Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Rookery in St. Augustine--Chapter 1

Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house
as warm as it was in the summer,
when they complained about the heat.
~Author Unknown

I visited the rookery at the back of the Alligator Farm last year and had a wonderful time watching the egrets and wood storks building their nests and preparing to fill them. I had hoped to get back after the eggs had hatched, but the weather turned wretched. Not only did it keep me from going back, but it created a tragedy at the rookery--days on end of rain took its toll on the young birds; they couldn't get dry and most of them died. I'm hoping this year will be better. So I got an early start with the first trip.

There were only a few egrets on a few nests.


This egret was fishing in the pond below the nesting area (the one filled with gators).

There were a surprising number of adult night herons, as well as juveniles.

The biggest thrill was the roseate spoonbills. Last time I was here, they stayed far to the back, hidden by the tree branches. This time there were three of them close to the walkway. These two were staying close together.

The third left them and flew across the water to a lower branch, making a graceful landing.

Almost settled...

Wants to know what I am looking at!

These were a much paler pink than I usually encounter when I see them in Cedar Key. Still, very striking.

I am planning to get back again toward the end of the month to see how things are progressing, and hopefully at least a couple of times in April and in May. Our unseasonably cold weather continues, but perhaps that is less of a threat to the birds than endless rain. Time will tell.

Still far too cold to paddle (we get a rare good day now and then....and they are always days that I have dentist appointments or other plans....). Eventually things will return to normal and this will go back to being a paddling blog! Stand by.


gainesville365 said...

Fantastic! I've only seen roseate spoonbills at a distance, over on Big Talbot Island.

Sandra said...

that is sad about the little birds and what the wretched weather did to them. NOT a normal winter for us for sure. I like the spoonbills. beautiful shots of them. I have only seen them twice in my life, I got a few shots, but none as good as these, they were to far for my zoom to reach them. I saw a whole flock of them at Robinsons Preserve and it was awe inspiring. glad to see you posting again.

Suzanne said...

The spoonbills have an Alice-in-wonderland look about them -- really lovely birds. The egrets look so elegant. You see such beautiful creatures!

Felicia said...

I love that rookery—apparently, the alligators are the reason the birds choose to nest there; no other potential nest predators are going to get into the trees over that water! And I didn't know about the loss of last year's babies; I hope this year is better!

paddlinboy said...

Lovely birds! I paddle on the oppostite side of the continent and up slightly, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia Canada and just blogged about the migratory birds that are passing through my islands from now until late spring. Hard to get good shots though.

Everyone's Travel Club said...


I love the pictures, keep them coming! My friend and I hope to come down to Florida next December or February...I'm using your blog to help plan the trip!

~Paul from Seattle