Pileated Woodpecker Overhead

Without any fuss this Pileated Woodpecker flew into a tree above my head as a few folks were gathered to watch the Great Blue Herons nesting. His “do” would suggest he might be shocked, too.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

Photographing birds over your head is not the ideal situation and perhaps not the best view of the bird but this angle shows off his impressive beak.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

He didn’t do any drilling or even poke around the tree, just sat there for about five minutes.  The few tourists passing underneath him didn’t capture his attention. There were a few Red Shouldered Hawks patrolling the area behind us and maybe he was hiding. He left as quick as he came with no noise, back the way he had come.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

 

Great Blue Heron Long Approach

They can turn on a dime in flight but Great Blue Herons more often fly in graceful arcs, lining up with their landing target well in advance of the actual touch down.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

I’ve often thought that they might just enjoy the flight as they cruise over the pond. It looks almost effortless.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

Banking just a little to avoid a nearby island.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

A perfect landing. Well, there was a face full of branches but the herons just ignore those.

Great Blue Heron in Flight
Great Blue Heron in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Downy Woodpecker

A Downy Woodpecker right out where you can see her! An advantage to winter is less viewing obstruction of the little birds as they go about their business.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

This one wasn’t doing much pecking but investigated around this tree trunk.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

She left me with a perfect profile shot, compete with lichen framing.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Click any photo for a larger view.

Pond Reflections

We changed our plan on Friday and I’m so glad we did. We were going to walk the dike around the old rice fields but after seeing the Great Blue Herons starting to nest on Thursday we headed to the rookery first.

The light was spectacular and the pond was as still as glass.

Pond Reflections
Pond Reflections – view from the corner where you first arrive

There was some bird activity but the landscape opportunities were what got my attention.

Pond Reflections
Pond Reflections with Great Blue Heron Flying Low

Click on photo for larger view

Taken with the Sony Alpha 6500, 18-105 Lens, Processed in Lightroom and NIK Color FX Pro 4.

Great Blue Heron Showing Off

This Great Blue Herons was putting her all into vocalizing and showing off her plumes as nesting season has begun. She has claimed one of the most prized nesting trees so I doubt she’ll be alone for long.

Great Blue Heron Posturing
Great Blue Heron Posturing – click for larger view

Last season’s nest on this spot was completely removed by various storms so she and her mate will have a lot of work to do.

Heron Nest Building Begins

Part of the ritual of selecting a mate and getting the nest ready for Great Blue Herons includes the male bringing sticks. This one found a mighty stick but had trouble figuring out how to get it into the nest.

Great Blue Heron with Stick
Great Blue Heron with Stick

He sat a few moments balancing with the stick on dead limb and then took off for another loop around the island.

Great Blue Heron with Stick
Great Blue Heron with Stick

He came in from much higher and a steeper angle.

Great Blue Heron with Stick
Great Blue Heron with Stick

Dropping in from above with much more grace than you might think possible he made a successfully delivery.

Great Blue Heron with Stick
Great Blue Heron bringing stick to nest

Great Blue Herons Are Back

A small number of Great Blue Herons have returned to our area and started working on finding a mate and a nest, not necessarily in that order. The view-able nests from last year are reduced to just a few twigs and are going to require a lot of nestoration to make them able to hold eggs.

Nesting Tree
Nesting Tree and Island, with at least eight Great Blue Herons

Below is the long side of the pond to the left of the scene above. This afternoon the light was ideal and the water was still for a reflection shot. We’ll be returning here often to photograph the Great Blues work on their homes and families.

Trees Reflecting in the Pond
Trees Reflecting in the Pond

This is about three weeks before we saw this same activity last winter. It seems early and hopefully the coming January cold will not push the herons to abandon their nests.

Little Blue Heron Studying

This Little Blue Heron was very intent on looking in the water for food along the edge of the canal. He had a small white patch on his chest that stands out like a badge, likely the final remnant of his juvenile coloration.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

Waiting and watching, the Little Blues are a study in patience.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

He probed the water a couple of times but I didn’t see him catch anything.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

After awhile he moved a little deeper into the water. He eventually turned his back on me and I moved on.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron