About forty-five minutes before sundown the sun peaked beneath some clouds and lit up the tree at the end of the rookery. White Ibis filled most of the tree, but a few Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, and Little Blue Herons can be seen in between.
Birds were continuing to arrive but unfortunately for me the area closed and I had to leave.
I recently had the opportunity to photograph a Red-shouldered Hawk up close. He was on a tree branch next to the main path around my favorite pond and there were no sticks in front of his face! Ted and I were walking together and didn’t see the Hawk until we were quite close.
Red-shouldered Hawk – click image for larger view
The Hawk was unconcerned about our presence and after taking a few shots I continued on my way, turned back and got a profile head shot. It’s not much of a photograph with no background, but I thought it was interesting to see the feather and head detail.
This is the tree the Red-shouldered Hawk first chose when he first left the open area with his frog lunch. He was much more protected than on the ground but I could tell he was still uneasy as at least two other Hawks were calling nearby.
He took to the air again and I thought I had seen the last of him. I turned the other way back towards the end of the pond to watch the herons and heard a kerfuffle of wings and squawking off to my right.
I’m not quite sure what happened next as my view was obstructed, but soon the Hawk with the frog changed direction again. You can see a third Hawk in the tree in the background between the tail and wing of Hawk One below.
He went on his way without being followed and presumably finished the frog in peace.
When I first arrived at the end of the boardwalk at St. Augustine Alligator Farm a Great Egret had this little corner to himself. He was just sitting there, not actively bathing, but dunking a little. No Alligators were in the immediate vicinity, that I could see.
Even though he wasn’t doing anything to attract attention he soon had company, as first a Roseate Spoonbill sauntered over, a Snowy Egret dropped in, and then a White Ibis joined the group. The White Ibis, with a splash of mud on his wings, was most in need of a rinse.
The dirt look to the Spoonbill’s feathers is the transition to the darker pink/red that happens as they mature.
1/29/2018, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, St. Augustine, Florida.
I had been watching this Red-shouldered Hawk as he watched a low marshy area from a nearby branch. When he spotted lunch it was just a matter of seconds from branch to capture.
I was fortunate that he landed in a sunny spot several feet below where I stood giving me a good view.
He held his prey with both feet. When I developed the images I could see that lunch was a frog.
He ate little bits at a time, tearing pieces off with his beak. He changed directions several times with little hops. I could hear several other Red-shouldered Hawks not too far off and there was a small flock of Ibis about 10 feet away.
I doubt the Ibis would challenge a Hawk for a meal, but I’m sure other raptors would. After eating part of the frog the hawk re-arranged himself and his grip.
A minute later he flew up into a nearby more protected tree, then flew down the pond to a higher vantage point.
The sky was a glorious blue when I returned to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for a second day. The birds were also pleased to have a nice day, and displayed all sorts of contortions going about their morning grooming.
This Spoonbill is starting to show the black stripe behind his eyes of an adult but still has the head feathers of a juvenile. You can also clearly see the orange tail feathers, one more unusual thing about this bird.
1/30/2018, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, St. Augustine, Florida.