The Tricolored Herons aren’t as tricky with their dance moves as the Reddish Egrets but they are pretty entertaining. This one had been feeding further away then came into the shallow water and strutted around.
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.
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.
Most of the Pelicans were preening or resting. A few Coots were going about their business in the water around them.
One daring Great Egret landed right in the middle of small group of Pelicans. The Pelicans took no notice.
Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 2/21/2018.
This pair of Northern Shovelers was sticking together as they worked the pond in the early morning light. They were one of only a few water birds in the area that was patrolled by at least two pairs of Bald Eagles making them easy targets.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 2/21/2018.
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.
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.
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.
The road around the impoundments is elevated from the water giving a direct view into some of the nests.
Click on any image for larger view.
Vierra Wetlands, Brevard County, Florida, 2/21/2018.
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.
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.
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.
The juvenile Night-Herons were more active on this morning in the rookery than the snoozing adults.
A few of them were wandering around on these gnarly tree branches in the dappled sun.
A comparison of the juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron and juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron at All About Birds finds they are quite similar, with the Black-crowned variety having “larger spots and bolder streaks.” Hard to tell unless you have one of each side-by-side.
1/30/2018, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, St. Augustine, Florida.