed in smaller groups or maybe needing shallower water. This older Spoonbill, identifiable by the darker pink on his wings, gets points for the big “swoosh” of water.

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

Setting up for the landing with uneven feet is awkward, but he pulled it off,

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

A near miss, this elegant landing scores extra for not disturbing his neighbor and for carrying a blade of marsh grass on his beak through the flight.

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

Click any photo for larger view.

Wading Bird Extravaganza

We found the mother lode today. Of wading birds, that is. A state managed wildlife area near us controls the water depth in these impoundments to “provide quality habitat” for various bird species. Some days you go here and see nothing. Today was nothing short of amazing.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds spread across the impoundment – click photo for larger view

At this time of year the water is kept low in various spots and the wading birds get access to an ample supply of easily obtainable food. There were so many birds it was hard to get a good shot of the group. In addition to those seen here Roseate Spoonbills, Tri-color Heron, Skimmers, and Great Blue Heron were well represented and all mixed in together.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds: Wood Stork, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis, Black Necked Stilt  – click photo for larger view

Over the course of the three hours we watched this morning groups moved around to various areas of the pond or left, perhaps full and looking for a cooler spot to spend the rest of the day.

Wading Birds
Wading Birds – Snowy Egrets taking flight – click photo for larger view

Juvenile Little Blue Herons

The juvenile Little Blue Herons are spreading out away from their nests and just when one thinks he has found his own piece of paradise he gets company.

Juvenile Little Blue Herons
Juvenile Little Blue Herons

These sticks are from a dead branch that fell in a storm earlier this summer and it makes an easy landing spot for the young birds. Unfortunately it provides no protection from alligators that could easily lurch out of the water and snatch one of them.

Juvenile Little Blue Herons
Juvenile Little Blue Herons

This section of the pond is choked with duckweed and the alligators travel easily  unseen beneath it. Even if they do see a predator the herons rarely take evasive action.

Juvenile Little Blue Herons
Juvenile Little Blue Herons

There are no ducks around to eat the duckweed right now and the conditions seem to be perfect for it to thrive, making for very green photographs.

Juvenile Little Blue Herons
Juvenile Little Blue Herons

Sharing a Tree

I could hear the Red-bellied Woodpecker around the swamp from the distinctive shrill call. Sound bouncing off the water can make the exact direction hard to pinpoint. Eventually the flash of red gave away his position.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

This tree branch has a number of holes the woodpecker was exploring while a juvenile Little Blue Heron looked on.

Red-bellied Woodpecker and Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Red-bellied Woodpecker and Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Satisfied, the heron returned to sentry duty.

Red-bellied Woodpecker and Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Red-bellied Woodpecker and Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Test flights: Black-crowned Night Heron

The Black-crowned Night Herons built their nests on the interior of the swamp’s islands so we haven’t seen much of the juveniles. A few weeks ago they started to venture out onto branches and this week we’ve seen some fly.

This one dropped down near the path giving me an opportunity for a portrait. His eyes haven’t yet turned to the characteristic red that makes this heron really stand out as an adult.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile
Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile

Taking a longer flight, this heron flew to the next island, showing off his sizable feet. Like the Great Blue Herons, the Night Herons seem to be on their own learning to fly.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile
Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile

He found a perch and stayed with it.  He had a great spot for watching the Little Blue Herons work on their flying lessons.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile
Black-crowned Night-Heron Juvenile

Mysterious Water

The pond surface made beautiful reflections of the cypress trees.

Reflection of Cypress Trunk in Pond
Reflection of Cypress Trunk in Pond

The pond appeared quiet but there are many mysteries beneath the water. Frogs, bugs of all sorts, small fish and even an alligator can be seen here.

Reflection of Cypress Trees in Pond
Reflection of Cypress Trees in Pond

There is a small bench if you want to sit a spell but the mosquitoes and no-see-ums are hungry this time of year.

Red-winged Black Bird

A familiar sight to many, the Red-winged Black Bird is found over most of the continental United States year round and extends its range into a big swath of Canada for the summer.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird singing at a marsh- click photo for larger view

The males are always vying for attention with a flash of their shoulder patches and constant singing. This one’s tail feathers flared out every time he called, something I hadn’t noticed before.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird – click photo for larger view

On this rather dull day his eyes appeared as black as his feathers.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird – click photo for larger view

 

Green Heron Sit-In

This fellow was a stand out on a small island in a city park with twenty or more juvenile and adult Green Herons.

Green Heron
Green Heron – click on photo for larger view

He wanted some Attention!

Green Heron
Green Heron  – click on photo for larger view

When there was no response he took a break and perched in the water, something I’ve never seen a heron of any kind do before.

Green Heron
Green Heron and Reflection  – click on photo for larger view