Saturday, October 12, 2013

Herons on the Wacissa

A ship is safe in harbor,
but that's not what ships are built for.
~John A. Shedd

I'm finally bringing this blog out of its induced coma, now that the weather is (occasionally) cooling enough to get out with the camera--and in this case, the kayak as well. And of course I headed for the Wacissa.

It seems the birds had headed somewhere else. I thought I was going to come home from an enjoyable paddle with no photos. And then I found myself approaching a great blue heron alongside the water. Very timid, it flew off as I got closer, but I had anticipated that and had the camera ready.

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And off he goes to the other side of the river.

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He's not pleased...and is squawking to let me know...

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After that, I paddled a couple of hours, during which time I spotted two snowy egrets that flew off before I was close enough to get a photo (one was a shame to miss--the bright white bird was fishing in the middle of a large clump of bright red flowers....ah, that would have been a good one...). After all this time away from paddling, my arms were starting to feel the effort, and the wind had picked up in a downstream direction. So I headed back upstream to the boat ramp.

There are a lot of these really pretty reedy things along the edges of the river, with little flowering tops that look like feather dusters. Really nice when they wave in the wind.

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As I got closer to the boat ramp, I saw another heron (smaller than the one shown above) at Duck Island. This one was not quite as timid and just stood still to let me photograph it.

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After getting that picture, I slowly backed away. It didn't fly off. I love the flight photos of birds, but there is something satisfying about getting a picture without disturbing the bird!

That was all for this time. It was hotter on the river than I had thought it would be, so, like camping, paddling may end up waiting a while more to begin on any kind of regular basis.

Stand by.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Back to the rookery at the Alligator Farm!

April prepares her green
traffic light, and the world
thinks Go.
~Christopher Morley

Well, it was time for my annual trip to the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine to visit the birds in the rookery there. I lucked out on the weather and missed the rain by one day. As usual, I took over 100 photos, which I  pared down to 30, which I then reduced by a few for posting here. Despite all that culling, this is still a very image-intensive post.

The great egrets had chicks of varying ages. The snowy egrets had eggs but no chicks yet. The wood storks had some chicks. I couldn't tell what was in the roseate spoonbill nests as they were very high up in the trees. The little blue herons did not appear to have any chicks and I did not see any eggs in their nests.

Many of the egrets were still in the breeding stage, and most had their breeding plumage and bright green  nares (area around the eyes on the beak). This is one of my favorite photos of the day, as it shows the plumage, but also the egrets in the background.

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And of course there were many chicks with their parents...

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I watched this wood stork head back to the nest with a nice leafy branch:

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And then off it goes to find more...

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These chicks were left waiting while Mom or Dad (in background) fly off on an errand...

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This little snowy egret was sitting on a couple of blue eggs.

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These two chicks were waiting patiently in their nest:

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until it got boring. Look! I can fly!

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That was actually kind of scary to watch. This rookery exists because the many, many (many) alligators in the water below these trees keep the birds safe from critters. However, sometimes these little chicks fall (or are pushed by siblings) out of their nests, only to be an alligator snack. Luckily none met that fate while I was there.

I waited a long time for these wood stork chicks to wake up from napping and show themselves, but no such luck. Only the parents...

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A small battle broke out at the nest in the uppermost branches of a tree.

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This little blue heron was very protective of its nest; I couldn't tell if it had eggs or not.

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This is another favorite photo of a family:

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The rest of these are more photos I took while there, images that caught my eye as they were happening. Of course there are numerous chick photos. 

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On my way out, I passed by a red parrot, so of course I decided to include it here, even though it was not in the rookery. It adds color!

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I'm toying with going back to the rookery next month to check on the snowy egret chicks and the little blue heron chicks. And there's always a chance I will get back out to the river! Stand by.