Category Archives: Water Birds

Anhinga Ready to Go!

The male Anhingas have been showing off as they get ready for breeding season. The blue-green coloration around their eyes is very pronounced and I’ve seen them displaying their wings in dramatic poses.

Anhinga Ready to Fly
Anhinga Ready to Fly

This male was in a tree above the pond-side trail flashing his wings. I didn’t see any females nearby and he soon took off with a flourish.

Anhinga In Flight
Anhinga In Flight

He didn’t go far, landing in a nearby tree that already has a Great Blue Heron nest and several Great Egret nests.

Anhinga In Flight
Anhinga In Landing Below Great Egret Nest

March 10, 2019

Great Blue Heron Relieved of Nest Duty

This Great Blue Heron’s mate arrived to take a turn at the nest and this one wasted no time on the usual greeting. He headed for shore, landing just beyond me on the path.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

I backed up to give him some room and so I could see what he was going to do.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

After his turn on the nest a big shake was in order.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

He went down over the bank, had a look around, then flew off.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

Tundra Swans Through Fog

The Tundra Swans are still hanging out at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area although local lore says they will be heading north any day now.  A flock averaging 300 of these Swans has been coming to this area every winter since the mid 1970s.

On this morning the fog was dense and the air perfectly still. The gnats almost carried us off. The water level in this pond is low and these Swans were wading or sitting in mud rather than swimming.

Tundra Swans in Fog
Tundra Swans in Fog

A few took off and disappeared into the fog before I could even focus on them.

Tundra Swans in Fog
Tundra Swans in Fog

Taken 3/3/2019

3 Coots

I had hopes that these three American Coots would synchronize their swimming direction or angle for a portrait composition.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

They circled, they zigged and zagged, they separated and came back together, but an organized group shot was not to be.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

Eventually they did all turn their heads in the same direction, almost.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

Floating Photobomb

The White Ibis was wading in the canal just off the dike at the rice field impoundment. I waited patiently for him to get far enough from the bank to get a clear shot.

White Ibis
White Ibis

Then an intruder! Several Ring-billed Gulls were on the opposite bank in the shallow water. I didn’t expect any to be interested in the deeper water, not thinking they would float, not wade.

White Ibis and Gull
White Ibis and Ring-billed Gull

The Gull continued paddling until he was behind the White Ibis and lifted his head, turning a photobombed shot into a nice bird combo image.

White Ibis and Gull
White Ibis and Ring-billed Gull

Pied-billed Grebe

Small and chunky, the Pied-billed Grebe always looks like a baby-faced juvenile to me.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Last week several of them were swimming in the rice field canal. Saltbrush seeds from shrubs that lined the bank were drifting over the water.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

The lowering late afternoon light and growth on the opposite bank changed the look of the water as I proceeded down the canal.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Further along the Saltbrush seeds looked like sparkly feathers floating on the water. Saltbrush, Baccharis halimifolia, is a woody shrub or small tree in the Asteraceae family, and is also known as Groundsel.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Common Gallinule

I hear Common Gallinules more often than see them. Per All About Birds they “make all sorts of chicken-like clucks, whinnies, cackles, squawks, and yelps.” Needless to say, many a birder has jumped when that racket starts, often accompanied by one or more Gallinules running across the water to safety.  I often refer to them as the early warning system for other ducks and wildlife I might have been hoping to see.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

These images were taken on different days, but in the same area. The stump in the image above is newly sticking out of the water as the rice field pond has been drained for repairs.

The red bill in the image below looks almost like fake plastic, but that is how they look. Bald Eagles will stalk Gallinules in this pond and I wonder how that beacon of red appears to them.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

Double-crested Cormorants

A flock of Double-crested Cormorants was hanging out on a dead tree that has fallen into a pond on a recent sunny afternoon. When I first spotted them my view of the group was blocked by reeds, but this one had found a higher perch.

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

As I worked my way along the bank I saw these two were having a squabble.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

One exited with a big flap while the rest ignored him. You can see the bird from my first image near the top, towards the left.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

As I rounded the end of the pond I was able to get a view from a different angle and closer to the water.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants