Water levels in the large pond at Magnolia Cemetery are controlled with this screw mechanism connected to a gate that allows water to drain off into the marsh. I’ve often seen Belted Kingfishers that work the pond for food use it as a perch.
The Belted Kingfisher’s loud rattling call often helps you locate one, and I had watched one make several zippy trips across the pond without even getting to lift my camera. I took these from the car as we were leaving.
I got a little closer before another car came and captured this head on view showing off the Kingfisher’s top knot.
I last photographed a Yellow-billed Cuckoo about two years ago. I spotted one last week and recognized him in flight immediately due to his long, thin body.
They prefer woodland and the trees he found most appealing were shiny with highlighted leaves behind him.
He eventually moved to the other side of the path so the sun was shining on him, but didn’t quite get his head out into the light.
He watched patiently presumably for food, often looking up above him, but I didn’t see him even try to catch anything. After a couple minutes in this spot he moved higher and deeper into the tree line.
At least I think it is a Boat-tailed Grackle, not a Common Grackle. This is another pair of birds that All About Birds uses a size comparison to help tell them part. Useful if you see them together, not so much on their own. They did seem to have a big tail.
These images were taken at the pond near the rookery and swamp I frequent. A group of 8 or 10 was working its way along the edge, hopping along limbs that have fallen in the water.
Both kinds are noisy, with constant calling, like their Red-winged Black bird relative. It was the iridescence that attracted me, and their repeated trips to the water. They will eat frogs, lizards, and turtles and did poke around a little in this water that has all of these but it was a bit deep for them to jump in.
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.
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).
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.