Cruising Along

On a mission, or so it would seem, this Alligator crossed from one side of the pond to the other without stopping or diverting. His pace was just slow enough he didn’t make much of a ripple in the water.

Alligator Passing By
Alligator Passing By

After he passed the Cyprus tree the reflections from the budding trees on the far bank colored the water.

Alligator Passing By
Alligator Passing By

Night Heron Hang Out

I’ve seen a Black-crowned Night-Heron on this stretch of bank where some trees have fallen into the pond the past few times I’ve been there. It may be the cover of the limbs that attracts them, although they are exposed to the walking path on the inside.

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

I was hoping he would do some fishing, but he just looked around. I did get a full side view that shows off his beautiful color scheme, and that red eye!

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

He eventually flew off but either he or another one returned less then ten minutes later, this time taking a position in the late afternoon sun.

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

Great Blue Herons Stick Exchange

Coming in feet first, a male Great Blue Heron brings a stick to the nest. The female knew he was approaching.

Great Blue Herons Stick ExchangeGreat Blue Herons Stick Exchange

She stopped watching but he executed a graceful touch down.

Great Blue Herons Stick Exchange
Great Blue Herons Stick Exchange

The female promptly takes the stick before the male has completely landed.

Great Blue Herons Stick Exchange
Great Blue Herons Stick Exchange

My gender assignments are based on behavior, not visible identification. The male is almost always the mate that fetches the sticks and the female arranges the nest.

Magnolia Gardens Heron Rookery, 3/16/2018.

Resting American White Pelicans

We had seen a few White Pelicans in the air earlier in the morning so weren’t too surprised to see them resting on the ground at the edge of a pond and happily stopped to see so many. They were quite a distance off the road but there was a clear view and I would say there were at least two hundred birds.

White Pelicans and Wading Birds
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

A number of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets were sprinkled around the periphery of the group, including this group looking like a police line up.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

Most of the Pelicans were preening or resting. A few Coots were going about their business in the water around them.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans

One daring Great Egret landed right in the middle of small group of Pelicans. The Pelicans took no notice.

White Pelicans and Wading Birds
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 2/21/2018.

Great Blue Heron Chicks

Florida’s Vierra Wetlands is a man-made water reclamation facility that “polishes reclaimed water for irrigation or overflow into the adjacent Four-mile Canal” per the Brevard County website.

The 200 acre site hosts a wide variety of local wildlife and migrating and nesting birds, including Great Blue Herons.

Florida’s nesting birds are at least a month ahead of those here in South Carolina. We are just starting to see hatchlings at the local rookeries and these images were taken almost three weeks ago, when we saw some chicks that were close to a month old.

Great Blue Heron Chick
Great Blue Heron Chick Peeking Up

It was quite windy this day, and with the chicks standing you can see there isn’t much to hold them in the nest and there is no protection from the weather.

Great Blue Heron and Chicks
Great Blue Heron and Chicks

The placement of the nest on a palm tree top provides some security from predators climbing up, particularly raccoons. Many of the chosen nest trees are also standing in water which means alligators patrol below for potential nest raiders.

Great Blue Heron and Chick
Great Blue Heron and Chick – just the fuzz visable

The road around the impoundments is elevated from the water giving a direct view into some of the nests.

Vierra Wetlands
Vierra Wetlands, Great Blue Heron nest, several Anhinga perched on shorter tree stumps

Click on any image for larger view.

Vierra Wetlands, Brevard County, Florida, 2/21/2018.