Raccoons

A mother Raccoon was herding three of her children along the edge of the Vierra Wetlands drive. The slope down away from the road is mowed and then there is a wide section of tall marsh grasses before an impoundment of open water.

Racoon
Raccoon

We watched from the car as the family was weaving in and out of the taller grasses and reeds. Occasionally mama came further out into the mowed area to check back on what her charges were up to.

Racoon
Raccoon

A family portrait was not on the agenda.

Raccoons
Raccoons

Vierra Wetlands, Florida, 2/21/2018.

Sandhill Crane

Ted and I returned to Florida for five days at the end of February and went to most of the same places I photographed in late January. On my first trip I heard Sandhill Cranes calling at Vierra Wetlands but never saw them. I was delighted to see a pair on the second trip.

Sandhill Crane Pair
Sandhill Crane Pair

When we first saw the pair they were calling repeatedly and appeared to be looking for something. Unfortunately there was nothing nearby to include in the image to indicate their size. Sandhill Cranes are larger than Great Blue Herons, and can weight up to 10 pounds (4.75 KG). Great Blues top out at 5.5 pounds (2.5 KG).

Sandhill Crane Pair
Sandhill Crane Pair

We looped around the wildlife drive and about an hour later found them in about the same spot. They had stopped calling and their attention had turned to preening.

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

Click on any image for larger view.

Vierra Wetlands, Florida, 2/21/18.

Alligator Ramp – Different Position

Different Position for me, that is. This was taken about 15 minutes before and standing ten or so feet closer on the path than yesterday’s post of theĀ Alligator Ramp. The two Alligators and group of turtles hadn’t moved much when that first photo was taken.

Alligators, Turtles hanging out
Alligators, Turtles – click on photo for larger view.

The change in the sun and my angle created a completely different look of the reflections in the water.

Ibis Above

It can be disconcerting when a flock of wading birds lands in a tree over your head. Thoughts of getting pooped on come to mind, and as much as I’d hate to be the recipient of that I’d hate it to land on my camera even more.

White Ibis
White Ibis

This flock of six or eight White Ibis didn’t seem to be concerned about the few photographers standing below and provided some nice poses.

White Ibis
White Ibis

After awhile they took off one by one, and because they were so close to the trees there was no option for in flight photographs.

White Ibis
White Ibis

These were taken in the middle of February and just a few buds were starting to show on the trees.

Alligator Ramp

The young Alligator in the water circled around a few times but for reasons unknown didn’t make the climb to join his sibling and mom out of the water.

Alligator Mom and Child, with Turtles
Alligator Mom and Child, with Turtles – click photo for larger view

I have seen Alligators crawl over turtles on these ramps and I have seen them eat turtles. Life in the swamp is risky business but for this afternoon this group was getting along.

Below, the young Alligator stayed with his head lifted quite awhile; air exposure is part of how they regulate their temperature.

Alligator Mom and Child
Alligator Mom and Child – compare jowels

Back and Forth

Well, what else do they have to do? When they aren’t eating ducks often swim around, and perhaps the female was testing to see if the male would follow. He did.

Wood Duck Pair
Wood Duck Pair

This Wood Duck pair went back and forth in front of me several times, never quite making it into the sun patch closer to me before they disappeared with the Teals around the corner.

Wood Duck Pair
Wood Duck Pair

 

Working The Nest

Several pairs of Great Blue Herons are working on nests around the pond, gathering and arranging sticks in a labor intensive effort.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

There does not seem to be any sense of urgency to get the nests completed. The males tend to take long breaks between stick trips, taking time to look around and show off their breeding plumes.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

The female below appears to be laying on eggs and didn’t get up when her mate brought this nest contribution. Their nest looks pretty substantial already and she did take the stick and found a spot for it.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron