Thursday, September 03, 2009

Not Paddling at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge

Beautiful and graceful, varied and enchanting, small but approachable,
butterflies lead you to the sunny side of life. And everyone deserves a little sunshine.
~Jeffrey Glassberg

This was a nice day, but a bit windy for paddling so I headed out to the wildlife refuge to see what I could see. Given that I usually see birds there, the typical subjects in this blog, I am posting this trip here, even though it didn't involve any paddling.

And the birds were there! I was amazed at how many egrets were gathered together in close proximity--what a joy for someone who loves them as much as I do!

Close to that group, I spotted a large flock of wood storks, which started walking away as I approached. The breeze was blowing the topknot of that one at the back.

On my way back to my car after taking those, I saw another group of egrets. They looked somewhat ethereal in the water.

I drove to the lighthouse, which is (of course) on the Gulf at the end of the road. There was only one other car there, and nobody walking the trail around the pond. I soon found out why--the biting sand flies were fierce! Fortunately, I carry repellent in my car, so after dousing myself with it, I was able to walk around the pond.

This gull was soaring overhead, looking for lunch in the water.


This is a stopping place for monarch butterflies as they migrate to Mexico. The Monarch Festival, which marks the peak of the local migration, is in October. I am not completely up on my butterfly identification, but perhaps some of these were early (or, perhaps they are not monarchs....). I couldn't resist taking a lot of pictures of them.

This next one has the added feature of two "love bugs" below the butterfly. These bugs arrive in massive numbers twice a year and are the bane of windshields everywhere (and conversely).



What's this guy doing here?

These ibises were walking along the edge of the water, in impressive formation.

When I got halfway around the pond, across from the lighthouse, I took this view of it.

As I was finishing my walk, this osprey flew by overhead.

I got back in the car and headed back toward the entrance. I came to another group of egrets (or the same one, perhaps they had moved). It's very, very rare for me to see even two egrets close together unless it is mating time, much less such a crowd. These three were standing peaceably together.

Near those three, I saw a great blue heron standing next to a snowy egret. A large egret was standing out of the picture to the left.

I moved a few steps to the side to take another picture of the heron and snowy and noticed yet another egret coming in for a landing. The larger egret that had been standing nearby did not like this.

It lunged at the interloper.

And off it went.

Notice how in all those photos, the snowy does not move an inch, it stands like a statue!

I saw a tricolored heron in a small pond nearby, fishing in amongst the reeds. This one seemed well suited for black and white.

It was a great day to be at the refuge!

It seems that the weather might stay agreeable enough for a paddling trip tomorrow...we shall see. Stand by.


Beverly said...

Wonderful photos as usual. Thanks for posting them. I love the formation of the ibis. They are frequently in the neighborhood.

katney said...

Your bird photos never cease to amaze me.

Big Bend Blog said...

The orange butterflies are Gulf Fritillaries and the other one is a Buckeye.

Sandra said...

You did just as well on the NON paddle as the Paddle. Beautiful Butterflies. We live a few blocks from a butterfly farm, she ships them all over the world. Some of them escape, and they find our jungle. For the past few nights, they have been dancing with each other. thanks for the wonderful photography. You are inspiring me.