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.
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.
The slate-grey coloration of these Tricolored Herons was much deeper and there seemed to be less iridescence than the SC varieties.
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.
Their beaks are pretty strong and they often can snap off a branch, if only they can decide which one. Up here:
Success, with a little Spanish Moss thrown in:
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.
These were taken January 9th, at the end of a week when we had extreme cold for South Carolina and six inches of snow. Alligators slow their metabolic activity when it gets cold and all they need is to breathe.
The Little Blue Heron waded the entire length of the Alligator, poking in the water as he went, perhaps not even recognizing the gator was there.