Tricolored Heron

I just returned from five days in Florida with five photographer friends. We spent time at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Viera Wetlands, St. Augustine Alligator Farm and few small spots in between.

We saw a wide variety of birds, many of which we also see in South Carolina. The ones that we were familiar with looked slightly different in some way. This may be due to differences in breeding plumage or diet.

One of the first birds we encountered was the Tricolored Heron.

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron

Numbers of these herons were patrolling the swamp areas around Merritt’s Black Point Wildlife Drive,  a 7-mile dike road around several shallow marsh impoundments and through pine flatwoods.

Tricolored Herons
Tricolored Herons

The slate-grey coloration of these  Tricolored Herons was much deeper and there seemed to be less iridescence than the SC varieties.

Tricolored Heron in Flight
Tricolored Heron in Flight

Away From the Crowd

Black-crowned Night-Herons are nesting in the grasses on one of the high spots in an old rice field. I could spot ten or so standing tucked in under the grass, too far for a good photograph.

This fellow was all by himself out in the open, perched on the support of one of the “trunks” used to regulate water flow.  I was surprised he didn’t fly off as I passed by.

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

I came back this way about an hour later and he hadn’t moved very far, but had turned enough that I could get a good look through the grass on the bank at his colorful eye.

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

A couple more steps and his full body was in view, if not well lit. I walked on a little further hoping to get a shot from where I first spotted him, turned around, but he was gone.

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

Waiting for Dawn

When we arrived at Mary’s Pond about 20 minutes before sunrise on Wednesday this group of Wood Storks with a single Great Blue Heron was huddled in a canal that runs along side the pond.

Wood Storks and Great Blue Heron
Wood Storks and Great Blue Heron – click image for larger view

The Heron flew off shortly after I took this photo. As it got lighter the Wood Storks started wading down the canal out of my sight.

Sony Alpha 6500, 18-105 mm at 105 mm, F4, ISO 3200

Stick Shopping

Great Blue Herons put a lot of work into making a good nest. Once a pair is established the male becomes responsible for bringing the sticks. Obtaining them can be quite an ordeal. This GBH decided to make a selection from a tree.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Their beaks are pretty strong and they often can snap off a branch, if only they can decide which one. Up here:

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Down here:

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Success, with a little Spanish Moss thrown in:

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Of course now the female has to accept and place the stick. More than once I’ve seen an inferior stick get tossed into the water.